Best Accounting Schools for Undergraduates

Business students.

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The best accounting schools have accomplished faculty members, strong reputations, a breadth of curricular options, and opportunities to gain hands-on experience through research, internships, or summer work programs.

It's not a coincidence that most of the best accounting programs are housed within some of the country's highest ranked business schools. A typical curriculum includes classes such as calculus, microeconomics, macroeconomics, taxation, personal finance, business law, and, of course, numerous classes in accounting.

In the job market, accounting has attractive prospects, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs to continue to grow over the next decade. Median salaries are around $70,000 a year, but that number can vary significantly depending on where you are employed and what type of accounting work you are doing. As an accountant, you might be self employed, or you might work for an accounting or tax preparation firm, an insurance company, the government, or a company's business office.

The ten programs below tend to top the national rankings. They are listed alphabetically.

Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. Ken Lund / Flickr

Located in Provo, Idaho, BYU is a comprehensive private university with many academic strengths, but accountancy is one of the most popular and highly rated programs. Indeed, BYU's Marriott School of Accountancy tends to rank among the top two or three places for undergraduates to study accounting in the country. The university graduates close to 1,000 business students each year, and about a quarter of them specialize in accounting.

A defining feature of the BYU accounting curriculum is "Junior Core." Junior core is a rigorous 24-credit-hour group of courses that all students take in topics such as information systems, financial accounting, data analytics, taxation, and managerial accounting. The curriculum is standardized so that instruction is the same no matter who is teaching the course.

BYU also values hands-on experiences to prepare students for their future careers. As a result, Marriott students have opportunities to participate in a wide range of on-campus internships sponsored by companies.

Indiana University - Bloomington

Sample Gates at Indiana University Bloomington
Sample Gates at Indiana University Bloomington. lynn Dombrowski / Flickr

Over a quarter of all undergraduates at Indiana University major in business, and of all the majors offered within the Kelley School of Business, accounting is one of the most popular. The class of 2021 has 490 accounting majors. U.S. News & World Report ranked the business program #10 in the country and the accounting major #4. Indiana University accounting majors have an average starting salary of $63,698, and students who conduct internships earn an average of $25 an hour. Over 700 companies in the U.S. and around the world recruit Kelley graduates each year.

The accounting curriculum includes courses in auditing, taxation, and systems management, and students also work on developing their speaking and writing skills. Accounting students are encouraged to pursue internships to gain hands-on experience; the university's Undergraduate Career Services helps students find a meaningful placement.

New York University

New York University
New York University.

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Few places could be better for studying business than NYU's Stern School of Business. New York City's Financial District is within walking distance, and the school has deep connections to the business community. Stern consistently ranks among the nation's top business schools for undergraduates. Students at Stern don't actually major in accounting; rather, they major in business with a concentration in accounting.

Stern's rankings come from its impressive numbers. The school has over 200 full-time faculty members, and admission is remarkably selective—the mean SAT score for matriculated students is 1468. Over 99% of accounting students participate in an internship or paid work experience during their junior year, and 98% of students are employed within 6 months of graduation. The mean annual starting salary for Stern graduates is over $80,000.

The Ohio State University

Ohio State University
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Ohio State graduates over 2,200 bachelors in business each year, and over 400 of them focus on accounting. OSU's Fisher College of Business ranks #15 in U.S. News & World Report, and the accounting program ranks #10. Like all top accounting programs, OSU places an emphasis on a rigorous curriculum combined with numerous hands-on experiences. The university's location in Columbus, Ohio's largest city, provides a broad range of opportunities for collaborations, internships and work experiences.

Accounting is also part of student life at Ohio State, and students can join several organizations including the Accounting Association, Beta Alpha Psi (the international honor society for accounting), and the National Association of Black Accountants.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UIUC
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UIUC. Christopher Schmidt / Flickr

Housed within the Gies College of Business, accounting at UIUC ranks #2 in U.S. New & World Report. The accountancy major is the second most popular at the university, with 370 graduating in 2019. The University of Illinois is home to the Deloitte Foundation Center for Business Analytics, and Gies accountancy students gain skills in data analytics, and the program is on the cutting edge when it comes to teaching big data.

Gies accountancy students go into fields including taxation, auditing, accounting information systems, and private accounting. A total of 99% find jobs related to their major, and in 2018 they earned an average starting salary of $65,847.

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Law School Quadrangle, University of Michigan
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The University of Michigan's Ross School of Business ranked #3 in U.S. News & World Report in 2020, and the undergraduate accounting program ranked #6. While the university does offer graduate degrees in accounting, undergraduates major in business but choose courses to form a concentration in accounting. A typical curriculum would include financial accounting, managerial accounting, and federal taxation.

The Ross School offers students numerous ways to gain global experiences while studying business. Students can participate in short-term and summer global programs, a semester exchange, or a global study & internship program. Global fellowships are available to make these experiences possible.

Like all of the schools on this list, Ross has strong career outcomes. 186 companies hired bachelor degree students in 2019, and 97% of students were employed within months of graduation. Ross graduates had a mean starting base salary of $78,500.

University of Notre Dame

Michael Fernandes / Wikipedia Commons

Ranked #5 by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Notre Dame's undergraduate accountancy program is housed within the Mendoza College of Business. Graduates of the undergraduate program have a 98% job placement rate, and their skills are sought after by a wide range of employers. The program graduates about 100 students a year at the bachelor's level.

A defining feature of Notre Dame's program is TAP, the Tax Assistance Program, where students gain real-world experience helping low-income clients prepare their taxes. Students grow their skills while providing valuable assistance to the people who most need it. TAP, combined with the program's emphasis on ethical business practices, represent some of the values inherent to Notre Dame's Catholic identity.

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania
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The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business frequently tops the rankings for both undergraduate and graduate business programs, so it should come as little surprise that Penn's accounting program made this list. Like many schools on this list, Penn does not offer an accounting major, but students can major in business with an accounting concentration. This prestigious Ivy League school is located in Philadelphia, and the urban location provides many internship opportunities for students.

All Wharton undergraduate students take Accounting 101 and 102, and students with an accounting concentration continue with Accounting 201 and 202, as well as classes in cost accounting, tax planning, and auditing.

University of Southern California

USC Doheny Memorial Library
USC Doheny Memorial Library. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

Part of the Marshall College of Business, the USC Leventhal School of Accounting graduates about 200 students annually. The University of Southern California's Los Angeles location is a significant perk and has led to close ties with four major accounting firms: EY, Deloitte, KPMG, and PWC. The campus' location on the Pacific Rim has also helped foster an international focus, and the curriculum emphasizes global business practices. Students have opportunities for international travel, and one particular course has students work with counterparts in China using Skype.

Outside of the classroom, the Leventhal School of Accounting has ties to four student organizations: Accounting Society, Association of Latino Professionals in Finance & Accounting, Beta Alpha Psi, and the Student Honor Council.

University of Texas - Austin

University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin.

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According to the 2020 US News & World Report rankings, UT Austin's McCombs School of Business is home to the nation's #1 undergraduate accounting program. In fact, the program has been ranked #1 for the past 14 years. In 2019, 240 students earned their bachelor's degree in accounting, and slightly more students earned master's degrees.

The McCombs School is a lively place to study accounting. It his home to seven accounting and business student organizations, and the Accounting Research Colloquium brings in speakers from around the world to present and discuss their work. UT Austin has robust campus-wide efforts to get undergraduates involved in research, and McCombs is no exception. Accounting students can gain practical experience working with a public or private enterprise in Accounting Practicum, or they can enroll in Independent Research in Accounting.

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Grove, Allen. "Best Accounting Schools for Undergraduates." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, Grove, Allen. (2020, August 29). Best Accounting Schools for Undergraduates. Retrieved from Grove, Allen. "Best Accounting Schools for Undergraduates." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).