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Degree Overview: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in Professional Accounting

Majors Overview April 6, 2014

Receive information about the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree program in Professional Accounting and its education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and certification and continuing education choices.

B.S. Programs in Professional Accounting

Students enrolled in Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs in Professional Accounting are taught general accounting principles such as taxation and auditing, as well as cost, managerial, and financial accounting. They are also taught numerous concepts that find common use in businesses, including critical-thinking skills, management theory and decision-making models.

Schools offer professional accountancy degrees as Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs; they also offer these as an area of concentration within regular Accounting programs. This program prepares graduates for advanced certification or licensure in accounting. While traditional bachelor’s degree programs take four years to complete, these programs often span five years aimed at meeting the 150 credit hours of study required to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. However, not all Professional accounting programs meet this credit hour requirement; therefore, they cannot qualify their students for the CPA certification examination.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Students enrolled in some programs are required to complete specific college preparation classes in high school. Placement examinations may also have to be completed.


Broad academic courses are typically included to augment core accounting subjects. Coursework typically includes subject areas such as:

•International trade and finance
•Business law
•Microsoft Excel and Access
•Income tax accounting
•Financial, managerial and cost accounting
•Business ethics
•Micro- and macroeconomics
•Organization and management

Career Choices

These programs can provide graduates with the skills and knowledge necessary to increase occupations with government agencies, multi-national corporations and public accounting firms. They may choose from career titles such as:

•Forensic accountant
•Cost accountant
•Certified Public Accountant
•Financial analyst

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 16% has been predicted for accountants and auditors over the 2010-2020 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)), while a faster-than-average job growth rate of 23% has been predicted for financial analysts, over the same period; (BLS). In May 2012, accountants and auditors earned an average annual wage of $63,550 (BLS), while business analysts took home an average annual wage of $76,950.

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Bachelor’s degree graduates may pursue continued education by earning an advanced degree, such as Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in Accounting or Master of Accountancy (M.Acc.). In addition to 120 credit hours spent in a bachelor’s degree program, 30 credit hours in a master’s degree program are commonly sought as preparation for the CPA exam. Schools also offer Ph.D. programs in Business Administration and Accounting that are suitable for students seeking work in research and academia.

While certification for accountants is not mandatory, potential recruiters may prefer it. An accountant who seeks interaction with the Securities Exchange Commission must be a CPA. Apart from the CPA designation, the Institute of Management Accountants’ (IMA) Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation may also be sought.

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