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Best Accounting Schools in Alabama in 2021

September 21, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Accounting is often referred to as “the language of business,” and rightly so because of its wide application. There is hardly any sector or industry that doesn’t require the services of an accountant. This translates to a huge demand for accountants. 

Students with a passion for adding up figures or working in business-related fields can transform that passion into a fulfilling and rewarding career in accounting. The obvious first step is to choose an accounting major, whether that is an associate’s in accounting or a bachelor’s degree. 

Going further to pursue an MBA program can considerably improve your career prospects and your earning potentials. Best of all, becoming a Certified Public Accountant makes you more desirable to employers. 

This article is most useful for prospective accounting students living in Alabama or out-of-state candidates considering an online program in Alabama. You will find relevant information to help you make a sound decision about the best college to pursue an accounting degree. 

Reasons to Get Your Accounting Degree in Alabama

The Cotton State, Alabama, is home to a fairly large number of excellent universities, many of which offer accounting degree programs. In addition to on-campus programs, several of the top accounting schools have affordable online programs for out-of-state students and working adults. 

The state’s higher education system comprises public two-year colleges (community colleges), public four-year colleges and universities, private for-profit institutions, and private non-profit institutions. 

A good number of these schools have accounting programs for all degree levels, including associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees. This means prospective students can easily find something suitable, regardless of their educational needs or pursuits. 

What Are the Nonacademic Benefits of Studying in Alabama?

If you live in Alabama and plan to work there, it is usually a good idea to attend school in the state. Doing so can improve your job prospects because you will have the chance to network with local businesses and organizations while attending your preferred program, in this case, an accounting degree program. While an online program, such as an online MBA or an online bachelor in accounting degree, may not require attending class physically, earning a degree from a local university can boost your chances of quickly landing a job in the state.

In addition to these benefits, auditors and accountants working in various public and private organizations in Alabama earn attractive mean annual salaries. Accounting graduates who go on to become personal financial advisors and budget analysts usually earn higher pay than their counterparts in many other states in the US.

What is the Cost of Living Like for Alabama College Students?

The cost of living in Alabama is an important consideration, especially if you are an out-of-state student. Fortunately, the state has a comparatively low cost of living at an index of 82.3 (based on the US average indices of 100).  

In actual monetary terms for the year 2021, Alabama’s average living costs for a student who lives on campus is roughly $12,345. Students living off-campus will spend nearly $12,600 on living costs. Housing is relatively cheap (55.9 index). However, grocery, utilities, and transportation are on the higher side compared to the national averages. 

However, statistics indicate that about half of the college students in Alabama take advantage of the online learning platform. If you plan to attend an online bachelor or online MBA program, the cost of living is significantly reduced.

Types of Accounting Degrees Available at Schools in Alabama

Whether you prefer to attend an online accounting degree program or choose the traditional path, there are plenty of degrees you can pursue in Alabama, depending on your needs. The following are some of the accounting degrees you can earn from the prestigious schools in the state.

1. Forensic Accounting 

A bachelor’s degree in forensic accounting prepares students for various auditing roles, such as Forensic Auditor and Fraud Examiner in private and government organizations. The program is highly specialized and will require students to complete rigorous coursework in forensics, auditing, accounting, mathematics, and other business-related subjects. Students also learn the use of cloud accounting tools for greater efficiency.

Some of the courses covered in the program include:

  • Forensic Accounting
  • Accounting Information Technology
  • Business Law
  • Auditing
  • Fraud Investigation Techniques

2. Managerial Accounting

A BS in Managerial Accounting is an undergraduate degree course that prepares students to offer specialized accounting and auditing support to management teams. Typical functions include financial controls, risk identification, forecasting, and more.

Common courses for this bachelor degree program include:

  • Introduction to Management Accounting
  • Advanced Management Accounting
  • Cost Accounting
  • Federal Income Taxation
  • Business Law

3. Master of Accountancy 

The Master of Accountancy (MAcc) is a graduate degree program designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of accounting theory and practice. Candidates must have completed an undergraduate degree program with an accounting focus before applying for the master of accountancy program. 

Students can expect to take some of the following graduate accountancy courses:

  • Advanced Accounting Theory
  • Advanced Auditing
  • Strategic Management and Competitive Analysis
  • Fraud Examination
  • Business Ethics and Responsibility in a Global Economy
  • MAcc essentials

4. MBA Accounting

An MBA with Accounting concentration is a graduate program designed to provide students and working professionals with key knowledge and skills necessary for success in business and professional accounting careers. The accounting MBA program also meets the requirement for taking the uniform CPA exam. 

Some of the common courses for the graduate accounting program include:

  • Advance Tax Accounting
  • Information Systems Design and Project Management
  • Strategic Marketing and Competitive Analysis
  • Corporate Financial Strategy
  • Advanced Accounting Theory

Cost of Accounting Schools in Alabama

The average college tuition and fees in Alabama for the 2020 academic year is $7,007 for in-state students and $13,340 for out-of-state students. The cost of attendance (COA) includes supplies, books, and boarding (for on-campus students) in addition to tuition, fees, and other living expenses. The average COA for Alabama residents is $20,763 and $27,096 for students from other states. 

The following is the average tuition and fees summary for public and private four-year and two-year colleges and universities in Alabama for 2020:

  • Average tuition and fees for public 4-year schools (in-state): $10,315
  • Average tuition and fees for public 4-year schools (out-of-state): $20,478
  • Average tuition and fees for public 2-year schools (in-state): $5,020
  • Average tuition and fees for public 2-year schools (out-of-state): $8,881
  • Average tuition and fees for private 4-year schools: $17,338
  • Average tuition and fees for private 2-year schools: $13,737

The average tuition and fees for graduate programs in Alabama is $9,845 for in-state students and $20,971 for out-of-state candidates.

Cost of an Online Accounting Degree in Alabama versus Traditional College

The flexibility and convenience of online learning formats make it a great option for working professionals who want to combine schooling and their jobs and family responsibilities. Typically, online accounting degrees have a lower cost of attendance (COA) than traditional colleges, considering there are no housing, utilities, books, and other fees included. Personal expenses are usually fewer for an online student.

Financial Assistance for Accounting Students in Alabama

Paying for accounting education can be costly for many students. Fortunately, students can explore various funding opportunities to help mitigate the cost. However, to stand a chance of getting federal financial aid, students must enroll in accredited schools. 

Common funding avenues to pursue include low-interest loans and grants. Students are required to repay the loans after graduating, while the federal government grants do not need to be repaid.

In addition to grants and loans, students can also pursue other funding options, such as scholarships and fellowships. These financial aid options are given based on merit, location, or financial need. Alabama students enrolling in undergraduate degree programs can also leverage the Alabama-based scholarships. 

Top Schools with Accounting Degree Programs in Alabama

Alabama is home to over 78 colleges and universities, producing thousands of outstanding graduates yearly. The number includes 17 for-profit private schools, 21 non-profit private institutions, and 40 public institutions. Deciding on just one school can be a bit daunting with so many options to choose from, especially if you want a low-cost, high-value school for an accounting degree. 

What Do the Best Accounting Programs in Alabama Have in Common?

The top colleges and universities in the Cotton State offering accounting degree programs share the following features:

Accreditation

While most of the top colleges and universities offering associate, bachelor, and master degree programs are regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), a few have different institutional accreditation. However, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the university you choose is accredited. 

In addition to institutional accreditation, some of the best accounting programs have specialty or programmatic accreditation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is the most recognized body responsible for setting accounting program standards. 

While most jobs do not stipulate that your bachelor or master’s degree in accounting must have programmatic accreditation, the specialty accreditation assures you that you will get the highest quality of education from the program. 

In-Depth Accounting Curriculum

Most top accounting degree programs in Alabama are designed to prepare students to sit and pass the uniform CPA exam. Becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) allows students to fill job positions in professional accounting careers, with higher earning potential. The accounting course content is broad and thorough enough to prepare an undergraduate accounting student to pursue a graduate degree in any business-related discipline. 

Best Accounting Programs in Alabama

Here is a list of some of the top Alabama colleges and universities to consider, particularly for students and working professionals interested in pursuing a rewarding and prestigious career as accountants. Note that the tuition rates listed are estimates. Up-to-date information is available on each school’s website.

1. Alabama State University

Founded in 1867, Alabama State University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the US. The public university offers about 50 undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs with six different divisions. 

The College of Business Administration offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. The program prepares accounting students for life-long learning through top-quality teaching and coaching. With an emphasis on research and interaction with local business leaders, professional groups, and government agencies, students will gain the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the business world.

The curriculum includes courses that focus on developing problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, effective writing, oral communication, and the use of information technology. Earning the Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree prepares students to work in various professional careers in government, public, and industrial accounting. 

  • Acceptance rate: 97%
  • Graduation rate: 21%
  • Tuition: In-state $7,720; Out-of-state $15,656
  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

2. The University of Alabama at Birmingham 

Founded in 1969, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is a public four-year research institution with 140 different programs of study covering twelve divisions and leading to the award of different degrees, including bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degrees. 

The Collat School of Business at UAB offers an AACSB-accredited accounting degree program. Students wishing to study financial accounting and forensic accounting at the undergraduate level will find the curriculum for these courses very apt. 

The business school also offers a Fast-Track accounting program for outstanding undergraduate students who desire to take master’s classes simultaneously. The fast track accounting program lasts for five years and significantly reduces the cost of earning both degrees separately.

  • Acceptance rate: 73.7%
  • Graduation rate: 52.3%
  • Tuition: $8,568 
  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

3. Alabama A&M University

Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University (Alabama A&M) was founded in 1875. Located in Huntsville, Alabama, the public university consists of four colleges offering 41 Baccalaureate in different disciplines and masters and doctoral degrees.

The College of Business and Public Affairs offers both graduate and undergraduate accounting degree programs. However, the major focus is on undergraduate accounting degrees leading to the Bachelor of Science in Accounting award.

In addition to preparing students to pursue graduate and professional degrees, the BS degree in Accounting program equips students with a solid foundation to pursue accounting careers in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing and management, design, research and development, power engineering, and energy systems, and more. 

The curriculum covers the vast breadth and depth of accounting and business education required to find jobs in government, corporations, public accounting, and non-profit organizations. Also, the undergraduate accounting degree curriculum meets the requirements for the CPA exam in Alabama.

  • Acceptance rate: 92%
  • Graduation rate: 29%
  • Tuition: In-state $7,182; Out-of-state $12,774
  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

4. Auburn University

Students looking to become highly competent in financial accounting should consider the accounting degree program from Auburn University. The public land-grant university was founded in 1856 and has a relatively high graduation rate. 

Under the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business at Auburn University, the School of Accountancy is dedicated to providing high-quality accounting education to the typical accounting major. 

The accounting program is AACSB-accredited. With highly experienced accounting professors, students are taught in the class and exposed to plenty of opportunities to network with potential employers in addition to gaining real-world insights into the accounting profession. 

  • Acceptance rate: 80.7%
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Tuition: $11,492
  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

5. Miles College

Miles College was founded in 1898 as a private liberal arts institution. The school offers 25-degree programs covering six different disciplines. It is a highly selective Alabama college with a considerably low acceptance rate when it comes to admitting students. However, prospective students who meet the school’s GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and other admission requirements can have a chance of getting in. 

The college’s Business and Accounting division offers the relevant courses, training, and instructions to prepare students for careers in business, management, and accounting. Students will develop competencies in problem-solving skills, interpersonal relationships, communication skills, and the use of information technology. The undergraduate accounting program also includes internships that expose students to real-world workplace expectations.

In addition to the regional accreditation by SACSCOC, the accounting program in Miles College is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. After graduation, students will be well-equipped to enter the job market as potential accountants, auditors, and taxation specialists. 

  • Acceptance rate: 26%
  • Graduation rate: 15.8%
  • Tuition: $12,464
  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

6. Athens State University

Athens State University is an Upper Division university founded in 1822. The public institution offers academics in three colleges, including Arts and Sciences, Education, and Business. The school has more than 50 majors at the undergraduate level and offers online master’s degrees in various fields. Its degree programs’ flexibility supports distance learning, making it an ideal choice for working professionals living in Alabama. 

The College of Business at the university offers an undergraduate accounting degree program, leading to the award of a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. The intensive program is designed to prepare students for positions in finance, business, and government. 

The curriculum teaches courses that develop competencies and skills in accounting, finance, management, and technology as it relates to business. The curriculum also meets the requirements that prepare students to sit and pass the CPA exam and obtain a CPA licensure. 

  • Acceptance rate: 80%
  • Graduation rate: 49.5%
  • Tuition: In-state $6,180; Out-of-state $12,360
  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

7. University of South Alabama 

The University of South Alabama came into existence in 1963. The public school is located in Mobile, Alabama, and offers 13 doctoral programs, 38 master’s degrees, and over 50 undergraduate programs in a wide range of disciplines. 

The Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama is among the few business schools with the prestigious AACSB accreditation. This is an excellent choice for working professionals looking to earn a Master of Business Administration degree. The MBA program is designed to suit individuals with business and non-business undergraduate degrees.

Prospective undergraduate students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management (BSBA) after completing the 122-hour accounting program. In addition to receiving value-added accounting education, graduates will also develop the necessary skills to use information technology in the accounting profession. 

  • Acceptance rate: 78.7%
  • Graduation rate: 36.3% 
  • Tuition: $8,396 
  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

8. University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is the first state-chartered public university in Florence, Lauderdale County, Alabama. Originally founded in 1830 by the Methodist Church, it became a state-run university in 1870. The school offers over a hundred majors and concentrations in various disciplines, including business and accounting. These programs do not only prepare students for professional careers but also equip them for life. 

The College of Business offers both online and on-campus accounting programs for undergraduate and graduate-level degrees. The Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) in Accounting degree program covers core accounting courses and business administration courses designed to prepare students for professional accounting careers in government, public, and private organizations.  

The Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program prepares individuals for leadership positions in business. Candidates will also get the necessary education to sit and pass the CPA and CFE exams. The College of Business at the University of North Alabama is accredited by the prestigious AACSB International.

  • Acceptance rate: 89%
  • Graduation rate: 40%
  • Tuition: $20,220
  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Programmatic Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)

9. Herzing University – Birmingham

Herzing University Birmingham was established in 1965 and offers career-focused programs both on-campus and online. The private, not-for-profit university is a small school with a student-faculty ratio of 14 to 1, making it an excellent choice for students who prefer more flexibility in choosing programs that meet their individual interests. 

The accounting program at Herzing University is designed for both various degree levels. Students looking to get into support roles in the accounting field can earn an associate degree in accounting. Individuals who want to become accountants can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree to fill positions, such as tax examiners, auditors, accountants, and revenue agents.  

The MBA in Accounting and Finance program of the school is designed to advance the careers of working professionals. Students will learn to drive an organization’s fiscal health through the use of financial and accounting tools.

  • Acceptance rate: 78.3%
  • Graduation rate: 57.6%
  • Tuition: $14,200
  • Institutional Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

10. Jacksonville State University

Jacksonville State University is a public institution established in 1883. It has six academic schools offering programs of study leading to bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees.

The School of Business and Industry offers accounting degree programs for students desiring to pursue careers as tax accountants, forensic accountants, auditors, payroll managers, and more. Students with a flair for analyzing and interpreting financial data can earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Accounting. 

The school emphasizes professionalism and creates ample opportunities for faculty-student interaction. Classes are taught by faculty to ensure high-quality accounting education.

  • Acceptance rate: 55%
  • Graduation rate: 35%
  • Tuition: In-state $7,092; Out-of-state $13,884
  • Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Which is the Best Online Accounting Program in Alabama?

If you live in Alabama but not near a university, you can consider enrolling in an accounting degree offered in an online format. As an online student, you have the benefit of convenience, allowing you to joggle your accounting course with work and family. 

Here are some of the best online accounting options to consider, whether you prefer an online program for a graduate, undergraduate, or associate degree.

1. University of West Alabama 

2. University of Alabama at Birmingham (Collat School of Business)

3. Franklin University 

4. Herzing University Birmingham

Find the program that’s right for you

Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

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