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Best Accounting Schools in Arizona in 2021

September 27, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Top Degree Programs and Accounting Schools in Arizona

Accounting degrees provide a wide range of fulfilling career tracks for students and make students more desirable to employers, especially if they go beyond associates and bachelor degree levels. Graduates have a competitive advantage with the potential to earn high salaries.

Students considering accounting degree programs in Arizona usually want to find out all they can about the various business schools, degree types, and the cost of attending these programs. This article outlines all of these and more.

Advantages of Going to an Accounting School in Arizona

Arizona has good business schools that consistently rank high among the top accounting programs in the United States. Some of these schools include the W.P. Carey School of Business, the Eller College of Management, and more.

Another advantage of attending an accounting school in Arizona is the tuition rate for both in-state and out-of-state students. The rates are similar to the national averages for two-year and four-year public colleges and universities. On the other hand, the average tuition rate for private institutions in Arizona is considerably lower than the national average. 

Nearly 60% of students in this state attend online classes, making online learning considerably common in Arizona. There is no shortage of learning options in the state, whether it is an accounting program or a business administration course.  

In addition to the increased online learning options, Arizona schools hope to increase opportunities for financial aid and improve community college credit transfers to boost graduation rates. 

Accreditation is a crucial consideration when choosing a college or university. Fortunately, Arizona schools have regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) – the body saddled with the responsibility of granting accreditation to schools in Arizona.

In addition to regional accreditation, top business schools in Arizona also have programmatic accreditation from one of two accrediting agencies that oversee the quality of business schools. These non-government agencies are the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

The cost of living in the state is another attractive proposition. Generally, accommodation costs are low, so prospective students from other states may not spend too much money finding suitable accommodation. However, distant learning or online learning format completely removes this cost. 

Cost of Accounting Schools in Arizona

Tuition and fees are major deciding factors when it comes to choosing a school to pursue your desired program. Whether you are thinking of enrolling in some of the best Arizona MBA programs or an undergraduate degree program, the cost is an important consideration. 

Thankfully, students can access financial aid opportunities to fund their degrees. However, it is important to know exactly how much it will cost to earn an accounting degree in Arizona before seeking financial aid. 

How Much Does an Accounting Degree Cost in Arizona?

The exact cost of college tuition and fees for accounting degree programs in Arizona varies depending on a few factors, such as:

  • Type of school (public or private)
  • Duration of the accounting program (two years or four years program)
  • Residency (in-state or out-of-state student)
  • Format of the program (traditional or online)

However, here is the average cost of college tuition and fees:

  1. Average tuition and fees for a private four-year college program – $13,487
  2. Average in-state tuition and fees for a public four-year college program – $10,557
  3. Average in-state tuition and fees for a public two-year college program – $2,152
  4. Average out-of-state tuition and fees for a public four-year college program – $26,067 
  5. Average out-of-state tuition and fees for a public two-year college program – $8,067

Considering the lesser in-state tuition and fees, students thinking about enrolling in any Arizona school can save considerably by getting residency before doing so. There’s a chance you qualify for in-state tuition even if you are not from Arizona. The Western Undergraduate Exchange program by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education makes it possible for prospective students in other western states in the US to enjoy such benefits. 

Additional Cost to Expect When Studying Accounting in Arizona

Besides the tuition and fees, studying accounting in any Arizona school comes with additional costs, such as textbooks, transportation, and accommodation costs. This is particularly the case for out-of-state students. 

Fortunately, the cost of living in Arizona is considerably low. The state’s cost index score is 97, and it is ranked the 24th most affordable state in the US. Accommodation usually takes a high percentage when it comes to the cost of living in most places, but that’s not the case with Arizona. The state has a comparatively low housing cost. On the other hand, the cost of transport and utility in Arizona is above the national average. However, with housing cost being low, it brings down the overcall living cost.

In any case, many students can find ways to get financial aid opportunities, which they may qualify for. Submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is a good first step in determining your federal financial aid eligibility.

A degree in accounting is not particularly cheap, whether it is an associate, bachelor, or master’s degree program. This explains why many students seek some form of assistance or financial aid to fund their education. 

Students looking to get financial aid typically apply for scholarships or grants, such as the Pell grants. While a loan is another option, it requires a repayment, making it a less attractive proposition compared to scholarships and grants because beneficiaries are not required to make a repayment.

Cost of Online Accounting versus On-Campus Programs in Arizona

Online learning has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years, presenting an alternative path to higher education for many continuing students and working professionals looking to improve their careers without quitting their jobs. This flexibility is one of the major benefits of online education. 

However, the cost can be another huge advantage for studying accounting degree programs online. Although pricing varies from school to school, traditional accounting degree programs in Arizona generally have higher tuition than online options. The fees for campus learning shoot up dramatically when the cost of housing, transportation, utility, feeding, and books are added. 

However, students need to examine and analyze the list of fees for the Arizona school they prefer before enrolling. Some fees are optional, while others are compulsory. Students looking to sign up for online programs need to compare costs taking note of any compulsory fees.

There are usually fewer personal expenses incurred when pursuing an accounting degree program in an online college or university. The operating expenses are also less, making the tuition and fees lower than traditional schools.

Types of Accounting Programs at Arizona schools

Accounting degree options at Arizona schools cover different degree levels, including associate, undergraduate bachelor, and graduate degrees. The following degree types are designed for undergraduate and graduate students.

Undergraduate Accounting Programs to Study in Arizona

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. 

Some of the courses covered in the program include:

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

The program gives students exceptional career prospects and higher salaries since it is a specialty field of accounting. A typical Forensic Accountant can expect to earn an average starting salary in the range of $63,000 to $102,000 per year.

2. Accounting Information System

Students who want to enter the accounting field as accountants or auditors can do so by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Accounting Information Systems. Students will learn how to use information systems technology in analyzing and evaluating accounting processes.

In addition to information technology courses, students need to complete accounting and auditing theory and practice courses to earn this degree. Other common courses are:

  • Accounting I & II
  • Computer Forensics
  • Information Systems Design
  • Information Technology Auditing

3. Managerial Accounting

A BS in Managerial Accounting 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’s degree program include:

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

Paying for college or university can be quite a huge financial burden, regardless of whether it is an on-campus or online program. But it can be well worth the time and money in the end. The demand for accountants is considerably high, and accounting graduates can earn great salaries. However, it gets better with an MBA or a CPA license.

Graduate Accounting Programs to Study in Arizona

1. Master of Science in Management Accounting 

The Master of Science in Management Accounting degree is one of the best degrees that prepare students and working accountants for managerial and executive positions. The degree focuses on decision making, financial management, and financial control, essentially building on previous education earned from an undergraduate level program. 

The post-graduate program also prepares candidates to write the Uniform CPA exam in many states. The theory and principles of accounting management are the major focus of the coursework. Some of the common courses for this accounting program are:

  • Advanced Auditing
  • Business Analysis
  • Corporate Governance
  • Management Control Systems
  • Risk Analysis

Earning a Master of Science in Management Accounting gives candidates a competitive advantage because it equips them with the requisite knowledge to fill managerial roles in government agencies with an accounting focus. Graduates can become CFOs or CEOs, and they can work as Audit Managers or Tax Managers.

The starting salary for Tax Managers is in the vicinity of $79,500 to $100,250 per year, while Audit Managers can earn a starting salary of about $78,750 to $90,000.

2. MBA in Accounting

A Master of Business Administration degree with a focus on accounting equips candidates with the required knowledge for management roles in business, especially as it has to do with accounting. In addition to developing leadership skills, students will also increase their problem-solving skills. 

Also, students looking to earn a CPA license can leverage the knowledge offered by this course. Completing the program can provide the required credit hours to sit and pass the Uniform CPA exam. 

Students typically complete a bachelor’s program in accounting or business courses for admission into the Master of Business Administration degree program. The coursework may include seminars, workshops, and internships. 

Candidates for this MBA program can expect to take courses such as:

  • Business Law
  • Financial Analysis
  • Intermediate Accounting
  • Leadership & Organizational Behavior
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Personal and Corporate Taxation
  • Tax Strategies

A graduate student of an MBA in Accounting can land high-paying jobs as an accountant, auditor, or even fit into management positions in accounting firms. The average annual salary for an auditor or accountant with an MBA in Accounting is about $63,550. Those filling the positions of financial managers can earn a median annual salary of $109,740. 

3. MBA in Forensic Accounting

An MBA in forensic accounting prepares students and career accountants to focus on fraud detection and prevention. The master’s degree level program equips a forensic accountant with the necessary skills to find and deter potential financial crimes and report the same to management or investigative agencies. A forensic accountant can also testify in a law court using presentations.

The prerequisite for an MBA in forensic accounting is at least a bachelor’s degree. Candidates with accounting, business, or finance backgrounds in their undergraduate level study are better suited for this MBA program. Graduate-level exams, such as GMAT or GRE, may be required in some cases because the MBA program is a post-graduate degree.

The typical coursework for this degree covers the areas of accounting, business, communication, and management. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Audit Risk
  • Business Ethics
  • Computer Forensics
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Fraud Examination

Forensic accountants enjoy competitive salaries, with the average pay falling between $63,000 and $102,000 annually. A forensic accountant can work in government agencies, such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission, or work in business. In addition to a rewarding accounting career, earning an MBA in forensic accounting fulfills the required credit hours to sit for the Uniform CPA exam in many states. 

CPA Program

CPA is not a typical degree, but becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) paves the way for better and more rewarding career opportunities, such as starting your own recognized accounting business (if you want to explore your entrepreneurial side) or providing professional services to large auditing firms (if you prefer to work for corporate accounting organizations). 

While there is no “CPA degree,” higher education institutions offer various accounting programs at different degree levels that provide the required coursework hours for a CPA license. In most states, getting a CPA license means completing 150 semester hours of college coursework (which includes accounting coursework between 24 and 36 semester hours). This prepares candidates to sit and pass the Uniform CPA exam. 

In any case, the general requirement for enrolling in a CPA preparation program is a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Basic level accounting and business courses are also typical prerequisites. The coursework covers core accounting courses and some elective courses tailored to candidates’ areas of interest. The program can last for about a year to a few years, depending on whether students choose accelerated or part-time options.

Some of the courses in a CPA program include:

  • Accounting Systems and Data Processing
  • Advanced Accounting
  • Advanced Income Tax
  • Analysis of Financial Statements
  • Corporate Taxation
  • Cost Accounting
  • Estate & Gift Taxation
  • Governmental and Not-for-profit Accounting
  • International Accounting and Taxation
  • Issues in Tax Policy
  • Principles of Auditing
  • Tax Research and Planning

Fulfilling the requirements for a CPA licensure does not require attending a physical campus. You can complete the required coursework hours in online universities or any brick-and-mortar school. The important thing to keep in mind is the accreditation status of the institution or program. Make sure the program is recognized and accredited to earn you a CPA licensure. 

Also, you can become a Certified Public Accountant by completing an MBA program in some states. However, this might be possible only if the MBA program has a concentration in accounting to enable you to sit for the Uniform CPA exam.

Top Accounting Schools in Arizona

The school you choose for an accounting degree matters. You want to enroll in a degree-awarding institution that doesn’t only do well in educating students for a specific major and a great overall school. 

The best accounting schools in Arizona are accredited by some of the world’s leading accrediting agencies for business schools. Also, these institutions offer higher education programs that can allow students to apply and sit the CPA exam supervised by the Board of Accountancy in Arizona.

Besides being great overall and regionally accredited institutions, the following factors were used to select the top accounting schools in Arizona:

  • Accounting focus: The level of concentration on accounting students and programs as against other majors
  • Average earnings after graduation: Earning an accounting degree from an Arizona school on this list usually means landing jobs with above-average salaries after graduation
  • Popularity: The number of accounting students who choose the school

Students thinking about enrolling for an accounting degree program in the Arizona territory can check out the following colleges and universities with highly acclaimed accounting schools. 

Arizona Colleges And Universities Offering the Best Accounting Programs

1. University of Arizona

The University of Arizona is the oldest public research institution in Arizona. It was established in 1885 and is located in Tucson, Arizona. The school has more than 34,000 students enrolled in their over 300 study areas. 

The Eller College of Management – one of the institution’s largest colleges – runs the accounting degree program. It is a four-year intensive program designed to give accounting students the requisite knowledge to help them succeed in their careers. 

Apart from the classwork, accounting students can choose to join the Accounting Student Association to network with professionals and faculty and learn about real-world accounting experiences. 

The annual tuition is $32,489.  The institution is accredited by the AACSB. 

2. Arizona State University

Founded in 1885, the Arizona State University is a public research institution. With over 82,000 students, the institution has the highest enrollment in any public university in the US. 

The bachelor’s degree in accounting is one of the programs in the W.P. Carey School of Business. The program gives students a solid foundation in information technology, critical thinking, communication, and team-building skills.  Students can leverage the business school’s numerous business clubs, internships, and research opportunities to learn hands-on accounting processes and strategies. 

The tuition per year for Arizona State University is $26,470. The institution is accredited by AACSB.

3. Northern Arizona University

Established in 1889, the Northern Arizona University is a public institution with over 22,000 students on its main campus at Flagstaff, Arizona. It has quite a few other campuses all over the state and offers over 150 different degree programs. 

Named one of the best colleges in the US, the institution’s business school (the Franke College of Business) is recognized and ranked number four for veteran students. It offers a bachelor’s degree program in accounting for students looking to have an in-depth understanding of the course. 

In addition to 30 credits in major courses, students enrolling in the accounting program must take 43 credits in business core courses. The program offers students the opportunity to sit for the CPA exam through the MBA-ACC program.

Enrolling in business school will cost tuition of about $24,144 per annum. The institution’s business school is accredited by AACSB. 

4. University of Phoenix 

The University of Phoenix was founded in 1976. It is a for-profit institution offering more than 100 programs covering different higher education programs, including associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees.

Here, the bachelor’s degree in accounting is a 120 credit hour program. The accounting program covers practical accounting knowledge. Accounting students will be exposed to an in-depth understanding of financial, managerial, and auditing practices. They will also study taxation and many more topics. 

All accounting courses offered at the University of Phoenix are consistent with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and align with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

The annual tuition rate is roughly $11,170. The institution is accredited by the ACBSP.

5. Grand Canyon University

If you prefer a for-profit Christian school in Arizona, Phoenix’s Grand Canyon University is worth considering. Founded in 1949, the private Christian research university offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs in a vast range of fields, including a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s in accounting.

Undergraduate accounting students are equipped with core knowledge in accounting principles and procedures. In addition to studying cost accounting and taxations, the program covers topics that teach students to prepare financial statements, comprehend and explore ethical issues and auditing standards, as well as help organizations to make sound financial decisions. 

You have the opportunity to qualify for the CMA exams and even the CPA exam while completing the required 150 credit hours. 

The estimated annual tuition is $16,500. Grand Canyon University is accredited by the ACBSP.

Arizona Online Schools with the Best Accounting Programs

If you are looking for the best online program to pursue a degree in accounting, consider the following colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Arizona:

1. Grand Canyon University – Colangelo College of Business

Total credits: 54

Cost per credit: $615

Duration: 8 weeks

Total credits: 34

Cost per credit: $615

Duration: 8 weeks

Total credits: 120

Cost per credit: $470

Duration: 8 weeks

Total credits: 120

2. University of Phoenix – Online Campus

Total credits: 120

Cost per credit: $389

Duration: 5 weeks

  • Online bachelor program – Bachelor of Science in Accounting with Associate of Arts in Business Fundamentals (BSA W/AA in Business Fundamentals)

Total credits: 120

Cost per credit: $389

Duration: 5 weeks

Total credits: 120

Cost per credit: $689

Duration: 18 months

3. Rio Salado College, Tempe, Arizona 

Total credits: 60 – 65

Cost per credit: $250

Duration: Flexible

4. Western International University, Tempe, Arizona 

Total credits: 120

Cost per credit: $250

Duration: 3.6 years

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