It’s no secret that Accounting is one of the popular majors in Arkansas, a state located in the South, connecting many states and cities, and surrounded by major business hubs. Granted, it’s not the most populous state in the US.
However, Arkansas employs thousands of skilled workers, including 7440 accountants, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It also anticipates a 4% job growth rate nationwide for accountants by 2029. The projections depict an increased demand for accountants in Arkansas as well.
Compared to nearby states, such as Kansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, accountants in Arkansas also earn decent wages. Beyond accounting, learners who earn degrees in accounting end up in high-paying professions across the Arkansas industries.
However, with the wealth of options available, finding the best accounting school in this state is no easy feat. Therefore, we’ll explore everything you need to know to select the ideal accounting program for you.
Pros and Cons of Attending an Accounting School in Arkansas
Let’s delve into the perks of enrolling in an accounting program in Arkansas.
Become an Auditor or Accountant
According to the BLS, at least a bachelor’s degree is required to become an auditor or accountant. Additionally, some employers gravitate towards those with a master’s degree in the field.
The certification to become a Certified Public Accountant requires passing the CPA exam and a minimum of 150 hours of college or university credits. It’s above a standard 4-year bachelor’s degree. You can earn these credits during your master’s degree program to meet the stipulated requirements.
Excellent Career Outlook
The BLS predicts a 4% job increment by 2029 for auditors and accountants at all degree levels from a graduate school. It also says that applicants for these openings with a CPA license have better employment opportunities. Those with a master’s degree in business administration or accounting are at an advantage compared to accounting graduates with only an online bachelor’s degree.
Whether you have a bachelor’s or a master’s in accounting, there’s minimal difference in the pay at an entry-level. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that a master’s degree in accounting, including CPA certification, can make you highly competitive in a boatload of positions.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for all US occupations was $39,810 as of 2019. A wealth of the professions in which accounting graduates with a master’s find advancement job opportunities that pay well above the median, as shown in the table below.
|Auditor or Accountant||$79,520|
|Personal Financial Advisor||$119,290|
Now that you know the advantages of pursuing an accounting degree, let’s discuss some of the drawbacks.
Tuition and Other Costs
There’s no real entry-level pay increment between a master’s and a bachelor’s. Therefore, a graduate school student can start an entry-level position with a bachelor’s without enrolling in a master’s accounting program, saving you on tuition and a student loan.
A master’s from a business school, university, or community college in Arkansas adds up to 3 years to your education. Fees, books (at least $1000), tuition (well over $10,000) are costs that can quickly rack up. Usually, students will rely on student loans and will work in college to cover these extra costs, increasing future debt.
No Pay Difference Between the Accounting Degree Levels
Although you might stumble upon higher-paying opportunities and be more competitive for jobs with a master’s in accounting under your belt, there’s a higher likelihood of encountering similar entry-level salaries. According to Payscale, the average salary for a student who completes a bachelor of applied science accounting degree program in accounting is $71,371.
The Cost of living for a Student in Arkansas
In addition to fees and tuition, students in Arkansas must factor in other expenses such as utilities, transportation, groceries, and housing. A report from the World Population Review reveals Arkansas as the 2nd most affordable state in the US, ranking at 86.9% of the national average. Housing is particularly inexpensive in this state, making it perfect for anyone living in Arkansas and planning to pursue an online accounting degree.
Types of Accounting Degrees Available at Schools in Arkansas
An accounting degree, for instance, a forensic accounting degree, can set a student on a path to a strong career in finance and business. An accountant can work for government agencies, small businesses, corporations, and non-profits. Their job descriptions include preparing tax documents, creating financial reports, assuring regulatory compliance, and reviewing expenditure and income.
Additionally, some accountants track down financial criminals, whereas others participate in high-return investments. A career in accounting can prove dynamic, safe, or exciting, based on the exact role. Keeping that in mind, an accounting degree can come in all different levels, as outlined below.
The meaning of a certificate in accounting differs from one person to another. To clarify, a certificate and certification are not equal. While state agencies or professional organizations issue certifications for meeting stipulated requirements, schools provide certificates for completing short academic programs.
For instance, an accountant who passed the CPA exam holds a certification, not a certificate. With that being said, a certificate can make a smooth transition for people who want to give the accounting field a try before investing in a pricey and lengthy degree program.
Many applicants to a certificate accounting program already have a bachelor’s degree under their belt in a non-business field. Therefore, a certificate ushers in a more affordable and faster alternative to a master’s degree.
Typically, students aim to qualify for careers such as account administration and bookkeeping. Admission requirements differ from one accounting college or university to another, so a student must examine each certification option on its merits, given that these online degree programs vary widely.
- Duration: 3 to 4 months
- Sample Courses: Taxation, financial accounting, and managerial accounting
- Cost: $200 per credit
- Potential Salary and Careers: Teller ($31,230), Administrative Assistant ($39,850), and Account and Bill Collector ($37,000)
2. Associate Degree
Requiring a maximum of 2 years in school, an associate degree in accounting can deliver an affordable and quick start to a long and fruitful career in a financial position. It lays the groundwork for further education at a master’s or bachelor’s level. Alternatively, it can serve as the foundation for an entirely new career. Typically, an associate in an accounting degree program requires 60 credits to complete. However, most schools in Arkansas allow up to 45 transferrable credits, cutting down the duration of graduation to one or two semesters.
Courses in associate programs include applied marketing strategies, financial accounting, and principles of finance. People with teacher certification, credits in general education, or are eager to get started in an accounting career usually find an associate degree a great fit.
Admission usually calls for a high school diploma or its equivalent, and a community college in Arkansas charges modest tuition, making the entry barriers low.
- Duration: 2 years
- Sample Courses: Federal taxation, financial accounting, and principles of finance
- Cost: $135 per credit
- Potential Salary And Careers: Financial Clerk ($40,540), Loan Officer ($63,270), and Accounting Clerk ($41,230)
3. A Bachelor of Science in Accounting (BSA)
For a myriad of people, earning a BSA marks the first step on a career path to the diverse world of finance and accounting. With a bachelor of accounting, graduates can prepare tax returns, audit an organization’s financial records, prepare financial reports, and interpret financial regulations.
Additionally, a BSA can meet a major part of the criteria toward becoming a certified public accountant (CPA). Most accounting careers require at least a bachelor’s. Career switchers, recent high school graduates, or anyone with an associate’s in accounting can make an excellent candidate for a BSA.
As an accounting degree program, it requires four years of study and 120 credits. Nonetheless, an online college in Arkansas allows students to transfer a maximum of 90 credits, shortening the time to graduation by up to 3 years.
The accounting courses in a bachelor’s degree program include financial statement analysis, cost accounting, business law, and federal taxation. Some schools, such as Walton College, allow students to earn an accelerated bachelor of science (BS) or a master’s of Science (MS) in accounting and gets started in their new careers.
- Duration: 4 years
- Sample Accounting Courses: Intermediate Accounting, Business Law, and Accounting Software and Information Systems
- Cost: $595 per credit
- Potential Salary and Careers: Real Estate Appraiser ($57,010), Actuary ($108,350), and an Auditor ($71,550)
4. Master’s In Accounting
It’s the key to bridging the gap between a lifelong career as a financial professional such as a CPA and an entry-level job in accounting. Usually, prospective graduate students have earned a bachelor of finance, business administration, or accounting in addition to a high GPA.
A multitude also enrolls in master’s accounting degree programs with several years of experience in the field. Some schools such as Walton College require applicants to submit their GMAT, or GRE scores, whereas others don’t. However, in nearly all cases, students must prove an academic background that depicts readiness for master’s level coursework.
Accounting courses in a master’s program include financial reporting, communication in management, and business law. Additionally, most programs feature a capstone. The available specializations include taxation, financial accounting, auditing, and forensic accounting.
Once they earn an actuary degree and complete a master’s graduate accounting program, aspiring accountants in Arkansas may earn a promotion to an advanced role at their current workplace or qualify to sit the CPA exam.
- Duration: Up to 2 years
- Sample Accounting Courses: Ethics in Accounting, Advanced Auditing, and Corporate Financial Management
- Cost: $335 per credit
- Potential Salary and Careers: CPA ($71,550), Financial Analyst ($85,660), and Personal Financial Advisor ($87,850)
5. Master’s in Business Administration (MBA)
MBA programs typically appeal to prospective students with expertise in accounting and finance. They help learners progress from mid-level management to leadership positions in budget analysis, management accounting, or cost accounting.
Prospective learners usually opt for an MBA over a master’s in accounting if their career plans center on business leadership more than accounting and finance. Although an MBA usually requires at least two years of study, a boatload of schools in Arkansas, such as Walton College, currently offers accelerated programs that last 14 to 15 months.
These degree programs require up to 36 credits and accounting courses that last 7 to 8 weeks each. These courses draw from diverse fields such as operations management, public policy, marketing, and leadership.
A reputable college or university in Arkansas usually requires candidates to submit their GRE scores, GMAT, and other standardized tests for admission to their MBA program. As a rule of thumb, all MBA programs require a bachelor’s degree for admission and a business degree or background. After graduation, MBA alumni can qualify for jobs such as budget analysis, accountants, and auditors.
- Duration: 14 to 36 months
- Sample Accounting Courses: Cost Accounting, Financial Accounting, and Accounting in Mergers and Acquisitions
- Cost: $350 per credit
- Potential Salary and Careers: Cost Estimator ($65,250), Tax Manager ($54,890), and Budget Analyst ($76,540)
What to Expect During an Accounting Program at an Arkansas School
In today’s digital era, a wealth of universities and colleges embrace online learning. Although it matches the quality of on-campus programs, there are differences. While a student can opt to partially learn online in a hybrid format, other students earn a conventional on-campus education.
Following a traditional format, it is best suited to a student who delights in face-to-face interactions, communities and requires a tight schedule to stay on track. If you enroll in an on-campus accounting program, you’ll be required to interact with students and faculty, spend time engaging with others around campus, and attend class at certain times.
An online bachelor’s degree in accounting, for instance, teaches the same material as the on-campus counterpart, but at a distance. An online student usually has work commitments or a busy personal life. Therefore, an online college ushers in the flexible learning options they need.
Some virtual programs use asynchronous accounting courses, which means students can complete coursework at their earliest convenience. Some schools, such as Walton College, offer tuition discounts to online learners. In some cases, they extend tuition to learners situate out of Arkansas. Students that prefer flexibility gain the most from an online accounting university or college.
- Hybrid Programs
As opposed to committing entirely to on-campus or online education, an accounting student in a hybrid program completes some coursework in person and a portion online. In these accounting degree programs, some courses employ online and in-person formats concurrently.
A degree program, usually at a bachelor level, master’s level, or higher, allows students to choose optional specializations. They allow a student to delve deeper into niche accounting or non-accounting concepts.
Although they are not a requirement by employers, specializations depict an accountant’s interests in certain fields. By earning an accounting degree with a specialization, a graduate can find a relevant role or enroll in a related doctoral degree or graduate program.
The following specializations can prove beneficial in Arkansas.
An accountant in this field analyzes financial statements to determine a company’s financial health. A student delves into financial topics in pursuit of more finance-based roles.
A cost accountant uses their accounting expertise to formulate financial plans and budgets. Cost accounting is a course that focuses on broad business skills such as logistics, management, and communication. It’s most ideal for a student whose interest is piqued by management-level positions.
Funding Your Accounting Degree Program
College students in Arkansas benefit from fairly low tuition costs. The average 4-year college or university costs $8,187 for in-state learners compared to the national average of $9,037 for an in-state student. An out-of-state student can enjoy reduced tuition fees, paying approximately $20,061 annually compared to $25,657 nationally.
Furthermore, private accounting schools cost less in Arkansas compared to nationwide. After students take advantage of the fairly low tuition rates, they can reduce them further through loans, grants, financial aid, and a scholarship. Some accounting programs also offer paid internships, an excellent way to gain experience and earn money.
Arkansas Education and Accounting Organizations
Arkansas Society of CPAs
As the oldest institution dedicated to accountants in Arkansas, ARCPAs deliver useful resources for accounting students and professionals alike. Members enjoy perks such as networking, discounts, and CPE opportunities.
Ideal for an accountant whose specialty is finance, NAIFA-Arkansas advocates for a professional at the federal and state levels. It also connects advisors with new professionals.
Founded in 1978, this entity represents individuals interested in governmental accounting. Members of this body access local chapters and annual conferences located across Arkansas.
ASBPA licenses and certifies accountants across the state. Future and current accountants can use the site to submit fees, verify continuing professional education, and find applications.
To become a CPA in most states, you must qualify based on your ethics exam scores, education, CPA examination scores, and education. For the Arkansas accounting board, you’ll require at least 150 undergraduate credit hours.
However, you can sit for the exam if you’re 30 credits short of this requirement. Out of the 150 credits, 30 must be in upper-level courses. Alternatively, you can use 20 hours of graduate course credits. Regarding experience, the state board requires a minimum of 1 year in any of the following accounting environments:
- Public Accountancy
- Governmental Accountancy
- Academia Accountancy
- Private Accountancy
Fortunately for you, the ethics requirements for Arkansas are light. Since 2015, candidates for a CPA license only need to take a 1-hour self-study course and answer at least 22 out of 30 questions correctly.
If you’re from out of the country or out-of-state, fret not, as Arkansas still welcomes you with open arms. The state lacks citizenship or in-state residency requirements for CPA candidates.
Nonetheless, you must have a social security number (SSN) to qualify for work within the state. Additionally, Arkansas has no age restrictions, so if you’re exceptionally talented, you might get the opportunity to practice accountancy before you can legally drive.
The educational requirements in Arkansas are quite specific. To sit for the test, you don’t need to have a bachelor-level qualification but must meet certain criteria. Your coursework must include 30 semester hours in higher-level accounting courses in addition to 20 hours in non-accountancy but business-related courses. You must score at least a C in all courses. To guarantee that your accountancy courses have prepared you for the CPA exam, you must prove that you’ve covered the following fields:
- Management Accounting
- Federal Taxation
- Auditing and Attestation
- Financial Accounting
- Accounting Information Systems
- Governmental or Non-Profit Accounting
If your education was in a quarter-system university or college, such as Walton College, converting your hours simply entails multiplying them by two-thirds. Regardless of the system your school operates under, it must be fully accredited by one of these regional bodies.
- The Higher Learning Commission
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- Colleges Commission on Institutions in Higher Education
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- New England Association of Schools
- Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission
- Western Association of Schools
After completing the educational requirements to9 sit for the exam, you’ll need to fill out the detailed application. It entails submitting official sealed transcripts from any university or college you have attended. Once you send them to the Board Office, they’ll be added to your file. When your file is complete, allow 4 to 6 weeks for processing.
The uniform CPA exam is a four-part test conducted during a rolling duration of 18 months from when you sit for and pass the first section. The four sections, all of which you must pass with a minimum score of 75, are:
- Attestation and Auditing
- Financial Reporting and Accounting
- Business Concepts and Environment
You’ll pay fees and apply for each test independently. Nonetheless, you can apply for at least two exams simultaneously. Once you pay the required fees, you’ll have six months to take the tests you’ve applied to sit for. If you fail one of the tests, six months must elapse before you’re eligible to retake it, so take the time to study for them.
Passing all parts of the CPA exam at the first attempt is no easy feat, so if you don’t succeed at first, fret not. The pass rate for the tests ranges from 44% to 54%. Auditing is reportedly the most challenging section, with a 47% pass rate in Arkansas as of 2015.
If you pass all four sections of the CPA exam, you’ll be faced with passing the Arkansas Ethics Exam that takes 1 hour and a virtual self-study course. You’ll then need to complete all sections of the course and sit for a 30-minute assessment. To pass, you must answer at least 22 questions correctly. In Arkansas, all CPAs have 1-year experience in a private, academic, governmental, or public setting under the direct supervision of a CPA.
Best Schools in Arkansas with Accounting Degree Programs
We’ve rounded up the best online accounting schools in Arkansas.
1. University of Arkansas (UARK)
A student interested in pursuing a career in accounting should consider this university situated in a small city known as Fayetteville. With a relatively large student population, accounting graduates from UARK receive an earnings boost of about $5,200 above the average income of other graduates in the field.
It’s a small non-profit, private school situated in the distant town of Searcy. With an accounting major from Hardy University, you get a boost of about $7900 in earnings over other accounting graduates.
As one of the best schools to graduate from with an accounting major, this institution is fairly large and located in Conway, a small city. A student who graduates from the accounting program earns $43,700 on average in the first two years of their career.
The University of Central Arkansas offers a Master’s in Accountancy degree that you can partially complete virtually. The required class meets are one night per week, which implies that most learners attend two class nights every week. The rest of the assignments and coursework can be done online, with some electives available entirely virtually. The curriculum teaches learners technical and conceptual accounting knowledge applicable in the field. Additionally, the coursework teaches the required leadership and communications skills to adapt to a constantly evolving business world.
The Main Campus of this university is located in the city of Jonesboro. A graduate of this accounting program earns $35,000 on average within the first three years of their career.
It’s a moderately-sized public school that sits in the heart of Little Rock, a medium-sized city. A graduate of the accounting program earns about $45,000 annually at the start of their career. Students enrolled at the University of Arkansas Little Rock can earn a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in accounting entirely virtually.
The virtual program uses the same curriculum as the on-campus counterpart. Learners take general education requirements, accounting classes, and a business major. The mandatory accounting courses at this university are Auditing Practice and Theory, Managerial Accounting, Intermediate Financial Accounting, Federal Taxation, and Intermediate Cost.