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Best Accounting Schools in Colorado in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Renowned for its thriving business environment, natural beauty, and thrilling ski seasons, Colorado is an incredible choice for an aspiring certified public accountant, also known as a chartered accountant in other countries. 

A student who wants to enroll in an accounting program at a university in this state will delight in ample options for an online accounting degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, associate’s degree, an online bachelor’s degree in business administration, and other learning opportunities. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Colorado has the highest concentration of accountants, with 13.88 employed graduate students for every 1000 job opportunities in the state. A report from Projections Central anticipates a 20% growth in the demand for accounting degree careers in Colorado by 2028. Consequently, a prospective accounting professional can take advantage of a promising job market in the future. Business growth across a boatload of sectors ushers in the opportunity for accountants in Colorado to take their pick from a wide pool of promising specialties. 

Benefits of Earning Your Accounting Degree in Colorado

1. Given that accounting encompasses the recording of financial transactions, accountants analyze and compile this information in a report. Additionally, an accountant in Colorado assesses financial operations in addition to ensuring that taxes are properly paid. These functions are regarded as necessary to any business, whether it’s public, small, private, or large. 

2. A student who pursues an accounting degree can prepare for their career path by learning about the basic principles and concepts. In an accounting graduate program in Colorado, learners gain familiarity with interpreting financial statements and performing the core functions of accounting for average-sized, big, and small organizations. 

3. By enrolling in accounting, a student can acquire skill sets that include distinguishing between financial accounting, forensic accounting, tax accounting, cost accounting, and managerial accounting practices and principles. 

Additionally, they learn about the necessity of the moral standards embodies in the professional code of ethics coupled with relevant accounting-related issues. Colorado’s accounting curriculum can be designed to develop an overall knowledge of governmental accounting, auditing, taxation, nonprofit accounting, and corporate accounting. 

With an accounting degree under their belt, a student is ready for a wealth of career options and professional pathways. 

4. Due to the emphasis on the quality of education provided (one of the best in the US), an accredited university in Colorado only hires the most qualified professors. The reason is that upon enrolling in an accounting degree program in a college or university in Colorado, you want to ensure that your professor exudes unmatched reliability and can help you prepare for a better academic future. 

5. The Big Four accounting firms in Denver, Colorado, maintain a powerful presence, as is the case with 23 Fortune 500 companies such as Vail Resorts, Dish, and Western Union. Therefore, an accounting student in this state gains from a multitude of networking opportunities. Learners looking to stay in Colorado should consider utilizing these connections to bolster their future job search. 

The non-benefits of studying in Colorado are:

A Wealth of Activities in the Beautiful Environment

Let’s face it. College or university life is no easy feat. It can be stressful. However, you can unwind and relax through a boatload of ways. Each city in Colorado is littered with trails and bike paths where you can enjoy a morning or evening jog or walk. 

It’s a great opportunity to focus on your inner peace, relax, and remain fit. Taking a break to rejuvenate will undoubtedly allow you to thrive and furnish you with increased energy to complete all your pending tasks. 

An Incredible Place To Relax

There’s no denying that waking up to a breathtaking view will uplift your mood. For this reason, you’ll spend time selecting the ideal place to spend some of the best years of your life. When you spend time enjoying yourself, you elevate your performance in an accounting program in Colorado. 

If you lack the energy or time to work out, you can kick back and relax. Feeling overwhelmed or stressed can deter you from concentrating on different assignments or studying for your CMA exam. Spending time in the great outdoors of Colorado can allow you to complete some of the reading before your CPA exam and acquire a CPA license under your belt issued by professional licensing boards

For instance, heading over to the stunning national parks in Colorado can make for a fun study date as you revel in the fresh air. 

International Student Environment 

Many international students opt to enroll in an accounting program in Colorado for a better educational opportunity. The college or university you choose will be loaded with friendly and amazing people from a wealth of cultural backgrounds. 

As a melting pot, you have the opportunity to learn about personal differences, tolerance, and various cultures. Moreover, an accounting student can plan for summer activities in beautiful places within Colorado. 

The Average Cost of Education Is Lower than Other States 

Computing an accounting course’s cost is an essential factor to consider when selecting an accounting university or college in Colorado. In addition to 19 four-year schools, there are about 470 technical, public, and private higher education institutions in Colorado. With such a large pool, you can select the option that tallies with your accounting career goals, financial status, and future. 

Colorado’s tuition fees are more subsidized compared to other states, which is an excellent option, particularly if you’re on a tight budget. It includes the costs of transportation, off-campus housing, books, and other educational expenses. At the same time, you’ll receive the best education to adequately prepare you for the competition in the accounting job market. 

According to the Colorado Department of Education, 263,788 students enrolled in public higher education programs in the fall of 2019, with 173,531 enrolling in 4-year higher education programs such as a master’s in accounting. Although in-state tuition remains considerably lower than out-of-state tuition, Colorado offers regional exchange programs with reduced rates to any student living in a Western state. 

Exchange program members include California, North Dakota, Idaho, South Dakota, and Montana. Students participating in an online accounting degree program may also qualify for reduced tuition. 

Great Weather 

Granted, you can experience all four seasons. However, it’s sunny nearly every day after the rainy season. Although the lackluster weather can trigger depression or a bad mood, spending time in the sun is ideal for your physical and emotional wellbeing. 

Laidback Lifestyle 

It’s one of the cool things about pursuing an accounting major in Colorado. The people are easy to talk to and friendly as a result of the large number of students coming in from across the globe on the quest for topnotch education. In turn, this makes the community friendlier, where you can be your most authentic self and find cool people to hang out with. 

The Cost Of Living for Students Pursuing an Accounting Degree in Colorado 

According to the World Population Review, Colorado scores 105.6 in the cost of living against the overall score of 100 in the US. It implies that the cost of living in this state sits slightly above the national average. Ranking no. 33 out of 51, Colorado’s cost of living is among the middle of all states. Housing costs in this state rank at 119 compared to the national index, whereas utilities compare favorably to the rest of the country at 88.4. 

Accounting students in Colorado can finance their selected accounting degrees via a wealth of options. A student that requires financial aid should be on the quest for loans, scholarships, and grants when considering how to fund their bachelor’s degree or a master’s in accounting. 

FAFSA, an acronym for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, presents accounting students with various options, and some schools in Colorado require it for financial aid consideration. By filling the FAFSA, an accounting student can qualify for a federal grant. 

Additionally, the government offers federally distributed financial aid at low interest rates. Students can seek out grants and scholarships through local and professional organizations. The demographics may also determine financial aid eligibility. 

In Colorado, a student pursuing an accounting certificate or degree can take advantage of the available resources through the College Opportunity Fund and the Colorado Department of Education. It’s worth noting that excellent ACT, GPA, SAT scores, a higher class ranking, and impeccable leadership contribute to a student receiving merit-based financial aid. 

Other scholarships particularly cater to underrepresented populations, children of alumni, or students majoring in certain fields, in this case, an accounting major. By filling out the FAFSA, students automatically qualify for scholarships. 

They’ll typically need to re-apply annually, and the application requirements and deadlines vary from one accounting degree scholarship to another. Depending on the type of scholarship, the accounting university or student will receive the financial aid. 

What to Expect from an Accounting Degree Program in Colorado

An aspiring accountant in Colorado can find thrilling careers beyond general accounting, with renowned sectors in the state, including the military, technology, tourism, and agriculture. By selecting relevant concentrations while pursuing your degree, you position yourself as an accounting expert in your job search. Graduate students hoping to work in Colorado should consider pairing the following specializations with booming sectors in the state. 

Environmental Accounting 

Colorado’s natural resources are a major asset for the state. An environmental accountant uses their knowledge and expertise to create the perfect balance between low environmental impact and project cost. They might work as budget analysts, compliance agents, or government accountants. 

Information Systems 

With degrees centering on information systems, an accounting major can hone dual skill sets. Employers depend on experts to help run computer-oriented accounting systems. Furthermore, comprehensive knowledge of both realms can usher in amazing job opportunities. A student who graduates from an accounting degree program can work as a financial analyst, information technology manager, or forensic accountant. 

Auditing 

A specialization in this accounting field explicitly targets the process of analyzing business documents and data to guarantee compliance with regulations and laws. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is the minimum requirement for a student whose interest is piqued by an auditing career. 

Nonetheless, anyone striving for a bachelor’s in auditing can take certain auditing courses to delve deeper into the field. Although an accounting degree can feature one or several auditing courses, tailoring a bachelor of auditing allows students to access a specialized curriculum covering the fundamentals of certain auditing practices and accounting.

Cost Accounting 

It entails overseeing the internal operations of a company, including financial planning, budgeting, and marketing. A student in this field learns how to help organizations function efficiently, set goals, and make informed decisions. 

You learn to analyze operational metrics, identify inefficiencies, and evaluate performances. What makes cost accounting stand out from the general counterpart is that it focuses more on management success rather than compliance and financial accuracy. 

Financial Accounting 

It focuses on the external reporting and analysis of the financial information of a business. A financial accountant relies on accounting principles and concepts to externally report findings to government agencies or potential investors, analyze financial statements, and assess an organization’s financial health. What differentiates general accounting degree programs from financial accounting specializations is that the latter hones financial reporting and statement analysis. 

Specializing in financial accounting paves the way for careers in budget analysis, business management, financial planning, accounting, and analysis. Additionally, a financial accounting course prepares students to sit for the certified management accountant (CMA) and the certified public accountant (CPA) exams for a CPA license. 

The average pass rate for accounting programs in Colorado was 52.8% on the candidates who sat the CPA exam in 2019 and got a CPA license. A boatload of graduate and undergraduate programs in Colorado, including a master’s in accountancy (MACC) and a bachelor of science in business administration, offer this specialization. 

Forensic Accounting

A professional in the field focuses on solving, preventing, and diminishing the damage caused by financial crimes. As a certified fraud examiner, the professional identifies the signs of malicious activity and helps organizations fight it. Compared to general accounting, this discipline revolves around criminal behaviors of finances. While an auditor typically identifies problem areas and investigates financial errors, a forensic accountant engages with the legal system and law enforcement. 

Students learn the same basic skills in the early years of education before later branching off into career-based training. Forensic accountants work in a boatload of the same sectors as other accountants. They’re gainfully employed in forensic divisions of government agencies, public accounting firms, and financial institutions. 

Public Accounting 

Before enrolling in a public accounting program, start by exploring the field of public accounting and the skills required in the sector. Although the profession has a wealth of financial trade applications, the most common services range from financial consulting and auditing finances to preparing tax documents. 

A concentration in public accounting gives learners an insight into the daily responsibilities of a public accountant. They include guaranteeing the accuracy of transactions, analyzing financial data, and compiling accounting information. 

The CPA licensing requirements in Colorado are:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • 150 hours of completed coursework, including 27 credits of business courses and 27 advanced accounting courses
  • At least one year of relevant work experience. However, a student with 45 credits of accounting courses coupled with 36 credits of business courses can waive this requirement 

Although accounting students can sit for the Uniform CPA Exam after 120 hours of completed coursework, they won’t gain CPA licensure until they complete the extra 30 hours.

Accounting and Education Organizations in Colorado

Below are the education organizations that support accounting students in Colorado. 

Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA-Denver

It was founded for women in accounting and other related fields to reach their full economic, personal, and professional potential and contribute to the future growth of their careers. 

The Association of Financial Professionals & Accountants in Business

An organization that offers the Certified Management Accountant credential (CMA) has more than 70,000 members. 

Colorado Society of CPAs (COCPA)

It’s a nonprofit and statewide professional organization that has been serving CPAs in Colorado for more than a century. 

Institute of Management of Financial Professionals and Accountants in Business

The Boulder Valley Chapter 0396 of this organization furnishes local management accountants in Colorado with a place to brainstorm on ideas, find solutions to various problems, and a place to meet. With an employment director, many companies in the community rely on this association for quality candidates. 

International Federation of Accountants 

Representing 2.5 million accountants, IFAC is a global organization. 

National Association of Black Accountants (NABA)

Since it was established in 1969, NABA has developed and promoted minority professionals in the fields of finance and accounting. During the fiscal year in 2014, NABA awarded $242,830. Since then, the amount continues growing annually. 

Through the generous contributions of organizations, groups, and individuals that share NABA’s desire to break through the economic barriers that accounting students of color usually experience. The organization offers 50 annual scholarships that range from $1,000 to $10,000. 

The Professional Accounting Society of America (PASA)

Since 2005, PASA’s emphasis has been on mid-level and entry-level associates working at accounting firms across the US, including Colorado. 

Granted, accounting is a seemingly straightforward major. However, this field branches into different types that you can focus on. Let’s explore the four most common types of accounting internships that you can secure as an accounting student in Colorado. 

Corporate Accounting Internship 

A corporate intern works in a larger organization on a myriad of financial tasks. They include working on costing and pricing, preparing forecasting documents and budgets, preparing filings, tax information, and certificates, performing profit analysis, creating cash collections and applications. 

Tax Accounting Internship 

As is the case with other accounting interns in Colorado who deal with taxes, a tax intern spends most of their time working on the clients’ tax filings and preparation. What differentiates a tax intern from other accounting-based interns is that they work independently. 

Given that they mostly work alone, tax interns must be detail-oriented and self-motivated to garner confidence when presenting their work to their supervisors. 

Audit Accounting Internship 

An audit intern works with a team to plan, implement, and report audits. Given that they work with others within the auditing team and the organization at large, it’s particularly important to have a strong connection and interpersonal skills. 

Financial Accounting Internship 

A financial accounting intern is usually assigned a boatload of tasks based on the scope and size of the company. Responsibilities can entail auditing an organization’s different departments and budgets, helping with financial statements and fact-checking them, and working on tax documentation.

Best Accounting Schools in Colorado

Accreditation is a major factor in the quest for a strong accounting degree in Colorado. When researching for schools, a student usually stumbles upon two types of accreditation; regional and national. Both types are institutional, which means they apply to all accounting degrees and programs offered by a university or college. National accreditation mostly applies to nonprofit organizations, including technical and vocational institutions. Moreover, it can apply to religious bodies. 

Nonetheless, aspiring accounting students should seek out schools with regional accreditation. Usually considered as the more stringent type of accreditation, the regional option requires higher standards. Without a regionally accredited accounting degree, a graduate may struggle to pursue higher education, for instance, a master’s. 

Furthermore, anyone aiming to become a certified public accountant (CPA) should attend a school that holds regional accreditation. In Colorado, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) oversees accreditation institutions at the doctoral, bachelor’s, and master’s levels. 

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is an internationally recognized institution that provides accreditation for graduate and undergraduate programs. With that being said, below are the top accounting schools in Colorado. 

1. The University of Colorado Boulder

At the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, a student can earn a Bachelor of Science in business administration in accounting (BSBA) or an online MBA (Master’s in Business Administration). It’s a program rooted in theory to build a comprehensive understanding of accounting and business concepts. 

Armed with this foundation, a student can develop reasoning skills that will allow them to confidently solve a multitude of problems that crop up in their career. Learners gain familiarity in reading financial reports by establishing fluency in international and US accounting terms in addition to focusing on taxation procedures and auditing practices. The university also offers an MS in accounting program concurrent to the BSBA for students whose goal is to complete CPA licensure requirements. 

2. University of Denver

It offers a Bachelor of Science in accounting (BSA). As an AACSB-accredited and cohort-based program, the University of Denver paves the way for students to build a strong network with peers and faculty that will help them accomplish their career goals post-graduation. A student in this program acquires a solid business foundation, serving as the core advanced accounting coursework. 

Organizational management, business law, and analytics give students a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of business accounting before progressing to an accounting major. Learners may take courses such as Nonprofit Accounting, Consolidated Financial Statements, and Accounting for Foreign Operations. 

Through this program, students are geared up for careers in the private and public sector, in addition to graduate-level study. Furthermore, the University of Denver offers a Master of Accountancy and a Bachelor of Science in accounting to fulfill the educational requirements for CPA certification. 

3. The University of Colorado Denver

It offers an AACSB-accredited Bachelor of Science focusing on accounting that can be completed as an online program. Once students complete the core undergraduate courses, they can learn about the vast assortment of business-related topics such as economics, information systems, and ethics to guarantee well-rounded learning. 

An online student then earns 21 accounting credits, allowing them to explore a multitude of courses or enroll in an online MBA program. They include Income Tax Accounting, Financial Statement Analysis, Data Processing, Financial Accounting, and Accounting Systems. 

4. Colorado State University

It offers a Bachelor of Science in accounting that equips learners with a solid foundation in business. They also gain a comprehensive understanding of accounting. The Colorado State University prepares students for a broad range of accounting careers by centering on building skills such as deductive and inductive reasoning, perceptual speed, mathematical reasoning, and complex problem-solving. 

An undergraduate student learns about the different accounting practices in private and public sectors and nonprofit and governmental organizations. They also gain experience with cost accounting, auditing, and statement analysis. 

5. Regis University

By offering a 30-credit Master of Science in accounting, this university adequately prepares students for CPA licensure. Regis focuses on nonprofit accounting practices and ethics. Students also join an internship program that furnishes community organizations or small businesses with financial guidance, focusing more on social responsibility in business tasks. A capstone class is also needed. It implements simulation, allowing students to effectively manage corporate strategy. 

6. Metropolitan State University of Denver

It offers a Master of Professional Accountancy (MPACC) that students can complete in a year. They take 15 accounting credits of electives and 15 of core accounting coursework. As a 30-credit program, students can take their pick from 4 specializations. 

  • Taxation
  • Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination
  • Internal Auditing
  • Public Accounting

At the Metropolitan State University of Denver, learners develop leadership and critical skills that empower them to solve complex business problems that crop up in their accounting degree careers.

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