A reasonable cost of living, proximity to the nation’s capital, and a vibrant economy all lure in many professionals looking to work, live and study in Delaware. Renowned as The First State, it’s no secret that Delaware blends a modern economy with a storied history. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accounting jobs are expected to increase by 5% by 2028.
Therefore, this makes an accounting degree a solid career investment for a prospective Delaware student. The state hosts nine institutions of higher education that include community colleges, a major research university, and teaching colleges.
Additionally, schools throughout the state offer online and offline programs. With that being said, this guide walks you through the ins and outs of accounting schools in Delaware to permit an informed decision.
What to Expect from an Accounting Degree Program in Delaware
A student has free rein to choose between on-campus learning and an online accounting degree program. Typically, community colleges and Delaware technical schools provide associate programs, whereas universities and colleges offer graduate and bachelor’s degrees.
Graduates with an associate accounting degree can pursue careers as tax preparers, payroll clerks, or bookkeepers. Students can secure well-paying positions as staff accountants or financial managers by progressing to earn a bachelor’s degree.
To become a certified public accountant (CPA) in Delaware, a student should join an accounting degree program to earn a master’s. CPA candidates require a minimum of 150 university or college credits to qualify for the credential, which combines a bachelor’s degree and a master’s fulfills.
A doctoral accounting degree prepares a student for top-level roles in addition to careers in academia and research. Students in Delaware can focus on an accounting major or complete a general curriculum in the field. Specializations in taxation or auditing are particularly beneficial for aspiring accounting professionals as they apply to prominent career opportunities in the area.
It’s a specialization that revolves around financial reporting and includes federal income tax reporting, fraud examination, forensic accounting, and other courses. Auditing can prepare a student for careers such as external auditor, internal auditor, and tax auditor.
It covers all types of taxes that include property and income, in addition to tax law and financial accounting. Completing a degree program ushers in lucrative opportunities in the Delaware job market, such as financial analyst, tax accountant, and tax manager.
It offers students a comprehensive study into the everyday tasks of public accountants in Delaware. They range from compiling financial information and guaranteeing the accuracy of transactions to analyzing financial data.
A bachelor’s degree in public accounting typically entails the same coursework as a general accounting program. However, the curriculum of this accounting major is that it explores the practical and theoretical aspects of the subfield to give students insight into the real-world applications of public accounting.
In this accounting major, students learn about the basic skills of the field coupled with investigative techniques. Experts in forensic accounting solve, curb, reduce the damage caused, and bring attention to financial crimes. They learn to quickly pick up on the signs of malicious activity happening in an organization and come up with the necessary measures to take to mitigate it.
Compared to general accounting, this subfield revolves around criminal acts within the finances of a company. Although auditors can identify problem areas and investigate financial errors, a forensic accountant will usually engage with the legal system and law enforcement. With a bachelor’s degree in this specialization, students learn about accounting basics before branching off into career-based training.
A student who completes an accounting program in this field can employ the necessary financial skills and information to steer internal planning and management. Managerial accounting specializations cultivate a student’s skills in financial problem-solving, planning, decision-making, and control.
A student in this accounting degree program is trained to become a strategic partner by using accounting principles, financial data, and business sense to help managers act in their companies’ best interest.
Graduates of a management accounting degree program from an on-campus or online program can work as an accounting manager, cost accountant, or certified public accountant (CPA). A student can learn management accounting as a master’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or doctorate.
Granted, a boatload of Delaware jobs in accounting requires a bachelor’s degree. However, a professional CPA certificate or master’s degree can help candidates meet the certified public accountant’s stipulated requirements (CPA) or certified management accountant (CMA) credentials. A student whose interest is piqued by accounting teaching or research can earn a doctoral degree in management accounting.
It entails the external reporting and analysis of the financial information of a business. When it comes to accounting versus finance, a financial accountant utilizes accounting principles to assess a company’s financial health, report findings to government agencies or potential investors, and analyze financial statements.
Financial accounting majors prepare learners for careers as budget analysts, business managers, financial analysts, and general accountants. Some financial accounting courses prepare a student to sit for the certified management accountant (CMA) and certified public accountant (CPA) exams.
A multitude of graduate and undergraduate programs, including a master’s in accountancy and a Bachelor of Science in business administration, allow students in Delaware to specialize in financial accounting.
An On-campus Versus an Online Accounting Degree Program
Accounting students have the option of studying virtually or in person.
It allows accounting students to partake in campus life, social activities and form a rapport with other learners and lecturers. An on-campus accounting program usually serves students on a full-time basis and offers networking and co-curricular activities that graduates can highlight during their job search.
Demanding little to no time on campus, online colleges in Delaware provide accessible and convenient class formats. They appeal to learners with work and family obligations. These accounting degree programs comprise asynchronous coursework, which means online students don’t have to log on at particular times, ushering in optimum flexibility.
In a hybrid accounting degree program, a student combines the perks of the on-campus experience with online learning. Usually, students enrolled in a hybrid accounting degree program complete most of their coursework virtually, supplementing the rigorous on-campus courses.
The Delaware Board of Accountancy is responsible for overseeing the process of becoming a CPA in the state. We’ve rounded up the six steps involved in earning a CPA license in Delaware.
1. Complete 150 Semester Hours
Students hoping to earn CPA licensure in Delaware must complete 150 semester hours of a college education, including a bachelor’s degree and accounting specialization. Additionally, the bachelor’s must comprise at least 24 semester hours in the following subjects:
- Advanced accounting
- Intermediate accounting
- Accounting information systems
- Cost accounting
- Law which includes criminal justice
- Accounting principles (It covers the basics of ‘what is accounting?’)
It’s worth noting that the board doesn’t recognize courses in finance, management, computer science, marketing as an accounting major, banking, insurance, and economics. Nonetheless, these courses contribute towards the requirement of 150 semester hours.
2. Earn the Required Hours of Experience
All CPA aspirants must accrue at least 1-year of experience of applying skills in management advisory, accounting, compilation, financial advisory, tax, and consulting after completing the accounting degree requirement. A year of experience under your belt equates to 2000 hours of employment on a part-time or full-time basis.
Accounting students have a timeframe of 3 academic years to fulfill this requirement. They can gain experience by working in public practice, government, different industries, or academia. However, all cases require verification and supervision by a professional with a valid CPA license.
3. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination
Accounting students in Delaware are eligible to sit for the CPA exam to become part of the American Institute of CPAs once they complete 120 semester hours of education, including specialization in accounting and a bachelor’s degree.
The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Delaware department administers the CPA examination. Therefore, students must apply to sit for the exam directly on the board’s website. A student must score a minimum of 75% in all four sections of the exam within a rolling period of 18 months.
4. Complete the AICPA Exam and Ethics Course
Students must pass the AICPA ethics exam and self-study course before applying for a Delaware CPA license. They can only enroll for the course and apply for the exam through the AICPA website. A student must score a minimum of 90% to pass the score, after which they should request AICPA to submit the score to the Board.
5. Submit a Permit Application to Practice Accountancy
A practicing CPA in Delaware must hold a practice permit. However, only a candidate who has met the above requirements can apply for the permit through the Delaware Professional Regulation Online Services (DELPROS) online licensing system. Any documentation that calls for notarization or a physical signature must be mailed to the board unless otherwise specified.
6. Get a Permit to Practice
After submission, the board will review the received applications. If approved, the applicants will receive an approval notification via email and a unique license number. It’s at this point that an applicant can start practicing as a CPA.
In Delaware, permits for CPA practice are renewed biennially. Renewals are due by June 30th of every odd-numbered year. It’s within this duration that a CPA must complete at least 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) that entails 8 hours of taxation, 4 hours of Delaware-based ethics, and 8 hours of auditing or accounting.
Additionally, they must complete 20 extra hours of auditing, taxation, or accounting. In each given year, a CPA must fulfill 20 hours of CPE. It’s through DELPROS that CPE can be reported on the Board’s website.
To help fund their accounting degree program, in-state and international students can gain support through loans, scholarships, fellowships, grants, and other forms of financial aid. For instance, Pell Grant is one of the federal grants that come in handy in covering a bachelor’s or associate degree.
The state of Delaware offers financial aid to qualifying students, including the Inspire Scholarship and Student Excellence Equals Degree. A myriad of students also relies on private scholarships as a source of financial aid.
A public university and Delaware college may charge slightly higher tuition rates compared to accounting schools in other states. Nonetheless, the state offers an array of initiatives that make education more affordable for international and in-state accounting students.
For instance, Delaware is part of the academic common market of the Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB). As an alliance of 15 states, SREB allows students to pay in-state tuition at participating institutions. However, prospective accounting students need to meet the admission and GPA requirements.
When considering an accounting university to enroll in, a student should factor the cost of living into their budget aside from the tuition. The World Population Review declares that Delaware scores 108.1 in the cost of living, which exceeds the national average of 100.
Benefits of Earning Your Accounting Degree in Delaware
For starters, the state lures in professionals, students, and families in droves due to its proximity to the Atlantic Coast and Washington, DC. Home to a broad range of large chemical manufacturing organizations, Delaware boasts a thriving quality of life and a robust economy.
Secondly, prospective learners can pursue a master’s degree, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree at one of the accredited state’s institutions of higher education. Accounting students can take their pick from schools in small towns or large cities depending on their preference.
For instance, the University of Delaware is located in the heart of Newark, a mid-size city that neighbors Wilmington, which is the state’s biggest urban area. In contrast, Goldey-Beacom College is located in Pike Creek Valley, a suburban community with slightly over 10,000 people.
Thirdly, irrespective of where a student studies, discounts for residents and state-funded scholarships increase the affordability of higher education. After graduation, an aspiring professional can be gainfully employed in Delaware or nearby areas such as Philadelphia, Washington DC, or Baltimore, as a senior accountant.
Lastly, Delaware hosts nine institutions: 2 two-year and 7 four-year universities. Nearly a third of the learners enrolled at these institutions are online students. While the state’s support for higher learning as a percentage of its budget ranks below the national average, Delaware’s educational options offer affordable accounting degree programs for people of all income levels. Furthermore, the percentage of people in this state with a graduate degree surpasses the national average.
When it comes to the job outlook and CPA salary in Delaware, the BLS reports that there are 4950 accountants. The average annual salary for auditors and accountants is $80,010, which is greater than the national average of $79,520. In Wilmington, the average annual salary of accounting professionals is $84,520.
Furthermore, Delaware ranks 5th with the highest concentration of auditing and accounting job opportunities countrywide. In a report by Projections Central, these positions increase by 5% by 2028. However, the anticipated growth is slower than the national average of 6.4%.
Let’s delve into the accountant salaries and career opportunities in Delaware.
1. Fund Accountant
Mostly based on investment funds, hedge funds, and other types of investment companies, certified fund accountants track financial transactions, yields, and profits. From their findings, they prepare financial reports. By working with individuals involved in the fund, these professionals focus more on accountability and less on profitability.
2. Cost Accountant
The work of these professionals centers on the particular costs related to the provision of services or products. Cost accountants meticulously review the supply chain expenditure. End-month reporting, budget preparation, inventory management, and profitability analysis are some of the job descriptions of a cost accountant.
3. Fiduciary Tax Accountant
Their tasks entail the preparation of tax returns for dedicated trusts in instances where a legal entity or a bank is the trustee. Fiduciary tax accountants require specialized accounting training. To secure the position, at least 1-year work experience coupled with a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement. Any CPA in Delaware is qualified to be a fiduciary tax accountant.
4. Hospital Accountant
Responsible for the boatload of financial transactions in healthcare facilities, a hospital accountant prepares budgets and financial reports. Additionally, these professionals ensure the timely and accurate completion of monthly financial statements.
Although additional coursework in Healthcare finance is useful, a Delaware CPA license should usher in numerous job opportunities in the industry. A hospital accountant continuing who takes CPE hours in this field may consider a transition.
The average salaries for accountants in Delaware are:
- Auditor: $79,700
- Budget Analyst: $79,500
- Credit Analyst: $43,500
- Financial Analyst: $60,000
- Personal Financial Advisor: $95,000
- Financial Examiner: $48,900
- Tax Preparer: $114,100
- Actuary: $107,000
- Forensic Science Technician: $59,000
- Payroll and Timekeeping Clerk: $45,400
The Top accounting firms for graduates in Delaware are:
- Belfint, Lyons & Shuman: As one of the biggest accounting firms in Delaware, Belfint, Lyons & Shuman is a member of the Prime Global Association of independent accounting firms. From the Wilmington office, it offers accounting services to companies and individuals.
- Rossiter and Cover: Headquartered in Wilmington, this company offers a broad range of accounting services to businesses, nonprofits, and small families.
- BDO USA: As a national firm, BDO USA has a strong presence in Delaware, offering tax, advisory, and digital services from their Wilmington office.
The Accounting Associations in Delaware are:
- The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA): It’s a long-standing institution in Delaware. The IMA is made up of competent accountants and other financial professionals, empowering its over 100,000 members through certification and education opportunities and conferences. It serves local accounting students and professionals.
- Delaware Board of Accountancy (DBA): As a public organization, the DBA helps protect citizens from incompetent accounting practices. The Board oversees professional development standards, the discipline of accountants, and the dispersion of rules.
- Delaware State Government: It provides a wealth of weblinks and information on agencies within this state. Accountants can use it to access tax information, laws, and news.
- Delaware Society of Certified Public Accountants (DSCPA): As an entity representing 900 students, CPAs, and assistants, DSCPA offers members a wealth of professional perks. They include data management tools, software for accepting e-payments without hassle, retirement services, CPA review resources, and payroll services.
Types of Accounting Degrees Available From Delaware Schools
Below are the most popular accounting degree programs in Delaware.
1. Associate Degree
It furnishes individuals with opportunities in different entry-level roles such as bookkeepers, accounting assistants, and payroll clerks. With an associate degree under their belt, most individuals will further their education with a bachelor’s.
To become a fully licensed CPA in Delaware with a permit to practice, an accountant must complete 150 semester hours of college or university credits, going beyond a standard bachelor’s degree. Accounting students must bear in mind that the Uniform CPA exam is one of the most challenging professional exams nationwide. To get a head start, a student can join the AICPA to network with accounting mentors and peers to discuss their education requirements.
2. Bachelor’s Degree
The minimum education required to sit for the CPA exam is 150 semester hours and a bachelor’s degree. Most accounting programs in Delaware allow learners to complete a bachelor’s and progress to a master’s in 5 years or less. However, they must satisfy the Board’s education requirements for university credits hours in accounting.
3. Master’s Degree
It’s essential for executive positions such as a CFO, Controller, or human resource management. Furthermore, you can choose to complete a dual during an undergraduate to complete both degrees concurrently, faster. Regarding the Board, a master’s degree with an accounting concentration should fulfill their education requirements.
4. Doctorate or Ph.D.
Typically, anyone with a doctoral degree in accounting will be an ideal fit for a managerial accounting position, in addition to it being required to become a researcher or professor in accounting. It’s worth noting that academic accountants must also pass the Uniform CPA exam. However, they don’t need to maintain a CPA license unless their goal is to practice accounting for special clientele. A CPA certificate is sufficient to prove passage of the exam.
5. Online Degree Programs
Universities and colleges in Delaware are increasingly offering online accounting degrees, allowing students to gain more access to these prestigious programs for a brighter future. With national accreditation, these accounting degree programs will qualify graduates to earn a legal permit to practice. With dedication and consistency, an online accounting degree will prepare any student for the CPA exam.
Best Schools in Delaware with Accounting Degree Programs
The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is an internationally recognized organization for graduate and undergraduate accounting programs. Although more than 800 business schools have accreditation from the AACS, only 186 are accredited for the accounting degree programs they offer. They adhere to the stringent standards of this association. With that being said, below are the accounting programs in Delaware with accreditation from the AACSB.
The Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at this university offers a Bachelor of Science in accounting that furnishes students with critical analysis skills, permitting sound financial and business decisions. Made up of 123 credits, the program gives students the foundation to become a CMA or CPA. The University of Delaware also has an accelerated program that is available for students in pursuit of a Master of Science in Accounting.
It’s a Delaware college that offers a Bachelor of Science in accounting that focuses on practical computer skills, leadership qualities, and accounting theory to groom students for a career in the industry. An accounting student in this program that constitutes 120 credits develops oral and written communication skills while acquiring hands-on experience in various field-related concepts.
The College of Business at this university offers a student the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science in accounting that focuses on problem-solving and strategic thinking skills, guaranteeing a successful business career. In addition to pursuing a minor in financial planning, they can specialize in banking, finance, or business economics.
A multitude of these courses are available virtually. Students can enroll in a 5-year Master of Business Administration (MBA program) and Bachelor of Science in Accounting (BS) as a combined degree program.
The College of Business at this university offers a Bachelor of Science in Accounting which comes in handy in grooming students for CPA licensure and a business career. Learners can entirely complete the program on-campus, in hybrid format, or on-campus. It entails 39 credits of accounting coursework and business coursework, providing students with an overview of the fundamentals and business practices.
Learners can earn a Bachelor of Science in accounting. As a program with 124 credits, it grooms students for accounting roles in nonprofit organizations, private organizations, and the government sector.
Additionally, a student will be prepared for graduate studies in accounting and business. Technical competency and problem-solving skills are emphasized in this degree program, permitting students to gain confidence before charting a career path.