Benefits of earning your accounting degree in Georgia
Georgia is world-renowned for its beauty and soul, but it’s also an exceptional place to study. Becoming a qualified accountant takes years of hard work — and up to a decade to reach the highest heights that let you reach the top of the career ladder. According to the Georgia Labor Department, accountancy is one of the best jobs for growth over the next 10 years. As long as businesses and organizations operate, there’s going to be high demand for auditors, CPAs, and financial analysts, to name a few.
A job in finance can be one of the highest paying, secure career prospects available. While it’s not for everyone, those with a passion for detail, numbers, and compliance will relish in the role and have an array of opportunities at their feet once qualified. Read on to find out more about studying accounting in Georgia and gain specific insight into the degree programs available to undergraduates and graduates.
Advantages of studying in Georgia
If you’re deciding which state to study in, it’s best to conduct plenty of in-depth research and focus on the aspects of living that are most important to you. For example, if you love nature and aren’t particularly into clubbing, Georgia would be a better option than New York. Cost of living, job prospects, weather, and public transport are also important considerations for many people.
Accountants in Georgia have some of the best job prospects in the southeast according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with more finance executives operating in the state than in surrounding Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. What’s more, accountants in Georgia can expect to earn more than any of the surrounding states, including all of the above, plus Florida and North Carolina. The annual mean wage for accounting professionals in Georgia is a healthy $83,370.
Cost of living
Places like California, Washington, and Hawaii cost significantly more than Georgia, with no city in the Empire State of the South making it into Expatistan’s list of the top 20 most expensive cities in the U.S. It’s not just accommodation that costs less, but groceries, utilities, and days out tend to cost less than more densely populated states.
Georgia is steeped in history, and is particularly rich in the culture of the Native American tribes, for anyone interested in learning about America’s heritage. It’s a diverse landscape, with some areas that have a true small town feel and larger metros like Atlanta feeling futuristic and bustling. One thing you can be sure of in Georgia is meeting friendly people — the locals take great pride in showing the world-famous southern hospitality.
There’s a growing body of research showing that getting outside in nature is one of the most beneficial things we can do for mental and physical health. If you’re someone who adores breathtaking natural beauty, there are plenty of hotspots to visit and experience awe. Arabia Mountain, Tallulah Gorge, and Cumberland Island are just a few places to escape the daily grind and recuperate among nature in Georgia.
Whether you’re a fan of pro leagues or college sports, Georgia has it all. It’s also the birthplace of NASCAR, with more than 20 racetracks dotted around the state.
Of course, you can’t mention reasons to study in Georgia without talking about weather. It has a humid subtropical climate, with temperate weather across the year, including hot summers and mild winters.
Financial aid for Georgia students
Practically everyone is eligible for some form of financial aid, and you should do some digging to make sure you find everything available to you. Loans aren’t just offered from the federal government, in some cases, you’ll be able to get funding from the state or school you attend. There are several types of financial aid, including:
Grants: Often seen as the holy grail of student finance, grant are bursaries that you aren’t required to pay back. Students can access Iraq and Afghanistan grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Pell Grants are some of the federal grants available.
Scholarships: Another form of free money is the scholarship, but you’re required to achieve exceptional academic performance to qualify for this type of aid. There are an array of private and nonprofit organizations that are willing to offer scholarships to individuals who demonstrate talent.
Loans: A student loan is a specific type of loan that can only be used to fund college. Just like any other loan, you’ll accrue interest over time, and you’re required to pay it back during a set time frame.
Federal loans: The U.S. Department of Education offers loans, but the federal government also runs several schemes to help students pay for school. You can apply for state funding by filling out the FAFSA form.
State loans: You should also get in touch with your state grant agency to find out if you’re eligible for aid from the state government.
How to find the right accounting degree for you in Georgia
Choosing which college in Georgia to attend is serious business, and there are many details to cover while doing your research. It’s helpful to know which career path you want to follow before you even start a bachelor’s program. This is because you can pick electives and focus on the topics that will be most relevant to your future job.
Read on to find out what the different degree levels entail and discover how to become a Certified Public Accountant in Georgia.
Types of accounting degree
In this section, we’ll take a look at what you can expect from the different types of degree, including bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D., master’s of science in management, and n master’s in business administration.
A bachelor’s program is a four year degree course that provides the foundational study for the field of accounting. This level of degree can qualify you for a variety of entry-level job positions, although you won’t be able to get into the highest paying careers in finance with this qualification. In many cases, a bachelor’s in accounting is the first step to get into a graduate course.
The Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are one of the first things you’ll cover in your studies, as well as the maintenance, analysis, understanding, and preparation of financial records. Reporting to decision-makers and understanding organizational and industry ethics and behavior are also crucial elements of undergraduate study in the accountancy field.
Some coursework topic you might study would be: Ethics in accounting, international accounting, managerial accounting, fundamentals of tax, financial accounting, and financial reporting.
In most cases, the highest level of degree a person is likely to pursue in accounting is a master’s program. These courses usually prepare learners for the CPA exam, as well as other qualifications that lead to roles in managerial, advanced, and leadership fields in finance.
The most popular route for accountants is to prepare and sit for the CPA examination, but you’ll also learn about advanced accounting theory, develop practical skills, and discover how to use knowledge of finance to drive business decisions.
Some examples of coursework include: Accounting in public, governmental, and nonprofit organizations, auditing and assurance services, accounting and financial analysis, financial statement analysis, managerial and cost accounting, taxes and business strategy, and information technology for accountants.
The highest possible degree available in accounting is a doctorate, but this is usually the reserve of individuals who aim to enter a career in accounting research or become postgraduate teachers. Additionally, if your career goals involve organizational accounting at the highest levels, for instance, in federal government — a Ph.D. could be useful.
At this level, you primarily learn about quantitative tools and research methods, and conduct your own original research in the interest of moving the field forward. There are a wide variety of core concepts you’ll cover in an accountancy Ph.D., including statistical analysis, empirical research, econometrics, advanced financial reporting, behavioral accounting research, decision models, mathematical modeling, and capital market research.
This postgraduate degree helps learners get ready to work in management and executive positions. You’ll build upon the knowledge gained at bachelor’s and learn more about corporate governance and ethics. This type of course usually provides enough credits for you to become a CPA, while giving you the expertise necessary to excel in career in finance.
Some of the course topics you might study in detail include: Corporate governance, advanced auditing, risk analysis, business analysis, and management control systems.
A master’s in business administration with a focus on accountancy gets students ready for management positions in large companies where accounting is a focal point. Leadership skills are an essential aspect of this course, and set the skill set of people with an MBA apart from other accountants.
The main aim of an MBA is to teach students how to run a successful business through theoretical and practical applications. Some of the subjects you’d study on this course might include: Leadership and organizational behavior, personal and corporate taxes, business law, tax strategies, financial analysis, intermediate accounting, and managerial accounting.
How to become a Georgia CPA
In Georgia, students must be able to demonstrate 150 semester hours to obtain a license from Georgia’s Board of Accountancy. In many cases, a bachelor’s degree provides 120 hours, so you’ll need to take a graduate course to become eligible. All of the big four accounting firms — KPMG, PWC, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young — have offices in Atlanta, and you’ll need a CPA to be in a position to compete for a role at one of these companies.
Highest paying accounting job roles
Once you’re fully qualified, you’ll have a plethora of job opportunities to choose from. In many cases, professionals in the following careers will be qualified to at least master’s degree level, and often hold MBAs and MSMs, too.
An internal auditor is someone who works for a particular company, somewhat independently of the main finance team. Their job is to ensure the accuracy of every financial report, spot fraudulent behavior, increase operational efficiency, and ensure the company is compliant with all relevant government mandates.
In general, an auditors remit doesn’t involve the day-to-day operations within the company. Instead, they often work at a regional or national level for multi-location brands, ensuring that each work site is conducting itself according to state and federal law, and company guidelines.
Another role is to advise management and board members about how to improve processes and procedures. To get into this role, you’ll need to have at least bachelor’s degree, two years’ experience, and apply to become a Certified Internal Auditor. The salary ranges from around $80,000 to $100,000.
External auditors perform a similar role to that of an internal auditor, except they operate independently. They come to a location to ensure the accuracy of financial records, compliance with rules and regulations, and make recommendations about the clarity and completeness of financial statements. Mistakes on official financial documents can be tantamount to fraud, and external auditors usually operate under instruction from local taxing entities and government bodies.
It’s a necessity that external auditors are independent accountants to ensure that bias doesn’t enter into such important financial matters. Any pre-existing relationships between auditors and the company must be declared in advance; otherwise a conflict of interest issue could arise.
Demand for people in this job is rising, and it has stringent requirements, including five to seven years’ experience as a CPA. Salaries are similar to that of an internal auditor.
The role of a compliance executive is to ensure that a company is operating within predetermined guidelines, state and federal regulations, and specifications. In some cases, financial legislation must be created in response to scandals and loopholes that are found to be nonessential. Chief compliance officers are in high demand in large corporations, and they can command impressive salaries. Individuals in this role often have an MSM or MBA.
One of the fastest growing roles in finance is that of the financial analyst. As companies have more access to data than ever before, there are unique opportunities to drive growth using real-time information. Profitability is essential for success, and in this role, you’ll work in organizations such as banks, pension funds, insurance companies, security firms, and other finance-led businesses.
By analyzing current trends, competition, and industry data, you help executives and managers make financially beneficial decisions. At the highest levels of this career, you could command a salary over $100,000 per year.
As a staff accountant, you’re responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of a company’s finances. Those with a CPA qualification command the highest paying roles, and the job involves summarizing financial transactions, keeping records, preparing financial reports, and presenting financial information to bosses.
What to expect at an accounting school Georgia
How long does it take to get an accounting degree?
The amount of time it takes to obtain your degree in accounting depends on several factors, such as the level of degree you choose, whether you study online or in-person, and the job you see yourself in in the future. An associate’s degree takes two years but doesn’t prepare you for much more than a higher qualification, and a master’s degree can also take two years or longer. Some colleges offer five year degree programs that take you through the entire bachelor’s and master’s course.
Let’s take a look in-depth at the two most popular accounting degrees in Georgia, bachelor’s and master’s.
Undergraduate degree programs
Bachelor’s take four years when studied full-time, but they can take longer if you opt to study part time. A bachelor’s degree can get you ready for a rewarding, long-term career in finance — but it won’t prepare you for the highest paying accountancy jobs. In most bachelor’s programs, you’ll cover 120 semester hours of coursework.
Associate’s degrees take two years, but it won’t qualify you for the same roles as a bachelor’s degree. That said, you could still enter a job as a financial clerk, auditing clerk, payroll clerk, or bookkeeping clerk.
Graduate degree programs
While it’s possible to get the extra 30 semester hours by completing additional undergraduate courses, many people choose to study a master’s degree to hone their knowledge and gain an in-depth understanding of their chosen field of expertise.
Schools offering master’s degrees in accounting
Thinking about studying a master’s degree in accounting in Georgia? Here are some of the college courses you can choose from:
American Intercontinental University Atlanta: You can get an MBA with a specialization in accounting from this well-regarded school in Atlanta. It has flexible start times and the course is designed to be completed in 11 months of full-time attendance. The core business classes are worth 24 credits and the core accounting classes are worth a further 24.
Clark Atlanta University: The master of accounting program is ideal for individuals who wish to pursue a CPA qualification, but aren’t interested in business. This program lasts for a single year and offers 30 credits, making it the perfect addition to a bachelor’s degree for those who want to reach CPA status.
Georgia College and State University: The master of accountancy program here is open to students with any undergraduate degree, which means you don’t need to have a bachelor’s specific to accounting to get onto the course. While you can’t study this particular course online, there is an MBA from this school you could pursue as a distance learner instead.
Georgia Southern University: The aim of this master of accountancy course is to help learners become confident communicators with the skills to present reports to senior executives and board members. It provides an insight into accounting in relation to business and offers classes to help you prepare for CPA licensure.
Georgia State University: A flexible master of professional accountancy qualification is ideal for anyone who already has prior commitments and isn’t able to study full time. It takes place over three semesters and prepares for your the CPA examination.
Best schools in Georgia with accounting degree programs
There are more than 50 colleges in Georgia, so choosing the best one can seem overwhelming at first. We recommend that you focus on cost, size, course options, acceptance rates, and graduation rates for making initial selections. Once you’ve made a shortlist, big deep into researching the faculty, reviews, and academic outcomes.
Top schools for accountants in Georgia
Let’s take a look at some of the top schools for studying accountancy in Georgia:
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia is located in Athens, and is considered to be one of the southeast’s Public Ivies. This means you can get an exceptional college education for public school rates. It’s also made it into the U.S. News & World Report, with a top 50 slot in the fields of accountancy and business. It costs less than $30,000 per year to attend and has an impressive graduation rate of 84%, with an acceptance rate of 45%.
In the undergraduate accounting course at UGA, you can expect to cover topics like risk assessment, auditing, taxation, costing, and accounting standards. This four year program is competitive, with four pre-requisite criteria and all the necessary accreditations.
Georgia State University
Georgia State University is a large-sized school in Atlanta with eight colleges offering more than 250 degree courses. It offers a bachelor’s in business with a specialization in accounting that prepares students for a career in accounting or the next level school. If you’re looking to get your CPA after finishing this course, consider an MBA or MSM to top up your hours to 120.
The school costs just under $30,000 per year and the acceptance rate and graduation rate are 76% and 52%, respectively.
Georgia Southern University
Georgia Southern University in Statesboro has more than 20,000 students and offers 119 degree programs. It offers a course in business administration with an accounting focus that builds foundational knowledge in general business, tax, law, and auditing. The course is fully accredited, and there’s the opportunity to obtain a fraud examination certificate to move into a career in fraud investigation.
This is one of the cheapest schools in Georgia to study accounting, with a full year costing $23,497. The acceptance rate is 54% and the graduation rate is 46%.
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw State University is another low cost school on the list, and it boasts status as a research leader. The business college is the second largest in Georgia, and teamwork, leadership, real-world application of skills, and communication skills are key focal points. Accountancy majors can expect to spend the first two years of a bachelor’s degree gaining general knowledge, and then learn about the basics of business and accounting in the final two years.
Tuition fees are relatively low at $27,253, and the acceptance rate is 75%, while the graduation rate is 41%.
University of West Georgia
Like many of the schools in Georgia, the University of West Georgia is relatively affordable, costing around $25,000 per year before financial aid. It’s located in Atlanta, and is a pretty small school with around 12,000 students. The acceptance rate is 59%, and the graduation rate is 39%.
The accounting specialization has a focus on ethical values, operational success, and academic achievement. You’ll get a liberal arts foundation knowledge of accounting that provides the foundation for a career in accounting.
Top online accounting degrees in Georgia
Many of the colleges in Georgia offer accounting as an online degree. Here are three top colleges in the state offering online degrees in accountancy:
At Brenau University, you can complete your accountancy degree online from start to finish. Students get prepared for the CPA or CMA exams, with practice sessions featuring heavily throughout the course. Core topics you can expect to study include: Internal control, corporate taxation, fraud prevention, and accounting theory.
Resources for online students are practically perfectly matched with those available to in-person students, making this a popular, AACSB accredited choice for remote learners.
South University Savannah
South University Savannah offers an exclusive online MSA degree for individuals looking to learn the necessary skills to get their CPA certificate. This fully accredited program takes around 15 months to complete full-time, and students cover topics such as auditing, taxation, and ethical business practices. You’ll need a modern Windows or MacOS operating system, as well as a DVD-ROM drive and 1 Mbps broadband.
Shorter University is a Christian college that offers a master’s in accountancy that students can obtain in a year of full-time study. It’s a 31-credit course that prepares bachelor’s graduate to sit the CPA exam. You’ll need to demonstrate relevant coursework in auditing, statistics, and financial accounting, as well as meet the eligibility criteria with regards to grades.
Studying accounting is an astute career move for people with a fastidious attitude and strong work ethic. The school you choose to study at will set you up for life, so be careful to examine all of your options carefully before making a decision.