Becoming an accountant is a long process that requires a commitment to education and training. The process of becoming an accountant can be confusing for some people. Can you complete the CPA examination after earning a four-year degree, or do you need to go back to university to complete a graduate degree? We’re here to explain the process.
The standard route into accounting is to complete an accounting degree program. Technically, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is not required for someone who wishes to become an accountant. However, in practice, it’s much harder to get a job in the field if you don’t have one.
After graduation, you have the option of choosing between working as a simple “accountant” or becoming a Certified Public Accountant. If you choose to become a CPA in Idaho you’ll need to take the examination and meet the state requirements to hold the title.
Accountants are expected to make a commitment to continuing education. This could be in the form of certifications and courses, or enrolling in a part-time MBA program, or going back to university for a graduate degree.
The benefit of an online program is that it can be studied around your other commitments. This makes it easy for someone who is self-funding their studies to cover the cost of their education.
Benefits of attending an accounting school in Idaho
The state of Idaho is one of the few states that still offers licenses to new non-certified accountants. It’s possible to become a Licensed Public Accountant (LPA) in Idaho as well as becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
To qualify for either of these titles, you will need to be over the age of 18 and a current or past resident of the state of Idaho (or planning to take up residency after being licensed). You’ll also need to hold a related bachelor’s degree.
What are the benefits of attending an accounting school in Idaho?
Idaho is a good choice for anyone who is trying to decide where to study for a bachelor’s degree in accounting. The post-graduation opportunities for employment are very good.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for accountants and auditors is set to increase by 4% between 2019 and 2029. The average annual salary, nationwide, for people in those positions is $71,550.
The employment situation in Idaho is even stronger, with demand for accountants being expected to rise by 5.6%, and average salaries for those in the position being $72,190 per year.
Why should you consider attending an accounting school in Idaho?
Of course, employment is just one part of the equation and one that people can think about after graduation. Why would someone choose to move to Idaho to study?
Well, there are numerous Universities to choose from in the state, and the atmosphere is pleasant. This northwest state has a relatively small population and varied scenery. There are 13 national parks, miles of forests, and lots of lakes to explore, making it a great state for outdoor adventure during the holiday periods.
Idaho’s resident population is predominantly white, but the universities themselves can be quite diverse. Out-of-state and international students are always welcome. The most well-known institution is Idaho State University, which is a high-quality university that attracts learners who are looking to study accounting and other subjects in an academically focused environment.
The campus is relatively small, and this means learners who are looking for a bustling cultural scene may feel it’s lacking compared to big cities, but it’s friendly and there are plenty of things to do. If you’re looking to focus on your studies and get the grades you need to be able to enroll in a prestigious MBA program after graduation, then the academic focus will stand you in good stead.
The state has several trade schools, community colleges and higher education institutions to choose from. Students can choose from a long list of universities offering accounting programs at bachelor’s degree level and beyond. This makes the state a good choice for anyone who is looking to become a certified public accountant.
What kind of financial aid is available for accounting students in Idaho?
There’s a reasonable amount of funding available for accounting degree students, especially those on a low income or for whom this is their first higher education program. If you’re looking for financial aid, the best places to start are government programs and any scholarship funds offered by the university directly.
The Idaho State Board of Education offers some financial aid for learners who are studying within the state. Scholarships are available for local, national, and international students. These funds may be targeted towards those in the most economic need, students who are academically gifted, or students with athletic talents.
Students should begin their search for financial aid with the FAFSA, before turning to scholarship funds or support from grant-making organizations. Not only does the FAFSA help students access loans at the lowest interest rates possible, but it also helps universities decide which students to award additional financial support to.
There are some accounting-specific financial aid programs available. For example, Deloitte offers an accounting scholarship for students attending a historically black college or university. AIS Technolabs also offers scholarships for accounting students.
Military options for those looking to study accounting are relatively limited compared to scholarships in some other fields, but there are some military programs available for women interested in accounting. These scholarships fund the costs of study in return for a period of service upon graduation.
Financial aid options such as these can make it much easier for would-be accountants to complete a program of higher education, even if they aren’t from a wealthy family. It is possible to work part-time while studying for a full-time accounting degree, however, it can be stressful to do so. Students who are able to focus entirely on their studies because they have a scholarship will be in a much better position to graduate with good grades.
If you’ve already got a bachelor’s degree and are looking to start an MBA program, you have several options for reducing the cost of this, including remote study, support from your employer, or completing the MBA part-time. Working while completing a postgraduate program is one of the most efficient ways to not only offset your education expenses but also increase your chances of getting a good job when you graduate.
Types of accounting degree programs available in Idaho
Accounting is a field where those who take the time to earn specialized skills will be better equipped to progress into high-paying positions. A bachelor’s degree is sufficient to equip a learner to take the CPA exam and become a Certified Public Accountant in Idaho, but if you want to specialize or work in the highest-paying areas you’ll need to pursue more qualifications.
Which accounting degree program results in the highest accounting salaries in Idaho?
Students interested in accounting programs in Idaho can study at a variety of levels, including:
- Associate’s degrees
- Bachelor’s degrees
- Master’s degrees
To become a CPA, a person must have a bachelor’s degree at the very least. Those who choose to complete an undergraduate-level certificate or an associate’s degree will not be able to work as an accountant but could work as a clerk or a bookkeeper.
The accounting jobs offering the highest salaries are usually reserved for those who have a master’s degree or MBA with a concentration in accounting. There are many job openings available for Environmental Accountants. This job involves balancing the impact of business operations on the natural environment, which is an important issue in Idaho due to the richness of the state’s natural resources.
Another rapidly growing area is that of information systems and accounting. Graduates who focus on this area have a strong understanding of computer technology and how to use those tools to gather and process information more efficiently.
Other specialization options include taxation, management accounting, public accounting, auditing, and mergers and acquisitions. There is demand for specialist accountants all over the United States, and it would not be difficult for a graduate of an Idaho accounting program to take a CPA exam and earn the right to work in another state.
Which is the most popular accounting degree program in Idaho?
Some of the most popular places for students to study accounting in Idaho include:
- The College of Idaho
- University of Idaho
- Lewis-Clark State College
- Idaho State University
- Brigham Young University – Idaho
What to expect from an accounting school in Idaho
Studying for an accounting degree is quite demanding. Students should expect to complete about 120-128 credits over the course of four years. That typically means 40 classes, spread across general education requirements and accounting or business-specific courses.
Most degrees give the student a reasonable amount of flexibility when it comes to their electives, but you’ll still need to complete a significant number of compulsory courses, of which some may be in subjects that aren’t directly related to your chosen specialization. Because accountants are required to hold a license in Idaho, you’ll be held to rigorous academic standards. The reputation of the faculty rides on how many of its students pass the CPA examination, so degrees focus heavily on preparing each and every student to take the board exam.
How long does it typically take to complete an accounting program in Idaho?
The length of time it takes to complete an accounting program in Idaho depends on the level of the program.
In most cases, an accounting degree at bachelor’s level would take four years in total, and the course would be expected to include 150 credit hours of work in accounting-related subjects. Many degrees also include other content such as financial reporting or auditing.
Once you have completed the degree you can apply to take the CPA examination. It’s common for those who are going the CPA route to then continue their education by enrolling in an MBA that will prepare them for more specialized roles.
How many hours per week can you expect to study while in your accounting program in Idaho?
The number of hours you’ll be expected to study per week will depend on the level of the accounting program you’re doing, and also how many credit hours you’ve got on your timetable that semester.
Individual universities set their own rules and expectations for how much a student will be expected to invest in their studies, but as a general rule, for every credit hour you’re enrolled in you’ll be expected to invest an additional 2-3 hours of out-of-classroom study.
This means if you’ve got 12 credit hours on your timetable for a semester, you’re going to need to block out 24-36 hours of study per week.
The off-timetable hours are just a guideline, however. Some courses are far easier than others. Some students are able to work quickly and grasp the material without difficulty. Some modules are very difficult and require extra time to understand the content.
One thing to remember is that the first year or two of a university course is often designed to be a simple introduction to the subject, and may appear deceptively easy to some learners. It’s not uncommon for students to find they’re able to work (or party) during the first half of an accounting degree program only to struggle with the leap in the difficulty of the content in the later years.
This is particularly true for those who are studying an online accounting program or a hybrid course where a lot of the content is self-paced. Students who study on campus have better access to support and can seek advice from the faculty and their peers, making it easier for them to get through the more challenging periods of their studies.
What is the competition like for accounting post-graduation jobs in Idaho?
The job market for accountants is growing steadily, and prospects for recent graduates in Idaho are better than the national average thanks to the state’s thriving economy. The state attracts a significant number of students at the undergraduate level across all programs, thanks in part to its beautiful scenery, diverse culture, and relatively affordable cost of living.
Idaho is ranked 3rd nationwide in terms of its economy by the US News & World Report. Deloitte and KPMG, two of the biggest accounting companies, have offices in Boise, and there are some interesting employment opportunities in Sun Valley too, for those who would prefer to work as accountants or clerks serving companies in other industries directly, rather than via an accountancy firm.
Best schools with accounting degree programs in Idaho
Students have a variety of options when it comes to studying for accounting-related qualifications in Idaho. There are nine schools offering a bachelor’s degree in accounting in the state. Three options for those looking to study an AACSB-accredited accounting program in Idaho are:
These institutions stand out because while there are around 800 schools that are accredited by the AACSB in terms of business education in general, only 168 schools across the United States have had their accounting qualifications accredited.
Of these programs, Boise State University and the University of Idaho are particularly noteworthy due to their pass rates for the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy exam. Boise State University claims a first-time pass rate of 58.4% for its bachelor’s program graduates, while the University of Idaho claims a first-time pass rate of 52.1%.
Northwest Nazarene University‘s pass rate for the NASBA exam is even more impressive, with graduates achieving a 77.8% pass rate. If you’re looking for an undergraduate degree that will prepare you for the CPA and help you transition quickly into employment, then one of these four universities is a good option.
How do you compare accounting degree programs in Idaho?
When you’re trying to choose an accounting program in Idaho, there are several things you should take into account, including:
- The level of the program
- The location of the university
- Whether the program is online, on-campus, or hybrid
- Financial support
While it’s true that the only thing a CPA needs in Idaho is a bachelor’s degree, it’s worth taking into account your long-term study plans when you’re deciding which university to enroll in a degree with.
Some universities offer a simple bachelors in accounting. Others offer extra honors courses that may help you access more specialized roles or even direct enrolment in an MBA program upon graduation. These education options can make a big difference for a student who is pursuing a highly specific long-term goal.
The location of the university can matter a lot too. Idaho is a large state with a small population and a lot of open spaces and nature. There are universities in big cities, small towns, and more rural areas. What appeals to one student could be another student’s worst nightmare. So, if you’re planning to study on-campus, make sure the campus is one that you’ll enjoy living close to.
Be sure to investigate your housing options before you commit to studying at a university in Idaho, too. If you’re planning on living off-campus, how easy is it to get around? If you’re planning on living on-campus, is the campus accommodation really as convenient as you think for getting to and from your classes?
Idaho sees all four seasons. This means you can expect some warmth, some rain, and even some snow. This can be quite a culture shock for those coming from much warmer climates, but it can be enjoyable when you get used to it, and may even appeal to those who live in states with more extreme weather.
Fees and finance can be a major issue for some students. If you’re worried about how you’ll pay for your studies, compare the costs of different degree programs and look at the financial aid that’s out there.
In general, online programs are far more affordable than their on-campus counterparts, but at the expense of having access to intensive support. In addition, even an online program could cost more for a student who is not from the state.
Hybrid programs could be the best option since they’ll give a learner the chance to study part of an accounting program face-to-face at a university, while certain modules can be completed remotely and self-paced. This is common with BA programs that include a mixture of liberal arts modules and subject-specific modules. Learners may be able to complete the more basic modules remotely, then attend campus for anything that requires more intensive support.
In general, you can expect to spend four years studying for a bachelor’s degree, then an additional 2-3 years to complete an MBA, depending on whether you study part-time or full-time.
There are exceptions to this, however. Some students go straight into employment after completing the bachelor’s degree and earning their CPA. They can then go back to study later, with extensive job experience, and complete an accelerated MBA. Alternatively, a student may enroll in a 4+1 MBA, completing a four-year degree and their MBA studies in just five years.
Your path to qualification
Whichever university you choose to study your degree program at, it’s important to make sure it’s an accredited degree and that it will be recognized by employers, is accepted by the state for the purposes of earning the CPA, and will allow you to enroll on any future courses, such as an MBA or a doctoral-level qualification,
There are three main accrediting options in Idaho, and it’s important to make sure that your degree will be accredited in one of these ways if you’re planning on pursuing a job as a CPA:
- By the Idaho State Department of Senior Education (in the case of senior colleges)
- By the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- By the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
Exactly which accreditation you’ll need will depend on whether you studied at a University or College, and whether the degree was a named accounting degree or one in business with an accounting focus.
If you studied for your bachelor’s degree outside of Idaho, and are now looking to move to Idaho for an MBA, you’ll likely find your undergraduate course is not accredited by one of the above bodies, but rather by a regional accrediting body in your state.
When you apply to an Idaho institution, they’ll look at the accreditation of your program and review your transcript before deciding whether to offer you a place on their postgraduate course. If your university is included in the database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs published by the U.S. Department of Education you shouldn’t have any issues with getting accepted for a master’s program.
What schools in Idaho offer a master’s or MBA in accounting?
You can pursue a master’s degree or an MBA with a focus on accounting at one of many universities in Idaho. Some of the most well-known schools offering post-graduate level qualifications include:
- Boise State University
- Idaho State University
- Northwest Nazarene University
As you can see, this list is quite similar to the list of institutions offering bachelor’s degrees in accounting. These institutions offer part-time and distance learning options, meaning those who are looking to work while completing their MBA can do so. Fees for the program may vary depending on whether the learner is located in or out-of-state.
Entry onto an MBA program typically requires the student to have completed a bachelor’s degree in the same subject, although with accounting and finance programs it may be possible for a graduate with a general business degree to join the program after completing some prerequisite modules.
Idaho State University offers students the opportunity to complete a Masters in Accounting combined with an MBA by adding less than one year of additional study. This could save the student a significant amount of time and money while preparing them for a variety of accounting-related and managerial roles.
Boise State University offers a variety of programs including a 12-month distance learning option, a 24-month Executive MBA, and a 32-month part-time course. This gives graduates a variety of options to fit their post-graduate studies around their job or family commitments.
If you’re a young person looking at a bachelor’s degree, or someone considering a career change from an unrelated field, but you’re confident that you’d like to pursue qualifications at the postgraduate level, consider a 4+1 degree that allows you to complete a bachelor’s program then add some extra study to top up your qualification to a MAcc. Once you have this qualification, a one-year MBA would be relatively easy to pursue while working.