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Best Accounting Schools in Indiana in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

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What to expect during an accounting degree program in Indiana

If your strengths are in numbers, detail, organization, and finances — a career in accountancy would be perfect for you. This highly respected career can command exceptionally good wages and job security, with great future prospects for qualified individuals. As technology and industry continue to merge, and the global economy expands, the demand for accounting majors seems to be increasing. Indiana is as good a prospect as any for studying accounting, with Indianapolis acting as a central hub for the local economy.

Whether you opt to study in Indiana and move elsewhere to find work, or stay local and take advantage of the relative lack of competition for top jobs, you can get a top degree in the Hoosier State that sets you up for a long, rewarding career. Read on to discover everything you need to know about obtaining an accounting qualification in Indiana, including information about top schools, degree types, and the job outlook for qualified professionals.

What to expect from an Indiana accounting program

Accountancy is a broad field of study, with an array of different specializations and focuses. No matter which route you go down, there’s always a decent level of demand. This is because wherever there are businesses, financial services, nonprofit organizations, and governments — accountants are required to balance books, do taxes, manage financial reporting, perform analytics, and offer their expert opinion on investments and best practices. 

Most bachelors’ programs are worth around 120 semester hours of college credit, which is 30 hours than the 150 required to apply for certification such as certified public accountant status. Certain undergraduate courses let you add on an extra year or take additional courses to make up the difference, but some students opt to continue on to a graduate program such as an MBA or master’s in accounting to fine-tune their skills and make their CV more attractive to prospective employers.

Most degree programs include a portion of required courses, with undergraduates completing general courses in addition to accounting and business pre-requisites as well as electives. Graduate students focus on advanced accountancy techniques, practical application of financial skills, and internships.   

Indiana accounting course examples

Let’s take a look at some of the course options you can choose from when studying accounting in Indiana:

Principles of accounting: In this course, learners gain an understanding of the guiding principles in accounting, as well as learning how to communicate complex financial ideas to external users. Some of the ideas you’ll cover include financial statement preparation and analysis, asset and equity accounting, transaction analysis, and the overall accounting process. 

Principles of management accounting: The primary focus for a management accounting course is teaching students how to communicate relevant financial information to enterprise managers. Focal points are product cost accumulation and pricing, cost behavior and control, analysis of financial reports, management decision-making, and budgeting.

Payroll and business tax accounting: In this course, you’ll explore report requirements of state and federal taxation, payroll tax procedures, and taxing entities. Students learn how to manage financial documentation manually and using software.

Accounting ethics: As one of the core topics required for the uniform CPA examination, this course gives students a clear understanding of professional ethics in business and accounting environments. You’ll cover topics like: Legal and professional guidelines that address social ethical concerns, ethical behavior by management, roles and responsivities of auditors and accounting professionals, and fundamental ethical issues surrounding business and society.

Cost accounting: Cost control and budgeting are essential for most accountancy professionals, and this course provides and introduction to concepts such as process costing, job order costing, and manufacturing cost accounting and reporting. Profit analysis and performance are key skills you’ll learn, along with an in-depth knowledge of cost, sales, and profit.

Advanced accounting: Once you make it to graduate level, you’ll start exploring topics such as advanced accounting. Some of the subjects you might look at include segment reporting, foreign operations, partnerships, and consolidated statements.

How to become a certified public accountant in Indiana

If your ultimate goal when you’re qualified is to become a CPA in Indiana, you’ll need to take the following steps to achieve certification:

  1. Apply to a school with an accounting program that’s accredited by the AACSB or another relevant accounting accreditation body. Most bachelor’s degrees are worth 120 credits, so get in touch with your selected colleges to find out the options available to you to make it up to the required 150 semester hours. You have the option to choose between taking additional undergraduate courses and advancing to a graduate degree to earn the necessary credits.
  2. When you’ve completed your 150 credits, you’re eligible to sit the uniform CPA exam
  3. You’ll need to complete 24 months of full-time work as an accounting professional to be eligible for CPA licensure.
  4. Once you have the necessary work experience and semester credits under your belt, you’re ready to apply for your Indiana CPA certificate.   

Advantages of earning your accounting degree in Indiana

Indiana might not be the first place an accounting major thinks of to study or work, but it can be an excellent choice for skilled, driven individuals. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the Chicago–Naperville, IL–IN–WI metropolitan area has the third-highest employment level for accountants and auditors in the United States.

The mean annual wage across the nation for accounting professionals is $81,660, and in Indiana, it’s lower at $72,860. However, this is balanced by the low cost of living in Indiana — read on to find out more about the career prospects for accountants in the Crossroads of America. 

Job outlook for IN accountants

Data from the BLS shows that job growth in the accountancy field is set at 4% between 2019 and 2029, which is approximately the same as average. The Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson metro is one of the highest paying areas in the Midwest, with a mean annual wage of $77,410, but the South Bend-Mishawaka area is even more lucrative for accountants and auditors, with an impressive average yearly salary of $79,050. 

While it pays better to live and work in a city in Indiana, you don’t need to go to the biggest locales to find a job. Along with Wisconsin and Michigan, the state has one of the best distributions of accounting jobs in the Midwest. Only Kokomo, Muncie, Bloomington, and the southern Indiana nonmetropolitan area fall into the bottom percentile for mean annual wage, so these areas might not be the best for upcoming finance experts.

Keep in mind that certain areas of Indiana could offer an excellent salary to cost of living ratio. Working as an accountant in South Bend could see you earning almost the same amount as you’d get in Miami or Austin, but the cost of living is a fraction of what’d you’d shell out for groceries, housing, utilities, and more.

Accounting jobs 

One of the best things about being an accounting major is the fact you can choose from a broad range of fascinating and useful career paths. The courses you choose to study should relate to the future job you wish to aim for. For example, if you see yourself as a business leader, your best bet is to get a bachelor’s degree followed up with an MBA with accounting, which will help you gain the leadership skills as well as the technical skills required in a role as a manager or entrepreneur.

On the other hand, if number crunching and an eye for detail are your main strengths, a career as a financial analyst or auditor might appeal to you more. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the most attractive job roles for accountancy graduates in Indiana. 

Financial controller

Financial controllers manage finance departments in large companies and oversee all financial operations in smaller businesses. Some of the duties you’d carry out include financial analysis, forecasting, preparation of financial statements, taxation, and reporting to executives and managers. In some companies, you might also develop the procedures and policies for all accounting functions, cash and credit management, and budgeting.  

Management consultant

Management analysts or consultants are usually independent workers who work with companies to increase profitability and revenue while lowering costs. Sometimes, a business leader requires external input to identify operational inefficiencies and propose improvements that are in-line with the most up-to-date best practices. 

Financial analyst

Financial analysts use their advanced knowledge of data analytics to assess a company’s financial health. They offer guidance to businesses by making projections for future expenditure and revenue, while guiding investment decisions that provide long-term and short-term benefits. This career is an excellent starting point for professionals who are interested in advancing their careers and moving into the financial sector as an investment banker or hedge fund manager.  

Financial advisor

Financial advisors work with wealthy individuals and organizations to offer their financial expertise in view of boosting their clients’ wealth. They’ll analyze, monitor, and manage retirement funds, taxes, estate planning, college savings, mortgages, and insurance. 

Treasury analyst

Treasury analysts work with organizations to ensure payments in and out are being correctly processed. They do this by keeping track of assets, liabilities, and cash flow, in view of maximizing profitability and minimizing unnecessary expenditure.

Budget analyst

Budgeting is one of the most vital aspects of any business, and analysts in this field work hard to ensure a company or group’s financial plans are compliant with local and federal regulations, as well as checking for accuracy, completeness, and risk. In addition to keeping track of spending, budget analysts help companies stay organized and prepare budget reports for board members and executives.

Cost accountant

Cost accountants keep track of measuring how much an organization spends on producing goods and services. Both fixed and variable factors go into costing, and these professionals are experts in assessing how much spending is required for the entire supply chain, from research and development and marketing, to human resources, equipment, logistics, and packaging. 

Auditor

Auditors are high-level accountants who are responsible for overseeing financial statements and assessing them for compliance, accuracy, and completeness. An internal auditor works within a company, checking that the finance department is performing tasks correctly, while an external auditor often works for an organization like the IRS and seeks out fraud or inaccuracies. 

Benefits of studying in Indiana 

Studying in Indiana has a lot of benefits for accounting students, including the wage to cost of living ratio mentioned above, and relative lack of job competition compared to places like New York or California. There are plenty of other factors that contribute to making Indiana a great place to live, study, and work — such as:

Low crime: One of the most attractive aspects of life in Indiana is the relaxed atmosphere and low crime rate. There’s a huge difference between the way of life in a place like New York, and a place like Indianapolis. People have the time and space to be more considerate of each other, and the Midwest just isn’t that attractive to criminals.

Friendly vibes: Another great aspect of life in this part of America is the genuine sense of hospitality. People aren’t too busy to stop and say hello in the street or shops, and this sense of community is excellent for mental health. While you’re working hard and studying, it’s essential that you still feel a sense of connection.

Green space: Most of the homes in Indiana feature gorgeous, large backyards and there are hundreds of parks throughout the state. Being close to nature is a great way to unwind and ensure you get enough exercise while working hard to obtain your accounting degree.

Four seasons: Some people are happy to live in warm weather all year around, whereas others prefer to experience every season, each year. If you fall into the latter camp, Indiana is the place for you. Warm springs and hot summers are followed by rainy falls and icy winters. 

Cost of living: We’ve already spoken at length about how the cost of Indiana life makes an accountant’s salary in the state very appealing. It’s made it into CNBC’s list of the top 10 most affordable U.S. cities, coming in at number nine.

Manufacturing hub: Indiana is a hub of manufacturing in the U.S., attracting many corporate entities and entrepreneurs — so there’s always plenty of work for accountants in the state’s metropolitan areas.

Types of accounting degrees available at schools in Indiana 

While you don’t need to have your entire career path mapped out before you’ve started studying, knowing the direction you want to go in can be a huge help. Read on to find out about the most popular degree courses for accounting majors in Indiana. 

Types of accounting degrees available in Indiana

In Indiana, you only need a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for most licenses. However, you’ll need to enroll in extra courses if you take the undergraduate route into getting a CPA, CMA, CPE, or any other certification. Otherwise, you can pursue a master’s degree or doctorate degree to get the additional credits required for most applications for licensure.  

Here are the different types of degree course available to aspiring accounting professionals in Indiana:

Associate’s degree

An associate degree is a two-year college course that prepares students for roles in fields such as bookkeeping, or provides foundational knowledge to individuals who are interested in studying at bachelor’s or master’s level. You can study this type of degree program online, at a four-year school, technical college, or community college. The most common associate’s degrees in the field are associate of applied science and associate of science in accounting. 

Some schools offer accelerated programs that you can complete within a year, and flexible or part-time courses are also available. Entry requirements are usually a minimum of a 2.0 in your high school diploma or GED. You’ll get a foundational understanding of the generally accepted accounting principles, accounting information systems, business law, business income taxes, and integrated accounting applications.  

Bachelor’s degree 

Bachelor’s degrees in accounting usually take five years instead of the usual four, although students can elect to complete the required number of semester credits within four years, or study part-time and take longer. The most popular types of bachelor’s program in accountancy are: Bachelor of Arts in accounting, bachelor of business administration, and Bachelor of Science in accounting. 

Most Indiana bachelor degrees kick off with general education and then move into specialized accounting classes. You’ll learn an array of relevant skills, such as how to examine financial records, prepare financial documents, and report your findings to managers and board members. You’ll also learn about soft skills like leadership, critical thinking, active listening, and presentation skills.

Core topics might include managerial accounting, financial statement analysis, financial accounting, fundamentals of tax, and ethics in accounting.    

Master’s degree

Achieving a master’s level qualification in accounting usually takes one or two years for full-time learners. Most colleges require that applicants have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, although some will accept any major. The most popular type of master’s degree for accountants in top jobs is an MBA, which we’ll explore in the next section. Other accountancy master’s programs include Master of Science in accounting, master of professional accountancy, and master of accountancy.

You’ll learn about advanced accounting concepts and practices, and most of these programs are designed to prepare students for CPA licensure. Master of accountancy students might take elective courses in organizational behavior, business operations, and communication to prepare them for a job in business leadership. 

Typical coursework topics are accounting and financial analysis, managerial and cost accounting, professional communication for accountants, CPA examination preparation, and taxes and business strategy.

MBA

A master of business administration with accounting is one of the best ways to demonstrate your commitment and expertise within your field. Most courses take two years to complete full-time, but some schools also offer fast-track, online, and part-time courses that might take more or less time. You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to meet the requirements for this type of program, as well as be able to demonstrate proficiency in mathematical subjects like statistics and calculus.

Ph.D.

While a doctorate degree is probably the least popular degree course for accountants in Indiana, it can lead to a great career as a professor or researcher. There are shortages of accounting doctorates in many states, and professors can earn excellent wages and enjoy a rewarding career that’s in high-demand. 

Which accounting program is right for you?

The right accounting degree for you depends on your preferences and career goals. For example, if you’re a stickler for the rules and love combing through fine details, you might be more inclined to choose a course that leads to a career as an auditor or financial analyst. If you want to work in the public sector or with nonprofits, you’ll need to pursue a CPA, and if you want to impress corporate bosses, an MBA might be the best path. 

In most instances, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree to get into the best accounting careers. When you’ve decided on your next step after completing undergraduate studies, you can pursue licensure and join the relevant professional organizations. The most lucrative certifications accounting students can pursue include:

  • Certified quality auditors
  • Forensic accountants
  • Accredited business accountant
  • Certified payroll professional
  • Enrolled agent
  • Certified management accountant
  • Certified information systems auditor
  • Certified fraud examiner
  • CPA
  • Internal auditor

Top schools for accounting in Indiana

When ranking the top accounting degree programs in Indiana, our researchers took into account the academic achievement of each school, how easy it is to get into, and affordability. Rankings are also influenced by data from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, which demonstrates the percentage of students who achieve the highest first-time CPA pass rate from each school.  

Different students have different priorities, and this list aims to provide something to suit each budget, grade level, and future goal. For information about how to apply, follow the link to the school admissions page.

Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University is an affordable college in Indiana with excellent acceptance and graduation rates of 78% and 76% respectively. Tuition costs just $25,657 per year, and this school makes it into tons of the top ranked schools for accounting lists, including Forbes’, U.S. News & World Report, and Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs.

Considering the relative low cost and high academic performance of graduates, this is currently the top ranked school in Indiana for accounting majors.  

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is one of the best schools in the state for accountants, with an exceptional graduation rate of 95%. Admissions are highly competitive, with an acceptance rate of 16%, and students can expect to pay above average rates of tuition, which costs $74,193 per year.

The college ranks at number 25 in Forbes’ Best Business Schools list, 7th in U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best accounting undergraduate programs, and Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs — making it one of the most attractive schools for aspiring finance experts in the country. Courses offered are a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s in accounting.

Purdue University 

Purdue University is a public research college that costs just $22,882 per year before financial aid. The acceptance rate is 60%, and the graduation rate is an impressive 76%, making this institution excellent value for money. Students can study a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in accounting, and courses include subjects such as taxation, management accounting, fraud investigation, and data analysis. 

Anderson University Indiana

Anderson University Indiana is a liberal arts college that’s affiliated with the Church of God. It’s mid-ranged when it comes to price, with tuition costing $44,270, and has a moderate graduation and acceptance rate of 58% and 63%. Students can study accountancy at bachelor’s or master’s level, and the school has a great reputation for business, finance, and management studies.

Ball State University

Ball State University is a relatively low-cost school that offers undergraduate and graduate options for accounting studies. At master’s level, you can choose between a focus on research and analytics or public accounting, depending on your future ambitions. The acceptance rate is 77%, making it one of the easier colleges in Indiana for admissions, and the graduation rate is 57%.  

Indiana Wesleyan University Marion

Indiana Wesleyan University Marion is a private school that costs just under $40,000 per year for tuition, with an acceptance rate of 67% and a graduation rate of 64%. There are a number of degree options for accountancy students: Associate’s in accounting, bachelor’s in accounting, and master’s in accounting or accounting and business management.  

Butler University

Butler University is a private school in Indianapolis that has an impressive acceptance rate of 73%, and an even more alluring graduation rate of 76%. You can study accounting at bachelor’s level, and choose from a master of professional accounting or master of professional accounting with a business focus at graduate level. Tuition costs $61,950 per year, and the school has a good reputation for online and offline courses.

Find the program that’s right for you

Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

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BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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