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Accounting Schools in Michigan in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Why study accounting in Michigan?

Getting an accounting qualification in Michigan is a major investment. Not just because it’s a challenging subject that requires focus, dedication, and tons of hard work, but also because in most cases, full time bachelor’s program students can expect to spend five years instead of four completing their undergraduate studies. If you don’t fancy spending that long in school, fear not. You can get a job as a bookkeeper or clerk with an associate degree or high school diploma

If you want to go down the traditional route of becoming a certified public accountant, you’ll need to kick off with a bachelor’s degree, which is usually worth 120 semester credit hours. To be eligible for CPA certification in Michigan, you’ll need 150 credits. Most students elect to take an additional year to make up the necessary amount, or pursue a master’s, MBA, or doctorate degree in accounting. 

Types of accounting degree program 

There are various different options for Michigan students looking to enter a career in finance. While most people opt to complete a bachelor’s program and then make up the additional 30 or so credit hours by taking another course, there are also specializations such as forensic accounting, accounting information systems, and managerial accounting to zero in on.

MBAs, CMAs, master’s of science in management, and other graduate course options usually only take one or two years to complete, and give students the best chance reaching the top of the Michigan career ladder in accounting. 

Bachelor’s degree

In Michigan, a bachelor’s degree alone isn’t sufficient to be eligible for the CPA or CMA examinations because it only covers 120 out of 150 required credits. Luckily, lots of Michigan schools provide students with the option to continue for an extra year in view of preparing directly for advanced accounting qualifications. That said, bachelor’s graduates are qualified for a range of high-paying, rewarding careers, including tax preparation, accounting, auditing, and entry level financial analytics.

Some of the course topics learners cover include international accounting, fundamentals of tax, financial reporting, ethics in accounting, auditing, and cost accounting. By the end of your degree program, you should: Understand the generally accepted accounting principles; be able to practically apply accounting theory, like analysis, methodology, and reporting; and be able to practice accountancy with a clear understanding of organizational behavior and ethics.

MBA with accounting

Employers looking for senior accounting professionals expect to see that you’ve gone above and beyond the basics in seeking your education. One of the best ways to demonstrate your commitment to a career in finance is to get an MBA — especially if your intention is to work in a business setting. In addition to learning the practicalities of financial management, you’ll gain skills in leadership, people management, and reporting to senior executives.

Many people consider this to be the pinnacle of accounting qualifications, with only a Ph.D. showing a higher level of understanding in the field.

Master’s degree

If you’ve hit a plateau in your accountancy job and you’re looking for a way to take your career to the next level, a master’s degree could be the perfect choice. Large businesses, investment firms, and accounting firms such as the big four generally prefer candidates who can demonstrate more than a bachelor’s level education and have reached CPA or CPE status. A master’s degree also gets you ready for working as a partner in an accounting firm, or running your own accounting firm or business.

Coursework you can expect to complete includes the following subjects: Professional responsibility and ethics in accounting, managerial and cost accounting, financial statement analysis, CPA exam preparation, auditing and assurance, information technology for accountants, and taxes and business strategy.  

Ph.D.

It’s quite rare for people to study doctorate degrees in accounting, but they do exist. Individuals who intend on teaching at postgraduate level and those who wish to sand out head and shoulders above the rest in the job market are most likely to seek a Ph.D. in accounting. This type of qualification can take up to seven years to complete and involves on-the-job experience as well as an array of advanced theoretical studies.

There’s reportedly a shortage of accounting professors in the United States, so this level of qualification offers exceptional job prospects and security.

Benefits of studying accounting in Michigan

If you’re considering studying for your accounting degree in Michigan, but have a few states in mind — why not try out a like-for-like comparison? Here are some of the top reasons to choose the Wolverine State:

  • Exceptional schools: If you want to stand out to the best accountancy employers in Michigan, you should try and get into the best schools. This state boasts two colleges that are in the Times’ list of the top 150 universities in the world: The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and Michigan State University. The former is also in the Forbes’ top five accounting schools for undergraduates in the country, and the QS Top Universities top 30 list of best accounting and finance schools in the world. 
  • Low cost of living: Michigan is famous for industries including automotive, tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing — all of which require accounting professionals to run smoothly. Not only is it great for jobs, but it also doesn’t cost a bunch to reside there and enjoy life. Health, housing, utilities, and groceries cost less than the U.S. average, which means more money to save or spend on doing what you love.   
  • Culture: Whether you love sports, art, food, or nightlife, there’s an area in Michigan to satisfy your urges. Farmer’s markets and great restaurants make it a foodie’s paradise, Detroit is a hotspot for avid sports fans, and the state is home to some of the most diverse and beautiful art galleries in the country. 
  • The great outdoors: If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, there are few places that offer more variety and beauty than Michigan. The Upper Peninsula is a famous beauty spot, but there are areas dotted all around the state to escape he daily grind and enjoy nature.
  • History: Michigan has a rich heritage, with loads of historical sites and museums to visit.
  • Four seasons: Some states feature hot weather practically all year around, which sounds great in theory — but ask any Texan or Floridian how they feel about the relentless heat, and you’ll quickly learn the reality doesn’t always live up to expectation. In Michigan, you get snowy winters, scorching summers and mild spring and fall seasons, which means you can appreciate each one and get respite from hot or cold weather. 

Colleges in Michigan with online accounting degree courses

Accounting is the perfect degree for distance learning because students are predominantly focused on coursework and theory. As such, the majority of Michigan colleges now offer bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, MBAs, MSMs, and even Ph.D.’s online. Let’s take a look at two schools in Michigan that feature popular distance learning courses:

Baker College

Students looking to get a bachelor’s degree online can study accounting at Baker College in Flint. In the first couple of years, you’ll take courses in general education and the fundamentals of business. Once you’ve developed an acceptable level of proficiency, you’ll move onto accounting subjects, such as forensic accounting, cost accounting, and payroll accounting. In addition to learning the fundamentals of accounts, you’ll learn problem-solving, communication, and leadership skills. 

Wayne State University

Wayne State University offers a master’s of science in accounting program that you can complete on a hybrid basis. That means part of the course is online, but you’re expected to attend occasional classes and obtain on-the-job experience.

You’ll need an undergraduate degree in accounting to qualify for the course, which includes coursework on business entities, internal auditing, governmental and nonprofit accounting, and managerial accounting. This master’s program provides the necessary semester credits to apply for CPA certification.

Considerations for an accounting degree in Michigan

How long does it take to earn a finance degree in Michigan?

The amount of time it takes to obtain a degree in accounting in Michigan varies depending on the school you choose and the degree level you pursue. Bachelor’s students can expect to study for four years, with an additional year required for individuals who opt to become a CPA.

The program you study to get the extra 30 credits might be a master’s or an MBA, and courses usually don’t take more than one or two years. To reach doctorate level, you’ll need to study for at least four years, with some Ph.D. degrees taking a full seven years to complete. 

Student life in Michigan

Michigan is an excellent state for young adults and mature learners alike, with an idea balance between small town rural living and cosmopolitan city life. Whichever you prefer, there’s an area and school in the state for you. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why student life can be so much fun in Michigan:

  • Detroit has changed: Detroit is one of the most famous places in the United States, along with areas like downtown New York, for gentrification. Some people talk about this as if it’s a bad thing, but for students it’s truly a paradise. Trendy pop up businesses, alternative fashion enthusiasts, and art lovers will love the streets of Detroit, which have changed a lot from the days when the city had a reputation for crime.  
  • Hit up the beach: Who needs the ocean to visit the beach? Not Michigan residents, that’s for sure. Living near water is said to improve wellbeing, which is a boon for hardworking accounting students in Michigan.
  • Enjoy a craft beer: Provided you’re over the age of 21, Michigan is one of the best places to try artisan drinks in the country. Locals are proud of the variety and quality of crafts beers and spirits produced across the state. 
  • Catch the northern lights: The northern lights are one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the world, and it’s possible to see them from areas in the north of Michigan.

Certified public accountant requirements

The requirements for CPAs are slightly different in every state. Here are the requirements for aspiring accountants who live in Michigan:

  • Hold at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Complete 150 semester credit hours
  • Complete one year, or 2,000 hours, of work experience in academia, government, business, or public practice
  • Send in your transcripts within 60 days of taking the exam

How much does it cost to earn an accounting degree in Michigan?

The cost of earning a degree in Michigan varies significantly between colleges, but in general you can expect to pay less to study here than in many other areas in the United States. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor is one of the highest ranked schools in the world for business and accounting, and it costs around half of what you’d pay in the most expensive U.S. colleges, such as the University of Chicago and Colombia University.

Accounting jobs in Michigan for graduates

Michigan is a great city for finance professionals due to its strong economy and diverse commercial landscape. That said, some areas are more rural and might not have the best prospects for accounting graduates. Read on to discover some the best cities to live in Michigan and learn more about the career outlook for accountants entering the job market.

Top cities for accounting professionals in Michigan

Here are some of the most popular places for accounting graduates to kick-start their careers.

Detroit

Detroit struggled a lot during the economic crisis in 2007/8, but its recovery has been nothing short of momentous. The city and surrounding areas hold great significance in American history, and it boasts some of the most impressive architecture. If you’re interested in working for a trendy start-up, this could be one of the best places in the country.

Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor tops many lists of the best places in Michigan to live, and with good reason. Here you’ll find some of the best schools in the country, stunning architecture, and a thriving economy. Plus, considering how attractive this area is, the cost of living is surprisingly low.  

Ypsilanti

Nature lovers who don’t want to be too far from a metro will be right at home in this fascinatingly-named city. The city is flecked with culture, art, history, and bustling businesses. 

Taylor 

If you’re a fan of the quiet life, consider moving to Taylor once you get your accounting qualification. This suburban area has enough industry to provide employment opportunities, but also feature glorious beauty spots and has a laid-back way of life that appeals to many Michigan natives.

What’s the job outlook like for finance professionals in Michigan?

According to data from the BLS, many of the southern areas in Michigan have employment levels akin to those in New York, Miami, and San Francisco for those in an accounting job. What’s more accounting professionals in the state earn more than any of the surrounding locations, with an annual mean wage of $77,160. In Ohio, the average wage for an accounting or auditing professional is $74,460, in Indiana, it’s $72,860, in Illinois, it’s $76,800, and in Wisconsin, it’s $74,480.  

Michigan accounting career opportunities

Chief financial officer

A CFO holds one of the highest positions in any corporate environment, and has an extraordinary amount of responsibility. To reach this career position, you’ll need to be the most qualified, experienced, and outstanding candidate for the job. In many instances, professionals in this field have a master’s level education.

Some of the duties of this post include reporting to board executives, overseeing finance managers, building and implementing systems and processes to optimize financial performance, and setting targets to ensure the compliance, accuracy and speed of financial reporting within a corporate environment. The average starting salary for this profession is around $120,000 per year.

Finance director

If you’re climbing your way up the career ladder, with a position as a CFO in mind, one of the roles you’re likely to take on is that of a finance director. The main function of this role is to lead finance managers and develop systems and procedures to fine-tune the financial performance of a company.

You’ll need a graduate level degree and years of experience to get into this role, which includes the following duties: Overseeing treasury, tax, credit, insurance, budget, and accounting functions within a business, directing financial policies, reporting to board members and executives. Average salaries for new finance directors are around $100,000 annually. 

Financial analyst

Financial analysts are some of the most in-demand finance professionals in the industry, with the role set to grow at a faster-than-average rate. Practically any organization that has a finance team will require a high-level pro in this role. Your aim in this role is to analyze the financial data for your company, and direct managers towards astute decisions for lowering costs and increasing profits. 

Duties include the preparation of financial reports, financial forecasting, and management of lower level employees once you reach senior level. The average salary for financial analysts is around $80,000. 

Forensic accountant

White collar crime and fraud cost the United States economy billions of dollars every year. Forensic accountants are professionals who aim to seek out financial wrongdoing and often work for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporate entities. You’ll need to understand a variety of subjects, including financial law, accounting, investigative methods, accounting technology, and data analysis. 

The job role includes the following responsibilities: Presenting evidence in court, investigating fraud and financial irregularities, designing systems to protect against fraud, and analysis of financial reports. Most forensic accounting professionals have a graduate degree, and the job commands $70,000 per year on average.

Financial advisor

The need for personal financial advisors is growing, as Millennial households earn more money than any previous generation. This means that more individuals need help making astute financial investments and managing their income. Plus, a growing number of entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals mean more small businesses require financial advisors.

Some of the duties you’re expected to perform in this role are: Teaching clients about economic trends, recommending suitable investment strategies, and monitoring investments. Professionals can enter the field with a bachelor’s degree, and entry level salaries average around $60,000 per year.

Compliance analyst

When it comes to finance, compliance is one of the most fundamental principles, and accuracy is of the utmost importance. Organizations must operate within local, state, and federal guidelines, and a financial analyst is a professional who ensures financial compliance across the board. There are a set of ethical norms and basic practices which you’ll help implement in this role

Other duties include developing reports for managers, identifying weaknesses in a company’s processes, and analyzing policies and reports for compliance. Bachelor’s graduates can go straight into this career, which pays $55,000 annually on average.

Tax accountant

Tax regulations are in a constant state of flux, and it’s the role of a tax accountant to ensure payments, reports, and taxes are all in-line with state and federal laws. Tax liability is a primary concern for many business clients, and you’ll help your company ensure no-one pays too much tax or breaks any rules.

There are a bunch of responsibilities for tax accountants, such as filing extensions, advising clients, and preparing and filing tax returns. Some companies prefer applicants have a master’s degree, but many are happy with an undergraduate degree in accounting. The average salary in this field is $55,000.

Auditor

One of the most popular and highly-regarded roles in the field of accountancy is that of an auditor. Auditors are an extra layer of defense against financial fraud and wrongdoing. Internal auditors work hard within organizations to ensure there are no financial irregularities or red flags to the IRS or government. If companies are reported for wrongdoing, the state might send in an external auditor, whose job it is to assess financial statements and catch any irregularities therein.

Primary duties are streamlining of financial reports, analysis of the accuracy of financial statements, reviewing accounting procedures, and providing guidance to managers. The higher your level of qualification, the higher your salary, which averages around $55,000 for entry level auditors.   

Best schools in Michigan that offer accounting degrees 

All accounting courses on the list are accredited by the AACSB and/or another relevant accreditation body.

University of Michigan Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan Ann Arbor is one of the top ranking schools in the U.S., and around the world, and getting in is competitive. With an acceptance rate of 23%, students must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement and write an exceptional personal statement to get in. For those who make it, the graduation rate is 91% and school costs around $31,000 for in-state students before financial aid

If you opt to study the master of accounting course, you’ll go above and beyond what’s expected for the CPA examination as the course provides an extensive overview of how to apply accounting principles in the corporate world. 

Michigan State University

Michigan State University takes the 105th spot on the Times’ Higher Education list of bet universities in the world, and it has promisingly high acceptance and graduation rates, at 71% and 78% respectively. It’s another relatively low-cost school for accounting majors, who can expect an excellent return on an investment from this type of school. Tuition costs just under $30,000, which is significantly lower than a years’ wages in many entry level careers for accounting professionals. 

In addition to a bachelor’s in accounting, students can go straight into a yearlong master’s program that prepares them for the CPA. This course lets students choose from three specializations, which are: Public and corporate accounting, taxation, and information systems.

University of Michigan Dearborn

The University of Michigan Dearborn is a mid-priced public college that costs $26,928 per year, and has an acceptance rate of 62% and a graduation rate of 53%. The college of business is AACSB accredited, and the master’s in accounting is open to anyone with a bachelor’s degree in any subject.   

Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University is a public research school with a high acceptance rate of 80% and a moderate graduation rate of 52%. It costs around $27,000 to in-state learners, and offers a master’s in accounting to bachelor’s degree holders in any subject. That said, students without a background in business or accounting will need to take foundation courses before getting started on their master’s.

Calvin College

Calvin College is a private college that offers a bachelor’s in accountancy that includes general classes, accounting specializations, and business classes. Experiential learning is a key focus, and students have the option of taking on a full-time internship while they earn their qualification. The school costs around $50,000 per year, and the graduation and acceptance rate is the same, at 77%.

Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University is the most affordable college in Michigan on this list, with annual tuition fees of around $25,000. The acceptance rate is 83% and the graduation rate is 66%, and the school has close tied with employers in the local area. The master’s in accounting focuses on basic accounting knowledge, in addition to complex topics such as financial statement analysis, international accounting, and ethics for accountants. 

Whether you apply to be an accounting student to one of the most prestigious Little Ivies in Michigan, or opt for a more low-key school in a suburban area, there are excellent job prospects in the state for accounting professionals.

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