Accounting can be a financially rewarding field, and many people who move into the profession do so because they enjoy working with figures. possess good attention to detail and see it as a way of helping businesses improve their productivity.
Accountants in Mississippi are required to take the Uniform CPA exam and earn a license from the Mississippi State Board of Accountancy before they can practice as Certified Public Accountants.
Not everyone who decides to study accounting has the aim of earning CPA licensure. Accounting programs can lead to jobs in a number of other fields, including bookkeeping, business administration, and finance.
To become a licensed CPA in Mississippi, a student would need to complete an accounting degree that includes 120 semester hours of college credit including a selection of required courses. The requirements used to be 150 hours of college credit, but this was reduced from July 2016.
After completing a degree, the student must pass the CPA examination, go through a background check, and complete one year of full-time employment working under the supervision of a licensed CPA, during which time you must show competency in your desired areas of work.
The state expects would-be accountants to either reside in the state or regularly conduct business through an address in Mississippi. An accountant who currently lives and works in a different state, and who earned their CPA licensure there, could apply for reciprocity licensing in Mississippi if their qualifications meet the state’s licensing requirements.
The reciprocity program means accountants don’t have to take the same tests multiple times to earn licenses in every state in which they wish to do business. Mississippi requires accountants to hold a CPA license if they wish to sign documents for financial accounting reports.
Ongoing education requirements for accountants in Mississippi
The education requirements of a CPA don’t end with licensure. Accountants are expected to engage in an ongoing plan of Continued Professional Education (CPE), which covers law, ethics, and regulations.
Tax laws change on a regular basis and it’s vital that accountants make an effort to stay up to date with the latest changes. CPAs are expected to complete 40 hours of CPE every year.
Of those 40 hours, at least four hours must be focused on ethics in accounting. CPAs can use a variety of activities to cover their CPE, including self-study, personal development courses, and teaching time if the accountant is also an instructor.
If an accountant holds a license in more than one state, they may be able to have the ethics element of their CPE requirement waived, assuming they have already completed 4 hours of ethics education as a part of the CPE requirements for the other state.
Many accountants choose to pursue post-graduate courses as a part of their CPE. This gives them the chance to learn about new areas of the field while building up the time required to maintain their license.
What accounting jobs are there in Mississippi?
There are many accounting jobs available in Mississippi. KPMG, one of the “big four” accounting firms has an office in Jackson. Accountants are also in high demand from other employers, with Horne, Kemp Group, and BKD employing a significant number of CPAs between them.
Agriculture is a major employer in the state, with one-third of all Mississippi’s workforce being employed in some capacity in the sector. Many agriculture firms have accountants who are contracted to work directly for them.
How much do accountants earn in Mississippi?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary earned by an accountant or auditor in Mississippi is $66,450 per year. This is significantly higher than the average salary across all occupations in the state, of $39,420.
Overall, accountants in Mississippi are paid less than they are in other states. The average salary for accountants in the United States is $81,660. However, the difference in salary between states doesn’t always translate into a higher disposable income, as cost of living differences can be significant.
Accountants living and working in Mississippi can expect to make more than those who work in property and real estate, food services, market research, urban planning, or even counseling. There are many post-secondary education requiring professions that are higher-paid, however, including teaching, certain kinds of technical and medical work, engineering, and some jobs in the legal profession.
How much demand is there for accountants in Mississippi?
Accountants are in high demand in Mississippi. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there 5,800 people working in accounting-relating positions in the state, for a total of 5.39 accountants per 1,000 people.
There are several accounting firms with offices in the city, including KPMG, which is one of the highly respected “big four” firms in the industry. The industry as a whole is growing steadily, with the jobs outlook nationwide expected to increase by 4% between 2019 and 2029, in line with the wider economy.
Studying for an accounting degree can lead to many jobs, not just a position as a Certified Public Accountant. Many people who complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting opt to work in other areas of business and pursue a master’s degree or an MBA. Some work for a few years in a general accountancy position before specializing in forensic accounting or another similar area. Accounting graduates have a variety of opportunities open to them.
How to decide where to study accounting
If you’re sure you’d like to study accounting, your next challenge is deciding where to study. There are 12 accredited undergraduate degree programs in the state, and more than 20 institutions offering programs spread across the associate’s degree, bachelor’s, and post-graduate levels.
It’s worth investigating each program and comparing them based on cost, specialization options, admission criteria, study options, and location. When you’re comparing different degree programs in accountancy, be sure to make a note of the entry requirements, application procedure, and dates.
There’s no single body that oversees university applications in Mississippi. Each degree program may have a different start date and application deadline. Some programs allow multiple student intakes throughout the year, but that isn’t always the case.
To avoid the disappointment of having to wait almost a full year for your degree to start, make sure you keep track of the application deadlines.
How should your desired specializations in accounting affect where you study?
If you’re just getting started in the field of accounting and are looking for an undergraduate degree, you don’t have to worry too much about your specialization yet.
Bachelor’s degrees in accounting focus on preparing the learner for the CPA exam. This requires students to learn about accounting in broad terms and have an understanding of auditing, governments and nonprofits, management, ethics, and financial accounting.
The time to specialize in a specific area of the profession is after you have passed the Unified CPA. Even if you opt for an accounting major at the bachelor’s degree level instead of an accounting and business degree, by the time you’ve covered the mandatory general education courses and the courses required for CPA preparation, there won’t be many credit hours left to specialize.
There are some universities that offer bachelor’s degrees with the chance to focus on a specific area of the subject, but you’ll be able to spend more time on the areas that interest you if you pursue a master’s degree after earning your license. As an added bonus, taking the time to earn a mater’s opens up senior accounting positions too.
How much should cost influence your decision on where to study accounting?
University tuition can be expensive, but accountants command high salaries once they’re fully licensed, so it’s fair to say that studying accounting makes sense from the point of view of investing in your future earning potential.
The average cost of an accounting degree at the University of Mississippi is $29,436 per year, meaning a four-year degree can cost over $125,000. In general, on-campus degrees cost far more than degrees delivered via a hybrid format or entirely online.
Mississippi has a significant number of universities that are faith-based and operate on a nonprofit basis. These universities try to avoid raising their fees every year, and as such can cost half or less, the amount of a for-profit university for a similar course.
If you don’t qualify for financial aid and are worried about how you’ll cover the cost of your tuition, it may make sense to study at a nonprofit or pursue an online degree from a university that meets the Mississippi state board’s criteria for licensure.
However, cost shouldn’t be the only thing you take into account. The academic demands placed on students who are pursuing accounting degrees are high. Nationwide, the pass rate for the CPA is only just over 51.9%. It makes sense to give yourself every advantage you can possibly get when preparing for the test.
Some students find it much easier to learn if they’re supported by an attentive faculty, get to do lots of group work with their peers, and are learning in an environment where the student to faculty ratio is low. This may mean paying slightly higher tuition fees to attend a high-quality, selective school.
What factors should you consider when selecting an accounting school?
In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are some “intangibles” that you may want to consider when you’re choosing a school to study at. Remember that you could be spending the next four years of your life at the university you choose, so it’s important to be happy with the decision.
Issues such as the size of the student population, the diversity of the campus, and even the quality of accommodation can make a difference. Some people enjoy studying at large, busy universities. Others may find a more mid-sized institution such as Jackson State University more suited to them.
Small, non-profit schools such as Mississippi College offer a comparatively intimate learning environment for those who want to focus on their studies and who don’t enjoy the party atmosphere of bigger campuses.
However, big campuses can have some benefits to them. The campus is more likely to be well designed, with quality student accommodation and all of the amenities on-site. In addition, large institutions usually have more resources, so they can offer students better options in terms of placements, networking and career events.
Considerations for an accounting degree in Mississippi
There are more than 20 universities and colleges offering accounting degrees in Mississippi. That may sound like a lot of options, but it’s a relatively small number compared to some of the larger or more densely-populated states.
When you’re choosing an institution to study for a bachelor’s degree, there are several things you should take into account:
- Course duration
- CPA exam pass rates
- Study options
Accreditation is the most important thing to take into account when evaluating a degree. If your degree is not accredited by a recognized awarding body, you may not qualify to take the CPA examination.
The other factors are a matter of personal preference. Most associate’s degrees take two years to complete, for example. An associate’s degree would not prepare a student for the Uniform CPA, but may help someone get a job in a business in a finance-adjacent position.
Some students opt to study for an associate’s degree, then study part-time to top up that degree to a bachelor’s degree. In most cases, a bachelor’s degree takes four years from start to finish, but there are some fast-track or flexible study options that allow people to earn a degree more quickly. Part-time study options will of course take longer, but mean a student can work while studying, and spread the course over a longer period.
Paying for an accounting degree in Mississippi
The cost of an accounting degree can vary from as little as $20,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on whether it is studied online, on-campus, or in a hybrid form. There are a lot of financial aid options available for people who might otherwise struggle to cover the cost of their studies.
FAFSA is a federal program that offers access to low-interest student loans. Anyone who is not planning on entirely self-funding their studies should apply to FAFSA, because many scholarships and financial aid programs will not consider students unless they have done so.
The Mississippi Society of CPAs has an Education Foundation that awards several scholarships each year at the graduate and undergraduate levels. To be eligible for a scholarship, a student must have been accepted into a program at an accredited university in the state.
Specialization and finding a job in accounting in Mississippi
If you’re considering studying a master’s degree and have a specialization in mind, do some research on the institutions that offer the degree before you select a program.
Consider looking at the profiles of people who work in your desired job role on LinkedIn. Do you spot a trend in terms of where they studied? The reciprocal licensing options available in the field of accounting mean it’s easier for accountants to move around nationally than it is for people in some other licensed job roles, but it’s still fairly common for people to earn a license in one state and stay there for many years.
It’s possible to get a job as a CPA with any accredited degree, but holding a master’s degree from a respected university will help you to get a higher paid job. Senior accounting roles and highly specialized positions such as forensic accounting or government roles are easier to get into if you’ve made a commitment to your education.
Accrediting bodies for accounting degrees
In order to be allowed to take the CPA examination, a student must have completed a program of study at the bachelor’s degree level accredited by a recognized body.
The Mississippi State Board of Public Accountancy recognizes the following regional accrediting bodies:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools – Higher Learning Commission
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges – Commission for Senior Colleges
What are the requirements for an accounting degree in Mississippi?
Prospective accountants are required to undertake a program of study that includes 120 hours of semester credits, of which a certain number of hours must be in accounting and upper-level business-related courses.
Students are expected to cover topics such as:
- Financial accountancy
- Government/nonprofit accounting
- Cost accounting
They may also have the option of studying business-related courses, including:
- Business law
- Business ethics
- Information systems
- Business communications
Accounting programs prepare students to take the CPA exam, which is one of the requirements for licensure. The examination is made up for four parts:
Financial accounting and reporting
This section covers financial accounting frameworks. Candidates must demonstrate an understanding of different reporting standards, and compare statements presented according to those standards.
Auditing and attestation
This section covers the International Standards of Auditing and also looks at United States auditing standards.
Candidates are expected to show an understanding of their legal responsibilities and the code of ethics that accountants and auditors are expected to follow.
Business environment and concepts
This section of the exam covers general business concepts. Prospective accountants are evaluated on their understanding of international business, the business environment, and their communication skills.
How stiff is the competition for spaces in accounting degree programs in Mississippi?
Entry requirements for accounting degree programs can vary significantly, depending on the institution. Most universities in Mississippi have flexible study options for accounting programs, allowing students to study online or on-campus.
This flexibility means they can accommodate more students at the bachelor’s degree level, so as long as you have the required GPA to earn admission onto the program you’re likely to be able to secure a place.
Postgraduate courses may have stricter entry requirements, but as long as you have an accredited undergraduate degree you should be able to earn a place onto your desired program.
The GPA requirements may vary between universities. One metric by which bachelor’s degrees in accounting are measured is the CPA exam pass rate. The national average pass rate is 51.9%, and universities and colleges will want to try to have a pass rate close to or above that level.
Universities with a very high pass rate may aim to protect that by only accepting students who have a solid transcript and a good GPA.
Mississippi schools with accounting degree programs
There are currently more than 20 universities and colleges offering accounting degree programs in Mississippi, of which seven offer master’s degrees or other post-graduate courses in the subject. Prospective students should confirm whether the course they’re interested in prepares them for the CPA exam and meets the requirements for state licensure.
What are the most popular accounting degree programs in Mississippi?
Some of the most popular accounting degree programs in the state include those offered by:
- Regent University
- Capella University
- Post University
The B.S. in Accounting at Regent University is an ACBSP-accredited program offered in online and on-campus forms. This program covers auditing, tax preparation, and accounting law for individuals, corporations, and nonprofits. Students have the opportunity to study strategic management, ethics, and international business.
The degree includes a significant amount of coursework. Regent University is a Christian institution and all programs are taught from that perspective. Graduates are prepared to sit the CPA examination.
Southern New Hampshire University
SHNU offers associate’s degrees, B.S., and Master’s programs in accounting. There are several programs to choose from, including majors in forensic accounting, finance, financial planning, and other areas.
The institution is ACBSP accredited. Students have the opportunity to study entirely online, and the university is committed to keeping fees as low as possible, making it one of the most affordable options for both in-state and out-of-state learners.
Capella University offers a flexible degree program that allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree for under $20,000, assuming the student is able to devote a lot of time to their studies. The fastest 25% of students complete their studies in just 18 months and can complete an MBA in just 14 months.
This degree program is aimed at students who want to study accounting in a more general way, and who are aiming for a long-term career as a consultant or business leader.
The B.S. in Accounting from Post University is ACBSP accredited and takes just over three years to complete. There are also associate’s degree and master’s degree options, as well as post-secondary certificates for those who have already studied a degree in a different field and are simply looking to augment their existing qualifications with knowledge of accounting.
How can you pick the accounting degree program in Mississippi that is best for your needs?
If you’re planning to study for a bachelor’s degree in accounting in Mississippi, you should look for a program that prepares you for the CPA exam, and ideally one that has a high pass rate for that examination.
A good accounting program will cover all of the subjects required for licensure and also prepare you for working in other states via the reciprocity program. Many accounting courses give students the chance to get some experience in the field, and perhaps explore different specializations such as forensic accounting or financial accounting.
Academic experience is not counted towards the mandatory work experience hours for CPA licensure, but it still has a lot of value and may help a student decide what they’d like to focus on if they upgrade their qualifications to master’s degree level.
Any university that is accredited and prepares students for the CPA exam should be recognized by institutions offering master’s degrees, making it easy for a student to take the next step in their career. This means you should be able to get a place in an MBA program or a postgraduate accounting course without too much difficulty.
When you’re evaluating accounting degrees, consider the study options offered, fees, and also the graduation rates of each institution. Accountancy courses are academically rigorous, and it’s important to have access to support from the faculty and your peers to help you through the more challenging parts of the course.
Talk to current and former students and ask them about the academic environment and whether they’re enjoying the course. In addition, find out where graduates usually end up working. Many universities have links with local employers, so if you have a goal of working for a specific firm, the networking opportunities offered by studying with the right university could be invaluable.