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Best Accounting Schools in Missouri in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

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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.

Why get an accounting degree in Missouri?

Missouri is famous for barbeques, Budweiser, and the Pony Express, among a host other things. Opportunity and economy are the two main highlights of living in the Show Me State, according to the U.S. News & World Report, making it an excellent prospect for up and coming accounting students. What’s more, Forbes and CNBC rank it among the best states in America for business. 

Forbes lists Missouri’s economic industrial strengths as being: Beer, electrical equipment, chemicals, aerospace, and food processing. It’s also home to a number of big companies, including Hallmark, Monsanto, Centene, Enterprise Holdings, and Ascension Health. When it comes to accountancy, a sizable presence of big businesses is sign of healthy career prospects, so finance professionals can do well in Missouri. 

The Midwest is the perfect antidote to busy, densely populated states such as New York, Texas, and California. If you prefer a more relaxed way of life, and value a sense of community spirit more than earning the highest possible salary, an accounting degree from a school in Missouri could be just right for you. 

Who should pursue a career in accounting?

A career in accounting is ideal for individuals whose main academic strengths include numbers, attention to detail, organization, and strict adherence to rules and principles. The financial sector is essential to the smooth running of every business on the planet, and accountants play a key role in a company’s success.

Whether you take on a corporate role at one of the big four accounting firms, or take up a position in a promising new tech startup, you can make a difference, climb the career ladder, and earn excellent wages in jobs that often provide excellent job security and benefits. 

Accountancy careers for graduates

Once you’re armed with an accountancy qualification, you’re ready to tackle a variety of roles. There’s no one-size-fits-all of accounting jobs, which is great news, because you can choose the role that’s best for you according to your preferences and unique skill set.

One of the most popular routes into the field is to get a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and apply to become a certified public accountant. Once you’ve sat the uniform CPA exam, you’re eligible for a number of lucrative, in-demand roles — and your CV will be more appealing to prospective employers. We’ll discuss the requirements for becoming a CPA later on in this article.  

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular careers for accountants in Missouri:

Chief financial officer

If you’re an accounting student who envisions themselves climbing up the corporate ladder and making it all the way to the top, your final destination is likely to be a CFO (if you don’t set up your own business, of course!). CFOs oversee entire departments of accountants, often in huge corporate entities.

It’s common for professionals at this level to hold multiple certifications in addition to a master’s degree level education. Wages are attractive for finance executives, with CFOs regularly earning upward of $200,000 per year.

Financial director

If you enter managerial accounting, you’ll excel at business leadership as well as possessing the technical skills necessary for all accounting professionals. As a financial director, your role is to oversee all financial policies for your company, and be accountable for the budget, treasury, tax, credit, insurance and practically all financial functions within an organization. There might be one person above you who holds ultimate responsibility for accounting, but the buck will stop with you in most cases. 

Financial directors can earn anything from $60,000 to $200,000 per year, depending on experience and the size and scope of the company they work for. 

Financial controller

Financial controllers are accounting managers who organize and oversee tax preparation, budgeting and billing for an organization. They often direct spending and make sure financial records are compliant with company, state, and federal laws. It’s a role with plenty of responsibility, and controllers can command salaries of $100,000.

Accounting software developer

There’s no escaping technology in the modern world, and people who want to combine passion for numbers with a love of tech would do well as accounting software developers. As the field changes and software becomes more advanced, businesses require new tools for managing financial systems at increasing rates. This role involves analyzing a company’s tech and financial requirements and designing software, as well as leading a team to program relevant tools.

While it’s possible to get this job with a bachelor’s degree, many employers prefer a master’s degree with a focus on information systems. You can earn upwards of $70,000 annually in this job.   

Forensic accountant

Forensic accountants are the detectives of the finance world, often working for government, nonprofit, or financial service agencies, although they do exist in the corporate world. You’ll use your combined knowledge of finance, business law, data analysis, and technology to identify white collar crime such as fraud and embezzlement. Earnings start at around $50,000 and can be higher if you work for a large corporation. 

Financial analyst

Financial analysts are required across practically all industry verticals, where they help companies identify areas where they can cut spending and improve investments. In this role, you’ll prepare financial statements, analyze reports and forecasts, and report findings to executives and board members. The starting salary is around $50,000, but senior analysts can command higher salaries.  

Tax accountant  

For many people, tax only comes round once a year and isn’t much of a concern for the rest of the time. However, as a tax accountant, it’s your year-round focus. In addition to preparing and filing tax income returns, you’ll offer advice to clients regarding liability, manage late payments, and file extensions. A bachelor’s degree and CPA certification is enough to score a role in the public sector, and just a bachelor’s qualification is necessary for a job in the private sector. Wages start at around $45,000 per year.

Auditor

An auditor is an essential cog in the accountancy wheel, and it’s the perfect job for accounting students who value compliance and accuracy above everything else. While all finance professionals are highly-trained in precision, auditors take it to the next level and go through financial records with a fine-toothed-comb to ensure compliance. They also streamline financial records, provide advice in the instance of a visit from an external auditor, and help decision-makers develop and fine-tune accounting procedures.

Salaries start at $40,000 a year for an auditing clerk and can reach upwards of $100,000 per year.

Bookkeeper

If you have a high school diploma, associate’s degree, or equivalent, you can still get a foot on the ladder of an accounting career. Provided you work hard and have a passion for numbers and detail, a job as a bookkeeper could be the perfect entry point into a job in finance. In this role, you’re expected to keep thorough and accurate financial records, track spending, record income, and enter data into the relevant accounting systems.

Salaries start at around $30,000 and can lead to a promotion for those who demonstrate exceptional ability.

Job outlook in Missouri

Missouri is one of the best places for accountants in the Midwest, according to data from the Bureau for Labor Statistics. The only neighboring state where accountants and auditors can earn more is Illinois, where the mean annual wage is $81,060 compared to $70,240 in Missouri. In Iowa, finance professionals earn an average annual salary of $67,030, while it’s $67,080 in Kentucky, $67,700 in Arkansas, $66,530 in Kansas, and $67,920 in Nebraska. 

Jefferson City has one of the highest location quotients in the United States, and Kansas City isn’t far behind. As such, there are certainly places in the country where you’ll face less fierce competition for the available job roles.  

Scholarships and bursaries available to accounting students in Missouri

Compared to other states in the U.S., Missouri has relatively cheap tuition fees for its top accounting colleges. Accountants can earn exceptional wages, so investing in a degree from a lower-cost school could be an astute move if your aim is to maximize ROI. However, the local colleges don’t make it onto the top ranking lists for business and finance schools. If your primary focus is attending a prestigious school with exceptional academic achievement, you might prefer studying in another location.

That said, some degree programs in Missouri have exceptional graduation rates and fantastic reputations. Read on to find out more about the cost of studying accounting in Missouri, and discover how to apply for scholarships and bursaries. 

The cost of accounting studies 

Just like anywhere in the U.S., the cost of an accounting degree varies significantly between colleges. The highest you can expect to pay for tuition at a top school in this location is around $60,000, while the most affordable costs around $15,000 per year. Federal financial aid is available to practically all students, in addition to bursaries and scholarships from the school or state.  

How to apply for financial aid in Missouri

For many people, the cost of studying can be daunting. Luckily, there are plenty of options for financial aid available at local and federal levels. The government issues scholarships and grants to students from all backgrounds, regardless of age, based on a number of contributing factors. Sports, academic performance, civic involvement, and a variety of other skills are some of the criteria for eligibility for student aid.

You can see a full list of state student assistance programs for learners in Missouri here. To fill out an application for federal financial aid, head over to the Federal Student Aid website and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The type of degree you pursue generally depends on your career goals, but it’s not essential that you know your future specialization before you’ve commenced a bachelor’s program. While many accountants in Missouri have bachelor’s degrees, getting a master’s or MBA can be a great way of standing out ahead of the competition in the eyes of employers. 

Types of accountancy degree

The most popular accounting degrees are bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees, along with CPA certification. However, the routes you can pursue as an accountant are practically limitless, with the potential to specialize in anything from information technology to environmental accounting. Let’s take a look at the degree options available to accounting students in Missouri, popular coursework topics, and professional certifications.   

Associate’s degrees 

Associate degree programs usually take two years to complete, although accelerated and part-time options are available at most schools. In this course, you’ll gain an understanding of the basic principles of accounting and have the chance to get the grades necessary to transfer credits to a four-year school.

Technical school and community college offer associate’s degree courses, but tons of institutions now offer online associate’s degrees. Examples of coursework include:

  • Business income tax
  • Payroll accounting
  • Cost accounting
  • Principles of financial accounting
  • Introduction to business logic and ethics
  • Accounting information systems 

Accounting clerks and bookkeepers can go straight into the job market with this qualification.

Bachelor’s degrees

In Missouri, the minimum academic requirement for CPA professionals is a bachelor’s degree with 150 semester credit hours. Most four-year programs are worth 120 credits, so accounting students often spend five years as an undergraduate, or follow up their bachelor’s with a master’s to gain the extra 30 semester hours required for the CPA exam. 

In the initial stages of most bachelor programs, you’ll study generic courses, moving into accounting-specific subjects later on. As you progress through the coursework topics, you should get a feel for where your strengths lie, and start making plans for your future specializations. Topics you cover at bachelor level might include:

  • Financial statement analysis
  • Ethics in accounting
  • Financial reporting
  • Managerial accounting
  • International accounting
  • Fundamentals of tax
  • Cost accounting

Bachelor’s graduates can get into a broad range of fields, from public accounting to actuarial science, auditing, financial management, and forensic accounting. 

Master’s degrees

A master’s in accounting is another popular choice for Missouri accountancy students, and in many cases it’s the highest level of qualification required by employers. It usually takes one or two years to complete, and teaches advanced accounting skills, principles, and practical applications. As the job market becomes more competitive, the demand for accountants with master’s degrees is increasing.

You might focus on a specific area such as tax accounting, CPA exam preparation, or forensic accounting. Due to the close association between finance and business, you’ll gain an advanced understanding of how finance drives decision-making in a company, and learn how to apply your knowledge to high-level professional applications. Some of the topics you can expect to delve into are:

  • Accounting and financial analysis
  • Managerial and cost accounting
  • Auditing and assurance services
  • Professional communication for accountants
  • CPA examination prep
  • Information technology for accountants
  • Professional communication for accountants 

MBA with accounting 

Arguably the most exclusive qualification for accounting students in Missouri, an MBA with accounting prepares you leadership roles in business. Along with finance, the focus on the degree is on problem-solving in the workplace, and leadership skills for future company bosses and entrepreneurs. You can also pursue an MBA after you complete a bachelor’s program to get the additional credits required for the CPA exam.

An MBA typically takes less than two years to compete, and many schools now offer degrees online. If you’re currently working full-time and want to level-up in your spare time, an online MBA could be just the ticket to a pay rise or promotion for those already working in the field. Some MBA accounting coursework examples are:

  • Business law
  • Tax strategy
  • Leadership and organizational behavior
  • Financial analysis
  • Intermediate accounting
  • Personal and corporate taxation
  • Management accounts  

Doctorate degrees

While a Ph.D. or D.BA. are the some of the most exclusive degrees available to accounting students, they’re not generally required for roles outside of postgraduate teaching and research. Doctorates can take up to seven years to complete, but the prestige of publishing a dissertation makes it worthwhile for ambitious accountancy majors. Coursework examples include

  • Statistical analysis
  • Advanced financial reporting
  • Capital markets research
  • Doctoral dissertation seminars
  • Capital markets research
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Econometrics
  • Behavioral accounting research  

Core courses in accounting 

If you’re wondering what core courses in accounting at undergraduate level might look like, read on:

Principles of accounting: When you learn the financial ropes, the fundamentals of accounting are your primary focus. In this course, you’ll learn how data capture, analysis, and reporting affect a business, and gain a basic knowledge of best practices in business management. 

Business communication for accountants: As an accountant, you’ll interact with people at every level of an operation. Topics you cover include values, competence, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication ethics. 

Introduction to accounting information systems: This essential course teaches you how to use Microsoft Office, and various popular accounting software applications.

Contemporary business law: It’s essential that accounting professionals have a clear understanding of business law. This topic teaches students about the legal system, organizational structures, common law, and relevant regulations that govern the financial sector.

The best certifications for Missouri accountants

The best degree programs in Missouri prepare learners for a career in accountancy and offer electives that relate to a specific career path. While CPA certification is the most popular route into public accounting, there are a variety of licenses to choose from, including: bullet list

How to become a CPA in Missouri

To become a CPA in Missouri, students must complete 150 credit hours of relevant coursework, including at least 60 hours of accounting-specific learning. The Missouri Board of Public Accountancy also requires that you undertake at least 2,000 of working experience in public practice, academia, government or industry. In this state, it’s also a pre-requisite that students complete an exam in professional ethics.

When you’ve fulfilled the above criteria, you’re eligible to sit the uniform CPA exam, which is administered via the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. After passing the exam, you can apply for your license and start practicing.

How does a Missouri accounting program compare to the rest of the United States? 

With regards to subject matter, course topics, rate of achievement, and cost, Missouri schools compare favorably to the rest of the nation. However, if you’re looking to study at a school that’s recognized as one of the best in the field, it might be worth looking into the top business schools in the world.  

Of course, not everyone wants to go to Harvard. If you’re more interested in getting a guaranteed spot in one of the top local schools in Missouri, you’ll find they generally have fewer entry requirements than the top schools in the country and still offer a stellar education.  

Top-rated accounting programs in Missouri 

The best accounting degree programs in Missouri demonstrate high graduation rates — ideally with high acceptance rates to match. Generally, the lower the acceptance rate, the higher the graduation rate. However, it’s easier to fulfil requirements at schools that manage to bridge the gap between the two. Cost, size, courses offered, and location are other important factors to take into consideration.

For information about admissions, follow the link in the school description.

Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University is one of the most expensive schools in Missouri, costing upwards of $60,000 per year before financial aid. It’s a mid-sized college with an acceptance rate of 58% and a graduation rate of 74%. Undergraduate courses emphasise skills such as cost management, auditing best practices, information systems, critical analysis, communication, and problem-solving. Relevant degree options include:

  • Bachelor’s in general accounting
  • Bachelor’s in economics
  • Bachelor’s in business administration
  • Online bachelor’s in business leadership
  • Master’s in general accounting
  • Master’s in business administration
  • Doctorate in business administration

Washington University in Saint Louis

Washington University in Saint Louis is a private, nonprofit school with an exceptional reputation for academic achievement. Although it’s not easy to get accepted, with an acceptance rate of 14%, the graduation rate is an impressive 94%, putting it on a level with some of the best schools in the country. It’s the most expensive school in Missouri, with annual tuition fees costing over $70,000 per year.

The school just makes it into the Times’ Higher Education top 50 universities in the U.S., coming in at 50. Degree program options for accountants are as follows:

  • Bachelor’s in business administration
  • Master’s in finance
  • Master’s in business administration
  • Master’s in general accounting
  • Doctorate in general accounting
  • Doctorate in finance
  • Doctorate in economics

University of Missouri Colombia

The University of Missouri Colombia is the biggest school in Missouri, and one of the most affordable, costing around $27,000 before financial aid. It has an impressive acceptance and graduation ratio, with scores of 81% and 61%, respectively. It’s one of the best schools for accountancy in the Midwest, and offers a good selection of degree courses. You can from the following:

  • Bachelor’s in general accounting
  • Bachelor’s in business administration
  • Master’s in general accounting
  • Master’s in business administration
  • Doctorate in general accounting
  • Doctorate in business administration 

Missouri State University Springfield

Missouri State University Springfield is one of the cheapest schools in Missouri, costing just over $20,000 per year for tuition before financial aid. It’s a public school, and the second-largest in the state. If your primary concern is choosing a course that isn’t too stressful to get into, its acceptance rate of 88% might appeal to you. With a graduation rate of 54% and the affordable tuition and cost of living, this school is a good investment for many people. 

Course options you can choose from include:

  • Bachelor’s in general accounting
  • Bachelor’s in insurance services
  • Bachelor’s in finance
  • Bachelor’s in business administration
  • Master’s in general accounting

University of Missouri Kansas City

The University of Missouri Kansas City is a mid-sized public research college that costs $26,421 for tuition. It has an acceptance rate of 61% and a graduation rate of 57%, so there are good odds that you’ll get accepted and complete your degree program. Majors for accounting students are:

  • Bachelor’s in general accounting
  • Bachelor’s in economics
  • Bachelor’s in business administration
  • Master’s in general accounting
  • Master’s in economics
  • Master’s in business administration
  • Doctorate in economics 

Webster University

Webster University is a private school in Webster Groves that boats the rare feat of having a graduation rate significantly higher than the acceptance rate, at 75% and 57%, respectively. It’s more affordable than most of the other private colleges in the state, costing $46,632 for a year of tuition. Degree programs you can choose from include:

  • Bachelor’s in general accounting
  • Bachelor’s in business management
  • Bachelor’s in business administration
  • Master’s in business administration
  • Master’s in business management

Truman State University

Truman State University is a small public college in Kirksville that costs just over £21,000 per year before financial aid. The school has impressive statistics, with an acceptance rate of 63% and a graduation rate of 72%. Available degree course options are:

  • Bachelor’s in general accounting
  • Bachelor’s in business administration
  • Master’s in general accounting

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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