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Best Accounting Schools in Nebraska in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Accounting can be a lucrative and interesting field. To become a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, in Nebraska, a person will need to study for an accounting degree and pass the CPA exam. This means studying for a bachelor’s degree with an accounting major.

The state requires students to complete 150 semester hours or 225 quarter hours of college education, of which at least 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours are focused on accounting. A program that leads to the CPA examination would be expected to cover topics such as:

  • Financial accounting theory and problems
  • Tax preparation and planning
  • Cost and managerial accounting
  • Auditing
  • Accounting information systems
  • Accounting for non-profits and governments
  • The principles of accounting

Students are also expected to have a rounded education in accounting-related areas and liberal arts, so a bachelor’s degree might also cover:

  • Micro- and macro-economics
  • Business law
  • Finance
  • Business ethics
  • Communication for business
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Quantitative applications in business
  • Mathematics and statistics
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Sciences and humanities

After covering these topics, the student may have some credit hours left over for electives, which can be used for general courses or to specialize in a specific area such as auditing or forensic accounting.

While a bachelor’s degree is required to work as a certified public accountant, students can work in book-keeping or some business and finance-related roles if they have an associate’s degree. Many people study accounting before they go on to earn an MBA, with the goal of working in other areas of business.

There are many online programs aimed at those who are interested in studying accounting, finance and business. Whether you choose to study an accounting major or a more general program will depend on what your goals are after graduating, and whether you’re hoping to stay in Nebraska or work elsewhere.

Why go to school for accounting in Nebraska?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants in Nebraska can expect to earn an average salary of $72,230 per year, and job growth is expected to be around 3.6% between 2019 and 2029. This means CPAs have above-average incomes and reasonable job prospects in the state.

There are some other areas of the United States where projected job growth for accountants and auditors is higher, with the national average being 6.4%, however, would-be accounting degree graduates in Nevada will find they have many options for employment in the state’s renewable energy, hospitality, and financial services sectors.

Who should consider going to school for accounting in Nebraska?

Studying an accounting program makes sense if you’re interested in working as an auditor or an accountant, or you’re planning on doing a master’s degree in a business-related field and want to have a robust specialization.

While it’s possible to work in many clerical and financial roles with a two-year associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree is seen as the minimum requirement for many jobs, and is also essential for those who would like to take the CPA examination.

Nebraska is a good state to study an accounting program because of the variety of job opportunities open to graduates, and the pleasant atmosphere at the universities. The state has lots of beautiful scenery and plenty of opportunities for adventure lovers to get active in the great outdoors.

In 2018, Nebraska attracted 135,000 students who came to study at degree-issuing institutions, and the graduation rate for four-year degrees was 58.7%, which is slightly above the national average. These statistics cover all subjects, not just accounting degrees, but are a good indication of the quality of tuition and support available to undergraduates in the state.

What level of expectation is there for those seeking to earn an accounting degree in Nebraska?

Students in Nebraska already have an above-average graduation rate, but the state’s National Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education aims to improve it even further through better student support and education protocols.

Students wishing to earn an accounting degree in Nebraska can expect to be held to a high standard should they wish to become a CPA. To become an accountant, a student must study at an accredited school. There are two types of accreditation, regional and national.

Regional national in Nebraska is provided by the Higher Learning Commission, and this accreditation is widely recognized, making it easy for students to transfer between universities and colleges, or to progress from a degree to the CPA exam.

Prospective accountants may also wish to look for courses that are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Many accounting programs nationwide are accredited by the AACSB, and programs that are recognized by this body are generally high quality.

When you study an accounting degree program in Nebraska, you are committing to an intensive program of study that prepares you to take on a variety of roles in business and finance. Undergraduate students are not required to take the CPA after completing a program of study in accounting and/or business administration. Some universities offer the option of studying a 120 credit hour Bachelor of Science, with those who want to major in accounting and take the CPA examination completing extra study in that specialism.

Many would-be accountants in Nebraska opt to complete a Master of Professional Accountancy degree. This degree prepares graduates to work in government service, public accounting, and a variety of industry positions.

Accounting programs are academically rigorous, and students will be expected to maintain a good GPA to graduate. After passing the CPA, it may be possible for a graduate to obtain a license in other states through the reciprocity program.

What are the benefits of living in Nebraska as a student?

Nebraska is a great place for students, both because of the learning environment, and the jobs market. The state managed to weather the last recession better than many neighboring states and continued that positive momentum as the economy recovered.

Five Fortune 500 companies have a base in Nebraska, and those companies hire people in a variety of roles, including accountancy. The economy in Nebraska is dominated by five sectors, of which financial services is one. Other important sectors include biosciences, precision metals manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and renewable energy.

Undergraduates have the option of pursuing a pure accounting degree, or a more general degree such as business administration.  It’s not uncommon for people to start with a general accounting or business administration degree, then pursue a master’s degree with a more clearly focused major.

There are several well-respected university options in the state, giving students the chance to study at an accredited university and then go on to take the CPA.  There are 16 colleges or universities in Nebraska that offer accounting degrees, and three of those can lay claim to pass rates of above the national average for the CPA exam. Students who study at those schools will be in a good position to pass the examination first time, making it easier for them to seek employment in the state.

Demand for accountants in Nebraska

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently 7,990 accounting jobs in Nebraska, and demand is expected to increase by 3.6% over the next few years. That increase in the number of positions for accountants is slower than the national average for the job, but accountants in the state can command high average salaries, and the growth is still reasonably good compared to the broader economy.

In addition, there are many other financial positions available to those who have studied an accounting degree or earned a degree in a business-related subject. This, combined with the variety of companies that have bases in Nebraska, means graduates can expect to have good job prospects.

How does getting an accounting degree from the state of Nebraska help you if you are looking for a job in the state?

There are several major employers in Nebraska, including Mutual of Omaha Insurance, Union Pacific, Peter Kiewit Sons, Berkshire Hathaway, and ConAgra Foods. These companies contribute a huge amount to the economy in the state and have need of graduates with a variety of skills.

Some students seek work with such major employers when they graduate, while others look to work for smaller employers or even freelance as CPAs. Nebraska’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average, and there are options for everyone, whether their aspirations are to work for a Fortune 500 company or in a more general role.

Where are the most jobs for accountants in Nebraska located currently?

Accountants are in demand in Nebraska to fill a variety of roles, from working as a grants accountant for one of the state’s universities to filling government and local authority roles. Data auditors and general accountants are required for manufacturing companies and employers in other sectors.

Many of the jobs are located in either Omaha or Lincoln, but there are openings in Norfolk, Grand Island, and other parts of the state too. In general, accounting jobs are found in bigger cities because that’s where employers tend to have their head offices. Those who would prefer to stay in a smaller town may find their options for employment slightly more limited.

Considerations for an accounting degree in Nebraska

When you’re considering which school to go to for an accounting degree in Nebraska, there are many factors that you should take into account. Firstly, is your goal to become a certified public accountant or are you simply looking to learn about accounting while studying a more general business degree?

Secondly, are you looking for a Bachelor of Science, a Master’s Degree, or a combined degree? Do you want to study an accounting major or a more general qualification?

Another important consideration is how the course is taught. Because business and accounting degrees are so heavy on theory and coursework, it’s possible to do them through distance learning. Some universities offer a choice of online-only degrees, on-campus degrees, or blended learning where students study some courses remotely and attend the campus for other classes, a summer school, or to take part in group projects.

The cost of a degree can vary significantly depending on which institution you choose to study with, as well as the delivery format of the course. In most cases, online courses cost less than on-campus courses. There may be significant differences in the fees depending on whether the learner is from the state or is an out-of-state student.

It’s important to take all of these factors into consideration, alongside the application criteria for the degree. Some of the best universities have highly selective application procedures. It’s important to keep track of application dates, GPA requirements, and any pre-requisites required for the accounting major so that you don’t miss out on a place at your desired institution.

Most universities charge an application fee, so make sure that you’re confident in your chances of getting a place before you start the application process. This reduces the risk of wasting money on applications that are unlikely to get accepted.

How do you take the CPA exam in Nebraska?

To be allowed to take the CPA exam in Nebraska, you will need to enroll in an accounting course that is accredited by a body that is included on the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

The state of Nebraska expects those who are applying for CPA licensure to have a bachelor’s degree at a minimum, with 150 semester hours or 225 quarter hours of college-level education. An associate’s degree is not enough to prepare a person for the CPA exam.

Students are expected to cover 30 semester hours in subjects that are related to accounting, 36 semester hours of business-related topics, and 60 semester hours of general college education as part of a B.S. in accounting. The remaining hours of the degree can be any elective course, and in many cases, students pursue more accounting courses to allow them to prepare for a focus in forensic accounting, auditing, or another similar area.

What math classes are required for accounting in Nebraska?

Universities have the freedom to choose the requirements they set for enrollment, and for graduation, for students on accounting courses, as long as the overall course fits in with the requirements of the state for the CPA examination.

In general, students would be expected to have a robust understanding of mathematics, including computational, statistical, and formal reasoning. For example, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln expects students to complete one of either Math 104 (Applied Calculus) or Math 106 (Calculus 1) plus an advanced calculus course at a level above Math 106.

When starting the accounting course, the student will take a Math Placement Exam, and that exam will determine what math courses the student is steered towards. If a student is placed below Math 104 in their placement exam, they may be asked to take remedial math courses in order to maintain their place on the course.

Students who are worried about their math skills are advised to take preparatory classes such as Math 100A (Intermediate Algebra), Math 101 (College Algebra), or Math 103 (College Algebra and Trigonometry).

What should students expect if they are going to study in Nebraska?

If you’re planning on studying an accounting degree program in Nebraska, you should expect to have to put in long hours studying the advanced material required for the actuarial sciences.

Business administration degrees with an accounting minor are usually more flexible than pure accounting degrees when it comes to the math requirements, but will still expect learners to have a broad understanding of accounting fundamentals, business, and communication, as well as some study of humanities and other subjects to ensure a rounded education.

There is room for several electives in a business administration or accounting degree. Some students opt to study business-related modules to round out their qualifications, while others add specialist areas of accounting, so they can work as auditors, forensic accountants, or in nonprofit roles following graduation.

As long as the course a student took is regionally accredited, it’s usually relatively easy to enroll in a master’s degree after graduation. Those who do go on to pursue a master’s degree typically have better long-term earning prospects.

Best schools that offer accounting programs in Nebraska

There are a few colleges and universities in Nebraska that offer accounting programs leading to the option of taking the CPA examination. Some of the best options include:

  • Creighton University
  • Nebraska Wesleyan University
  • Hastings College
  • York College
  • Bellevue University
  • Midland University

These institutions offer degrees at a variety of levels, from two-year associate programs to bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. It’s common for accounting and business programs to be offered in a blended format, with students having the option of studying online, on-campus, or as a mixture of both, taking self-paced general education courses while studying the more intensive accounting modules on-campus.

What are the best online colleges that offer accounting schools in Nebraska, and why are they so well regarded?

Online students don’t have to limit themselves to studying at a college that is based in their state, but it often makes sense to do so because fees for degree programs are lower for in-state students, even if the course can be studied entirely remotely. Some of the most highly-regarded online colleges in Nebraska are:

  • University of Nebraska – Lincoln
  • York College
  • Chadron State College
  • Wayne State College

Fees for online bachelor’s degree programs can start at as little as $4,200, although some traditional universities charge more. For example, typical fees for an accounting program at York College may be in excess of $15,000 for a student who is studying the course online.

Many Nebraska universities offer students the chance to complete a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in a five-year period. This means they can complete their education “all in one go”, earning useful qualifications along the way, and preparing for the CPA licensing process. They’ll come out of the courses with a robust, well-rounded education.

International students are welcome at online universities, as long as they can demonstrate they have a good command of the English language, and that their other pre-requisite skills, such as college-level mathematics, are up to scratch. It’s sometimes harder to transfer in to a Nebraska university with qualifications from a college abroad compared to from a United States college, but the admissions board will have the ability to review college transcripts from foreign institutions and assess the level of the course based on the student’s coursework.

In some cases, international students may be asked to take an entrance examination that will highlight any potential issues, so they can attend remedial classes or a summer school if they are lacking in certain pre-requisites.

What are some of the best traditional colleges and universities that offer accounting programs in Nebraska, and why are they so well regarded?

There are four institutions that offer business programs accredited by the AACSB, and three offering accounting programs. This accreditation is nationally recognized, and students who graduate from a course with such accreditation should find it easy to get employment in the field not just in Nebraska but in other states too.

Those options include:

There are many benefits to studying for an accounting degree at an AACSB-accredited institution. Firstly, a student who studies a bachelor’s program at such an institution should find transferring credit to another institution or joining a master’s elsewhere, relatively easy because the quality of the program they followed at the undergraduate level is highly regarded.

Secondly, these programs have been judged to teach accounting at a high standard, which means they are likely to do a good job of preparing graduates for the CPA examination. Nationally, the first-time pass rate for the CPA examination is only slightly more than 50%, which shows how difficult and thorough the exam can be.  Students should look for every advantage they can get to make the examination process as easy as possible for them.

How do Nebraska accounting programs compare to those in the rest of the United States?

Many business and accounting programs cover 120 credit hours, spread across the major, minor, general education, and electives. One thing that sets Nebraska apart from most other states is that those who wish to earn their CPA license are required to complete an additional 30 hours of education in accounting in preparation for the test.

Most other states have cut the requirements for the CPA down to 120 hours total, rather than 150. Prospective CPAs who wish to earn their license in Nebraska should be willing to put in some extra work.

The reciprocity program means students who earn their CPA in one state can apply to get a license in other states as long as their education meets the requirements for the license in the second state. This may mean they’ll need to take additional courses to cover any state-specific taxation rules and laws.

All states have strict continuing education requirements for those who have earned the CPA. These rules mean students will need to complete education in tax and accounting law, professional ethics and business every year. It’s usually possible to have some continuing education counted for more than one CPA license if you hold licenses in multiple states, although any state-specific legal continuing education will be mandatory because of the rapidly changing nature of the financial and legal landscape.

Accounting programs in Nebraska are generally quite affordable compared to some other states, especially for students who are willing to go the hybrid or blended learning routes. There are many scholarships and financial aid options for students who wish to study accounting in the state. The University of Nebraska – Omaha provides an extensive list of scholarships, some of which are specific to that institution, but others are aimed at accounting students in general.

Accounting and business degree program students in Nebraska have the option of applying for FAFSA as well as traditional scholarships. Students who do take out loans to cover their tuition fees can consider the cost an investment in their future careers.

Master’s degree students usually have the opportunity to take part in an internship with a major employer. This helps them get valuable experience and could lead to a job with the company upon graduation. When considering which institution to enroll with for your degree, take the time to investigate which employers they have links with, because the networking and contacts made while at university and the name recognition of having studied at a traditional university are all important. Having the right institution name on your CV could be a big advantage when it comes to finding jobs while you are just at the start of your accountancy career.

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