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Best Accounting Schools in New Jersey in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Certified public accountant requirements for New Jersey accountants

Accounting is an excellent field for hard-working folks with a keen eye for detail, and New Jersey is arguably one of the best places to find work in the business or financial sector. The state has a thriving economy, with trade, professional and business services, and education and health services boasting the largest market shares in NJ. As an accountant, these fields provide an array of potentially lucrative careers within industries with solid job security. 

New Jersey enjoys an excellent reputation as U.S. News & World Report’s number one state in the country for education. With a host of affordable public schools with great reputations, the Garden State is a savvy choice for career-minded individuals. The fact that crime and corrections and health care are two of the highest scoring factors is a bonus for people who place a high value upon safety and quality of life. 

Requirements for accounting students

The entry requirements for accounting degree programs in New Jersey vary significantly between schools and degree types. For example, most bachelor’s and associate degree courses require a high school diploma or equivalent with a certain grade level. Some master’s degree options necessitate that applicants have a relevant bachelor’s degree in accounting, while others will accept a bachelor’s in any subject.  

At the end of the article, you’ll find a list of the top schools for accounting students in New Jersey. The acceptance rate gives you a good idea of how stringent the requirements for each school are, and you’ll find links to each college website where you can find out all the necessary information regarding entry requirements.  

How to become a certified public accountant in New Jersey

Most accounting jobs in the public sector require that you sit the uniform CPA examination and obtain licensure. While it’s not a prerequisite for the private sector, many employers tend to hire those who can demonstrate that extra commitment to their field of study demonstrated by obtaining CPA certification. There are three big steps you’ll need to take to get there:

  1. Your first step is to achieve 150 semester hours of college coursework from an institution with the necessary accreditation. Most bachelor’s programs are 120 credits, so students either take on an extra year at undergraduate level or pursue a graduate degree to make up the necessary time. You send your official coursework to the New Jersey State Board of Accountancy in sealed envelopes from your school. It costs a fee to sit the CPA exam, but the gains you can make in your career as a result of licensure make it worthwhile for many.   
  2. Find a job so you can gain the 1,750 work experience hours necessary to get a CPA license. You should also use this time to study hard for your exam, which is incredibly tough, with a 50/50 pass rate. The types of accounting job you must get fall into three categories: Private industry, government, and public accountancy. You’ll need to log and demonstrate a specific skillset with the field that’s relevant to your goals. When your experience is complete, you’ll write a letter detailing your experience which your employer will sign. 
  3. Now you’re ready to sit the exam! There are four sections in the exam, which are: Regulation, business environment and concept, financial accounting and reporting, and auditing and attestation. Each section takes four hours. The state of New Jersey also has an ethics exam as a prerequisite for budding accountancy professionals. When you’ve passed all exams, gained 150 college credits, and worked for a full year, you can apply for your CPA license.    

Top public accounting jobs

Accounting is a large umbrella term, and a degree in this field prepares you for a wide range of careers. Your day-to-day duties depend on a variety of factors, such as the size of the company you work for and how much responsibility you decide to take on. Your duties might vary significantly depending on whether you work in the public or private sector.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular job roles for public accountants: 

Roles in the Internal Revenue Service

The IRS is part of the federal government, and its main role is regulating and managing the country’s finances, specifically tax. Many of the people who work for the IRS do so in the role of an auditor, examining liabilities and ensuring compliance in small businesses, large businesses, and government bodies. Internal revenue agents work within businesses to ensure compliance, while compliance officers usually work externally, offering assistance to tax payers and resolving issues. 

Other popular IRS roles include:

  • Criminal investigation special agents
  • IRS engineer
  • Internal revenue officer
  • Appeals officer
  • Contact representative 

Cost estimator

Any company within the field of construction or manufacturing requires finance experts to help them operate within budget. Complex supply chains govern industry, and predicting costs of human resources, raw materials, logistics, time, and other factors requires high-level expertise. Any business that has a labor force and works with raw materials needs a cost estimator, and major industries you could work in include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Environmental engineering
  • Aerospace
  • Defense
  • Architecture
  • Permits
  • Transportation
  • Infrastructure   

Forensic accountant

While people often think forensic relates specifically to crime scenes, it’s actually a term to describe any investigation technique that’s accepted by the court system. As such, forensic accountants investigate financial matters in the court of law, and take the stand to present their findings. Corporate scandals are under closer scrutiny than ever, meaning the demand for these professionals is growing. 

Job duties include:

  • Helping with negotiations and settlement discussions
  • Helping lawyers use accurate terminology in court
  • Reviewing documents in legal cases involving financial loss and 
  • Obtaining documents to refute or support a legal claim

Real estate assessors

In the public sector, a real estate assessor works with state and local governments to determine the value of real estate. The main aim of this role is to determine the amount of property tax that any property in your jurisdiction commands. This is generally done generally, based on neighborhoods instead of individual properties, but you might conduct individual investigations in case of a complaint from a member of the public. 

Top private accounting jobs

The private sector can be lucrative for accounting graduates at any level, whether your qualification is a certificate degree, bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate. Entry level salaries are often high, with plenty of opportunities for career growth and development. Whereas some people prefer the sense of duty and responsibility that comes with working in the public sector, others are more drawn to a business environment.

If you prefer business, you might consider a career in the following positions:  

Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers usually work for small- to medium-sized businesses, taking responsibility for tracking spending and deposits, as well as taking care of invoicing and billing. Associate degrees or high school diplomas are usually sufficient levels of qualification.

You’ll need a working knowledge of popular accounting software systems so you can help to make sure that day-to-day operations run smoothly. Organizational skills are also essential in this role, in which you’ll manage the filing and reporting of daily operations.

Some of the other tasks you might perform in this role include:

  • Balancing accounts
  • Billing services
  • Managing expenditures
  • Reconciling statements
  • Preparing financial statements
  • Managing payroll
  • Takin care of past-due accounts
  • Keeping track of income and deposits

Financial controller

Every company must have controls in place to ensure financial compliance with regards to laws, regulations, and budget. A financial controller is responsible for making sure there are systems in place to ensure a business meets financial targets, complies with regulatory oversight, and manages risks. Financial controls are necessary for profit and nonprofit entities, but demand is higher in larger corporations. 

Here are some examples of daily duties:

  • Controlling and monitoring cash flow
  • Developing financial reporting systems
  • Overseeing financial software
  • Managing payroll and accounts payable and receivable
  • Completing compliance activities 
  • Reporting to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Financial analyst

Analysts are experts in the financial markets, and often work within the financial services sector. Securities brokers, pension brokers, insurance companies, and banks are just a few of the types of organization you could work for in this role. In this position, you keep track of industry trends and market movements to create forecasts and ensure investment decisions are wise. You’ll keep track of the overall financial health of a company, including earning potential, liquidity, and earnings by analyzing financial statements and reviewing public records.

There are several areas of expertise for financial analysts:

  • Fixed income
  • Derivatives
  • Corporate finance
  • Economics
  • Alternative investments
  • Wealth management
  • Equity investments

Payroll accountant

Payroll accountants are incredibly important individuals within an organization because they ensure that everyone gets paid. There are state and federal laws that govern remuneration, and they’re constantly in flux as Congress changes and evolves. As such, people in this role aren’t just accountable to their employer; they’re also beholden to the government and the public. 

Job outlook for NJ accountancy students

The job prospects for accounting students is generally good, with the Bureau for Labor Statistics predicting 4% growth between 2019 and 2029, which in in-line with the national average.

The average yearly pay for accountants and auditors in the U.S. is $73,560, which is significantly lower than the $96,260 you can expect to earn as an accountant or auditor in New Jersey. This more than Delaware, where the average salary is $81,990, and Pennsylvania where it’s $$77,810. Connecticut is another state that pays less than New Jersey, at $84,860 — but New York is one of the best places to earnings in the country, and accountants earn $101,440 per year on average.

Keep in mind that the cost of living in New Jersey is lower than the cost of living in New York, although both make it onto CNBC‘s list of the most expensive places to live in America. The wage differential means savvy accounting grads can probably make their money go a little further in New Jersey.   

New Jersey scholarships for accounting students

Grants and scholarships for New Jersey students

There’s no getting away from the fact that getting an accounting degree requires a major upfront investment. Even though you’ll be able to earn back the amount you spend in a year relatively quickly with an accounting qualification in New Jersey, it’s still a lot of money to spend. Luckily, there are an array of grants, scholarships, and bursaries available.

Students who can demonstrate low-income, athletic excellence, exceptional academic achievement, or those from special circumstances might be eligible for additional help, so be sure to check exactly what financial aid is available if finances are a major concern for you.

Who’s eligible for financial aid in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, there’s a handy website that provides everything you need to apply for and receive financial aid: The New Jersey Financial Aid Management System. Every student should set up an account and file an application to check if there’s anything they’re entitled to. 

Let’s take a look at some of the various New Jersey grants and scholarships available to students.  

Governor’s Industry Vocation Scholarship

Females and minority groups can apply for this scholarship that offers up to $2,000 for individuals who study in an NJ university, in a construction-related role.

Governor’s Urban Scholarship Program

This scholarship program is only open to New Jersey residents, and gives aid to the top performing 5% with at least a 3.0 in senior high. Residents must be from a high-need community, including Roselle, Plainfield, Paterson, New Brunswick, East Orange, Camden, and Jersey City, among others. You don’t need to be from a low-income family to get access to this aid.

Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Scholarship

Any dependent children of a serving New Jersey law enforcement officer who gave up their life in the line of duty are entitled to the cost of attendance, minus benefits, grants, and any other aid. 

Accredited online colleges and universities with accounting programs in New Jersey 

Accreditation is essential in a field as strictly regulated as accounting, where accuracy and diligence are two of the most important principles of the profession. Read on to find out about accreditation agencies in New Jersey, learn about the types of accounting degree you can get, and discover which schools in the state hold relevant accreditation.

Recognized accreditation agencies

Accreditation helps the accountancy board determine which programs meet the strict requirements necessary to be eligible for CPA licensure. To be in good standing for the best accounting jobs in New Jersey, you’ll need to get your degree from an accredited school. Here’s a list of the accepted accreditation bodies in NJ:

Types of accounting degree

Most accounting professionals have a four-year bachelor’s degree with an additional year of study to make up the 150 college credits required to become a CPA. However, there are a number of routes to top careers in finance and business:   

Associates degree

If you want to get a foundational knowledge of accounting before studying a bachelor’s or master’s — or be qualified for a position as a clerk or bookkeeper, an associate degree is ideal. This two-year course provides learners with a foundational knowledge of accounting principles, software, auditing, bookkeeping, and other core concepts.  

Bachelor’s degree

Bachelor’s degrees usually take four years to complete, but many accounting majors stick around for five years to prepare for the CPA examination. During a bachelor’s course, you usually spend the first part of the course studying general concepts, moving into your advanced accounting specializations in the second or third year.

Master’s degree

There are a number of different master’s degrees to choose from, including a master of science in accounting, master of accounting, and master of business administration with accounting. An MBA program is an excellent route into business leadership roles.

Most courses take one or two years to complete, and provide around 30 semester hours. As such, ambitious accountancy majors often pursue a master’s before embarking on a career in public or private accounting.

Ph.D.

While it’s not the most popular degree course for accountants, a doctorate is ideal for individuals who aim to work as an accounting professor or conduct research in the field. These programs can take anywhere from four to seven years to complete, with students usually taking part in a publication and working internship.

Accounting degree specializations

While you study your accounting degree, you’ll learn about a wide range of subjects. Many schools have set courses that you must take, as well as a selection of elective to choose from. If you know what you’d like to do as a job in the future, you’d do well to select specializations that relate to your chosen field.

Accounting information systems

The role of technology is continuing to grow, and it can be extremely useful for accountants. Gaining an in-depth understanding of the tools and systems that are popular in the financial sector is a smart choice for the future. You might also learn about the design and methodology of financial software development.

Cost management

This specialization prepares students for a career as a cost estimator, but it also provides essential information to accountants working in any company. Learning how to reduce expenditure and maximize profits it as much about technical ability as it is persuasion, and this course teaches you the required hard and soft skills.

Taxation

Many accountants work closely with taxation, and this course is required on many bachelor’s and master’s programs. You’ll learn about tax liability, methods for reducing taxation, and the IRS’s regulations. Whether you want to work within a company or start your own business, this course provides the foundational knowledge.  

Fraud examination

If you want to get into a career as an auditor, fraud examination forms a major part of your job. You’ll learn how to assess financial documents for fraudulent activity, learn how to interview people, and understand the necessary steps for preventing future occurrences.

Alternative investment assets

This highly specialized coursework topic explores the scope for investment potential beyond traditional assets. Real estate trust funds, commodities, private equities, and hedge funds help limit the volatility of the stock market, and people with this specialization are in high-demand.  

Business ethics

This course is usually required if you want to become a CPA and work in public accounting. Business and accounting rely heavily on trust and good faith, and in this field you’re expected to have an outstanding level of personal and professional ethical acumen. This course teaches you about quality control, misleading product statements, and insider trading.

Accounting research methods 

If you opt to take a high-level accounting degree program, you’ll learn about the advanced research methods that govern the generally accepted accounting principles. In some course, you’ll also get hands on experience to learn how these principles apply in a real-world setting.   

Accredited schools with accounting programs

Here’s a list of some of the top schools in New Jersey with accredited accounting degree courses:

  • Monmouth University
  • Kean University
  • Georgian Court University
  • Felician University
  • Fairleigh Dickinson
  • Centenary University
  • Caldwell University
  • Bloomfield College
  • Berkley College
  • William Paterson University
  • Thomas Edison State University
  • The College of New Jersey
  • Stockton University
  • Seton Hall University
  • Saint Peters University
  • Rutgers
  • Rowan University
  • Rider University
  • Ramapo College of NJ
  • Montclair State University

Schools in New Jersey with accounting programs 

New Jersey is an affluent state with an excellent reputation for education, health care, crime, and overall quality of life. The schools on this list are ranked in the order they appear on the U.S. News & World Report list of the best colleges in New Jersey.

Cost data, size, acceptance rate, graduation rate, and courses offered are also key factors in determining how suited a particular institution is to your needs. 

Best public colleges in New Jersey for accountancy

1. Rutgers University New Brunswick

Rutgers Business School is a public school with five campuses around New Jersey and New Brunswick has a particularly good reputation. It’s in the top 50 business schools for MBA students, and has a graduation rate of 80%. This is particularly impressive because the acceptance rate is 61%, meaning there’s a good chance of getting in to this school and doing well. The cost of just over $33,000 per year is good compared to other schools offering similar courses.

Course options include bachelor’s and master’s in business administration, and bachelor’s in business management, economics, finance, and general accounting.

2. Montclair State University

Montclair State University costs around $32,000 per year for tuition, and has an acceptance rate and graduation rate of 76% and 65% respectively. It also has an excellent pass rate for the CPA exam and it’s in the middle of building a new building for its school of business. Degree options include a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in business administration.   

3. Rowan University

Rowan University is a large public college that costs a little more than the other two at around $35,000 per year. It has excellent stats, with a graduation rate of 70% compared to an impressively high acceptance rate of 76%. On the master’s in business administration course, you can expect to learn all the necessary skills — as well as gaining hands-on experience on an internship.

Best private colleges in New Jersey for accountancy 

1. Seton Hall

Seton Hall is a private college that costs around $60,000 per year for tuition. The acceptance rate is 74% and the graduation rate isn’t far behind at 64%. All of the big four accounting firms hire on campus here, and there are great opportunities for internships. Courses include bachelor’s in: Business administration, business management, finance, general accounting, and economics. Master’s students can study professional accounting, general accounting, and business administration.

2. Monmouth University

Monmouth University costs just under $60,000 in annual tuition fees and has decent acceptance and graduation rates of 77% and 69%. Students can study a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration with a focus on accounting. 

3. Rider University

At Rider University, most of the professors are certificate holders, with CFE, CMA, and CPA certifications. The cost of tuition is similar to the other two, at around $63,000 per year and it has a good acceptance rate of 71% and a decent graduation rate at 66%.

Undergraduate options are: Bachelor’s in business administration, bachelor’s in business management, bachelor’s in general accounting, bachelor’s in finance, and bachelor’s in economics. If you’re a graduate student, you can study business administration and 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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