Making the decision to enroll in an accounting program could be beneficial if you hope to hold a position like an accountant, tax professional, or bookkeeper. It can also lead to various managerial roles, whether you own your own business or work for others. Accounting schools in Pennsylvania have much to offer the aspiring business leader.
Why Study Accounting in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is a large state, one that is home to numerous businesses and various industries ranging from manufacturing to farming. The state is also noted for its financial sector and being the hub for many businesses that operate globally. Some of the largest accounting firms in the world, including Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Deloitte, have a major presence in the state.
Additionally, there’s quite the room to grow in terms of earnings and career growth. For example, Payscale data indicates the average senior accountant working in Philadelphia, PA earned $69,733 as a mean base salary in 2022. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that, as of May 2021, 54,530 held positions as accountants and auditors in the state. They had a mean annual wage of $79,200.
While not everyone who attends accounting school ends up working as an accountant, such examples reflect the opportunities for professionals with an accounting degree in Pennsylvania. It can be an essential step toward a job in the public or private sector, provide valuable training for entrepreneurs, and even prepare future accounting educators.
Best Accounting Schools in Pennsylvania (PA)
The first step is choosing one of the best accounting schools in PA to enroll in to start working towards your degree. The following programs are among the most well regarded in Pennsylvania for accounting.
Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania offers a four year undergraduate accounting program. This program provides all of the necessary education and foundations for preparing to be an accountant. Areas of focus include financial and cost accounting, auditing, and tax planning. Students in the program may be required to complete core courses in the following areas in addition to the accounting courses they may take: statistics, mathematics, economics, finance, and behavioral and natural science. Wharton also offers a masters in accounting program that is research based for students with both degree programs preparing students for the CPA exam if so desired.
- Accounting 1010: Accounting and Financial Report This is an introduction to accounting and its basic concepts.
- Accounting 1020: Strategic Cost Analysis This course covers an introduction to analyzing and managing business costs and improving the strategic position of a business.
Students must also pick three elective accounting courses from the following to complete the concentration:
- Accounting 2110: Tax Policy and Practice
- Accounting 2120: Financial Measurement and Disclosure
- Accounting 2420: Accounting and Business Analysis
- Accounting 2430: Accounting for Complex Financial Structure
- Accounting 2640: Climate and Financial Markets
- Accounting 2700: Forensic Analytics
- Accounting 2970: Tax and Business Strategy
- Accounting 3990: Independent Study
Villanova School of Business at Villanova University – Villanova, PA
The Villanova School of Business offers a bachelor’s degree program in accounting. This program is designed to prepare students to enter the field as well as to prepare students to take the CPA exam. Villanova also offers two masters degree programs in accounting for students who have completed their bachelors. Students must complete all of the required core courses for graduation as well as the basic business courses in addition to the courses that are required to major in accounting.
- Accounting 2310: Intermediate Accounting I This course covers a number of topics, including asset valuation and income measurement.
- Accounting 2320: Intermediate Accounting II In this course, students continue on the topics from Intermediate Accounting I as well as topics such as correction of financial statements, among others.
- Accounting 2360: Federal Income Tax Students receive an introduction to the federal income tax system and tax issues businesses face.
- Accounting 2430: Auditing This course covers topics such as financial statements and reporting on them as well as legal liability and professional responsibilities.
In addition to the above required courses, students choose two of the following elective courses in order to complete the major.
- Accounting 2340: Accounting Information Systems
- Accounting 2410: Accounting for Real Estate
- Accounting 2420 International Accounting
- Accounting 2450: Advanced Accounting
- Accounting 2470: Cost Accounting
- Accounting 2480: Advanced Taxes
- Accounting 3350: Fraud Examination
Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University – University Park, PA
At the Smeal College of Business at the Pennsylvania State University, students have the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting by completing the required coursework. The program also prepares students for the taking of the CPA exam as well as provides students with the ability to continue and complete a masters program in the subject. In addition to the CPA, the program also allows students to be ready to take the Certified Management Accountant Exam as well as the Certified Internal Auditor exams. Students have to complete all of the core requirements for a degree in addition to the following courses in order to major in accounting.
- Accounting 471: Intermediate Financial Accounting I
- Accounting 472: Intermediate Financial Accounting II
- Accounting 404: Managerial Accounting: Economic Perspective
- Accounting 405: Principles of Taxation I
- Accounting 403: Auditing
In addition to those required courses, you need to complete at least two of the following elective accounting courses.
- Accounting 406: Principles of Taxation II
- Accounting 432: Accounting Information Systems
- Accounting 440: Advanced Management Accounting
- Accounting 473: Advanced Financial Accounting
- Accounting 481: Financial Statement Analysis: Accounting Based Evaluation and Decision Making
- Accounting 483: Forensic Accounting
Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, PA
The University of Pittsburgh offers a major in accounting as a bachelor’s degree for those who attend the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business to earn a masters degree in the field. The bachelors program consists of 120 credits to complete the degree. Many of these are core courses, with other courses coming from the business program in addition to the required and elective courses for the accounting major.
- Business Accounting 1204: Intermediate Financial Reporting 1
- Business Accounting 1205: Intermediate Financial Reporting 2
In addition to those required, students choose four of the following to complete the major.
- Business Accounting 1210: Financial Statement Analysis
- Business Accounting 1216: Advanced Financial Accounting
- Business Accounting 1221: Strategic Cost Management
- Business Accounting 1236: Accounting Information Systems
- Business Accounting 1238: Auditing
- Business Accounting 1242: Individual Tax Accounting and Planning
There are also elective courses that students may choose to take.
Wilson College – Chambersberg, PA
Wilson College offers an associates as well as a bachelor’s degree in accounting. The bachelors program is a four year program. The program requires the completion of all of the core classes for most majors as well as a focus on the business program to complete the accounting degree. The program focuses on preparing students for the CPA exam as well as for the CMA exam and providing real world experience to start a career.
- Accounting 105: Financial Accounting
- Accounting 106: Managerial Accounting
- Accounting 205: Intermediate Accounting I
- Accounting 206: Intermediate Accounting II
- Accounting 220: Accounting Information Systems
- Accounting 307: Cost Accounting
- Accounting 321: Taxes I
- Accounting 322: Taxes II
- Accounting 355: Internship
Students need to also choose an additional 300 level or higher course from the accounting offerings.
LeBow College of Business at Drexel University – Philadelphia, PA
At the Lebow College of Business at Drexel University, students may be able to complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting. The program is four years and prepares students to not only pass the CPA exam but to gain real world experience through internships and job placement. Students will need to complete the basic core courses as well as meet all of the requirements to earn this major. Students may also consider an accounting minor or certificates as well.
- Accounting 327: Financial Systems Analysis
- Accounting 350: Accounting Information Systems
- Taxation 360: The New Age of State and Local Taxation
- Taxation 425: Tax and Business Strategy
Students also need to choose four courses from the following in order to complete their degree as well as an experiential elective.
- Accounting 110: Accounting for Professionals
- Accounting 115: Financial Accounting Foundations
- Accounting 116 Managerial Accounting Foundations
- Accounting 120 Accounting Essentials for New Ventures
- Accounting 200: Emerging Issues in Accounting and Tax
- Accounting 320: Fundamentals of Accounting in New Ventures
- Accounting 321: Financial Reporting I
- Accounting 322: Financial Reporting II
- Accounting 323 Financial Reporting III
- And others, including auditing
Fox School of Business at Temple University – Philadelphia, PA
Fox School of Business at Temple University offers a bachelors, masters, and doctorate in accounting. The bachelors program is the first step and is a four year program that focuses on a number of options and works to prepare students to pass the CPA exam as well as to provide students with the ability to get into the field and receive experience. The program does offer a focus area of data analytics for the major. The program requires the completion of 124 credits, with many coming from the core requirements and business core.
- Accounting 2521: Cost Accounting
- Accounting 3511: Intermediate Accounting I
- Accounting 3512: Intermediate Accounting II
- Accounting 3526: Accounting Information Systems
- Accounting 3531: Federal Taxes on Income
- Accounting 3596: Auditing
- One of Accounting 4501: Accounting Analytics Senior Seminar or Accounting 4502: Strategic Financial Management Accounting
Students may then choose one of the following as an elective to complete the major.
- Accounting 3532: Topics in Taxation
- Accounting 3533: Advanced Financial Accounting
- Accounting 3534: Information Systems and Controls for Accounting Professionals
- Accounting 3580: Special Topics – Accounting
Rohrer College of Business at Rowan University – Glassboro, NJ (located near Philadelphia)
Rohrer College of Business at Rowan University offers a bachelor’s degree in accounting. It is a four year program that allows students to focus on exams for CPA, CMA, and CIA while working towards their degree. Currently, the school does not offer a masters program but plans to in the fall of 2024. The curriculum consists of completing core courses from multiple fields as well as core business courses.
- Accounting 03301: Accounting Analytics
- Accounting 03310: Intermediate Accounting I
- Accounting 03311: Intermediate Accounting II
- Accounting 03320: Accounting Information Systems
- Accounting 03326: Cost Accounting / Strategic Cost Analysis
- Accounting 03410: Auditing
- Accounting 03416: Advanced Accounting
- Accounting 03428: Integrative Accounting Seminar
- Accounting 03432: Federal Taxation
To finish the major, students need to choose two courses from the following electives.
- Accounting 03150: Introduction to Business and Analytics for Financial Information
- Accounting 03300: Supervised Internship in Accounting
- Accounting 03330: Selected Topics in Accounting
- Accounting 03411: Advanced Auditing and Analytics
- Accounting 03419: Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation
- Accounting 03431: Taxation of Business Entities
- Accounting 98300: Law for Accountants
- Finance 04327: Selected Topics in Finance: Financial Planning and Analysis
- Finance 04444; Bitcoin, Crypto, and Blockchain Applications
- Philosophy 09222: Business Ethics
Kania School of Management at the University of Scranton – Scranton, PA
Kania School of Management at the University of Scranton offers a bachelors in accounting program as well as a masters program that can be completed in five years if done together. The program allows students to work towards a career in accounting in a variety of fields. Students have the ability to do this through the variety of course options in the major available. Students complete a set of core courses as well as the initial business curriculum in addition to the accounting classes they will take.
- Accounting 251: Financial Accounting I
- Accounting 252: Financial Accounting II
- Accounting 253: Financial Accounting
- Accounting 254: Managerial Accounting
- Accounting 361: Intermediate Accounting I
- Accounting 362: Intermediate Accounting II
- Accounting 363: Federal Taxes
- Accounting 364: Auditing Theory
Additional courses will need to be taken based on the accounting track you are planning to pursue.
Widener University School of Business Administration – Chester, PA
Widener University School of Business Administration offers a four year bachelor’s degree program in accounting for students. The program consists of 150 total credits, including all business and core courses, as well as the required accounting courses to complete the major. Students will also be prepared for the CPA exam through the completion of this program.
- Accounting 308: Intermediate Accounting
- Accounting 309: Intermediate Accounting II
- Accounting 330: Accounting Information Systems
- Accounting 402: Advanced Accounting Concepts
- Accounting 405: Federal Income Taxation
- Accounting 415: Accounting Seminar
In addition, students will have to choose one of the following two courses as well as four elective courses in the program.
- Accounting 498: Accounting Internship
- Management 451: Senior Project
Perelman School of Business at West Chester University – West Chester, PA
At Perelman School of Business at West Chester University, they offer a bachelor’s degree in accounting as well as an accelerated masters program that has a focus in applied statistics. For the bachelor’s degree, students work towards earning 150 credit hours from all of the core courses as well as the business curriculum and the required courses for the major.
- Accounting 201: Financial Accounting
- Accounting 202 Managerial Accounting
- Accounting 300: Fraud Examination for Managers
- Accounting 301: Intermediate Accounting I
- Accounting 302 Intermediate Accounting II
- Accounting 303: Cost Accounting
Students will also choose from elective accounting courses to fulfill the major requirements based on their focus area.
School of Business at La Salle University – Philadelphia, PA
The School of Business at La Salle University offers a bachelors and masters in accounting as well as an accelerated 4 year program for a combined bachelors and MBA. The program for the bachelors itself is four years and offers many opportunities for real work experience as well as preparation for the CPA exam.
- Accounting 201: Intermediate Financial Accounting I
- Accounting 202: Intermediate Financial Accounting II
- Accounting 303: Cost Accounting
- Accounting 304: Auditing, Assurance, and Forensic Services
- Accounting 307: Federal Income Taxation
- Accounting 405: Advanced Accounting I
- 2 additional 400 level accounting courses
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University – Pittsburgh, PA
The McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University offers a four year bachelor’s degree in business administration with an accounting focus. The school also offers a five year program that provides a masters degree in the same study. The program offers many opportunities for students, including internships and preparation for the CPA exam.
- Accounting 214: Financial Accounting
- Accounting 215: Managerial Accounting
- Accounting 310: Accounting Information Systems
- Accounting 311: Intermediate Accounting I
- Accounting 312: Intermediate Accounting II
- Accounting 314: Advanced Accounting
- Accounting 315: Cost Accounting
- Accounting 411W: Auditing
- Accounting 412W: Introduction to Income Tax Accounting
- Accounting 414: Introduction to Corporate and Partnership Tax Accounting
- Accounting 416: Accounting Co-op
What to Expect from a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting
Attending one of the best accounting schools in PA may enable you to find the perfect career path for your future. Accounting is more than just math and balancing the books. It is an area of study that incorporates a vast number of topics, including statistics, information systems, managerial skills, auditing, and much more. You can expect the program you select to require you to complete both core and elective courses based on what your long-term career goals are.
You may enroll in a Bachelor of Arts degree, which will include liberal arts education along with your accounting degree. This often provides you with some excellent options if you hope to double major, such as in business management or finance. You may also be able to pursue a Bachelor of Science, which provides an opportunity to learn truly accountant-focused courses. This could help you to qualify for the CPA down the road or to work in accounting positions within organizations.
A third path could include earning a Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus on accounting. This may provide an avenue to learning a wide range of skills.
One of the key opportunities for students at the colleges in Pennsylvania for accounting is the ability to pick and choose the type of specialization they want to learn. As noted, this is a big degree field with lots of opportunities for growth and specialization. Some students take on a general path and complete required courses, but most will need to incorporate some electives. These specializations often help you to determine which electives could be a good fit for you.
Tax accounting is a specialization focused on local, federal, and state filing as it relates to accounting for businesses. Tax accountants work with businesses to balance their books, create profit and loss statements, collect and report tax payments, and aid in tax planning strategies. They also work to ensure companies minimize financial risk and meet all compliance requirements.
A forensic accountant typically works in areas of accounting and auditing while also providing investigative skills to uncover details and potential areas of risk for companies or individuals. Many who work in this field are CPAs and may work in areas related to criminal investigation or defense. Some also work for financial institutions, taxing authorities, financial lenders, and law enforcement organizations.
Auditing is a type of review of accounting and financial systems for a company. It aims to verify or find inaccuracies in financial records and supports ensuring honesty and clarity within those documents. Auditors may work for the Internal Revenue Service, but they also work for companies that handle internal or external auditing services. They are typically CPAs.
Financial accounting is a specific area of the accounting framework that typically focuses on the process of recording financial data, summarizing it, and reporting it for further analysis. Typically, these professionals provide services to companies over time, helping them to manage their financial records and working within the company to aid in financial decision making.
Management accounting, or managerial accounting, is an area of accounting focus in which the accountants report insights to managers within companies, often large corporations. They work to identify and measure any type of financial information related to the company. They may analyze data and try to interpret things like profit and loss statements to aid in decision making and future planning. They help the company make decisions about its financial future.
How to Choose the Right Accounting School in PA
For those making the decision to attend one of the best accounting schools in PA, it can be somewhat challenging to know where to start. There are a lot of good schools out there, it seems. How do you know what to evaluate and consider? There are a few key areas that should be considered by many students.
Learn about the college or university’s faculty. What type of experience do they have in the modern business and financial industry? Consider, too, their experience with modern day accounting tools, including various software programs, data analytics, and even machine learning applications. The key here is to ensure the professionals that teach you will have the core knowledge they need to help you become an advanced, highly desirable candidate for positions later.
Cost and Scholarships
The cost of a college education in accounting ranges widely between schools. All programs provide insight into the costs ahead of time, even before you apply. While the initial cost may be a factor for many students, consider that there are often scholarships, fellowships, and grants available to help defray those costs. These are funds typically not paid back by the student.
Many will also qualify for financial aid, loan programs, and other services to reduce costs. Find out what type of scholarships and grants the school itself offers, along with those that may be available through other organizations and national professional associations.
Accreditation is an important differentiator in many colleges. If you plan to obtain your CPA license, you will need to attend an accredited program. Most students also want to choose a program with accreditation as this helps ensure the quality of their education is what’s expected.
There are several potential accrediting bodies for accounting programs in PA:
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education
Learn which of these organizations accredited the college program you are considering. Then, learn more about each one.
Faculty to Student Ratio
Most colleges and universities post information about their faculty-to-student ratio, of the number of teachers and staff they have compared to the number of students in a classroom. Typically, a lower ratio means there is more time for professors to meet with, interact with, and overall work with the students. Public colleges typically have a higher ratio than many private schools.
Job placement is a valuable tool for many people enrolling in colleges for accounting in PA. This means the school will help you to find a position, oftentimes an internship to start, before or right after you complete your bachelor’s or master’s degree. These programs may help you to get into a specific accounting firm or position to help you build your resume for the career you hope to have.
Top Paying Bachelors of Accounting Careers in Pennsylvania
When it comes to finding the path for you, consider which educational opportunities may prepare you for the career you desire. Here are a few examples of the top-paying careers in the field in PA.
Financial analysts analyze financial data to help individuals and organizations make investment decisions. The average salary for financial analysts in Pennsylvania is around $78,000 per year.
Tax accountants specialize in preparing and reviewing tax returns for individuals, businesses, and organizations. The average salary for tax accountants in Pennsylvania is around $65,000 per year.
Internal auditors assess and review the financial records of organizations to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. The average salary for internal auditors in Pennsylvania is around $70,000 per year.
Cost accountants specialize in analyzing costs associated with the production of goods and services. The average salary for cost accountants in Pennsylvania is around $68,000 per year.
Financial managers oversee the financial operations of organizations, including budgeting, financial reporting, and investment strategies. The average salary for financial managers in Pennsylvania is around $128,000 per year.
As you consider the options for obtaining your education in accounting, also take note of available scholarships that may help you to keep the cost down. Like all offers like this, accounting scholarships may be available to those who qualify, apply, and are selected, and then go on to meet all requirements for that scholarship to be maintained. Here are a few options in PA to consider.
The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants
The Pennsylvania CPA Foundation offers academic merit-based, diversity- community college, and high-school scholarships for those in the accounting path. In 2022, the organization awarded $213,000. The organization also offers CPA exam scholarships, helping students to cover the costs of completing their CPA examination.
Pennsylvania Society of Tax & Accounting Professionals
The Pennsylvania Society of Tax & Accounting Professionals offers three scholarships annually through the Robert T. Zaleski Memorial Scholarship fund to students studying as an undergraduate in a PA college or university full time with an accounting major declaration.
Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants consistently offers scholarships for a variety of educational paths in accounting. Each year, it offers scholarships, fellowships, and grants for hundreds of students across the U.S.