Practice Management

What Are the Best Accounting Schools to Hire From in 2018?

Written by Carly Stockwell

As an accounting, CPA, or bookkeeping firm looking to hire new talent in 2018, where do you go? College Factual ranks the best accounting schools 2018 regarding both the quality of the education received and the success of the graduates. The methodology used in their ranking algorithm also prioritizes schools with graduate programs, and programs that offer a deep-focus on accounting as well as business in general.

Most bachelor’s degree programs in accounting provide at least 120 hours of study. This puts accounting grads shy of the 150 hours required to become a CPA. Thus, if you are looking to hire a new grad with a bachelor degree only, don’t expect them to already have their CPA certification.

Before going on to become CPAs, most states require two years of work experience. A company hiring a new grad who is not licensed as a CPA may expect them to perform duties such as verify financial documents, prepare tax returns, and help with administration and organization. Some of the subjects you should expect them to have gained knowledge in include accounting theory, cost accounting, auditing, federal taxation, and fraud.

Many programs also include an internship as part of the training, so be sure to ask your potential applicant about their internship experience and what they learned through hands-on experience, as well as what software programs they have learned to use — a critical skillset in today’s accounting world.

Best Accounting Schools 2018

If you’re looking to hire new talent, you can’t go wrong with the following 10 colleges ranked in terms of the quality of the accounting program. Salary information is sourced from PaysScale.com.

1. Bentley University: Waltham, Massachusetts

Bentley University is a small, private school that has made business its focus in recent years. Accounting is a very popular degree choice to study at Bentley, and graduates typically earn above average salaries in the field. Over 230 graduates earned an accounting degree at Bentley in 2016.

The school is intimate, yet diverse and located nearby the historic city of Boston. The school is selective, and 83% of students graduate within four years.

2. University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign: Illinois

University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign is a large public university. Its top ranked major is accounting, and over 400 graduates earn their accounting degree there every year. Applicants to the school have higher than average SAT and ACT scores.

This could be a great choice for employers looking for applicants to accounting positions. Fully 71% of students graduate in four years, with 14% more finishing their degree in six years.

3. University of Notre Dame: Indiana

Employers should consider the University of Notre Dame when looking for new hires. This large private school is well known and earns numerous top rankings. The accounting department is the 2nd most popular in the school with over 150 students graduating from that program in 2016. Graduates tend to earn above-average salaries even without an advanced degree.

4. Bryant University: Smithfield, Rhode Island

Bryant University is another private college with a primary focus on business degrees. Accounting is the 2nd most popular degree at the school. One hundred and thirty students graduated from Bryant with this degree in 2016 and earned average salaries in their early career of up to $50,000. 90% of Bryant’s freshmen come back for their next year of school and 79% graduate in six years.

5. Boston College: Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Boston College offers a very popular bachelor’s degree in accounting, as well as a graduate degree. The typical SAT score for an applicant is 1420 and the school is considered selective. Over 150 graduates completed their accounting degree at BC in 2016 and the average early career earnings for these graduates is about $57,000.

6. University of Southern California: Los Angeles, California

For those looking to hire on the west coast, the University of Southern California might be a target. The school is quite selective. The average SAT score of an applicant is 1440, and 77% of students graduate in four years and 92% in six years.

Graduates tend to get paid higher than average. The early career salary (first five years) of a typical USC accounting grad is $55,000.

7. Binghamton University: Vestal, New York

Binghamton University is a public university that is priced low, yet is still selective. The student body at this school is remarkably diverse and welcomes undergraduates from across 24 states and territories and at least 46 countries. The average SAT score of applicants is 1370, and about 70% of students graduate in four years.

8. The University of Texas at Austin: Austin, Texas

The University of Texas at Austin is a large public school with great prices and low student loan default rates. Students who apply typically have SAT scores of 1350. The accounting program is sizeable with about 200 students graduating there in a year. Graduates tend to make high early career salaries averaging about $50,000 a year. Fifty-two percent of students graduate in four years and 70% graduate within six years.

9. Lehigh University: Lehigh, Pennsylvania

Lehigh is a private and selective school with the average SAT scores of applicants being 1390. Graduates of the accounting program earn an average of $55,000 a year in their early career, making them higher paid than average. The school also offers graduate programs if you are seeking applicants with more credentials.

10. Michigan State University: East Lansing, Michigan

Michigan State is another top accounting school in the Midwest. This large public school is more selective than average. Although students don’t need top scores to get in, they are challenged once they arrive. Freshman retention rates, four-year, and six-year graduation rates are all higher than average. The school also has a higher than average “expected graduation rate,” which indicates high graduation rates for students who traditionally do not graduate on time.

Over 200 students graduated with a degree in accounting in 2016, earning average early career salaries of approximately $52,000.

Want more? See the full ranking of all U.S. colleges and universities, or filter to your state or region.


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About the author

Carly Stockwell

Carly Stockwell is the content and media director of www.collegefactual.com, a website that analyzes and reports on U.S. higher education data.

1 Comment

  • Thanks Carly for a great article! We have been looking to hire an accountant for our Lansing Stamped Concrete business and Michigan State has been a school that’s local we need to look at. Thanks for your top ten and we will be looking into students to reach out too.

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