Top 10 Most Affordable Online Accounting Degree Programs

Affordable Online DegreesStudents with an interest in becoming a professional accountant must understand that in today’s shaky economy, making a sound financial decision concerning their future education is imperative to success.

Because so many online colleges and universities offer affordable programs, it makes perfect economical sense to find an accredited online school through which to pursue a degree in accounting. This will save the student money on commuting, dorm rent and the cost of hard copy textbooks. It is also a wonderful opportunity for nontraditional students, such as those with young children or individuals who cannot adhere to a set schedule from one week to the next to pursue their education. Provided the student is dedicated to earning his or her degree and is willing to invest the time and effort it takes to do so, online classes are an ideal alternative to traditional college enrollment.

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However, with many top-of-the-line online universities from which to choose, many prospective students find themselves overwhelmed when the time comes to select an appropriate online accounting degree program. When searching for affordable online courses, it is important to understand that such institutions are not one-size-fits-all. For this reason, it is essential to evaluate each option with the seriousness it deserves. To choose the program best suited to one’s specific needs, he or she must weigh all aspects of the decision so that the most affordable college or university is selected.

Criteria

Schools offering the best and most affordable programs are evaluated in a variety of ways. Below is a list of the 10 most affordable online accounting degree programs. The criteria used to place the following schools on the most affordable list include rankings by US News and other reputable publications, financial incentives, tuition freeze, tuition reductions for military members and their families, postgraduate discounts, grants, and corporate and academic partner tuition reductions.

Kaplan University

Kaplan UniversityKaplan University is a well known online school that offers a bachelor of science in accounting degree. What makes this university generally competitive is that students are offered various “emphasis areas,” which allow them to essentially tailor their online courses to meet their individual objectives concerning their education. The emphasis areas from which one can choose include tax accounting, public accounting, managerial accounting, and auditing and forensic accounting. The total program includes 180 credits, with the emphasis areas comprising the program’s final 24 credit hours.

Kaplan also focuses heavily on teamwork, collaboration and communication, which is relatively unique among various degree programs offered online. Many students state that certain online degree programs make them feel as if they are completely isolated or working within a bubble without much help or support. The Faculty at Kaplan has attempted to compensate for this alienated feeling by heavily focusing on collaboration and teamwork, thus making their program stronger than many of the programs offered by their competitors.

Kaplan was placed on the most affordable list because of the many grants, scholarships and discounts offered by either the university itself or their academic and corporate partners, the latter of which is a particularly unique avenue through which to reduce the cost of tuition. Additionally, the University partners with various companies who are willing to offer reduced tuition to their employees who wish to enroll at the university.

Kaplan also caters to those who are serving or have served in the United States armed forces. Discounts are available for their spouses, as well. As much as a 55 percent reduction in tuition is available to active duty members and up to 40 percent for non-active military personnel. Kaplan University also provides one of the lowest online tuition prices available for international students, which is approximately 25 percent off the normal tuition price. That gives Kaplan University one of the lowest tuition rates for foreign students.

Additionally, at the end of the program there is something referred to as a “capstone project.” This project is designed to help students apply the concepts and theories learned throughout the course of their education at Kaplan University. Because such projects are a wonderful addition to a resume, they are considered a substantial benefit to postgraduate students who are seeking employment.

Another financial benefit of enrolling at Kaplan University is a substantial tuition reduction for alumni. For example, if a person obtained a bachelor’s degree at Kaplan, and he or she wishes to pursue a Masters degree, a 20 percent discount is available. This makes an education at Kaplan University a very good investment in one’s future.

Capella University

Capella University vector logoCapella University online offers students a Bachelor of Science in Business with Specialization in Accounting. The program is suitable for both working professionals who want to further their education and recent high school graduates. The program involves the various strategies and techniques that are applied in a wide variety of business scenarios. The school’s graduate programs include both a Master’s degree and a PhD in accounting, both ACBSP-accredited and both available online.

A bachelor’s degree from Capella University is also a highly affordable starting point for any individual who wishes to eventually work in the field of accounting. What makes Capella unique is its tiered tuition structure. The price for lower-level courses is less per hour than upper-level courses, giving prospective students options they may not have at other online universities. Additionally, financial aid is available and Capella also offers specific grants to various students. In addition to the federal Pell grant, new students are welcome to apply for one of three different grants provided by the university itself. This is one of the most attractive benefits associated with Capella University. One grant offered by Capella, the SOPHIA Pathways for College grant, can save a student as much as $13,000 on tuition. Although there are different requirements for each grant and not all students qualify, those who do find that this additional help makes pursuing their education much easier. Capella also offers an armed services discount of up to 15 percent on tuition for military personnel and members of their immediate family.

Students who plan to pursue a Master’s degree at Capella University are also offered financial benefits, which ultimately make furthering their education more practical and affordable. Those enrolled in the university’s bachelor’s degree program can receive a substantial discount on something called a Combined Bachelor’s to Master’s degree program. The latter allows students to work on master’s-level online courses while still in the process of earning their bachelor’s degree. This unique option provides a discount, which will vary from one student to the next. It also allows students to apply their credit hours to both their bachelor’s and their master’s level degrees, simultaneously. This provides an ideal way for students to save a substantial amount of money and time.

Finally, Capella University offers extensive financial aid services to both current and prospective students, and no student is left floundering who needs help finding the best and most affordable alternatives concerning tuition. Because of its affordability, as well as the unique degree options offered to students, Capella University is a school worth considering by those who wish to earn an accounting degree online.

DeVry University

DeVry UniversityDeVry University is very well known in the United States and other countries. DeVry University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree. Something that sets this university apart from much of its competition is the fact that certain states provide an on campus option or a combination of both campus and online courses. This may be helpful for certain students, such as those who feel they have more success in the structured classroom environment. Yet, if such students find themselves in circumstances where they must revert to online studies, they have that option as well.

DeVry’s programs also have a slightly different focus from other major players in the online degree arena. For example, their accounting programs place a distinct focus on tax law at both the state and federal level. These fields are often far beyond the scope of traditional online accounting degree courses. However, they can be invaluable to those who wish to pursue a higher degree after their bachelor’s is earned, as students who have this foundation of knowledge do better when furthering their education than those who have not taken these topics.

The University also offers something called a Senior Project. This is a course designed for the purpose of linking real-world applications and theoretical learning. Although the course is intense, the results are an extremely well-rounded education, including true life experience. Such experience helps postgraduate students immensely as they search for employment.

DeVry University earned its spot on the most affordable online schools list by offering several beneficial financial incentives. For instance, the first six credit hours a student takes during a session are approximately $600 each, as of May, 2015. However, a 40 percent discount is then applied to subsequent credit hours remaining in the same session. This cuts the average cost of a full-time, five class load almost in half. Many students who have graduated from DeVry University list this benefit as one of the most advantageous.

Another unique financial benefit offered by DeVry is the University’s “tuition freeze.” Tuition costs at DeVry University are currently frozen at the 2012 rate, and students are offered an option of transferring credits from another school, which can further reduce the rate. It is not known how long this tuition freeze will be in effect, however. Therefore, those interested in enrolling at this university may wish to inquire about this fact in advance.

DeVry reports that financial aid is received by approximately 90 percent of its students, thus furthering the point that this institution is one of the country’s most affordable online universities. Like many other online schools, military members and their families also receive discounts from DeVry University. There are several categories for such discounts, and in certain cases, a student may save as much as 58 percent from the standard tuition paid by other enrollees. This is because such discounts can be used in conjunction with other grants or loans, giving military members a way to pursue a highly affordable degree online.

Penn State University World Campus

Penn State University round logoPenn State University’s World Campus is one of the country’s most prestigious schools, and for this reason it is ranked by US News as one of the top 40 universities in the United States. Many other lists consistently put it in the top percentiles. Additionally, US News ranks the University’s World Campus online bachelor degree programs as the third best in the country. Although this recognition is not specific to accounting bachelor programs, the seal is still prominently displayed on graduates’ degrees.

Name recognition is arguably the biggest advantage of an online accounting degree from Penn State. Not only is the University Pennsylvania’s largest secondary educational institution, but the school is also known worldwide. Online courses in accounting are available through the World Campus. Although the program is a Bachelor of Science in Business Degree, students taking this course must select an option as their degree is completed, and accounting is one of the options offered by the school. Even though it may seem as if acquiring a degree at such a school would not be affordable, this is not the case.

Penn State offers affordable tuition, and their rates rank among the most straightforward of schools found on various top 10 lists. This is because their “cost of tuition” page includes a mere 12 lines of text. Most universities, online or otherwise, offer a virtual labyrinth of fees and costs on their tuition pages through which prospective students must navigate. As of May, 2015, tuition at Penn State is broken down simply: $559 per credit for those with more than 60 credit hours and $518 per credit for those with fewer than sixty. Scholarships and financial aid options are available to virtually all students, and financial counselors work with any student who needs help to find the best combination of grants, loans, discounts and other avenues through which affordable tuition can be placed within reach.

Additionally, financial aid is available for members of the military and their families. However, in this specific category, the options are not quite as extensive as those available from some of the aforementioned online universities. Nevertheless, many individuals feel that this difference is insignificant when measured against the name recognition associated with a degree from Penn State University. When compared to other schools with similar worldwide name recognition, online accounting courses offered by Penn State are well worth the cost.

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology round logoFlorida Institute of Technology–also referred to and better known as Florida Tech–offers students two choices regarding online accounting degrees. These are a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a Specialization in Accounting and an online Bachelor of Arts in Accounting. Both courses can be completed online in their entirety, although they focus on different career goals. The Bachelor of Arts degree provides a broad education that is business based, including a wide range of disciplines in various aspects of business and business management. Students enrolled in this program learn about accounting and finances, as well as business management. This degree course is designed as a forthright bridge to a business graduate degree.

On the other hand, the BA in Accounting primarily focuses on the subjects required for students whose plans are to become certified management accountants–CMAs–or certified public accountants–CPAs. This program prepares enrollees for careers in auditing, tax planning, cost accounting and additional strictly accounting-based fields. For this reason, those who are considering Florida Institute of Technology for their online classes must give a significant amount of thought to their ultimate career goals in the field of accounting.

Florida Tech’s online classes are very affordable by essentially anyone’s standards. However, something that makes them stand out is the fact that in certain cases, the cost of basic tuition may be tax-deductible. The school also boasts a substantial number of financial aid options and reports that almost all students can be qualified for some type of financial aid. Financial aid faculty members state that 90 percent of students who apply for financial aid qualified for some type of assistance. In certain cases, a student can qualify for as much as $12,500 per year for his or her undergraduate degree.

Florida Institute of Technology also offers special financial aid packages for those in the armed services, as well as residents of the state of Florida. Both active reserve military service members and active-duty members can reduce their tuition to essentially zero if they apply for both Florida Tech’s military tuition aid and general military tuition assistance programs. The Florida Resident Access Grant is another option that can substantially reduce tuition for those who reside in Florida. These unique options for military personnel and other students have resulted in the school being recognized by US News as one of the top 10 online colleges in the country.

Liberty University

Liberty University round color logoLiberty University is the world’s largest Christian University and has been since 1971. Although its motto is “Training Champions for Christ” and most of the programs offered by the University are committed to Christian values, individuals of all faiths are welcome to enroll. Indeed, the University is known for a diversified student body, and its popularity among individuals from all backgrounds and faiths stem from the school’s affordability. As of May, 2015, tuition is a blanket $340 per credit hour for virtually all the university’s business programs.

Some unique facts about Liberty University include its regular updating of program material to reflect the latest and most cutting-edge accounting methods used in today’s modern marketplace. Many online schools do not update as often as Liberty, and because of the fast pace at which the business world moves, students may immediately have to learn new accounting methods upon beginning their first job, which can add unnecessary stress to their lives when they first become gainfully employed. This unfortunate scenario is unlikely to occur if one has received his or her education online through Liberty University.

Additionally, Liberty’s online courses are some of the most comprehensive available in the online venue. They include basic courses such as principles of accounting and accounting information systems, but also include courses in international business accounting, marketing, corporate finance, taxation, human resource management, operations management,business law, and government and nonprofit accounting.

Career options available to graduates of Liberty University who have received a bachelor’s in accounting include working at traditional accounting firms, government departments, corporate business offices, international business offices and nonprofit organizations of all types.

Because the university has an extensive financial aid department, help to fit each student’s individual needs is readily available. Approximately 85 percent of all students who apply for financial aid qualify for help of one kind or another. In addition, a broad range of grants are available to prospective students, and a financial aid representative from the school can evaluate each student on an individual basis to see if he or she qualifies for one of the many grants offered by the school and its affiliates. Because the chances are so high that affordability will not be an option for students seeking an education at this university, Liberty makes the list of the top 10 most affordable online colleges.

Walden University

Walden UniversityWalden University is an accredited educational institution that is established entirely online. Although some students prefer a school that has at least one brick and mortar office, because Walden University does not have such overhead, it has a global reach with a universal curriculum. Walden University is a particularly good choice for those seeking a degree in a specific business field, and the University’s Bachelor of Science and Accounting degree rates very highly with regard to customization options. Walden also offers a Master of Science in Accounting as well as several other graduate level accounting specializations.

Students enrolled at Walden University can accomplish their goal of achieving a degree without extraneous studying or difficult assignments. It is this fact that sets Walden apart from its competition. Students and advisers work closely together to design a curriculum that fits the type of job the student plans to seek after graduation. This allows regional issues to be taken into consideration when the online courses are initially mapped out for each enrollee. In addition, students typically learn only essential accounting methods and practices, and are not burdened with electives or mandatory courses that have little or nothing to do with the field in which they wish to work. This is a major reason certain students ultimately choose Walden University over other online colleges.

The accounting degree offered online by Walden covers everything from technical and functional knowledge an accountant must have, to his or her role in an organization. The school offers students the choice of one of two programs: a public accountancy program and a general accounting program. The former is geared specifically toward those who want to eventually take the CPA examination and obtain a license to work in this capacity. This is another thing that sets Walden University apart from its competition, as they offer a course that specifically focuses on the CPA test. The curriculum for the Gen. Accounting program is similar to that of most traditional colleges, but is not bogged down with extra courses or credits that serve little or no purpose in the real world.

Another of Walden University’s unique features is something called MobileLearn. This cutting-edge technology allows students to access classrooms via an iPhone or Smart Phone, and listen to course work on an MP3 player. These technological advancements make Walden University one of the most modern online universities in the country.

The bulk of the program is priced at $310 per credit hour, a cost that is even lower than schools such as Liberty, which is known for its affordable tuition. The University also provides fellowships, scholarships, private loans, state grants and financial aid. Military discounts are available as well on both the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery G.I. Bill, more commonly referred to as the MGIB. Members of the military are also offered additional tuition discounts through programs such as the VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program. These methods can all be combined, resulting in a very affordable way to obtain a degree in accounting.

Northeastern University

Northeastern UniversityNortheastern University is regarded as one of the country’s best schools based on a variety of factors. For example, the school’s online accounting degree program–Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting Management–is run through Northeastern’s Boston campus. This particular campus is ranked by US News as one of the top 50 United States Universities. For this reason, students are assured of a quality curriculum similar to that offered by America’s oldest traditional bricks and mortar colleges.

The programs provided by Northeastern University are generally geared toward those who wish to seek an advanced degree in accounting at some point in the future. Students have wide latitude in controlling their own education, although all students must follow the core curriculum required to receive a Bachelor’s degree. The online courses selected can be those designed for students who plan to pursue a higher education or those whose plans include immediate employment in the field of accounting.

The Northeastern University website estimates that the average student, with financial aid and scholarships, can enroll at Northeastern for a tuition cost that rivals the rates offered by community colleges. For this reason, it is considered one of the most affordable online schools at which a quality education in accounting can be obtained. Members of the financial aid department are available year-round to counsel students and suggest the most appropriate avenues through which to make such an education affordable.

Bellevue University

Bellevue UniversityBellevue University offers an online degree program–Bachelor of Science in Accounting. The primary objective of Bellevue’s online accounting program is to provide students with a foundation in both procedures and theories of accounting for the purpose of preparing them to sit for the Uniform Certified Public Accountant examination. The curriculum of this program focuses on what students must learn who want to work as certified public accountants upon graduation. This university is also well-reviewed among several sources, such as US News, which lists the school as one of the top three online programs for veterans seeking a Bachelor’s degree in accounting.

However, Bellevue University also offers other unique opportunities, such as allowing students to pursue a Master of Business Administration through a 4+1 accounting program. What this program offers to students is an uninterrupted, easy transition between the undergraduate accounting degree program to an MBA with a specialization in accounting. Course work is entirely available online, and early placement in the MBA program is available. Additionally, the university is looking into new technology to offer students studying options, similar to those offered at Walden University, such as accessing course work from MP3 players and iPhones. Prospective students should check with Bellevue University concerning the time frame for such options.

Bellevue’s financial aid department states that its faculty is explicitly committed to providing avenues through which students can manage their baseline tuition costs and ultimately make them more affordable. The school has partnerships with certain organizations and companies, many of which offer grants and other assistance. Scholarships are also available through the University, and of course, as with other learning institutions, the Pell grant and other student loans can be pursued to offset costs.

The Admissions and Financial Services department at Bellevue are committed to ensuring that no student ends up taking unnecessary classes, and they also go the extra mile to ensure that each student’s credits are appropriated. They assist students with whatever help they need to give them every advantage to begin with the proper courses and scheduling that best meets their needs.

In addition to the loans, grants, scholarships and other reimbursements, Bellevue also provides a work-study option to students who have demonstrated financial need. Extra money can be earned by any student who is willing to work up to 20 hours per week.

United States veterans also receive a broad range of discounts, as Bellevue offers more than half a dozen different benefits to such individuals. Part of Bellevue’s mission statement is that serving military students is a top priority “from day one.” In addition to being ranked in the top three online universities for veterans by US News, victory media also included Bellevue on its list of military friendly schools in 2014. The university is affordable for essentially any student: however, members of the armed services can benefit even more than traditional enrollees.

Regis University

Regis UniversityRegis University has an impressive resume, and it therefore is worth consideration by any prospective accounting student. For the past 18 years, the school has been recognized as one of the Western World’s top universities. Additionally, it has also been recognized for its student engagement and teaching practices, ranking in the top four percent of United States colleges in both these areas. With regard to student technology and services, it is in the top 25 percent nationwide.

Tuition for students at Regis University is approximately $435 per credit hour, but various grants, loans, work-study programs and other options can significantly reduce this amount, making it a very affordable online university. Additionally, the school partners with a variety of different companies who provide both grants and general discounts, such as a reduction in tuition costs for any of their employees who enroll in one of Regis University’s online degree programs. Discounts are also available for members of the armed services; however such programs have a tendency to change from time to time. Therefore, students who feel they may qualify for such discounts should contact the school directly to determine the exact benefit for which they may qualify.

It is important to understand that the criteria for qualifying to enroll in Regis University’s online accounting degree program or other bachelor’s program is somewhat different from many of its competitors. Those applying for the Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting Program are required to have a minimum of 36 months work experience in the accounting field. This is because the accounting degree program offered by Regis is considered an accelerated program, for which a basic foundation of knowledge must have already been obtained. Those who graduate successfully from the program will be qualified to take the CPA examination in their state. Courses include basic principles of accounting and cost accounting, as well as advanced courses such as ethical decision-making in business, marketing principles, auditing principles and procedures, principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics, business law and introduction to statistics. Those looking for a decelerated online accounting course that is both affordable and prestigious should consider contacting Regis University.

Considerations

Because choosing a career and pursuing one’s education accordingly are activities that must not be undertaken lightly, spending an appropriate amount of time reviewing different options with regard to the selection of an affordable online accounting program is essential. It is never wise to base one’s decision on advertisements or sales material. Rather, the prospective student should fact check and research each of the online courses he or she may pursue. Additionally, those who phone for information should not feel pressured to make a decision on the spot, as emotional decisions sometimes have unsatisfactory results. Ultimately, anyone who pursues an accounting degree online is paving the way to a future that includes steady employment and financial stability.

Check out our Top Most Affordable Online Colleges for 2015

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