Your Complete Guide to

Online Accounting & Finance Degrees

The best programs, benefits, list of universities, rankings, FAQs and everything you ever wanted to know.
Grant Aldrich
Grant Aldrich on January 19, 2021

The choice to go back to college to earn a degree is one many adult students are making. Pursuing your degree allows you to also pursue your passions while at the same time earn more for your family.

With so many degrees to choose from, it can be hard to determine which will help you reach your goals. That’s why we’ve written this article. We’ve selected those accounting and finance degrees that are best suited to set you on a rewarding and lucrative career path.

From banking to asset management, insurance to venture capital and more, the world of finance is an exciting one. In 2018 alone, the sectors I just mentioned had a combined GDP of $1.5 TRILLION.

If you’re someone with a head for numbers and a desire to help people protect and grow their wealth, then a career in accounting or finance will suit you well and one of the following degrees will help you get there.

In this article, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about earning an accounting or finance degree. We’ll cover the best business degrees that offer the biggest career potential, compare online programs with traditional programs, and take a look at the differences between Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate degrees.

Be sure to read this ENTIRE article because we’re also going to tell you exactly how OnlineDegree.com could help you save a LOT of time and money toward your tuition!

Let’s get started…

7 Best Online Accounting and Finance Degrees

Before we outline the specific degrees, we’d like to share with you WHY we feel these degrees are the ones to focus your attention and efforts on.

Economically Viable

Since there will always be a demand for the skills you will learn with these degrees, graduates themselves will always be in demand. This means no matter what the economy is doing, you will have job safety and security.

Great for Changing Careers

Many adults who are already part of the workforce find themselves wanting more: more challenges, more room for advancement, and more earning potential. The following accounting and finance degrees are perfect for those adults who are looking to make a change!

Flexible and Affordable

We’ve decided to focus on those accounting and finance degrees that can be earned online because they allow busy working adults flexibility and affordability. In the past, adults often couldn’t go back to school because their schedule and finances didn’t permit it. Online learning has changed all that and provides adult students with all the tools and opportunities to make positive changes in their lives.

Now that you know why we chose the degrees we did, let’s take a look at each one:

Accounting

A bachelor of science in accounting degree will qualify you to take the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. CPAs can choose to work independently, helping clients file their taxes, or they can choose to work for one of the big four accounting firms: Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, and KPMG. The great thing about this degree is it will give you the background needed for a career in the business and financial industries as well!

Many students who go into accounting choose to specialize in Forensic Accounting Fraud. Forensic accountants work to first find accounting fraud and then prepare the evidence of this fraud for court so the individual responsible for this fraud can be brought to justice.

Students who pursue this concentration will learn critical skills such as collating information and gathering evidence, how to audit complex financial accounts, problem solving, analyzing large sets of data and much, much more. A career as a forensic accountant is definitely exciting and one where you wear two hats: that of accountant and detective.

Career Projection

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), employment of accountants is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029. This increase in demand is in part due to globalization, a growing economy and complex tax and regulatory environment. The bottom line is, as the economy grows, there will be an increased need for people to prepare, manage and examine financial records.

The BLS has also stated that the median annual wage for accountants was $71,550 in May 2019 with the highest 10% earning more than $124,450.

Finance

Are you interested in a career in the financial industry but aren’t sure yet whether you want to work in business, finance law, banking or insurance? A bachelor of science in finance degree will give you the foundation knowledge that will allow you to succeed in a variety of financial careers.

Students will take numerous exciting courses in accounting, economics, statistics, marketing, business administration, and investment management. You’ll learn not only investment theory and develop a full understanding of the corporate financial system, but also how to teach others to plan and manage their finances so they may be financially secure. Upon graduation, you’ll be able to work in the field or pursue a graduate degree for additional career opportunities and higher earning potential.

What Career Can You Have with This Degree?

The biggest benefit of earning a degree in finance is the flexibility it offers. Graduates holding this degree will be able to enter a diverse array of industries such as business administration, financial management, accounting and finance law. All of this is to say individuals with finance degrees typically have an easy time finding a job after graduation.

One specific career a graduate may build with this degree is that of financial analyst. These professionals help organizations make sound investment decisions by evaluating stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles and assessing how or IF they can benefit that organization.

According to the BLS, employment of financial analysts is projected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. As more financial products hit the market, there will be a greater need for individuals with in-depth knowledge of these investment opportunities.

The BLS has also stated that the annual salary for financial analysts was $81,590 in May 2019 with the highest 10% earning more than $156,150.

Economics

Do you love math? Have you always been a problem solver? Are you also interested in human behavior? If so, a degree in economics is the perfect fit for you!

A degree in economics focuses not only on financial markets but also on human psychology. You’ll learn how to use mathematical models to solve some of the BIGGEST problems that businesses of all sizes face today. You’ll learn how to work with the human resource departments to develop financial incentives that drive employee productivity, teach leaders how to improve their profitability as well as conduct market research and analyze data. Graduates can find work in a variety of industries and career fields.

Job and Salary Outlook

Thanks to increased adoption of computers, mobile phones and IoT devices, modern businesses and government agencies have more access to data than ever before. This data can be used increase profitability and make sounds decisions. But ONLY if the data can be analyzed to find actionable insights. And this is where individuals with an economics degree come in. For this reason, those holding an economics degree can be certain they will be in high demand for years to come!

Business Administration

If you have an interest in finance and business and are looking for a generalist degree that will allow you to move into a diverse array of industries, this is the degree for you! A bachelor of science in business administration will give you the knowledge and tools so you can run a business, become an effective leader, and project manage. Your coursework will focus on leadership skills, writing business plans, marketing, human resource regulations, and effective project management methodologies. Upon graduation, individuals may choose to work in a variety of fields such as marketing, sales, management and more.

What May Your Future Career Look Like?

The future is bright for those graduates holding a degree in business administration. That’s because all different types of businesses in all industries are in need of someone who can manage, lead and inspire employees to drive new business growth. For this reason, graduates can expect demand to continue to grow in the coming decades.

In fact, the BLS projects employment of administrative managers will grow 6% in the next decade, which is faster than the average growth for all occupations. Graduates should be able to find work in a variety of industries, including healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, communications, and more.

The BLS also reports that the median annual wage for

The median annual wage for administrative services managers was $96,940 in May 2019, with the highest 10% earning more than $166,330.

Now let’s take a look at some Master’s degree specializations you may want to consider. For these you will want to gain your bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance as quickly as possible, so you can begin your career and start earning a big salary.

Taxation

The old saying goes, “The only things that are certain are death and taxes.” With this in mind, if you want a career with a lot of job security you can either work in the funeral business or in tax law. If cadavers make you squeamish, then a specialization in taxation is the right path for you!

A Master of Science in Taxation (MST) is a highly specialized accounting degree with coursework that focuses on how to file tax returns, assist in tax investigations, work with government revenue authorities, advise clients on tax decisions, and create corporate budgets. Students are typically given the opportunity to specialize further in niches like estate planning, income tax, or tax planning.

Career Opportunities in Tax Accounting

Graduates with a taxation degree will find job prospecting quite easy because all organizations, big and small, need specialized help navigating through the dangerous waters that is complicated tax regulations! An MST usually fulfills the requirements to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a designation that leads to a whole host of career options. Those graduates that decide to blend their MST with a Juris Doctor degree may also work toward a career as a tax attorney, providing legal advice on tax matters.

The good news doesn’t stop there. The BLS has reported that employment for accountants is expected to rise by 13% before 2022, which is far faster than the average for all occupations.

Corporate Finance

If you love crunching numbers and have a knack for quantitative analysis, then a career in corporate finance may be right for you. These professionals are responsible for managing a businesses’ money. They spend their days analyzing the company’s revenue and expenses, offer advice on project costs, make investment decisions that promote revenue growth, and find other ways to increase a company’s profitability. This is a career that holds a lot of power and influence. Any time an organization wants to make a major expenditure, they typically run the idea by their corporate finance department for approval.

A Master in Corporate Finance offers students stimulating coursework that will give them the necessary skills to leverage innovation and manage diverse international management tools. Typically requiring one year of intensive study, individuals will graduate with the ability to formulate financial policies and strategies and solve asset management problems for the organizations they work for.

The Master in Corporate Finance is geared toward those students who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree in either business or economics.

Potential Career Paths

Corporate finance professionals are always in demand as businesses rely on them to identify growth and investment opportunities. Beyond job stability, these pros also often get the opportunity to travel both domestically and abroad. And the pay is very nice as well. According to the BLS, a financial analyst can make $44,000 to $72,000 a year. A controller can earn $110,000 to $237,000 a year, and a treasurer can earn $133,000 to $208,000.

Healthcare Finance

Every business in every industry requires financial management and planning help from qualified professionals. This includes the healthcare industry. For students interested in specializing in healthcare finance, a Master’s degree in healthcare finance will help you build your dream career.

Students will enjoy the diverse course material from the business, informatics, public health, and nursing disciplines. Graduates will be equipped with a solid understanding of healthcare informatics and financial management.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, five out of the top 20 industries projected to grow from 209 to 2029 are in healthcare and social assistance. This tremendous growth is in large part due to “an increased demand from caring for the aging baby-boom population, longer life expectancies, and continued growth in the number of patients with chronic conditions.”

Of course, as the healthcare industry in general grows, so will the need for financial professionals within the sector. Graduates with a Master’s in healthcare Finance should have no problem finding a job in the coming decades.

The BLS has also reported that the media annual wage for financial managers was $129,890 in May 2019, with the highest 10% earning more than $208,000.

Online Vs Traditional Campus Accounting and Finance Degrees

If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering why it is we are focusing on online degrees as opposed to regular college campus degrees. There are 3 simple reasons for this:

  1. Flexibility

Adults students find it challenging juggling work and family responsibilities. Throw in the need to attend classes at night or weekends and they may never even be able to earn their degree. An online education makes it incredibly easy for adult students to learn on their own time and schedule.

  1. Affordability

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that a college education can be expensive! Online programs are usually far less expensive than a brick-and-mortar tuition. In addition to these initial savings, there’s the fact that you won’t have to pay for room and board. Heck, you WON’T even have to pay for gas money to get to school. And as an added bonus, you can continue to work and pay off your tuition that much faster.

  1. Accounting and Finance Degrees are Perfect for Online Learning

You’ll find just about any type of degree offered online these days. But unlike some degrees, such as those in certain science fields that require lab work, the field of finance is perfect for online learning.

Benefits of an Accounting or Finance Degree

Here are just a few benefits of getting a bachelor’s degree in finance or accounting:

High Earning Potential

When compared to many other fields, a career in finance or accounting pays a great deal more, as is evidenced by the BLS salary data we have shared. In addition, these careers always offer room for advancement, which means the opportunity to begin earning EVEN MORE.

A Great Work-Life Balance

Because many in accounting and finance choose to work for themselves, they are afforded a great work-life balance. Being able to dictate when you work and when you spend time with your family is invaluable.

Job Security

Jobs in accounting and finance are always in demand. This means you have incredible job security. And, because finance and taxes are fundamental to all individuals and businesses, you’ll have the freedom to switch companies or positions if you feel you need a new atmosphere or new challenges.

Cost and Tuition of Obtaining an Accounting or Finance Degree

There’s no denying that going back to college is a major financial commitment for most people. In fact, it is a lack of financing options that causes a majority of adults students to forgo their dreams of pursuing their degree.

But we’re here to tell you there are a LOT of ways you can save on your education. Here’s what we recommend you do:

Start by reading our article on 5 ways you can save on college tuition.

Next, use our free Smartplan to find ways to save at various schools across the country. Our Smartplan will help you find schools that offer free courses, discounts and more. In fact, that’s why we created OnlineDegree.com so that everyone could have access to an affordable education.

Choosing the Right Type of Accounting or Finance Degree

If you’ve read this far, you might already be starting to recognize what the best accounting or finance degree is for YOU. But now you may be wondering what type of degree you should pursue. After all, the type of degree will dictate the length of time you are in school and the total cost of your education.

Let’s take a look the degrees available to you:

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree is

An associate’s degree is typically a two-year degree obtained through a vocation school or community college, though there are online associate’s degrees as well. An associate’s degree program in finance, for example, will prepare you to enter a wide range of careers in banking, busines and even government. You’ll be able to get your feet wet, start earning, and identify what sector or industry really appeals to your interests and skillset. From here you can continue your education, get your bachelor’s degree, advance your career and start earning more!

Bachelor’s Degree

Many of the degrees we covered in this article are bachelor’s degrees, which traditionally take 4 years to complete, though there are ways you can shave some time off your studies. Employers tend to focus on candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree because it shows them you have gained the skills and knowledge to be a valuable team player. In other words, getting your bachelor’s in accounting or finance definitely gives you a competitive advantage.

Master’s Degree

Once you’ve obtained your bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, you may decide to continue your education and obtain your master’s degree in a chosen specialization like some of the ones we’ve covered here. These programs are typically require another two to four years of coursework.

Those individuals with a Master’s degree are experts in their filed. They command a lot of respect as well as some of the highest salaries in the industry. If you have your eye on one day holding a leadership position, you’ll definitely want to continue on with your education.

Doctorate Degree

Earning a doctorate in finance, such as a PhD in Finance or DBA degree, will provide you with an in-depth understanding of statistics, financial mathematics and investments. These programs tend to place an emphasis on research, helping graduates have a better understanding of corporate finance and financial markets. If you are looking to earn the highest salary possible, are drawn to research, or hope to be part of the accounting or finance faculty of a college or university, then you’ll definitely want to consider earning your doctorate degree one day.

Choosing the Correct University or College for Accounting or Finance

Now that you have a good idea of which online accounting or finance degree interests you, it’s time to start thinking about choosing the right school for your educational goals. Here are a few things we think are hugely important for adult students, and you’ll want to choose a university with:

      • Online Programs
      • $0 in application fees
      • No SAT/ACT testing requirements
      • Faculty and professors that understand adult students’ needs
      • Discounts or scholarships
      • Convenient enrollment dates year-round (so you don’t have to wait for Spring or Fall)
      • Accreditation

Finding adult-friendly schools that match these criteria can certainly be challenging! That’s why we created our Smartplan.

We realize that every student has unique circumstances and goals. When you use our Smartplan, we’ll help you find the right school you’re looking for; one that has these crucial criteria to make pursuing your degree that much easier.

Register today to get your free Smartplan and compare different colleges! >>

Salary Data for Financial Professionals

As you’ve already seen by reading this far, a degree in accounting or finance can lead to a wide variety of career paths in numerous industries. To give you more of an idea of the kind of earning potential these degrees may lead to, here is a list of financial professions with their base salary according to data from the Robert Half 2018 Salary Guide for Accounting and Finance Professionals:

Chief Financial Officer        $192,500

Treasurer        $185,000

Vice President, Finance      $176,500

Director of Finance  $145,500

Director of Accounting       $140,000

Director of Financial Reporting      $135,000

Corporate Controller          $170,000

Controller      $115,000

Divisional Controller $140,000

Assistant Controller  $103,500

Finance Jobs – Public Accounting Base Salary

Chief Financial Officer        $200,000

Controller      $125,000

Accountant (5+ Years)        $80,000

Accountant (3 to 5 Years)  $70,000

Accountant (1 to 3 Years)  $60,000

Product Controller – Manager       $90,000

Product Controller (3 to 5 Years)   $85,000

Product Controller (1 to 3 Years)   $65,000

Financial Planning & Analysis – Manager $115,000

Financial Planning & Analysis (3 to 5 Years)         $75,000

Financial Planning & Analysis (1 to 3 Years)         $65,000

FAQs

Q: What careers can I have with an accounting of finance degree?

A: An accounting or finance degree can lead to a wide variety of career paths in numerous industries. Some careers include:

  • Director of Finance
  • Director of Accounting
  • Taxation Specialist
  • Corporate Controller
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Certified Public Accountant
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Planner

Q: Why should I major in accounting or finance?

A: These degrees will provide you with the skills that are always in demand. That means, no matter what the economy is doing, you will have an exciting career that offers high pay and job security.

Q: What Accounting or Finance major is right for me?

A: Every individual has a unique set of interests and skills. It’s a good idea to sit down and brainstorm what makes you unique. What interests you? What are your professional goals? What are your must-haves in a career? The more you know about yourself and your needs, the better able you’ll be to pick the absolute BEST degree and major for YOU!

How to Get Started

Wow, we’ve just covered a LOT of information. You may be wondering what you should do next.

We highly recommend you take a few moments to use OnlineDegree.com’s Smartplan to find the right school that offers all of the criteria you’re looking for.   We’ve provided this helpful and free tool for you to help you find ways to save a TON of time and money toward your accounting or finance degree!

Register today for free >>

Full List of Online Accounting & Finance Degrees

About the Author
Grant Aldrich
Grant Aldrich
Grant founded OnlineDegree.com with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

You Could Save Thousands Of Dollars Toward College.

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify schools you like, and potential ways to save on your degree or certification program with courses, offers, and much more!

Get Started