Accounting Major

All You Want to Know About Majoring in Accounting

Accountant working with couple
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Accounting is the means by which a company or organization communicates its financial information. It is why many call it the "language of business." Individuals who are fluent in this language are a very valuable commodity in the business world which is perhaps why accounting is one of the most popular majors among college students. An accounting major, whether he or she earns an associate, a bachelor's degree or a more advanced degree has a variety of career options from which to choose after graduation.

This field of study includes financial accounting—the reporting of an organization's financial information—and managerial accounting—the use of that data to measure the entity's performance and inform decisions about future plans and controls. An accounting major learns how companies' and other organizations' financial records are prepared and maintained. He or she studies taxation, auditing, and financial reporting.

Sample of Major Courses You Can Expect to Take

Associate Degree Courses

  • Introduction to Accounting
  • Computerized Accounting
  • Cost Accounting
  • Administrative Management

Bachelor's Degree Courses

  • Introduction to Financial Accounting
  • Introduction to Managerial Accounting
  • Financial Accounting Theory and Practice
  • Cost Accounting
  • Income Tax Accounting
  • Auditing Theory and Practice
  • Accounting Entities

Master's Degree Courses

  • Advanced Financial Accounting
  • Federal Income Taxation
  • Taxation of Business Entities
  • Partnership Taxation
  • Financial Statement Analysis and Recording

Career Options With Your Degree

  • Associate Degree: Bookkeeper, Accounting or Auditing Clerk
  • Bachelor's Degree: Accountant, Auditor, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Budget Analyst, Tax Examiner, Financial Examiner, Financial Analyst
  • Master's Degree (including an MBA with a concentration in accounting): Accountant, Auditor, CPA, Financial Analyst, Management Analyst
  • Doctoral Degree: Professor, Researcher

Typical Work Settings

Graduates of bachelor's or master's level programs in accounting are often employed by public accounting firms. They prepare and maintain financial documents for the firms' clients. Others work for companies and organizations and are responsible for analyzing their financial information. Individuals with associate degrees produce and maintain financial records for businesses and organizations. Some accounting graduates work for the government. Those with doctoral degrees usually work in colleges and universities.

How High School Students Can Prepare for This Major

High schools students who are thinking about studying accounting should take classes in math and computer science.

What Else You Need to Know

  • Some colleges call the accounting major; accountancy, accounting technology or accounting and financial management. 
  • Only licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) are allowed, legally, to file documents with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Many people opt for this license because it makes them more competitive job candidates. Individual states issue these licenses and each has its own rules for doing so. All CPA candidates must meet certain educational requirements and take the Uniform CPA Examination. To keep their license, they must take continuing education courses.
  • Studying accounting at a four-year college or university will lead to a Bachelor's of Science (BS), Bachelor of Science in Business Administration or Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Degree.
  • There are two different types of associate degree programs in accounting. The coursework a student takes to earn an AAS, which stands for Associate in Applied Science, prepares him or her for employment. A student who earns an AS, or Associate in Science, is ready to transfer into a bachelor-level program in accounting.
  • Master's degree programs are available for students who have an undergraduate degree in accounting or another business subject and for those who have no prior background in this area.
  • Individuals who want to earn a master's degree can opt for a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting, a Master's of Science Degree in Accounting or a Master's of Science Degree in Taxation.

Professional Organizations and Other Resources