Is an Accounting Degree Worth It?

accounting degree

Key Takeaways

  • An accounting degree offers versatile career opportunities in finance, auditing, and taxation for aspiring professionals.
  • Choose between on-campus and online programs based on flexibility, cost, and learning preferences to suit your needs.
  • Consider the value of an accounting degree in relation to job prospects, salary potential, and alignment with your career goals in the field.


Is investing in an online accounting degree worth it? Its value ultimately depends on how effectively you leverage it.

An accounting degree is not just extensive; it’s versatile. It equips students with various transferable skills applicable to various industries, particularly in the dynamic business world. Specialization can be incredibly valuable which we explain in this article that explores the differences between a bs in accounting vs a bba in accounting.

An accounting career is often stigmatized as boring or predictable. Many people think that accountants spend their days crunching numbers in solitary cubicles and that the accounting salary potential is low. However, this perspective is just as narrow-minded and false as asserting that all used vehicle salespeople are dishonest and have neat hair.

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In reality, accounting career opportunities are far from their stereotypical portrayal. Professionals with formal accounting education are strategic advisors, analysts, and problem solvers. They play a critical role in the success of businesses and finance organizations.


Nowadays, you can pursue a formal accounting degree online or on campus. Whether you prefer the structure of traditional classroom learning or the flexibility of online courses, both options provide access to high-quality education and opportunities for career advancement.

This article can help you in weighing the pros and cons of accounting programs’ delivery formats. We also give you tips on how to choose the best accounting specializations.

Campus-Based Accounting Degree Programs


1. In-person Networking Opportunities with Faculty and Peers

As a traditional student, you’ll engage daily in collaborative studies with both your peers and faculty members. These face-to-face interactions provide fertile ground for cultivating strong relationships that can be invaluable in future career endeavors. The bigger your network is, the more chances you have to hear about job opportunities and grow in your career.

2. Access to Campus Resources like Libraries and Career Centers

The learning curve of a college experience is challenging for many first-year students. Access to campus resources, especially those dedicated to shaping your professional future, can significantly ease this transition and contribute to your overall success as a student.

3. Structured Learning Environment and Hands-On Experience

Many students can benefit from the structured learning environments found exclusively on campus-based programs. Structured courses deliver a systematic approach to learning accounting principles, theories, and practices, including real-world case studies and projects. It also increases your chances of landing paid internship opportunities. 


1. Fixed Schedule and Location Constraints

On-campus accounting degrees require full-time enrollment and a daily campus commute. On-campus learning will significantly strain students with full-time jobs and those who live far from the campus. 

2. Higher Tuition Costs and Room & Board Expenses

Most on-campus degrees require their students to live on campus for at least a year. According to the Education Data Initiative, college students enrolled in four-year degrees at public universities pay an average of $26,027 per year or $104,108 over four years. Out-of-state students should expect to double the amount of what in-state pay. 

3. Limited Flexibility for Working Students

Traditional on-campus programs follow a rigid schedule, with classes held during specific hours. The structured learning environment of these programs makes it challenging for working professionals to pursue an accounting degree while maintaining their financial needs. 

Online Accounting Degree Programs


1. Flexibility for Working Professionals and Non-Traditional Students

There are several online accounting program benefits, one of which is its flexibility. Online accounting degrees are structured to give students maximum control over their learning experience. Most online programs provide 24/7 access to coursework and learning materials. 

2. Lower Cost and Convenience of Remote Learning

Online students are often not required to step foot on campus, which can significantly reduce the overall cost of education. You no longer have to pay for skyrocketing campus fees and transportation costs. However, online tuition is almost the same as their on-campus counterpart. 

3. Accredited Programs with Accessible Resources and Support

Thanks to online education, accessing accredited programs no longer requires traveling far. While online resources may not match the vastness of on-campus facilities, most online programs offer essential resources like online libraries, research materials, academic advisors, and tutoring services. These digital platforms ensure a high-quality education meeting industry standards.


1. Self-motivation and Time Management Skills Required

The self-paced structure of online accounting degrees can also become a drawback, especially for students without self-discipline and time management skills. These skills are essential in staying on track and effectively balancing your academic responsibilities with other commitments. 

2. Interaction with Peers and Instructors in Virtual Settings

Online accounting programs utilize virtual communication methods like forums, video conferences, and email exchanges, but they may lack the depth and spontaneity of physical classrooms. If you thrive in a collaborative environment, perhaps an online option is not for you. 

3. Program Accreditation and Quality Assurance

There’s no specific accounting program accreditation. However, since most accounting degrees are offered in business schools, you should consider an AACSB-accredited school. The AACSB also provides supplemental accounting accreditation.

Another great way to assess an online program’s quality is to determine its accounting success stories.

Factors to Consider Before Pursuing an Accounting Degree

Career Paths in Accounting, Auditing, Taxation, and Financial Management

Accounting is a vast field that provides you with access to many specializations. Among the most common specializations are Auditing, Taxation, and Financial Management. Nevertheless, some degrees solely focus on accounting principles while still covering some courses in these three areas. 

  • Auditing: Opens doors to careers evaluating financial records of companies or individuals to ensure accuracy and compliance with laws and regulations. 
  • Taxation: This leads to roles that assist individuals and businesses in navigating the tax system. 
  • Financial Management: Prepares you for roles that involve managing the financial operations of organizations, making strategic financial decisions, and maximizing profitability. 

Another debate in choosing career paths is accounting vs. finance. They have distinct focuses and career paths. Accountants ensure accuracy and compliance and provide vital information to stakeholders, while finance professionals make strategic decisions.

Job Market Demand and Salary Potential for Accounting Professionals

Another important factor to consider is job market demand and salary potential. Although the general accounting job outlook is positive, specific demands will vary based on specialization, industry trends, regulatory changes, and economic conditions. Here’s a quick comparison of the job outlook and median salaries for accounting and some of its common specializations. 

SpecializationAccountingAuditingTaxationFinancial Management
Average Median Annual Salary $78,000 $78,000$57,950$96,220
10-Year Job Growth4%4%1%8%

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Personal Skills and Interest Alignment with Accounting Field

It’s equally important to consider your skills and interests and how they align with the accounting field. Regardless of the accounting career path or specialization you choose, you will require a core set of specialized skills. 

The first skill you need as an accountant is numerical aptitude. This skill is essential in analyzing financial information, preparing statements, and identifying trends or discrepancies. Other skills you need include:

  • Adaptability 
  • Collaboration
  • Strong communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Time management 
  • Organization 
  • Writing 


Accounting offers diverse career opportunities, with campuses-based and online programs available for those considering a degree. Traditional campus programs are designed for students who want a structured approach to learning, while online formats are for those who desire maximum control over their schedule. 

Is an online accounting degree worth it? Or are they less significant than campus-based accounting programs? 

Both delivery formats—as long as they have proper academic accreditation—will give you the necessary abilities to compete in the competitive market. Choose a format that best works around your schedule and preference. It will still lead to versatile, in-demand, and high-paying careers.