What Are the Steps for Going to Accounting School?

If you're looking to go to accounting school, it's important to think about what your career path is likely to be. The system we use in the United States makes it possible for folks to graduate with an associate's degree and find work, but there are also higher requirements. Someone who wants to be a full CPA has to complete 150 hours of college credits, which is essentially the equivalent of getting both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, before they're allowed to sit for their exam. This means you'll want to keep a close eye on just how your classes transfer as you move forward with each step.

Finding an Accounting School

The majority of accredited colleges and business schools offer accounting classes, but it's often better to go to one that offers a focus in accounting. If you have questions about whether a particular institution, such as a trade school, is accredited, you can simply look up the name of the school in the U.S. Department of Education's database.

It's a good idea to take a moment to look at the curriculum of any school that interests you to see how closely it hews to the requirements for the exam you'll eventually be taking. Within the industry, there is a concept known as GAAP, the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, that covers an array of topics. These include concerns clients will commonly have about taxes, reporting requirements, shareholder structures, and income and revenues. There should also be extensive coursework requiring both written and verbal communication.

Given the nature of modern accounting, you'll want to find an accounting school that places a strong emphasis on the use of computer software. The most important piece of software you'll need to learn in and out is Microsoft Excel.

Setting a Career Goal

The accounting field covers an array of different concepts, and the certifications that are available are just as diverse. In addition to the traditional idea we have of accounts as CPAs, there are also Certified Financial Analysts, Chartered Global Management Accounts, Certified Payroll Professionals, and others. Each one requires a different level of education, and that will make a difference in choosing between, for example, going for a full CPA courseload or pursuing an associate's degree.


Post-secondary education institutions require students to apply in order to obtain degrees. There may be an application fee, but waivers are available for those with financial hardships.