Accounting Schools in Alabama
This guide to accounting schools in Alabama provides you with key information on the options for earning an accounting degree so that you can make an informed decision. Alabama’s universities and colleges offer a wide range of accounting programs from general accounting to accounting technology to fit with your desired career track. In addition to traditional on-campus programs, online accounting programs like the BS in Accounting at University of Phoenix provide a more flexible alternative that may be a better fit for some individuals.
- There are 40 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Alabama.1
- 8 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
- Highest graduation rate*: Samford University 70%1
- Highest transfer-out rate*: University of North Alabama 39%1
- Highest net price per year*: Strayer University – Alabama $28,4941
- Lowest net price per year*: Alabama A&M University $7,7921
- Annual undergraduate tuition range for accounting programs in Alabama*: $8,638-$29,6002
- 1 School in the Businessweek’s Top Business Undergraduate Programs in 2013: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (73)
- 2 Schools in the Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2013: Auburn University (61), University of Alabama (55)
- 2 Schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2013 (top 100): University of Alabama Tuscaloosa (77), Auburn University (89)
*For 4-year colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.
Continue reading to learn about the options for accounting schools in Alabama including profiles of popular accounting programs and leading universities in the state.
Schools with Highest 2013 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree
1. The University of Alabama at Birmingham 80.0%
2. Samford University
3. University of Alabama
4. Troy University
4. University of North Alabama 36.4%
The range for first-time CPA exam pass rate with an advanced degree in the state of Alabama varied widely from 36.4% to 80.0%. Five schools in the state had first-time candidates with an advanced degree. A large majority of candidates for the CPA exam in the state had a bachelor’s degree. Less than half of all first-time test takers in the state achieved a passing score.
See the 2013 NASBA Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance report for more information.
Top Masters in Accounting Programs in Alabama
University of North Alabama
University of North Alabama in Florence offers a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting that is structured to help students build expert skills and business knowledge for advancement in professional accounting. Students may complete the courses required for the degree on campus or online. The program’s professors share their real-world experience with students through case studies, real-world business problems, and practical learning. Students may also elect to pursue a graduate certificate in Project Management to complement the MBA. Note that for students looking to pursue the MBA on the traditional and not the executive track, GMAT scores are required. University of North Alabama is ranked #80 in Regional Universities (South) by US News, and 38% of classes have fewer than twenty students.
Auburn University’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business maintains a Master of Accountancy program that emphasizes technical, research, and communication skills while preparing students for the Uniform CPA examination. The 30-semester hour program can be completed in three years for most traditional students and within five years for students who are working full-time. An online completion option is also available, taught by the same professors and using the same materials as the traditional on-campus program. Required courses for all tracks include Advanced Auditing and Assurance Services, Federal Tax Research, and Integrated Accounting Applications, which can be supplemented by electives such as Financial Analysis & Valuation and Governmental and Not-For-Profit Accounting. Students are not required to hold an undergraduate degree in business or accounting to enroll in the program, but must have taken the foundation courses in these topics outlined by the university. Auburn University is ranked #91 in National Universities by US News.
Samford University’s Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program, housed within the Brock School of Business in Homewood, equips students with the skills necessary for success as accountants and advisors in a global business environment. Functional skills including ethics, communication, teamwork, and professional research are emphasized in the curriculum. Program courses typically meet in the evening, and online courses are also available for full- and part-time students. Courses in the MAcc program include Applied Professional Research, Contemporary Issues in Accounting, Tax Research and Practice, and Government and Not-for-Profit Accounting. Students with undergraduate degrees in accounting may also be prepared to meet the 150-hour program requirement to sit for the Uniform CPA exam. The MAcc program helps students connect to a network of faculty, alumni, and accounting professionals for career and placement opportunities. Samford University is ranked #3 by US News in Regional Universities (South), in part because 67% of classes taught at Stamford have fewer than 20 students.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Alabama
There are several top recognized and respected accounting firms headquartered in Alabama where graduates can begin their careers as an accountant. Most of these are located in the major cities, although a few are in suburban or rural areas. The top firms include Warren Averett, LLC in Montgomery, and one of the largest CPA and consulting firms in the Southeast; Banfield Murphy Shank & Smith PC in Birmingham, one of the fastest growing and largest accountancy firms in Alabama; and Horne CPAs & Business Advisors in Mobile, a firm with national presence and one of the largest CPA firms in the US by revenue.
How to Become a CPA in Alabama
The Alabama State Board of Accountancy sets the requirements for becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the state. There are five main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license.
- Complete a degree in accounting with 150 semester hours or 225 quarter hours of the specified coursework.
- Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
- Complete the ethics course.
- Apply for a license.
- Accumulate the required hours of experience and continuing education credits.
1. Complete a degree in accounting with 150 semester hours or 225 quarter hours of the specified coursework.
The first step to becoming a CPA is completing an accounting degree program at an accredited college or university. The degree can be a bachelor’s or master’s program as long as the required credit hours are completed. The Alabama State Board of Accountancy requires a minimum number of credit hours to be from specified accounting and business coursework.
Alabama requires 33 semester hours or equivalent quarter hours of accounting at the upper division undergraduate or graduate level (introductory courses are not counted) including minimum credit hours in the following subject areas:
- Financial accounting: 9 semester hours
- Auditing: 6 semester hours
- Taxation: 6 semester hours
- Management accounting: 3 semester hours
- Governmental and not for profit accounting: 3 semester hours
- Accounting electives: 6 semester hours
- Business law focusing on the Uniform Commercial Code: 3 semester hours
The state also requires 27 semester or equivalent quarter hours of additional business courses at the undergraduate or graduate level which can include:
- Legal and social environment of business
- Business law
- Organization, group, and individual behavior
- Quantitative applications in business
- Communication skills
- Business ethics
2. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
The Uniform CPA Exam is a standardized exam required for all CPA candidates in the country. In order to sit for the exam, the Alabama State Board of Accountancy must first review the candidate’s coursework to determine if the education requirements have been met. Applicants must pass all four sections of the Uniform CPA Exam within an 18-month rolling period.
3. Complete the ethics course.
After passing the Uniform CPA examination, candidates are required to complete the ethics course titled “Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course.”
4. Apply for a license.
Once the state requirements have been met, individuals can apply for a CPA license with the state which includes paying an application fee. The application must include proof of identity and official transcripts.
5. Accumulate the required hours of experience and continuing education credits.
The state of Alabama has a two-tier system for CPAs. Once candidates have completed the education requirements and passed the CPA exam, the state will first grant a CPA certificate which doesn’t allow individuals to practice or represent themselves as a CPA until the experience requirements are met.
To obtain a CPA license to practice as a CPA, individuals must accumulate one year of full-time public accounting experience or two years of full-time work experience in the accounting industry, business, government, or teaching college accounting. CPAs must complete 40 hours of continuing education credits each fiscal year ending on September 30th.
Alabama Accountant Salary and Job Outlook
Projected Job Growth
Accountants and Auditors in Alabama from 2014-20243
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants in Alabama earn an average annual salary of $75,280. The demand for accountants and auditors is expected to grow by 11% between the period of 2012 and 2024. The demand for financial professionals is increasing in the Mobile metro area, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa. Between these locations, which are only a few hours’ drive between one another, accountants in Alabama have employment options in multiple metro areas.
Alabama Accounting Program Student Reviews
The University of Alabama: “The University of Alabama accounting program was an excellent opportunity that I was afforded and I’m so pleased that I seized the chance to challenge myself. The core principles of the program really consisted of ensuring that we would be prepared to enter the workforce and contribute upon graduation. Throughout the semester they would bring in various Big 4 firms to talk to us about what is expected day to day and this also doubled as an opportunity to hand out resumes for potential internships. The only thing that I disliked about the program was the rigorous coursework but obviously this is something one would expect to encounter in a program like this.” -Jacob L., student at University of Alabama
The University of Alabama: “Overall my four years in the accounting undergraduate program at UA were good. Our professors really stressed to us the importance of professionalism early on which has helped me grow in my workplace since graduating. On a regular basis there was a revolving door of companies coming in to speak to us. We would get to hear first hand from places like PwC and Ernst & Young (now re-branded to EY) about what we could expect from our degree and the type of value that is expected in return from you as a worker. Besides the regular professional seminars, our professors placed a great deal of emphasis on getting to know one another and how important person to person interaction is later on in life. I grew to be friends with many of the other people in my major because our teachers facilitated communication between us all. The school load could be overwhelming at times and the work is tedious (it’s accounting after all) but overall I really enjoyed the program. The teachers inspired confidence in the students and really gave us the tools to grow and prepare ourselves for life in the work force.” -Student at the University of Alabama
Jacksonville State University: “The Accounting program at Jacksonville State University prepared me well for my accounting career. I learned about many of the topics tested on the Certified Public Accounting exam, which is necessary to become a CPA. My instructors were always helpful and available to explain topics I didn’t understand. Several of my professors had been in public accounting, so they were able to offer important information about the industry. They were also great resources for networking with accountants in the area. JSU also offers accounting and business extracurricular associations. Accounting is more than just a major, it is a way of life. JSU’s program definitely prepared me for this new way of life in the accounting industry.” -Student at Jacksonville State University
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Niche: https://colleges.niche.com/search/st-al/sm1-finance-and-accounting/
3. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm