Accounting Schools in Colorado
This guide to accounting schools in Colorado will help you find the right school at which to pursue the education that launches your accounting career. The accounting programs offered by Colorado schools can provide the right match for your interest and skills in accounting, with programs in general accounting, accounting technology, and specialties including taxation. Online accounting schools may also provide the career education you are looking for and may be a better match for flexible scheduling needs than traditional programs.
- There are 41 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Colorado.
- 9 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.
- Highest graduation rate*: University of Denver 78%1
- Highest transfer-out rate*: Colorado Mountain College 53%1
- Highest net price per year*: University of Denver $31,2441
- Lowest net price per year*: Colorado Mountain College $2,7401
- Annual undergraduate tuition range for accounting programs in Colorado*: $5,592-$36,9362
- 2 Schools in the Businessweek’s Top Business Undergraduate Programs in 2013: University of Denver (68), Colorado State University (89)
- 2 Schools in the Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2013: Colorado School of Mines (58), University of Colorado at Boulder (88)
- 3 Schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2013 (top 100): Colorado School of Mines (77), University of Denver (83), University of Colorado-Boulder (97)
*For 4-year colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.
Continue reading to find profiles of top accounting schools in Colorado, information on career possibilities, and the long-term outlook for accountants in Colorado.
Schools with Highest 2013 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree
- Colorado State University 87.0%
- University of Colorado Boulder
- University of Colorado Denver Anschutz
- University of Denver
- University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
- Regis University 27.6%
The range for CPA pass rate for schools in Colorado was 27.6% to 87.0% out of the 6 schools that sent candidates with an advanced degree. For comparison, the national pass rate was 54.6% for first-time test takers. When evaluating schools, first-time pass rate can be a good metric to measure the quality of training at a school although some numbers may be skewed due to a small number of candidates. You can find more information and extensive statistics on the 2013 NASBA Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance report.
Top Masters in Accounting Programs in Colorado
Metropolitan State University (Denver, CO)
Metropolitan State University of Denver offers a competitive Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAcc) program with concentrations in Taxation, Fraud Examination and Forensic Accounting, and Accounting. The 30 semester hour program includes four courses or 12 semester hours of required courses, with the remaining hours earned through electives. The majority of courses are held during the evening hours. Admission is open to students from all academic backgrounds and is on a rolling basis with options for entry during the spring, fall, and summer semesters. In addition to critical thinking and problem solving, the MSU Denver MPAcc program helps students develop their skills in communication and teamwork while building a deeper understanding of legal and regulatory frameworks. Students can tailor their program coursework to meet the requirements to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination in Colorado. US News ranks MSU Denver at #23 in Regional Colleges (West) based on factors such as its average class size and 20:1 student-faculty ratio.
Regis University (Denver, CO)
Regis University’s College for Professional Studies has a Master of Science in Accounting program with a foundation in ethics and professional development. Admission is open to students from various academic backgrounds, though students without experience in finance and accounting may need to take prerequisite courses in these areas. The master’s program is built around a 6 credit hour core, with students taking 21 credit hours of electives and a culminating 3 credit hour capstone course in Business Planning and Strategy. Available electives include Controllership, Tax Influence on Business Decision Making, and Financial Applications XBRL and Interactive Data. Graduate students may also be interested in related Regis certificate programs such as Executive Leadership and Executive Project Management. Regis is ranked #27 in Regional Universities (West) by US News, and is a top regional institution with a selective admissions policy. Nearly 70% of classes here have fewer than twenty students, due in part to the student-faculty ratio of 12:1.
University of Colorado (Boulder, CO)
University of Colorado-Boulder’s Master of Science in Business Administration – Accounting is a double emphasis master’s degree that can be completed with 30 hours of graduate coursework. Students typically complete the degree requirements within two years, although an accelerated course schedule can allow full-time students to complete the degree in three semesters. Two concentration options are available in Finance or Taxation, either of which can qualify students to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination in Colorado. The program curriculum is developed by experienced faculty with a track record of recognition for research in collaboration with international leaders in business and accounting. Courses include Advanced Business Law, International Financial Reporting Standards, and Business Risk & Decision Analysis in Auditing. All students complete a capstone course in Current Issues in Professional Accounting. University of Colorado-Boulder is ranked #86 in National Universities by US News. With over 25,000 students enrolled, University of Colorado Boulder is still able to hold 41.9% of classes with fewer than 20 students.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Colorado
EKS&H is one of the largest accounting and business consulting firms based in Colorado, with a focus on creative and forward thinking accounting and consultancy. The firm was recently named “The Best Place to Work” among companies of similar size in Denver, and is consistently hiring to add to its driven and skilled team. Dalby, Wendland & Co., P.C. is the oldest and largest accounting firm in Western Colorado, with clients in over 20 industries served by its 100 employees in seven offices. Dalby, Wendland seeks to hire the best talent and provide an environment for CPAs to grow their career. Anton Collins Mitchell LLP has been named “Best Accounting Firm to Work For”, one of Colorado’s “Fastest Growing Private Companies,” and other accolades in the ten years since its founding. With an emphasis on corporate responsibility, balance, and volunteerism, Anton Collins Mitchell LLP promotes a positive work environment for its employees.
How to Become a CPA in Colorado
The Colorado Board of Accountancy licenses and oversees Certified Public Accountants in the state. There are five main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license.
- Complete at least 120 semester hours of acceptable coursework in accounting.
- Accumulate professional accounting experience.
- Apply for and Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
- Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
- Apply for a license.
1. Complete at least 150 semester hours of acceptable coursework in accounting.
The Colorado Board of Accountancy deems candidates eligible for licensure through two education tracks: Education only and education with experience. Education only licensure requires a minimum of 150 semester hours of college education, whereas education with experience requires at least 120 semester hours of college education plus one year of experience. At a minimum, all candidates must complete 21 semester hours of accounting courses, excluding introductory courses, such as:
- Accounting ethics
- Accounting information systems
- Accounting research and analysis
- Accounting theory
- Auditing and attestation services
- Financial accounting and reporting of business organizations
- Financial accounting reporting for government and not-for-profit entities
- Financial statement analysis
- Fraud examination
- Internal controls and risk assessment
- Managerial or cost accounting
- Tax research and analysis
At least three semester hours of the above must be in a course focusing on auditing in US GAAS. In addition, 21 semester hours of business administration are required in such subjects as:
- Behavior of organizations, groups, and persons
- Business communications
- Business ethics
- Business law
- Computer information systems
- Legal and social environment of business
- Quantitative applications in business
Additional courses are required for candidates pursuing licensure without experience. Full details on education requirements can be accessed through the Colorado Board of Accountancy.
2. Accumulate professional accounting experience.
If pursuing licensure on the education plus experience track, candidates must complete at least 1,800 hours of accounting experience under the supervision of a currently licensed CPA in good standing. The experience hours must be completed within five years before or after passing the Uniform CPA exam. All experience hours must be completed over at least one year and not more than three years.
3. Apply for and Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
Candidates for the Uniform CPA Exam in Colorado must apply to take the exam through the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. Once it is determined that a candidate is eligible, he or she will receive an authorization letter to schedule and take the exam. All four sections of the exam must be passed within a rolling 18 month period.
4. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
A passing score on the AICPA ethics exam, which is part of a self-study course, is required for CPA licensure in Colorado. The course and exam can be ordered through AICPA.
5. Apply for a license.
Candidates should complete all licensing requirements prior to applying for a Colorado CPA license. Colorado uses the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy to process all applications for licensure.
You can find additional information at the Colorado Board of Accountancy website.
(Source: Colorado Board of Accountancy, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy)
Colorado Accountant Salary and Job Outlook
Projected Job Growth
Accountants and Auditors in Colorado from 2011-20213
Accountants in Colorado command top scale salaries between $72,300 and $86,030 according to the most recent data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The demand for professional and business services like accounting and consultancy is increasing throughout the state, notably in Colorado Springs and the Denver metro area. This is a growing occupation, where demand for skilled accountants is expected to increase 16% from 2010 to 2020.
Colorado Accounting Program Student Reviews
Colorado Mesa University:
“I thoroughly enjoyed all 4 years that I spent at CMU. CMU’s business department is fantastic. All my class sizes were under 20. Each of my professors was very passionate and their enthusiasm was infectious with the students that they taught. CMU’s accounting department is very tight knit. Each of the students relied upon one another for help and insight into their homework. The accounting students were always the first people to arrive at ACB every morning and the last to leave. I wouldn’t have changed anything about my experience.” – Student at Colorado Mesa University
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Niche College Search: https://www.niche.com/colleges/?degree=4-year&state=CO&major=finance-accounting&sort=best
3. Colorado LMI Gateway: https://www.colmigateway.com/vosnet/lmi/default.aspx?pu=1&plang=E