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Accounting Schools in Montana

There are several accounting schools in Montana offering accounting programs from the associate’s to the master’s level and beyond. The following overview of accounting schools in Montana will provide you with the in-depth information you need to decide which accounting program is right for your needs. Online accounting programs may also be a good match for students who want to earn an accounting degree but need greater flexibility than that offered by traditional accounting programs.

Quick Facts

  • There are 13 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Montana.
  • 3 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.
  • Highest graduation rate*: Carroll College 59%1
  • Highest transfer-out rate*: Montana State University-Billings 25%1
  • Highest net price per year*: University of Great Falls $22,6531
  • Lowest net price per year*: Montana State University-Billings $10,4541
  • Annual undergraduate tuition range for accounting programs in Montana*: $15,961-$25,1982
  • 2 Schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2013 (top 200): Montana State University (189), University of Montana (199)
  • 6 Schools ranked in US News Regional Colleges (West) in 2013 (top 100): Carroll College (1), Montana Tech of the University of Montana (6), Rocky Mountain College (9), University of Montana-Western (17), University of Great Falls (24), Montana State University-Northern (25)
  • 3 Schools ranked in Forbes Top Colleges List (top 500): Montana State University (402), The University of Montana (409), Rocky Mountain College (499)

*For 4-year colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.

Keep reading to find profiles of top accounting schools in Montana as well as further information about the state’s most popular accounting programs.

Schools With the Highest 2013 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree

  1. University of Nebraska–Lincoln 81.3%
  2. University of Nebraska at Omaha
  3. Creighton University
  4. Bellevue University 20.0%

There are 4 schools in Nebraska with first-time CPA exam candidates (with an advanced degree). The pass rate for these schools ranged from 20.0% to 81.3%. This compares to the 54.6% pass rate nationally for first-time candidates (with a bachelor’s or advanced degree). The first-time CPA exam pass rate serves as one factor to consider when selecting an accounting program although the percentage may be skewed for schools with a small number of candidates. For more information on CPA exam pass rates see the 2013 NASBA Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance report provided by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

Top Masters in Accounting Programs in Montana

Montana State University (Bozeman, MT)

Montana State University’s Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc) program offers each student opportunities to specialize in areas of interest well fitted to their desired career path and past education. The personalized curriculum can include electives such as Professional Services Management, Tax Research and Planning, Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting, and Survey of Research in Accounting. Most students complete the program in two to three semesters of full-time study, though a part-time course load is permitted. The majority of classes are held on campus during the day over the fall and spring semesters. Graduates of Montana State University’s MPAc have historically performed well on the Uniform CPA exam, which performance has supported the program’s growth. The Montana State University Master of Professional Accountancy program is consistently ranked among the top ten in the US by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. US News ranks Montana State University #201 in National Universities.

Rocky Mountain College (Billings, MT)

Rocky Mountain College has a Master’s of Accountancy program to prepare students for careers as accountants and take advantage of the strong growth in this field. Students graduate with technical accounting knowledge, an understanding of the role of accountants in an organization, and an ability to follow ethical standards while creating value in the profession. The program is grounded in the liberal arts and includes study in statistics and economics as well as accounting fundamentals such as research, risk analysis, and decision modeling. The master’s core includes courses such as Taxation of Individuals, Advanced Financial Management, Accounting Information Systems, and Auditing. Rocky Mountain College is the only college in Eastern Montana to offer a master’s program of study in accountancy and notes that as a smaller college, its offering of such a program stands out. Rocky Mountain College is ranked #12 in Regional Colleges (West) by US News.

The University of Montana (Missoula, MT)

The University of Montana offers a Master of Accountancy program which focuses on developing the knowledge needed for ethical and informed decision making in accounting. To meet this goal, students study taxation and business as well as accounting during the program curriculum, which also includes elements of leadership development. The 30 credit hour program encompasses a 15 credit hour core and 15 credit hours of electives. The core courses include Accounting Theory, Advanced Financial Topics, and Accounting Law and Ethics. The School of Business Administration, in which the Master of Accountancy program is housed, offers various competitive scholarships for graduate students. Graduate assistantships are also available to well-qualified students. Graduates of the program are prepared for successful careers at the top accounting firms in the US and graduates have a historically high pass rate on the Uniform CPA exam. The University of Montana is ranked #201 in National Universities by US News.

Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Montana

Anderson ZurMuehlen, founded in 1957 in Helena, is now the largest CPA and advisory firm headquartered in Montana. Anderson ZurMuehlen is consistently hiring for positions in its six Montana offices, and employees are well compensated with competitive benefits and advancement opportunities. Wipfli LLP is one of the largest CPA firms across Idaho and Montana, servicing clients across the Mountain West. Junkermier, Clark, Campenella & Stevens is one of the largest firms in the Mountain West and is regularly recognized as one of the Mountain States’ Top 10 Accounting Firms. This firm is proud to help its employees develop successful careers based on hard work and personal growth.

How to Become a CPA in Montana

The Montana Board of Public Accountants oversees the process for becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the state. There are five main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license in Montana.

  1. Complete a 150 semester hour or 225 quarter hour educational program of acceptable coursework in accounting.
  2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
  3. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
  4. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
  5. Apply for a license and permit to practice.

1. Complete a 150 semester hour or 225 quarter hour educational program of acceptable coursework in accounting.

Completing a 150 semester hour education program is the first step to earning a CPA license in Montana. The program must include the award of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally or AACSB accredited school. In addition, courses counted within the 150 hours must include:

24 semester hours of accounting subjects above the introductory level, which must include at least one course in each of the following subjects:

  • Financial accounting
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Management Accounting

Candidates must also complete at least 24 semester hours in non-accounting business subjects. Example courses for this requirement include:

  • Information systems
  • Business law
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Ethics
  • Organizational behavior
  • Quantitative applications in business
  • Communication

2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.

Before applying for licensure, Montana CPA candidates must earn one year or 2,000 hours of accounting and auditing experience. The experience must be earned within three years of applying for a license and may be accumulated through work in private, government, academic, or public accounting practice. Experience must be verified by an individual who holds an active permit to practice.

3. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.

Candidates for Montana CPA licensure must take the self-study ethics course and exam offered through AICPA. The materials for the course can be ordered online at the AICPA website.

4. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

NASBA processes applications and administers testing for the Uniform CPA Exam on behalf of the Montana Board of Public Accountants. Exam candidates can begin the examination process through the NASBA website. All four sections of the exam must be passed within a rolling 18 month period.

5. Apply for a license and permit to practice.

The Montana Board of Public Accountants uses the NASBA online licensing portal for new CPA applications as well as for license renewals. First-time applicants should visit the portal and register for an account to begin the application process after completing all license requirements. Note that Montana is a two-tier state, meaning that to practice as a CPA, candidates must have both a CPA certificate and a permit to practice in Montana.

Once licensed, CPAs in Montana must complete 120 hours of continuing education, to include at least 2 hours of ethics, during each rolling three year period. You can find additional information at the Montana Board of Public Accountants website.
(Source: Montana Board of Public Accountants)

Montana Accountant Salary and Job Outlook

Projected Job Growth

21.6%

Accountants and Auditors in Montana from 2008-20183

Accountants in Montana earn an average salary between $57,830 and $61,030 per year. In the northwestern reaches of Montana, this average can be as high as $63,200 per year, although the highest demand for accountants as evidenced by concentration is in the southwestern area of the state, where salaries average $53,590. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 16% or greater job growth for accountants and auditors from 2010 to 2020, indicating a positive outlook for this profession in Montana.

Montana Accounting Program Student Reviews

University of Montana: “My accounting education at The University of Montana was an incredibly demanding, yet worthwhile experience. The rigorous curriculum placed a strong emphasis on both accounting theory and practice, leaving me well prepared to transition from life as a student to life as a professional. I found the faculty to be supportive and encouraging as I worked my way through the program. Most came to the classroom with several years of public accounting experience, so they could easily translate conceptual material into practical class work. The broad curriculum offered a great deal of variety in my accounting education and I found the auditing and accounting information systems courses to be particularly enlightening. My only criticism of the program would be the lack of flexibility in course scheduling. The program did not offer any courses online and most required courses were only offered once per academic year. This often made scheduling exceptionally challenging. However, even with this minor criticism, I would again happily make the decision to complete a degree in accounting at The University of Montana.” -Ryan H.
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References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Niche College Search: https://www.niche.com/colleges/?degree=4-year&state=MT&major=finance-accounting&sort=best
3. Montana Department of Labor & Industry: http://lmi.mt.gov/