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 can provide a more flexible alternative that may be a better fit for some individuals.
- There are 33 not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Alabama.1
- 9 not-for-profit schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
- Highest graduation rate*: Auburn University 77%1
- Highest transfer-out rate*: Faulkner University 45%1
- Highest net price per year*: Tuskegee University $30,8471
- Lowest net price per year*: Jacksonville State University $11,9391
- No schools ranked in Businessweek’s Top Business Undergraduate Programs in 2017.
- 2 schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018: Auburn University (#69 in-state, #65 out-of-state), University of Alabama (#48 in-state, #59 out-of-state)
- No schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2019 (top 100).
*For four-year not-for-profit 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 2015 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree
- University of South Alabama (76.9%)
- Auburn University (72.6%)
- University of Alabama (59.3%)
- Troy University (55.2%)
- University of Alabama-Huntsville (53.3%)
- Samford University (50.0%)
- University of Alabama-Birmingham (50.0%)
Nine schools in South Carolina had first-time candidates for the Uniform CPA Exam with an advanced degree in 2015. The range for first-time CPA exam pass rates with an advanced degree in the state of Alabama in 2015 varied widely, from 22.2% to 76.9%. In comparison, the average pass rate for all candidates in the United States in 2015 was 48.4%. See the 2015 National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance report for more information.
Top Master’s in Accounting Programs in Alabama
University of North Alabama
University of North Alabama (UNA) offers a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) that can be completed online or on-campus. The program’s professors share their real-world experience with students through case studies, real-world business problems, and practical learning. An option to earn the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) credential is included in the program. UNA also offers a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) 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, and classes are led by the same instructors who teach the MAcc program. Students may also elect to pursue a graduate certificate in Project Management to complement the MBA. GMAT scores are typically required for this concentration, though exceptions are available for qualified students. University of North Alabama is ranked #78 (tie) in Regional Universities (South) by US News, and 47% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
Auburn University’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business maintains a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) 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 semesters for most traditional students and in five semesters on an online, part-time basis. The online program is taught by the same professors and uses 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 #115 (tie) 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; 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 #4 by US News in Regional Universities (South), in part because 65% 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, which is 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 that works across a wide range of industries.
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: nine semester hours
- Auditing: six semester hours
- Taxation: six semester hours
- Management accounting: three semester hours
- Governmental and not-for-profit accounting: three semester hours
- Accounting electives: six semester hours
- Business law focusing on the Uniform Commercial Code: three 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 of CPA candidates in all 50 states. In order to sit for the exam in Alabama, the individual should submit a completion of 150 hours verification form, along with official transcripts. The Alabama State Board of Accountancy will review the candidate’s coursework to determine if the education requirements have been met. CPA candidates will also need to submit the CPA Examination Application to be approved to sit for each section of the exam. Finally, applicants should register with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to take the Uniform CPA Exam. 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 Exam, Alabama CPA candidates are required to complete an ethics course available online through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), which is titled “Professional Ethics: The AICPA’s Comprehensive Course.”
4. Apply for a certificate.
Once the state education and exam requirements have been met, individuals can submit a CPA Application to the Board, which includes paying an application fee.
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. Once a license has been issued, Alabama CPAs must complete 40 hours of continuing education credits each fiscal year ending on September 30th.
You can find additional information at the Alabama State Board of Public Accountancy website.
Alabama Accountant Salary and Job Outlook
Projected Job Growth
Accountants and Auditors in Alabama from 2016-20262
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants in Alabama earn an average annual salary of $69,650.3 The demand for accountants and auditors in Alabama is expected to grow by 8.9% through 2026.2 The metropolitan areas of Montgomery, Birmingham-Hoover, and Huntsville have the highest concentrations of accountant and auditor positions in the state.3 Huntsville also sees the highest average annual salary for accountants and auditors in Alabama, at $77,330.3
University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
Student Review: “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
Student Review: “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
700 Pelham Rd N
Jacksonville, AL 36265
Student Review: “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 College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026): http://www.projectionscentral.com/projections/longterm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017, 13-2011 Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm