Accounting Schools in Arizona
Whether you are looking for a traditional on-campus college experience or the flexibility that online degree programs can offer, there are accounting programs in Arizona that may meet your needs. Since there are only a handful of schools that offer master’s-level accounting programs in the state, prospective students may wish to explore programs in nearby California, Nevada, Utah, or New Mexico. Online master’s in accounting programs may also be a good option since they can be taken from schools across the country. This page will provide you with information on the licensure requirements for Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), average salaries and employment levels in Arizona, and a comparison of graduate-level accounting programs. We have also provided profiles for select traditional and online accounting programs as well as a description of large accounting firms and professional accounting organizations in Arizona. Find out more about Arizona accounting schools offering master’s programs and accounting career opportunities below.
- There are 24 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Arizona.1
- 3 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
- 1 school was ranked in Forbes’ Best Business Schools 2019.2
- No schools were ranked in the Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors 2020.3
- 2 schools were ranked in Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019.4
- 1 school was ranked in US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2021.5
- 2 schools had a 2018 CPA exam pass rate at or above the national average of 51.9%.6
- 3 universities and business schools are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.7
- No schools are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).8
- No schools are accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).9
For not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.
Table of Contents
- Steps to Become a CPA in Arizona
- Arizona CPA Salary and Job Outlook
- Top Master’s in Accounting Programs in Arizona
- Arizona Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
- Select Schools in Arizona with Master’s in Accounting Programs
- Additional Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
Steps to Become a CPA in Arizona
The Arizona State Board of Accountancy (the Board) oversees the licensing of CPAs in the state. There are six steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license in Arizona.
- Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
- Earn the required hours of experience.
- Complete the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) ethics course and exam.
- Take the Uniform CPA Examination.
- Apply for a CPA License.
- Receive a license.
1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
Candidates for CPA licensure in Arizona must have completed at least 150 semester hours of college-level education with a bachelor’s degree of higher. Acceptable coursework must include at least 36 semester hours of accounting courses (with at least 30 of these hours in upper-division courses) and 30 semester hours of coursework in business and accounting-related subjects such as:
- Business administration
- Computer science, information systems, or data processing
- Business law
- College algebra or higher mathematics
- Advanced written communication
- Advanced oral communication
2. Earn the required hours of experience.
Candidates must complete at least 2,000 hours of experience in accounting practice under the supervision of a licensed CPA or under the supervision of an individual who has the equivalent education and experience. The work may be performed on a full-time, part-time, volunteer, or internship basis or any combination thereof provided the work involves relevant experience in accounting. Self-employment may not be counted towards the required hours. The experience may be earned before or after taking the Uniform CPA Exam.
3. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
Applicants must receive a score of 90% or higher on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Ethics Exam. The course and exam are self-study and passing scores are good for two years. Those who plan to take the exam and apply for licensure in Arizona may order it through the Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants (ASCPA).
4. Take the Uniform CPA Examination.
Candidates who have acquired the 150-semester hours of college-level coursework may apply to take the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Uniform CPA Exam. The exam consists of four sections which may be taken in any order over an 18-month period. Candidates for CPA licensure must pass the exam with a score of 75 or higher on all four sections before applying for a license. Candidates can apply for the exam on the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) website.
5. Apply for a CPA license.
The Board reviews all CPA applications in the state. Applicants must provide proof of education, experience, citizenship, and passing scores on the AICPA Ethics and Uniform CPA Exams with their application, along with an application fee.
6. Receive a license.
Within 30 days of receiving the application packet, the Board will notify the applicant that the application is complete. The application will then be reviewed by the Certification Committee at their monthly meeting. Upon recommendation from the Committee, the application will be sent to the Executive Director for approval. Approved applicants will be notified by mail.
CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Once licensed, Arizona CPAs must complete 80 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) each renewal period. CPE must include at least 16 hours of in-person or online instruction and a minimum of 40 hours in accounting, auditing, taxation, business law, or consulting services, of which 16 hours must be in the areas of accounting, auditing, or taxation. CPE must also include four hours of ethics education specific to practice in Arizona, with one hour in accounting related ethics and one hour in Board statutes and rules. Renewal periods are biennial and determined by the CPA’s date of birth. You can find additional information on the Board’s website.
Arizona CPA Salary and Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Arizona is home to 22,450 accountants and auditors.10 On average, accountants in Arizona make a salary of $73,450 annually. The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale metro area has the most accountants and auditors in the state with 17,930 accountants and auditors making an average salary of $74,610 annually.10 Positions for accountants and auditors in the state are expected to increase by 14.5% through 2028, faster than twice the national projection (6.4%).11
Arizona CPA Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed10||Average Annual Salary10|
|Lake Havasu City-Kingman||250||$56,650|
Top-Ranked Schools with Master’s in Accounting Programs in Arizona
Forbes’ Best Business Schools* 2019
- Arizona State University (#38)
*With master’s in accounting programs.
Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019
- University of Arizona (#21)
- Arizona State University (#24)
US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2021
- Arizona State University (#20 tie)
Arizona Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit Arizona colleges and universities offering a master’s degree in accounting. The graduation rate is for first-time undergraduates seeking a bachelor’s degree, but since it is widely considered to be an indicator of a school’s overall success, we have included it for comparison. Also please note that tuition per credit is based on in-state, on-campus tuition; per-credit rates may vary for out-of-state and online students.
|School Name||Accreditation||CPA Exam Pass Rate6||Master’s in Accounting Degree(s)||Acceptance Rate12||Grad Rate1||Online Options?||Tuition per Credit|
|Arizona State University||AACSB||66%||Master of Accountancy (MAcc)||31.1%||63%||—||$920|
|Northern Arizona University||AACSB||N.Av.||MBA-Accounting||92.2%||65%||—||$349|
|University of Arizona||AACSB||63.6%||Master of Accounting (MACC);|
- — indicates none.
- N.Av. indicates no data available.
Select Schools in Arizona with Master’s in Accounting Programs
Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University (NAU) offers a Master of Business Administration-Accounting Concentration (MBA-ACC) through its W.A. Franke College of Business. The MBA-ACC will qualify students to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination. The full-time 10-month program requires 30 credit hours to complete, with 21 hours taken from the master’s core curriculum and a further nine hours taken from courses in the chosen area of emphasis. Core classes include Systems, Orientation, and Training; Customers, Markets, and Organizations; and Professional Development, while accounting classes include Advanced Taxation; Advanced Auditing; and Case Studies in Financial Reporting. Students in the program have opportunities to participate in executive job shadowing, take annual class trips, attend guest lectures, and network with professionals in the field. Admission to the program requires applicants to take the GMAT or GRE and have undergraduate coursework in business with a 3.0 GPA over their last two years of study.
The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona’s (Arizona) Eller School of Management offers a 30-credit hour Master of Accounting (MAcc). Full-time students can complete the program in as little as nine months. Students can choose between an Audit or Tax track, either of which will prepare them for the Uniform CPA exam and eventual licensure. Audit track students will cover subjects such as advanced accounting, audit simulation, and federal taxations. Students in the Tax track will take coursework such as Corporate Taxation, Technology for Accountants: Microsoft Excel, and Multijurisdictional Taxation. Students will take 24 credit hours of required core classes and six credit hours of electives. Students of the MAcc program will have access to the Meet the Firms event once a semester, where they will be able to meet professionals from approximately 25 firms from all levels of the accounting industry. Other career resources include two student accounting organizations, the Accounting Student Association and Beta Alpha Psi, and the Handshake career development platform. Applicants for the program must have an undergraduate degree, a 3.0 or higher GPA, a competitive score on the GMAT, and all prerequisite courses completed.
Online and Hybrid Programs
Arizona State University
The W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University (ASU) offers a Master of Accountancy (MACC) program that can be completed in as little as nine months in an in-person, Zoom, or 100% online format. The MACC program is designed to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in an accounting career, forge professional connections, and prepare students for the CPA exam. The MACC program requires 30 credit hours to complete and offers classes such as Analytics for Accountants; Professional Accounting Research; and Taxes and Business Strategy. Students intending to take the Uniform CPA Exam will have access to exam review materials and courses offered in partnership with Surgent CPA Review. Students wishing to pursue more focused coursework may opt for the Data and Analytics (D&A) track, which was developed in collaboration with KPMG. Students on the D&A track take many of the same classes as the standard MACC program, while also taking track-specific courses such as Business Data Visualization; Statistics for Accounting Analytics; and Data Mining. Students may pursue an internship through the optional internship track that can be taken the summer after completion of all program coursework.
The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona (Arizona) offers a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) that can be completed entirely online. The 30-credit hour program can be completed in as little as 12 months, though students attending part-time usually take about two years. The MSA program allows students pursuing a CPA license to work towards meeting the necessary education requirements. Arizona’s MSA consists of 18 credit hours of accounting classes followed by 12 credit hours of non-accounting electives. Core courses include Accounting Theory and Institutions; Principles of Federal Taxation; Ethics for Professional Accountants; and Principles of Auditing. Elective coursework covers areas such as Business Analysis; Healthcare Management; or Finance. An undergraduate degree in accounting is not necessary for acceptance into the program, but those holding non-accounting degrees may be required to take prerequisite coursework. All applicants will need to have taken the GMAT and have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Arizona
- RedW LLC: One of the Southwest’s top 10 largest full-service accounting firms with offices in Phoenix and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- RSM: One of the largest employers of accountants in Arizona, with offices in Phoenix and Tempe, the firm offers accounting and advising services to middle market clients worldwide.
- Baker Tilly: With offices in Tempe, Scottsdale, and Casa Grande, the firm offers a full suite of accounting services.
Arizona Accounting Associations
- Arizona Society of CPAs (ASCPA): The largest organization for CPAs in Arizona, the ASCPA works to create opportunities for members through advocacy, continuing education, and networking.
- Arizona Association of Accounting and Tax Professionals (AAATP): A nonprofit, voluntary professional organization, the AAATP offers education, networking, and volunteer opportunities for both certified and uncertified accounting professionals.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a CPA make in Arizona?
According to the BLS the average yearly salary for accountants and auditors in Arizona is $73,450.10 The Phoenix metropolitan area reports the highest average salary for the occupation of $74,610 per year.10
How do I get my CPA License in Arizona?
To get your CPA license in Arizona you must first complete 150 semester hours of college-level education including a bachelor’s degree and certain coursework in accounting. You must also gain at least 2,000 hours of accounting work experience over the course of at least a year under the supervision of a licensed CPA. To qualify for licensure, you must take the AICPA ethics course and exam and the Uniform CPA Exams. After all of these requirements have been met, you must submit your application and proof that you have completed the previous steps to the Board, who will approve your application for licensure.
What happens if your CPA license expires in Arizona?
If you fail to submit your biennial license renewal by the due date, your license will be suspended. The Board will mail a notification of suspension to you at which point you may reactivate your license by sending in the renewal form and all related fees. If the license is not renewed within three months, it will be considered expired.
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Forbes Best Business Schools 2019: https://www.forbes.com/business-schools/list/2/
3. The Princeton Review. The Best 385 Colleges, 2020 Edition. The Princeton Review, 2019.
4. Public Accounting Report 2019 Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs: https://wpcarey.asu.edu/sites/default/files/documents/par-grad-2019.pdf
5. US News & World Report Best MBA Accounting Programs 2021: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/accounting-rankings
6. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy. The NASBA Report on the CPA Exam: Candidate Performance on the Uniform CPA Examination, 2018 Edition. National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, Inc., 2019.
7. Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International: https://www.aacsb.edu/
8. Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP): https://acbsp.org/
9. International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE): https://iacbe.org/
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Arizona: “https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_az.htmh
11. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
12. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2021: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools