Accounting Schools in Colorado
This guide to graduate accounting schools in Colorado is designed to help you find the right school to pursue the education that launches your accounting career. The accounting programs available in Colorado can be completed with a general curriculum or with a concentration in an area that matches your interests and skills, such as forensic accounting or taxation. Both on-campus and online accounting programs are available. Online programs are designed to provide the same educational content but may be a better match for flexible scheduling needs than traditional programs.
- There are 28 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Colorado.
- 9 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.
- 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
- No schools were ranked in Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019.4
- No schools were ranked in US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2021.5
- 7 schools had a 2018 CPA exam pass rate at or above the national average of 51.9%.6
- 7 universities and business schools are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.7
- 1 school is 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 Colorado
- Colorado CPA Salary and Job Outlook
- Top Master’s in Accounting Programs in Colorado
- Colorado Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
- Select Schools in Colorado with Master’s in Accounting Programs
- Additional Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Student Reviews
Steps to Become a CPA in Colorado
The Colorado Board of Accountancy (the Board) licenses and oversees Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) in the state. There are six main steps to complete in order to earn a Colorado CPA license and practice in the state.
- Complete at least 150 semester hours of college-level 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.
- Receive your license.
1. Complete at least 150 semester hours of college-level coursework in accounting.
The Colorado Board of Accountancy requires candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college-level coursework including a bachelor’s degree or higher either in accounting or a non-accounting concentration with supplementary accounting coursework approved by the Board. As most undergraduate degrees include 120 semester hours of coursework, the additional semester hours required to meet the 150 semester hours requirement can be taken as part of a graduate degree or supplementary to the bachelor’s degree. At a minimum, all candidates must complete 35 semester hours in areas of accounting, 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
- Forensic accounting
- Fraud examination
- Internal controls and risk assessment
- Managerial or cost accounting
- Tax auditing
- Tax research and analysis
At least six semester hours of the above must be in the area of auditing, with at least three semester hours in a course focusing on auditing in US generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS). In addition, 27 semester hours are required in non-duplicative business subjects, with no more than nine hours in any one area, such as:
- Behavior of organizations, groups, and persons
- Business or accounting communications
- Business ethics
- Business law
- Computer information systems
- Legal and social environment of business
- Quantitative applications in business
Full details on education requirements can be accessed on the Board’s website.
2. Accumulate professional accounting experience.
All CPA candidates must complete one year of supervised accounting work experience within the five years preceding the application for certification. Any combination of full- or part-time work is acceptable as long as the experience is accrued in not less than one year but not more than three years. Experience is accepted in any of the following areas:
- Accounting and attest
- Financial advisory
- Management advisory
This experience can be accrued in government, corporate, academic, or public practice and must be supervised by an active, licensed CPA.
3. Apply for and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
Aspiring CPAs can register to take the required American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Uniform CPA Exam in Colorado as soon as they have completed a bachelor’s degree comprising at least 120 of the 150 required semester hours of college education. The coursework must include at least 21 semester hours in accounting subjects and 21 semester hours in business administration areas listed in Step 1, with no more than six semester hours in any one area; three credits in auditing in US GAAS; and three credits in business or accounting ethics. Candidates submit a transcript to the Board before applying to take the exam through the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). 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 with a score of 75 or higher within a rolling 18-month period.
4. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
A score of at least 90% on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) ethics exam, which is part of a self-study course, is also required for CPA licensure in Colorado. Candidates must pass this exam in the two years prior to submitting the CPA licensure application. The course and exam can be ordered through the AICPA website.
5. Apply for a license.
Candidates should complete all licensing requirements prior to applying for a Colorado CPA license. Colorado uses NASBA to process all applications for licensure.
6. Receive your license.
Once all education, experience, and exam requirements have been verified, the Board will issue the CPA license. Candidates cannot use the CPA title until their application has been approved.
CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Once licensed, CPAs in Colorado must complete two hours of Colorado Rules & Regulation (CR&R) Continuing Education (CE) within six months of receiving their license. This can also be completed in the six-month period prior to applying for licensure. During every two-year renewal period thereafter, Colorado CPAs must complete 10 hours of continuing professional education every quarter, which will total 80 hours per renewal period. Four of these hours must be in professional ethics and no more than 20% can be in personal development. The Board sends renewal notices to CPAs and provides a 60-day grace period after expiry for license renewals. You can find additional information on the Board’s website.
Colorado CPA Salary and Job Outlook
Accountants in Colorado earn an average salary of $82,930 annually, which is higher than the national average of $79,520, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).10,11 There are currently 37,180 accountants and auditors working in Colorado and the state has the second-highest concentration of accounting jobs in the country.11 The demand for accountants and auditors is increasing throughout the state and is projected to grow by 20% through 2028, which is significantly higher than the national average of 6.4%.12 The Denver metro area has the highest number of accountants and auditors, with 24,530 positions; accountants in this area earn an average of $85,980 annually.10
Colorado CPA Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed10||Average Annual Salary10|
|Southwest Colorado Nonmetropolitan Area||1,000||$74,230|
Top-Ranked Schools with Master’s in Accounting Programs in Colorado
Forbes’ Best Business Schools* 2019
- University of Colorado-Boulder
*With master’s in accounting programs.
Colorado Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit Colorado 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 Rate13||Grad Rate1||Online Options?||Tuition per Credit|
|Colorado State University-Fort Collins||AACSB||63.0%||Master of Accounting (MAcc);|
MAcc-Data Analytics and Systems;
MAcc-Financial Analysis, Auditing, and Reporting
|Colorado State University-Global Campus||ACBSP||62.1%||Master’s in Professional Accounting (MPAcc)||N.Av.||N.Av.||Yes||$500|
|Metropolitan State University of Denver||AACSB||45.0%||Master’s in Professional Accounting (MPAcc);|
MBA-Finance and Accounting
|University of Colorado Boulder||AACSB||63.3%||MS-Accounting;|
|University of Colorado Colorado Springs||AACSB||91.7%||MS-Accounting (MSA);|
|University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus||AACSB||76.5%||MS-Accounting;|
|University of Denver||AACSB||69.5%||Master of Accountancy (MAcc);|
|University of Northern Colorado||AACSB||50.0%||Master of Accounting (MAcc)||N.Av.||52%||—||$630|
- — indicates none.
- N.Av. indicates no data available.
Select Schools in Colorado with Master’s in Accounting Programs
Colorado State University offers several degree options for aspiring CPAs. The AACSB-accredited Master of Accountancy (MAcc) degree is a nine-month, 30-credit program beginning each year in August. Students can complete the degree with a general emphasis or choose an optional specialization in Taxation; Data Analytics and Systems; or Financial Analysis, Auditing, and Reporting. Of the 30 required credits, 18 credits are part of the program’s core curriculum that teaches students a breadth of accounting skills. The remaining credits can be taken from the area of specialization or from any area of the student’s interest, such as Taxation of Corporations and Shareholders; Issues in Financial Reporting and Auditing; and Oil and Gas Accounting. Colorado State also boasts a strong tax accounting research program, which may appeal to students interested in working with faculty on real-world research challenges. The school offers graduate assistantships, mentorship programs, and other networking opportunities to help MAcc students feel connected and supported during their studies.
Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) offers an AACSB-accredited Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAcc) program with specialized courses available in areas such as taxation, fraud examination, forensic accounting, and public accounting. The 30-semester hour program includes seven required courses (21 semester hours), with the remaining hours earned through coursework and experiential learning electives. Courses are held one evening per week to accommodate the needs of working professionals. Admission is open to students from all academic backgrounds 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 informing the profession. Students can tailor their program coursework to meet the requirements to sit for the Uniform CPA Examination in Colorado. Most students complete the program on a part-time basis in one and a half to two years. The school also offers a Combined Degree program that allows MSU Denver undergraduate accounting students to complete the requirements for both programs in a compressed time frame.
The University of Colorado-Boulder’s (CU Boulder) Master of Science (MS) in Accounting is an AACSB-accredited, on-campus program comprising 30 semester hours of graduate coursework. The curriculum includes 18 credits of required coursework and 12-13 credits of electives, such as Financial Statement Analysis and Income Taxation. Applicants without the necessary background in finance and accounting may be required to take up to 12 credits of prerequisites before starting the program. The CU Boulder program is designed to prepare students to take the Uniform CPA licensure exam and enter the accounting profession upon graduation. Students learn problem-solving and decision-making skills and gain practical knowledge in all areas of accounting, including auditing, risk management, and financial planning. Many students complete a paid internship with a local accounting firm while completing the program to gain hands-on experience. New students are typically only admitted in the fall term.
Online and Hybrid Programs
Colorado State University-Global Campus offers a fully-online Master in Professional Accounting (MPAcc) that is accredited by the ACBSP. The degree includes 24 semester hours of core coursework including a capstone project and six semester hours in an area of emphasis for a total of 30 required semester hours. The following areas of emphasis are offered: Data Analytics; Auditing and Assurance; Taxation; Fraud Investigations and Forensic Accounting; and Professional Accounting. The program is designed to be flexible and meet the needs of busy students and working professionals. It has an asynchronous format that does not require students to attend online lectures at set times and courses have an accelerated structure. Students will learn practical accounting skills, such as preparing and auditing financial statements, maintaining accurate financial records, and running organizations more efficiently. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree with at least 21 credits of previous college-level coursework in professional accounting or an acceptable combination of accounting education and experience. New students are admitted to the program every month.
Regis University’s College of Business and Economics has a Master of Science (MS) in Accounting program with a foundation in ethics and professional development. Students can also choose optional specializations such as Financial Accounting, Managerial, IT Accounting, or Fraud/Forensic Auditing. The program is offered at the Denver campus during the evenings or online and courses are structured in eight-week blocks. Admission is open to students from various academic backgrounds, although students without experience in finance and accounting may need to take up to 18 credit hours of prerequisite courses in these areas. The 30-credit master’s program is built around a nine-credit hour core, with students taking 21 credit hours of electives, such as Controllership, Tax Influence on Business Decision Making, and Forensic and Fraud Audit. Students completing a specialization must take at least 12 credit hours in the specialization area. New students are admitted to the program in January, March, May, July, and October and can complete the program at their own pace. The school also offers a 36-credit MBA with a specialization in Finance and Accounting for students who want to take coursework in a wider variety of business functions.
The Business School at the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) offers a Master of Science (MS) in Accounting as well as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Accounting, both accredited by AACSB and available with online options. The MS in Accounting is a 30-semester hour program with start dates in the fall, spring, and summer terms. The required core courses account for 24 of the program credits and provide students with a foundation in all aspects of the accounting profession. Students also choose six credit hours of electives based on their own interests. The program prepares students to take the Uniform CPA Exam and offers career support, such as workshops, networking events, and job announcements, to help graduates find work. The MS in Accounting can be completed as a dual degree in combination with an MBA or one of CU-Denver’s related business graduate degrees, such as the MS in Health Administration or MS in Information Systems. The Professional MBA program comprises 45 credits and can be completed with a specialization in Accounting. The degree takes a minimum of 16 months and up to a maximum of five years to complete. In this program, students complete 30 semester hours in a range of business functions, 12 semester hours of specialization electives, and three semester hours in International Business, including an optional study abroad experience.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Colorado
- Plante Moran: Plante Moran is a large accounting and business consulting firm with offices based in Boulder, Denver, and Fort Collins as well as many other states and countries.
- Dalby, Wendland & Co., P.C.: The oldest and largest accounting firm in Western Colorado, Dalby, Wendland & Co. provides a full range of accounting and tax services to clients from diverse industries.
- BiggsKofford: A Colorado Springs-based CPA firm that provides a complete range of financial and business services.
Colorado Accounting Associations
- Colorado Society of CPAs (COCPA): A not-for-profit organization with numerous regional chapters that connect Colorado CPAs and provide continuing education opportunities.
- Public Accountants Society of Colorado: A statewide organization that promotes professional ethics and standards of practice for CPAs and tax practitioners.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a CPA earn in Colorado?
The average annual salary for an accountant in Colorado is $82,930, although salaries vary across the state.10 Accountants in Boulder earn the highest annual average salary at $87,910 and accountants in Denver-Aurora-Lakewood also earn above average annual salaries at $85,980.10 Accountants in other parts of the state earn lower average annual salaries, such as Colorado Springs ($75,970), Fort Collins ($74,050), and Pueblo ($71,260).10
How do I become a CPA in Colorado?
To become a CPA in Colorado, you will need to complete 150 semester hours of college-level credit that includes specific accounting and business coursework and the award of a bachelor’s degree. You will also be required to pass the Uniform CPA Exam and accrue at least one year of accounting experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. The Board also requires aspiring CPAs to pass the AICPA ethics exam before submitting an application package for licensure.
How many CPAs are there in Colorado?
According to the BLS, there are 1,280,700 accountants and auditors working in the US, and 37,180 of these accountants work in Colorado.10,11 Colorado has the second-highest concentration of accountants per 1,000 jobs among all states and is projected to have a very high job growth rate (20%) for accountants through 2028, much higher than the national average of 6.4%.10,12 An average of 5,000 annual job openings for accountants are expected in Colorado each year through 2028, which includes replacements.12
Colorado Mesa University
1100 North Ave
Grand Junction, CO 81501
Student Review: “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 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 Occupational Employment and Wages, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Colorado: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_co.htm
12. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
13. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2021: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools