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 might be a better match for flexible scheduling needs than traditional programs.
- There are 30 not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Colorado.
- 9 not-for-profit schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.
- Highest graduation rate*: University of Denver, 75%1
- Highest transfer-out rate*: Colorado State University-Pueblo, 41%1
- Highest net price per year*: University of Denver, $35,1631
- Lowest net price per year*: Metropolitan State University of Denver, $12,1751
- 3 schools ranked in Businessweek’s Top Business Undergraduate Programs in 2017: University of Denver (56), University of Colorado-Boulder (62), Colorado State University (90)
- 1 school ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018: University of Colorado-Boulder (#68 in-state, #94 out-of-state)
- 2 schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2019 (top 100): University of Colorado-Boulder (96 tie), University of Denver (96 tie)
*For four-year not-for-profit 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 2015 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree
- University of Colorado-Boulder (88.1%)
- Colorado State University (73.9%)
- University of Denver (70.0%)
- Metropolitan State University of Denver (56.0%)
- University of Northern Colorado (48.7%)
- University of Colorado-Denver, Anschutz Campus (46.9%)
- Regis University (38.4%)
The range of pass rates on the Uniform CPA Exam for schools in Colorado in 2015 was 17.7% to 88.1% out of the nine schools that sent candidates with an advanced degree. For comparison, the national pass rate in 2015 was 48.4%. When evaluating schools, the 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 2015 NASBA Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance report.
Top Master’s 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 Public Accounting. The 30-semester hour program includes four courses (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 #96-#127 in Regional Colleges (West) based on factors such as its average class size and 17:1 student-faculty ratio.
Regis University (Denver, CO)
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. Admission is open to students from various academic backgrounds, although students without experience in finance and accounting may need to take prerequisite courses in these areas. The master’s program is built around a six-credit hour core, with students taking 21 credit hours of electives and a culminating three-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. Students can also choose optional specializations such as Financial Accounting, Managerial, IT Accounting, or Fraud/Forensic Auditing. Regis is ranked #26 (tie) in Regional Universities (West) by US News, and is a top regional institution with a selective admissions policy. Nearly 60% of classes here have fewer than twenty students, due in part to the student-faculty ratio of 13:1.
University of Colorado (Boulder, CO)
University of Colorado-Boulder’s Master of Science (MS) in Accounting 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 #96 (tie) in National Universities by US News. With over 35,000 students enrolled, University of Colorado Boulder is still able to hold 48.8% of classes with fewer than 20 students.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Colorado
Plante Moran has multiple accounting and business consulting offices based in Colorado, with a focus on creative and forward-thinking accounting and consultancy. The firm has locations in Boulder, Denver, and Fort Collins 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 and has consistently been named as a Top Regional Leader in Accounting Today. Dalby, Wendland seeks to hire the best talent and provide an environment for CPAs to grow their career. BDO USA, a national leader in advising and accounting, has three office locations in Colorado.
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 120 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 (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 within a rolling 18-month period.
4. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
A passing score on the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (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 NASBA to process all applications for licensure.
Once licensed, CPAs in Colorado must complete 10 hours of continuing professional education every quarter, which will total 40 hours per annual renewal period. Four of these hours must be in professional ethics. You can find additional information at the Colorado Board of Accountancy website.
Colorado Accountant Salary and Job Outlook
Projected Job Growth
Accountants and Auditors in Colorado from 2016-20262
Accountants in Colorado earn an average salary of $79,300 annually, which is higher than the national average of $77,920, according to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.3 The demand for accountants and auditors is increasing throughout the state and is projected to grow by 24.7% through 2026.2 The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area has the highest concentration of accountants and auditors, with 22,930 positions; accountants in this area earn an average of $81,650 annually.3
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. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026): https://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