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Accounting Schools in Iowa

This overview of accounting schools in Iowa will equip you with detailed information on the possibilities for higher education in accounting in the state, as well as information on careers for Iowa accounting graduates. There are many colleges and universities in Iowa that offer quality programs in accounting, from first-year to postgraduate study. Online and distance education programs provide further opportunities for those interested in pursuing the study of accounting; some students find that online accounting programs offer more flexible alternatives than traditional on-campus programs.

Quick Facts

  • There are 41 not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Iowa.
  • 8 not-for-profit schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.
  • Highest graduation rate*: Luther College 80%1
  • Highest transfer-out rate*: Iowa Wesleyan University 57%1
  • Highest net price per year*: Drake University, $28,2771
  • Lowest net price per year*: Iowa State University, $13,9491
  • 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: Iowa State University of Science and Technology (#63 in-state, #46 out-of-state), University of Iowa (#55 in-state, #92 out-of-state)
  • 1 school ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2019 (top 100): University of Iowa (89)

*For four-year not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.

Read on to continue learning about accounting schools in Iowa so that you can make an informed choice for your education.

Schools with Highest 2015 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree

  1. University of Iowa (92.1%)
  2. Maharishi University Of Management (75.0%)
  3. Iowa State University (71.4%)
  4. Saint Ambrose University (59.1%)
  5. Drake University (51.7%)
  6. Upper Iowa University (44.4%)

In 2015, the first-time pass rate on the Uniform CPA Exam for schools in Iowa ranged from 13.6% to 92.1% (out of seven schools with advanced degree candidates). This compares to the national pass rate of 48.4% for all first-time CPA exam candidates in 2015. The CPA exam pass rate can be a good indicator of the level of preparation provided by an accounting program, although the percentage may be skewed for schools with a small number of students. You can find comprehensive statistics on the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) 2015 Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance report.

Top Master’s in Accounting Programs in Iowa

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Clarke University (Dubuque, IA)

Clarke University is a well-known school that offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree to prepare students for careers in business as CPAs, auditors, and leaders in accounting. This MBA program provides students with a foundation in management and the opportunity to specialize in other areas through elective study. The 36-credit hour curriculum is based on real-world research and applications with courses such as Economic Environment in Business, Topics in Finance, Management in Global Enterprise, and Strategic Management. A schedule of full-semester and eight-week classes allows flexibility for working students, with additional flexibility made possible through the hybrid course structure that combines classroom and online learning. Students may also elect to add a specialty track in Project Management; Managerial; or Human Resources to their degree plan. Clarke University is ranked #16 (tie) in Regional Colleges (Midwest) by US News. Clarke is a selective but diverse private college for undergraduate and advanced education.

Drake University (Des Moines, IA)

Drake University’s College of Business and Public Administration grants the Drake Master of Accounting (MAcc), a highly regarded degree that takes between 30 and 54 credit hours to complete. Attending part-time, students can complete the degree in as little as two years. Evening and weekend courses provide convenient scheduling, though students may also select courses held during the weekdays. The curriculum includes courses such as Data Analysis for Operations Improvement, Tax Research, Policy, and Writing, Emerging Accounting Issues, and Financial Statement Analysis. Students with an undergraduate degree in accounting may have foundational preparation courses waived and take up to four additional elective courses. All students take the Dardis Communications’ Leadership Essentials Workshop to develop and enhance business communication skills. Students looking to earn a graduate degree in the accounting field may also be interested in Drake University’s Master of Financial Management. US News ranks Drake University #3 in Regional Colleges (Midwest) for its academically challenging programs and integrity.

Iowa State University (Ames, IA)

Iowa State University’s College of Business offers a Master of Accounting (MAcc) program geared towards preparing students for real-life practice as accountants in public or private practice. For those with an undergraduate degree in accounting, the MAcc program typically satisfies the 150-credit hour requirement to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam. MAcc courses include Advanced Federal Taxation, Fraud Examination and Prevention, and Advanced Accounting Problems. Students can also take a three-week international leadership and accounting course for six credit hours through the Study in London program. Admission to the Iowa State University MAcc program is competitive; most admitted students have a GPA better than 3.25 paired with a GMAT score in the 50th percentile or better. Though students who did not study accounting at the undergraduate level are considered for admission, these students will be required to take foundational accounting programs before being admitted to the master’s program. Iowa State is ranked #119 (tie) in National Universities by US News.

Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Iowa

RSM is one of the largest accounting firms in Iowa. RSM actively recruits approaching and recent college graduates through an on-campus recruitment process. Honkamp Krueger & Co., P.C. is the largest independent accounting firm headquartered in Iowa and ranks in the Top 100 CPA firms in the US according to Accounting Today. Hogan Hansen is a smaller but well-recognized firm with offices throughout Iowa; the firm has a focus on exceptional and individualized service.

How to Become a CPA in Iowa

The Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau and Iowa Accountancy Examining Board oversee the process for becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the state. There are five main steps for prospective Iowa CPAs to complete in order to earn a license.

  1. Complete 150 semester hours of education including a concentration 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.

1. Complete 150 semester hours of education including a concentration in accounting.

The Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau has adopted the 150-hour rule for prospective CPAs. The 150-semester hour requirement must include a concentration in accounting, which may be a graduate degree in accounting or business or an undergraduate degree in accounting that includes at least 24 semester hours in accounting above the elementary level as well as 24 semester hours in business-related courses.

2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.

Prospective Iowa CPAs must complete at least one year or 2,000 hours of accounting experience, which includes work in accounting, attest, compilation, management advisory, financial advisory, tax, and/or consulting. Work gained in government, academia, and private or public practice is acceptable towards the requirement. Note that attest CPAs must have at least two years of experience. Experience for all candidates must be verified by an actively licensed CPA.

3. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.

A passing score on the AICPA ethics course and exam is required for Iowa CPA applicants. The self-study course and exam can be ordered through the Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants.

4. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

CPAs in all 50 states must pass the Uniform CPA Exam in order to become licensed. The Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau and Iowa Accountancy Examining Board use the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to administer the exam application and administration process. Applicants may apply to the exam through the NASBA website. Iowa applicants must meet the education requirements prior to sitting for the exam.

5. Apply for a license.

Candidates who have passed the Uniform CPA and AICPA Ethics exams and earned the required experience hours are eligible to apply to the Iowa Accountancy Examining Board for a license. The required forms are available on the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau website. Note that applicants who passed the Uniform CPA Exam three or more years prior to applying for a license must also report 120 hours of continuing education.

After earning a license, CPAs must complete 120 hours of continuing education (with at least four hours in ethics) for each three-year renewal period. Note that all continuing education should be completed prior to December 31 preceding the July 1 renewal date. You can find additional information at the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau website.

Iowa Accountant Salary and Job Outlook

Projected Job Growth

14.1%

Accountants and Auditors in Iowa from 2016-20262

CPAs in Iowa earn an average annual salary of $66,500 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.3 Accountants in Iowa find the most employment opportunities in two separate metro areas: Des Moines, where the average salary for accountants is $71,780, and Council Bluffs-Omaha, where the average salary is $68,160.3 The demand for financial professionals remains steady in these areas as well as the Cedar Rapids metropolitan division, making these cities likely places to begin a career as a CPA.

References:
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