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 post-graduate 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 77%1
  • Highest transfer-out rate*: Grand View University 39%1
  • Highest net price per year*: Drake University, $27,6521
  • Lowest net price per year*: Iowa State University, $13,6471
  • Annual undergraduate tuition range for accounting programs in Iowa*: $16,114-$32,2902
  • 1 school in the Businessweek’s Top Business Undergraduate Programs in 2013: University of Iowa (100)
  • 3 schools in the Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2013: University of Iowa (49), Iowa State University (85), University of Northern Iowa (95)
  • 1 school ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2013 (top 100): University of Iowa (72)

*For 4-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 2013 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree

  1. University of Iowa 78.6%
  2. Iowa State University
  3. Drake University
  4. Saint Ambrose University
  5. Maharishi University Of Management

The first-time pass rate for schools ranged from 16.7% to 78.6% in Iowa (out of seven schools with advanced degree candidates). This compares to the national pass rate of 54.6% for all first-time CPA exam candidates. The first-time 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 2014 NASBA 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 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 8-week classes allows flexibility for working students, with additional flexibility made possible through the hybrid course structure that combines classroom and online learning. After completing 18 semester hours in the program with a GPA of 3.0 or better, students may also elect to add an Advanced Certificate in Project Management to their degree plan. Clarke University is ranked #17 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, 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 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 an international leadership and accounting course for 6 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 #101 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 the second fastest growing firm in the Midwest according to Accounting Today. Hogan Hansen is a smaller but well recognized firm with offices throughout Iowa with 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, 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 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.
(Source: Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau)

Iowa Accountant Salary and Job Outlook

Projected Job Growth


Accountants and Auditors in Iowa from 2010-20203

CPAs in Iowa can expect an annual salary on the high end of the national scale, with an average computed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics falling between $61,320 and $64,260 per year. Accountants in Iowa find the most employment opportunities in two separate metro areas: Des Moines, where the average salary for an accountant is $64,960, and Council Bluffs, where the average salary is $67,920. 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.

1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Niche College Search: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges-for-accounting/?type=private&type=public
3. Iowa Workforce Information Network: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/occupational-projections