Accounting Schools in Kentucky

This guide summarizes the graduate-level accounting programs offered by not-for-profit institutions of higher learning in Kentucky. Many schools offer accounting degrees designed to prepare graduates for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Uniform Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Exam in order to launch careers in accounting or other related business areas. Programs are available across the state in major urban areas including Louisville, Lexington, and the Cincinnati region that includes parts of Kentucky. In this guide, you will find information about program rankings, tuition costs, course offerings, and more. Some schools in Kentucky offer accounting degrees online, which can provide more flexibility for working or busy students, although several on-campus degrees are also available for students interested in a traditional, on-campus experience.

Quick Facts

  • There are 19 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Kentucky.1
  • 10 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
  • No schools were 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
  • 1 school had a 2018 CPA Exam pass rate at or above the national average of 51.9%.6
  • 5 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
  • 3 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 Kentucky

The Kentucky Board of Accountancy (the Board) licenses and regulates CPAs in the state. There are five main steps to complete in order to earn a Kentucky CPA license.

  1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education including a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a major in accounting.
  2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
  3. Apply for and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
  4. Apply for a license.
  5. Receive a CPA license from the Board.

1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education including a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a major in accounting.

The Board requires that aspiring CPAs complete 150 semester hours of college education to qualify for a license. Of these 150 semester hours, candidates must have a major in accounting completed at the undergraduate and/or graduate level. The coursework must include 27 semester hours in accounting subjects and 12 semester hours in business-related subjects.

2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.

Prospective Kentucky CPAs must complete one year (defined as 2,000 hours in a period of not less than 12 months) of experience in accounting and/or auditing. The experience must take place after earning a bachelor’s degree and may be in public practice, industry, or government. Experience can be submitted from more than one workplace but should not include any time taken for leave or vacation. All experience must be verified by a CPA with an active license to practice.

3. Apply for and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.

Candidates who are ready to take the AICPA Uniform CPA Exam should complete the Application for the Certified Public Accountant Examination and submit it to Board. Once the application is approved, candidates will receive authorization to schedule and take the exam through the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). The exam must be taken within six months of receiving authorization to test, and all four sections of the exam must be passed with at least a score of 75 within a rolling 18-month period.

4. Apply for a license.

After receiving a passing score on the exams, candidates may complete the Application for Initial License as a Kentucky Certified Public Accountant. The application must also include the Certificate of Experience verified by a licensed CPA. The completed CPA application must be submitted within five years from the date of the successful examination.

5. Receive a CPA license from the Board.

Once approved, the Board will issue a license document indicating the individual has met the state requirements as a CPA. Applicants cannot use the professional title of CPA until they have received their license.

CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information

CPA licenses in Kentucky are renewed online biannually and expire on the first day of August in the second year following issuance. Renewal notices are mailed to licensed CPAs in late June; however, it is the responsibility of the individual to ensure their license does not expire. Renewal requires CPAs to complete 80 hours of continuing education (CE) during the two-year period of January 1 to December 31 prior to the August expiry date. Individuals who are not employed by a firm licensed by the Board are only required to complete 60 hours of CE during this period. These requirements are prorated for individuals whose first renewal period was less than two years. You can find additional information on the Board website.

Kentucky CPA Salary and Job Outlook

There are currently 12,080 accountants and auditors working in Kentucky with an average salary reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at $67,660 annually.10 Accountants working in urban and metropolitan areas typically have greater earning power; accountants in the Louisville area average $73,890 annually, while accountants in the greater Cincinnati metro area on the northeastern edge of the state average $74,990 annually.10 Career prospects for accountants and auditors in Kentucky are bright, as job growth for these professionals is expected to increase by 9.8% through 2028, which is faster than the national average of 6.4% during the same period.11

Kentucky CPA Salary by Metro Area

Metro AreaNumber Employed10Average Annual Salary10
Bowling Green330$59,990
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN9,250$74,990
Elizabethtown-Fort Knox280$62,490
Louisville/Jefferson County5,000$73,890

Kentucky Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison

Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit Kentucky 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 NameAccreditationCPA Exam Pass Rate6Master’s in Accounting Degree(s)Acceptance Rate12Grad Rate1Online Options?Tuition per Credit
Bellarmine UniversityAACSBN.Av.Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Accounting100%66%$665
Brescia UniversityN.Av.Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in AccountingN.Av.34%Yes$600
Campbellsville UniversityIACBEN.Av.MBA-AccountingN.Av.36%Yes$479
Murray State UniversityAACSB33.3%MBA-AccountingN.Av.55%$544
Northern Kentucky UniversityAACSBN.Av.Master of Accountancy (MAcc);
Spalding UniversityIACBEN.Av.Master of Science in Business Communication (MSBC)-AccountingN.Av.40%Yes$575
University of KentuckyAACSB63.6%Master of Science in Accounting (MSACC)79.8%66%$708
University of LouisvilleN.Av.Master of Accountancy (MAc)58.1%59%$587
University of the CumberlandsIACBEN.Av.MBA-AccountingN.Av.44%Yes$315
Western Kentucky UniversityAACSBN.Av.Master of Accountancy (MAcc)N.Av.48%$607

  • — indicates none.
  • N.Av. indicates no data available.

Select Schools in Kentucky with Master’s in Accounting Programs

Traditional Programs

Murray State University

Murray State University is home to an AACSB-accredited Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Accounting. The degree is composed of 30 credits, including 18 credits of core business coursework and 12 semester credits of accounting electives, such as Cost Management in the Global Economy and Accounting Information Technologies. The program has a traditional semester schedule consisting of 16-week, on-campus courses during the fall and spring terms. The program is designed to fit the scheduling needs of full-time students and working professionals with courses offered during the day and in the evening. Some courses may be offered online during the summer; however, these options are limited for students in the accounting program as this concentration must be completed through face-to-face, on-campus courses. Prior to beginning the program, all students must complete two free prep courses in calculus and financial accounting to ensure all students have the foundational math skills necessary to succeed in the program.

Northern Kentucky University

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) provides students with the option of completing a Master of Accounting (MAcc) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Accounting, both of which are accredited by the AACSB. The MAcc degree is offered with four tracks; students can choose a concentration area in Accounting Practice & Reporting, Data Analytics/Data Visualization, a general degree via the Expedited track (open to NKU students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting within the past year), or the Professional track, which is open to all other applicants. The degree comprises 30 semester credits with the exception of the Accounting Practice & Reporting Track, which requires 36 semester credits. In contrast, the MBA in Accounting requires a greater range of coursework in different business areas, such as marketing and management. Of the 33 required semester credits, 12 credits must be completed in accounting to earn the concentration. MBA students also complete a capstone project that demonstrates proficiency in essential business skills.

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky’s (UK) Douglas J. Von Allmen School of Accountancy prepares master’s students for leadership positions in accountancy and can be a starting point for further study for students interested in earning a PhD in accounting science. The Master of Science in Accounting (MSACC) program has an intensive focus on accounting courses, requiring that 21 of the minimum 30 credit hours to earn the degree be in accounting. The core curriculum includes courses in Advanced Topics in Taxation, Advanced Topics in Financial Reporting, Attest Function, and Legal Issues for Accountants. After completing the lock-step core, students select elective courses from the graduate schedule, at least one of which must be at the 600 level. Applications are accepted from students with an undergraduate degree in any subject, and the degree takes 10-14 months to complete full-time depending on the applicant’s prior college-level education. UK’s MSACC program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AASCB).

Online and Hybrid Programs

Campbellsville University

Campbellsville University is a Baptist institution offering a fully-online, IACBE-accredited Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Accounting. In this program, students learn about a range of business functions and take additional courses in accounting-specific topics. The degree is designed for students with prior knowledge of accounting principles as applicants must have at least 21 semester credits of undergraduate coursework in accounting to be eligible for the program. The degree comprises 36 semester credit hours including 27 required semester credits, such as Business Strategy and Management Information Systems. The remaining nine credits must be taken from the Accounting concentration and include options such as Controllership; Financial Reporting and Disclosures; and Advanced Auditing Issues: Fraud Investigation and Forensic Analysis. Courses are offered at an eight-week accelerated pace and the degree typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. Six start dates are offered during the fall, spring, and summer terms.

Spalding University

Spalding University offers a 33-credit, IACBE-accredited Master of Science in Business Communication (MSBC) with a concentration in Accounting that can be completed online or in combination with traditional classes in Louisville. The MSBC curriculum includes 24 semester credits designed to teach students the communication and problem-solving skills necessary to succeed in business environments through courses such as Strategic Planning and Implementation; Purpose-Driven Business in the Global Economy; and a senior capstone course. Students will focus on developing interpersonal skills, creativity, and emotional intelligence to become better business leaders. The nine-semester-credit accounting concentration includes coursework that helps students meet the educational requirements for the AICPA Uniform CPA Exam, such as Financial Accounting and Reporting. Applicants are expected to have prior college-level education in accounting and business to be eligible. Six start dates are offered each year and students can complete the degree in as little as 10 months of full-time study.

University of the Cumberlands

At the University of the Cumberlands, an IACBE-accredited Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Accounting is available fully online. This 37-semester-credit program includes 21 semester credits of core business courses with the remaining courses chosen from accounting electives. While in this program, students will develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to work in business settings in positions such as accountant, manager, or analyst. Although the program is online, students will complete group projects, case studies, and an applied learning practicum that will help them engage with course material in real-world situations. Students in the Accounting concentration are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or significant prior college-level education in this area as most elective courses cover advanced topics, such as Advanced Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting; Advanced Accounting Theory; and Advanced Assurance Services.

Additional Resources

Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Kentucky

  • Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP: A regional CPA firm headquartered in Louisville that has industry expertise in numerous areas, such as construction, healthcare, and hospitality.
  • Strothman & Company PSC: A full-service CPA firm based in Louisville serving clients from corporate, individual, non-profit, and public organizations.
  • Kemper CPA Group, LLC: An accounting and business solutions firm, Kemper CPA Group has offices in Henderson, Morganfield, and Paducah, Kentucky.

Kentucky Accounting Associations

  • Kentucky Board of Accountancy: The state agency responsible for overseeing the licensing and license renewal process for CPAs in Kentucky.
  • Kentucky Society of CPAs: A non-profit professional organization offering networking and professional development to CPAs across the state.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the job outlook for accountants in Kentucky?

According to data from the BLS, there are 12,080 accountants working in Kentucky.10 This number is projected to rise to 13,480 through 2028 due to projected job growth. According to Projections Central, there may be 1,320 average annual openings for accountants each year through 2028.11

What salaries do CPAs earn in Kentucky?

The average annual salary for an accountant in Kentucky is $67,660; however, this number varies by region and tends to be higher for accountants in urban areas.10 In the state’s larger urban centers of Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green, accountants earn an average of $73,890, $65,570, and $59,990 respectively.10 Average annual salaries also vary for accountants working in nonmetropolitan areas with those in the West Kentucky nonmetropolitan area and the East Kentucky nonmetropolitan area earning $58,940 and $53,090 in comparison.10

Where are CPA jobs available in Kentucky?

Accounting jobs are available in all areas of Kentucky; however, of the 12,080 accountants in Kentucky, over half work in the urban centers of Louisville (5,000) and Lexington (1,760).10 Many others work in the Cincinnati region, which straddles the Kentucky border (9,250).10 Job opportunities for accountants in the state are projected to grow by 9.8% through 2028 with 1,200 total new positions, and 1,320 average annual openings, suggesting many opportunities for aspiring accountants in the coming years.11

Student Reviews

Note: Student Reviews are based on the experiences of a few individuals and it is unlikely that you will have similar results. Please review the “Data, Student Reviews and Other Information” section in our Terms of Use and Disclaimers.

University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky 40506
(859) 257-9000

Student Review: “When I first joined the University of Kentucky I hadn’t decided on a major and was considering three different options. When I finally settled on accounting I felt like I would change my mind later. However, I’m pleased to say that wasn’t the case. The curriculum was challenging but in a good way. At no point did I ever feel like everything was going over my head and that I couldn’t figure anything out on my own, although sometimes it took me a while to get there. If there was one thing that could be improved about the curriculum it’s that even though it’s challenging, they could make it a bit more challenging. There were times where I felt like it was too easy, and I know other students who felt the same way. To me, that’s not a great way to prepare you for life or a career after college. Since I was near the top of my class my professor helped me land an internship, and after the internship, the company hired me as a full-time employee. So my professor was a big help. Overall the experience as an accounting major at the University of Kentucky was good, but it could have been great.” -Student at University of Kentucky

Student Review: “There are some things about the accounting program at the University of Kentucky that are phenomenal, but conversely there are just as many awful things about the accounting program at Kentucky. Most of the professors were very good to me, but a couple of them didn’t seem interested in what they were teaching, therefore it was hard to stay focused in class. Some of the tests and curriculum were too easy, so they didn’t really prepare me for the outside world. The great thing about one of the professors is that he helped me find an accounting job right after I graduated. Life on campus was very good, though, and the people that shared the same major as I did were the best.” -Student at University of Kentucky

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, Kentucky: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ky.htm
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