Accounting Schools in North Carolina
The following overview of accounting schools in North Carolina contains key information about the accounting programs available in the state so that you can make an informed decision about your education options. The universities and colleges in North Carolina provide an array of accounting programs including general accounting and specialty topics such as forensic accounting and accounting technology. Many schools also offer online accounting degree programs. Some students find that online accounting degree programs provide better flexibility and are a better fit than traditional on-campus options.
- There are 89 not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in North Carolina.1
- 11 not-for-profit schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
- Highest graduation rate*: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 91%1
- Highest transfer-out rate*: Catawba College and Gardner-Webb University, 40%1
- Highest net price per year*: High Point University, $39,1011
- Lowest net price per year*: Elizabeth City State University, $2,3041
- 4 schools ranked in Businessweek’s Top Business Undergraduate Programs in 2017: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (7), Wake Forest University (13), North Carolina State University (47), Elon University (48)
- 6 schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018: Appalachian State University (#29 in-state, #22 out-of-state), North Carolina State University (#9 in-state, #7 out-of-state), University of North Carolina at Asheville (#61 in-state, #71 out-of-state), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#1 in-state, #1 out-of-state), University of North Carolina Wilmington (#62 in-state, #68 out-of-state), Western Carolina University (#58 in-state, #48 out-of-state)
- 4 schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2019 (top 100): Duke University (8), Wake Forest University (27), University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (30), North Carolina State University-Raleigh (80)
*For four-year not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.
Keep reading to find out more about your options for earning a degree from accounting schools in North Carolina, with profiles of popular programs, possible career tracks, and more.
Schools with the Highest 2015 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree
- Wake Forest University (83.5%)
- University of North Carolina at Wilmington (80.0%)
- Duke University (79.9%)
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (65.3%)
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte (53.9%)
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro (50.0%)
- East Carolina University (45.5%)
There were seven schools in North Carolina that had first-time CPA exam candidates (with an advanced degree). The CPA exam pass rate ranged from 45.5% to 83.5% for these schools. The CPA exam pass rate for all candidates in the United States in 2015 was 48.4% (with a bachelor’s and advanced degree). The first-time CPA exam pass rate can serve as a good metric for comparing schools although the numbers may be skewed at smaller schools with few candidates. For a full breakdown by school see the 2015 NASBA Uniform CPA Examination Candidate Performance report provided by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.
Top Master’s in Accounting Programs in North Carolina
North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)
North Carolina State University’s Jenkins Graduate School, through the Poole College of Management, offers a Master of Accounting (MAC) program that combines technical training with real-world experience for a comprehensive program of study. Students in the program can choose to concentrate in Enterprise Risk Management, Information Technology, or Tax Strategy. The 31-credit hour curriculum is founded on eight required core courses and nine hours of electives. Courses in the core for all accounting graduate students include Applied Financial Management, Accounting and Tax Research, Managerial and Career Effectiveness, and Advanced Commercial Law. Students have opportunities for community involvement through the school’s Financial Literacy projects and may optionally participate in accounting-focused study abroad programs. The application deadline for students who wish to be considered for tuition assistance through fellowships and scholarships is February 1. North Carolina State is ranked #80 (tie) in National Universities by US News for its affordable tuition, various degree programs, and highly ranked specialist colleges.
University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC)
University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School offers a prestigious Master of Accounting (MAC) program. The Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Master of Accounting degree takes students beyond studying for the CPA exam and helps develop the credentials and skills needed for success in an accounting career. Leadership and communication skills are emphasized in the program as well as meaningful community involvement and executive networking. Courses in this program are held on a module schedule with two modules per semester. Students may optionally pursue concentration tracks in Audit or Tax. Full-time students may complete the degree program in one year, and this program is available on-campus or fully online. Fundamental courses include Financial Statement Analysis, Cost Accounting, Auditing and Assurance Services, and Financial Reporting. University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is ranked #11 in the Best Accounting Programs in the nation by US News.
University of North Carolina Wilmington (Wilmington, NC)
The Cameron School of Business at University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) offers a Master of Science in Accountancy (MSA) that is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Students can choose to concentrate in either Tax Services or Assurance/Systems Advisory. The MSA is a 10-month, full-time, day program emphasizing hands-on learning that prepares graduates to pursue professional careers in accounting at all levels, from local CPA firms to federal agencies and international corporations. To be admitted, students must have an acceptable score on the GMAT and have completed prerequisite accounting courses. Those who did not complete the prerequisites as part of their undergraduate degree may take the courses through UNCW before applying to the MSA program. The program boasts a 96% placement rate at graduation and a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Graduates will meet the 150-hour education requirement to pursue CPA licensure in North Carolina and most other states.
University of North Carolina Wilmington (Wilmington, NC)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington also offers a Master of Science in Finance & Investment Management that can be completed entirely online. The 30-credit hour program can be completed in as few as 12 months and can qualify graduates to sit for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam. No on-campus residencies are required and courses are tailored towards working professionals with a convenient seven-week session format and flexible course sequencing. The program is designed for those interested in careers in financial management, investment banking, and investment management and emphasizes such skills as financial statement analysis, alternative investment management, portfolio management and wealth planning, and equity valuation. Students can expect to take courses including Derivatives & Risk Management, Corporate Finance, Fixed Income Analysis, and Quantitative Investment Analysis. Admission is competitive and prospective students should have a bachelor of science in business administration or have a bachelor’s degree in another subject plus have completed pre-requisite courses.
Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, NC)
Western Carolina University maintains a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program that prepares students for careers in public accounting by meeting the educational and exam preparation requirements for CPA certification in most states. Most classes within the program, including the core requirements, can be taken evenings and weekends. The school encourages students from all undergraduate backgrounds who are interested in professional accounting careers to apply. Completion of the master’s degree requires 30 credit hours, including 21 credit hours in core offerings such as Income Tax Theory and Applications, Accounting Theory and Practice, Auditing, and Public Accounting Regulatory Environment. Students may also pursue internship opportunities to earn course credit. Full-time students typically satisfy graduation requirements in 12 to 18 months, while part-time students may complete the program in 24 months. Western Carolina University is ranked #34 in Regional Universities (South) by US News in recognition of its outstanding academic programs and competitive student-faculty ratio.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in North Carolina
Johnson Price Sprinkle, PA is consistently hiring for qualified graduates for its three North Carolina offices in Asheville, Boone, and Marion. Meaden & Moore is one of the 100 largest accounting firms in the US, and has an office in Charlotte, North Carolina. Meaden & Moore recruits recent graduates from campuses across North Carolina and other states. Rives & Associates, LLP has offices in Charlotte, Lexington, and Raleigh and is hiring for driven individuals committed to providing professional, quality service.
How to Become a CPA in North Carolina
The North Carolina Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners oversees the process for becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the state. There are five main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license in North Carolina.
- Complete a 150-semester hour or 225-quarter hour educational program of acceptable coursework in accounting.
- Accumulate the required hours of experience.
- Apply for and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
- Take an approved accountancy law course.
- Apply for a license.
1. Complete a 150-semester hour or 225-quarter hour educational program of acceptable coursework in accounting.
The North Carolina of Board of Public Accountant Examiners follows the 150-hour rule, which requires that candidates for a license complete a program of education amounting to 150 semester hours that includes the award of a bachelor’s degree or higher. North Carolina candidates must earn a concentration in accounting at either the undergraduate or graduate level, or a combination thereof. A concentration at the undergraduate level must include at least 30 semester hours of accounting, whereas a concentration at the graduate level must consist of at least 20 semester hours in accounting. The education program must also include 24 semester hours of supplementary coursework made up of at least one three semester hour course from at least 8 of the 10 subjects of:
- Computer technology
- Humanities/social science
- International environment
2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
North Carolina CPA applicants must complete at least one year of full-time work experience supervised by an actively licensed CPA. This experience may be in the public practice of accounting or in the field of accounting. Candidates who complete their work experience by teaching the subject of accounting full-time must complete at least four years of experience. Candidates working in accounting who are not directly supervised by a licensed CPA may be able to meet experience requirements by working full time in the field of accounting for four years.
3. Apply for and pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
Candidates who are prepared to take the Uniform CPA Exam should apply to the North Carolina Board of Public Accountant Examiners using the Uniform CPA Examination Application. The application should be submitted with the appropriate fee(s) for the sections being taken. Applicants who are initially approved and apply to one section at a time should complete the re-exam application for sections not yet attempted. All four sections of the exam must be passed within an 18-month rolling period.
4. Take an approved accountancy law course.
Prospective North Carolina CPAs must take an approved accountancy law course within one year prior to applying for certification. Two courses are currently approved, both of which are available through the North Carolina Association of CPAs website: the seminar format “Ethics Principles and Professional Responsibilities” or the online self-study course “North Carolina Law Course: Ethics, Principles, and Professional Responsibility for North Carolina License Applicants.” Either course should be completed prior to applying for a license.
5. Apply for a license.
Once all requirements have been met, candidates may apply for a license using the Original North Carolina CPA Certificate Application. The packet must include supporting documentation demonstrating that the candidate has met all licensing requirements.
Once licensed, North Carolina CPAs must renew their license annually and meet the required 40 continuing professional education (CPE) hours to remain in good standing, two hours of which much be in regulatory or behavioral professional ethics. You can find additional information at the North Carolina Board of Public Accountant Examiners website.
North Carolina Accountant Salary and Job Outlook
Projected Job Growth
Accountants and Auditors in North Carolina from 2016-20262
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 31,470 accountants and auditors are currently working in North Carolina, at an average annual salary of $75,660.3 Most accountants in North Carolina find work in the northern part of the state in the greater Durham-Raleigh metro area.3 The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for accountants will increase as new laws and regulations take effect in the coming years, pushing employment in this field higher by a predicted 10% nationally through 2026.4 Jobs growth for accountants in North Carolina is expected to be slightly higher, at 13.8% during the same time period.2
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695
Student Review: “The accounting department at North Carolina State University was extremely challenging. It is one of the top accounting departments in the country and once you graduate from the department you are almost guaranteed the job because of the respect that the department carries. The professors work with you one on one to make sure you understand the material and can apply it to everyday life. They not only help you with coursework but they help you with other life experiences that you may have. professors can be reached through almost any media outlet, email, text messages, and even Google Chat. The best part of the accounting department was the number of clubs that were offered and tutoring that was provided at either no cost or low cost.” – Student at North Carolina State University
University of North Carolina, Asheville
1 University Heights
Asheville, NC 28804
Student Review: “The University of North Carolina at Asheville offers a challenging accounting curriculum with a small class atmosphere. The early accounting coursework such as principles and cost accounting sets to lay the foundation for the later and more difficult subject matter found within corporate consolidations, and tax classes. I really enjoyed the small class sizes because they allowed the accounting professors to better communicate with the students and instill a deeper sense of knowledge about the subject matter.” – Student at University of North Carolina, Asheville
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
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-6