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. Many schools in North Carolina offer online and hybrid options for accounting degrees, which some students will find to be a better fit than on-campus options. On this page, you will find a comparison of all master’s in accounting programs within the state, descriptions of select programs, and a selection of student reviews. You will also find industry information such as the process for Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) licensure in North Carolina, a comparison of CPA demand and salary by metro area, and well-known accounting firms and organizations within the state. Keep reading to find out more about your options for earning a master’s degree from accounting schools in North Carolina.
- There are 90 colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in North Carolina.1
- 17 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
- 2 schools were ranked in Forbes’ Best Business Schools 2019.2
- 1 school was ranked in the Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors 2020.3
- 3 schools were ranked in Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019.4
- 2 schools were ranked in US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2021.5
- 3 schools had a 2018 CPA exam pass rate at or above the national average of 51.9%.6
- 12 universities and business schools are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International.7
- 3 schools are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).8
- No 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 North Carolina
- North Carolina CPA Salary and Job Outlook
- Top Master’s in Accounting Programs in North Carolina
- North Carolina Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
- Select Schools in North Carolina with Master’s in Accounting Programs
- Additional Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Student Reviews
Steps to Become a CPA in North Carolina
The North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners (the Board) oversees the process for becoming a CPA in the state. There are six main steps to complete in order to earn a CPA license in North Carolina.
- Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education 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.
- Receive a license.
1. Complete 150 semester hours of college-level education in accounting.
The North Carolina Board follows the 150-hour rule, which requires that candidates for a license complete 150 semester hours of college-level education that includes the award of a bachelor’s degree or higher as well as 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 must also include 24 semester hours of supplementary coursework made up of at least one three-semester hour course from at least eight of these 10 subjects:
- 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 in accounting that is supervised by an actively licensed CPA. Candidates may also complete their work experience by teaching the subject of accounting full time for at least four years. Finally, 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 have accumulated at least 120 semester hours of education including all required accounting coursework may take the Uniform CPA Exam, which is developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and administered by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Candidates must apply to take the exam using the Uniform CPA Examination Application. The initial application should be submitted with the appropriate fee(s) for the sections being taken. Once approved the Board will issue a notice to schedule that is good for six months. If the notice to schedule expires applicants must resubmit both the exam application and fees. All four sections of the exam must be passed with a score of 75 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 (NCACPA): 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 must 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. In addition to the above requirements, candidates must submit three certificates of good moral character signed by licensed CPAs and any associated fees.
6. Receive a license.
Once the application is submitted the average processing time is eight to 10 weeks. Once approved applicants will receive both an email and a letter confirming licensure. At this point, applicants will be able to begin practicing as CPAs.
CPA License Renewal and Continuing Education Information
Once licensed, North Carolina CPAs must renew their license annually and meet the required 2,000 minutes of continuing professional education (CPE) to remain in good standing, 50 minutes of which must be in regulatory or behavioral professional ethics. You can find additional information on the Board’s website.
North Carolina CPA Salary and Job Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that over 33,750 accountants and auditors are currently working in North Carolina, at an average annual salary of $78,500.10 Most accountants in the state are working in the northern part of the state in the greater Durham-Raleigh metro area.10 The BLS also reports that North Carolina is among the top states with the highest employment level of accountants and auditors.11 Employment for accountants in North Carolina is expected to grow by 8.6% over the 10-year period from 2018 to 2028, a rate faster than the national average (6.4%), to reach a projected total of 41,280.12
North Carolina CPA Salary by Metro Area
|Metro Area||Number Employed11||Average Annual Salary11||Asheville||840||$70,110|
Top-Ranked Schools with Master’s in Accounting Programs in North Carolina
Forbes’ Best Business Schools* 2019
- Duke University (#14)
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#15)
*With master’s in accounting programs.
Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Accounting Majors* 2020
- Elon University
*With master’s in accounting programs.
Public Accounting Report’s Top 50 Master’s Accounting Programs 2019
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#14)
- Wake Forest University (#20)
- North Carolina State University (#34)
US News & World Report’s Best MBA Accounting Programs 2021
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (#10 tie)
- Duke University (#14 tie)
North Carolina Master’s in Accounting Program Comparison
Below we have compiled a table including information about all not-for-profit North Carolina 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 Name||Accreditation||CPA Exam Pass Rate6||Master’s in Accounting Degree(s)||Acceptance Rate13||Grad Rate1||Online Options?||Tuition per Credit|
|Appalachian State University||AACSB||N.Av.||MS-Accounting||93.4%||73%||—||$469|
|Campbell University||—||N.Av.||Master of Accountancy (MAcc)||N.Av.||55%||—||$790|
|Duke University||AACSB||N.Av.||MBA-Financial Analysis & Accounting||22.9%||95%||—||$1,296|
|East Carolina University||AACSB||63.6%||MS-Accounting||68.0%||66%||—||$389|
|Gardner-Webb University||ACBSP||N.Av.||Master of Accountancy (MAcc);|
|North Carolina A&T State University||AACSB||N.Av.||Master of Accountancy (MAcc);|
|North Carolina State University at Raleigh||AACSB||25.0%||Master of Accounting (MAC)||53.8%||82%||Yes||$1,231|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||AACSB||N.Av.||Master of Accounting (MAC)||52.9%||91%||Yes||$1,735|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||AACSB||77.4%||Master of Accountancy (MAcc)||N.Av.||64%||—||$1,231|
|University of North Carolina at Greensboro||AACSB||N.Av.||MS-Accounting||70.9%||59%||Yes||$533|
|University of North Carolina at Pembroke||AACSB||N.Av.||MBA-Forensic Accounting||N.Av.||41%||Yes||$210|
|University of North Carolina at Wilmington||AACSB||N.Av.||MS-Accountancy||78%||72%||—||$507|
|Wake Forest University||AACSB||76.5%||MS-Accountancy||N.Av.||88%||—||$1,731|
|Western Carolina University||—||N.Av.||Master of Accountancy (MAcc)||N.Av.||62%||—||$607|
|Wingate University||ACBSP||N.Av.||Master of Accountancy (MAC)||N.Av.||50%||—||$575|
- — indicates none.
- N.Av. indicates no data available.
Select Schools in North Carolina with Master’s in Accounting Programs
North Carolina State University’s (NC State) Jenkins Graduate School, through the Poole College of Management, offers a Master of Accounting (MAC) program that combines preparation for the Uniform CPA Exam with the development of practical and technical skills. Students in the program can choose to concentrate in Enterprise Risk Management, Information Technology, or Tax Strategy. The 31-credit hour curriculum is spread across eight required core courses and three electives and can be completed in one year. 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. Classes are offered both on-campus and online. MAC students gain real-world experience through auditing sections of the North Carolina Sustainability Report and carrying out mock negotiations of current business mergers and acquisitions. Students have opportunities for community involvement through the school’s financial literacy projects and through 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.
The Cameron School of Business at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) offers a Master of Science (MS) in Accountancy that is accredited by the AACSB. Students can choose to concentrate in either Tax Services or Assurance/Systems Advisory. The MS in Accounting is a 10-month, full-time program comprised of 32 program credit hours and emphasizing hands-on learning and professional development. Graduates from the MS in Accounting program have a 96% placement rate at graduation, finding employment in all sectors of the accounting field. UNCW’s program has a low six-to-one student-to-faculty ratio. Graduates will meet the 150-hour education requirement to pursue CPA licensure in North Carolina and most other states. To be admitted, students must have taken 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. GMAT waivers are available for students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.4 or above and students who have completed the UNCW MSA Internship program.
Western Carolina University (WCU) 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 with occasional online and hybrid offerings. The school encourages students from all undergraduate backgrounds who are interested in professional accounting careers to apply. Undergraduate majors from AACSB-accredited schools who are considered “high-achieving” may be admitted to WCU’s Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s (ABM) track whereby they may begin to take MAcc courses during their senior year. 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. The program offers several job placement events such as an Accounting Career Day and a Meet the Firms night to allow students the opportunity to network with potential employers.
Online and Hybrid Programs
Gardner-Webb University offers a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program through the Godbold School of Business. The MAcc program focuses on the key functions of accounting as they apply to a range of fields, from business to economics to marketing. Students who complete the MAcc program should receive the necessary educational experience to take the Uniform CPA Exam and meet the 150-semester hour requirement for licensure. The program consists of at least 30 semester credit hours, with 15 hours of core classes and nine to 15 elective hours in accounting. The program offers classes such as State and Local Taxation; Forensic Accounting and the Legal Environment; and Internal Auditing. Admission into the program requires a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 3.0 overall GPA or a minimum 2.5 overall GPA for students with at least three years of professional experience in the field. There is no testing requirement for these applicants. Applicants with GPAs below 2.5 may still qualify with satisfactory scores on the GMAT. Graduates from the MAcc program have found employment with the Internal Revenue Service, in the nonprofit sector, and the corporate sector.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC Chapel Hill) Kenan-Flagler Business School offers a Master of Accounting (MAC) program that can be completed online or on campus. The program prepares students to take the Uniform CPA exam and helps develop the credentials and skills needed for success in an accounting career. The program is structured to accommodate students with varying levels of accounting experience, though students with previous accounting coursework or an undergraduate degree in accounting have the opportunity to take a reduced curriculum. Depending on previous coursework, the MAC program is comprised of 36 to 48 credits. Fundamental courses include Financial Statement Analysis, Cost Accounting, Auditing and Assurance Services, and Financial Reporting. Students may pursue optional concentrations in Audit, Tax, or Financial Analysis and Reporting. If a concentration is not chosen, they may design their own customized curriculum. Full-time students may complete the degree program in as little as one year. Online students must attend an in-person Orientation and Leadership Immersion in Chapel Hill prior to starting classes.
The Bryan School of Business and Economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNC Greensboro) offers a Master of Science (MS) in Accounting available online and part-time to accommodate working adults, in addition to a traditional on-campus format. The program is designed around the Uniform CPA Exam topics and will complete the educational requirements for licensure for most students. The program consists of 30 to 42 credit hours, 30 hours for those with an undergraduate degree in accounting, and 42 hours with prerequisites for those without a background in accounting. Online students who are interested in taxation accounting may decide to choose an optional concentration in Taxation. Graduates from the MSA program have found employment in assurance, taxation, and financial reporting for companies such as KPMG, PwC, and Volvo. Applicants for the program must have a bachelor’s degree and have taken the GMAT. The GMAT requirement may be waived for students with an undergraduate GPA of 3.3 or above from a recommended program, who are members of Beta Gamma Sigma, or who have five years’ relevant work experience.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in North Carolina
- Johnson Price Sprinkle PA (JPS): One of the leading accounting firms in western North Carolina and based out of three offices in Asheville, Boone, and Marion.
- Meaden & Moore: Founded over 100 years ago, Meaden and Moore’s Charlotte branch provides forensic accounting services to insurance companies, adjusters and legal counsel.
- Rives & Associates, LLP (R&A): With offices in Charlotte, Greensboro, Lexington, and Raleigh, R&A provides auditing, accounting, tax, and advisory services to clients locally, nationally and internationally.
North Carolina Accounting Associations
- North Carolina Association of CPAs (NCACPA): For over a century the NCACPA has served the accounting profession and the community it serves through advocacy, networking, education, and resources.
- North Carolina Society of Accountants Inc. (NCSA): Founded in 1947 the NCSA seeks to promote professionalism in accounting and taxation. The NCSA is the North Carolina affiliate of the Nation Society of Accountants.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a CPA make in North Carolina?
According to the BLS, the average salary for CPAs in North Carolina is $78,500 annually.11 The metropolitan area of Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia reports the highest average salaries for accountants and auditors in the state at $84,820.11
How do you become a CPA in North Carolina?
To become a CPA in North Carolina you will first need to complete 150 semester hours of college-level coursework, including at least a bachelor’s degree with 30 hours of accounting coursework and 24 hours in business coursework. Then you must complete work experience requirements by either working full time for one year under a licensed CPA or by teaching accounting full time for four years. Finally, you must take and pass one of two accounting law courses approved by the state as well as the Uniform CPA Exam with a score of at least 75 on all sections. After these steps are completed you may apply to the state of North Carolina for your license.
How often do you have to renew your CPA license?
In North Carolina, all CPAs must renew their licenses annually prior to July 1. If you fail to renew, a demand letter will be sent by the state. If the license is not renewed within 30 days of the mailing of that letter you will no longer be licensed to practice in North Carolina.
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 amount 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. 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/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 Occupational Employment and Wages, Accountants and Auditors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132011.htm
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2019 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, North Carolina: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
12. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm
13. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2021: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools