Accounting Schools in Virginia
The following guide to accounting schools in Virginia will provide you with comprehensive data on the accounting schools and programs within the state so that you can make an informed choice. Virginia’s higher education accounting programs provide diverse options for earning an accounting degree, including accounting degrees in specialty topics like tax accounting. As an alternative to a traditional on-campus program, some students find that an online accounting degree can be a good fit.
- There are 44 not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Virginia.
- 10 not-for-profit schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.
- Highest graduation rate*: University of Virginia-Main Campus, 95%1
- Highest transfer-out rate*: Averett University, 48%1
- Highest net price per year*: Liberty University, $26,9541
- Lowest net price per year*: Radford University, $13,5731
- 6 schools ranked in Businessweek’s Top Business Undergraduate Programs in 2017: University of Virginia (5), College of William and Mary (12), James Madison University (41), University of Richmond (46), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (64), Christopher Newport University (93)
- 7 schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018: Christopher Newport University (#82 in-state, #66 out-of-state), College of William and Mary (#11 in-state, #9 out-of-state), George Mason University (#99 in-state, #100 out-of-state), James Madison University (#42 in-state, #63 out-of-state), University of Mary Washington (#95 in-state, #98 out-of-state), University of Virginia (#3 in-state, #3 out-of-state), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (#28 in-state, #39 out-of-state)
- 3 schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2019 (top 100): University of Virginia (25), College of William and Mary (38), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (76)
*For four-year not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.
Keep reading to find out more about accounting schools in Virginia, including profiles of popular schools and programs and information about potential careers for future accounting graduates.
Schools with the Highest 2015 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree
- James Madison University (90.8%)
- University of Virginia (71.2%)
- Virginia Commonwealth University (65.0%)
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (61.8%)
- College of William and Mary (61.5%)
- George Mason University (60.6%)
- Liberty University (47.8%)
There were eight schools in Virginia that had first-time candidates for the CPA exam (with an advanced degree). The pass rate at these schools varied from a low of 42.9% to a high of 90.8%. This compares to a 48.4% pass rate for all candidates in the nation (with a bachelor’s or advanced degree) in 2015. The first-time CPA pass rate can help evaluate accounting options although it may be skewed with smaller programs. To see the full statistics for all schools in Virginia, 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 Virginia
James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA)
James Madison University’s College of Business offers a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) degree that can be tailored to the needs of business and non-business majors. The primary focus of the program is on preparing students for careers in public accounting, which includes providing the education needed to meet the requirements to sit for the Uniform CPA exam. Two concentrations, in Tax or Accounting Information Systems, are offered. Program courses include Advanced Auditing; Accounting Theory; Advanced Accounting and Reporting; and Government and Nonprofit Accounting. Students with undergraduate degrees in non-business majors may need to take prerequisite courses in accounting and business at an AACSB-accredited school before admission to the program. The James Madison University accounting department has positioned itself as a core resource in accounting education for the region. US News ranks James Madison University #6 (tie) in Regional Universities (South), noting its relatively low student-faculty ratio and the popularity of its business-related programs.
Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA)
Virginia Commonwealth University has a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program that prepares students for careers in accounting through classroom interaction and interaction with the business community. The courses required to earn the degree take place in the evenings and are held either one or two evenings per week depending on the course schedule. Students may enroll full- or part-time and may choose a tailored education plan appropriate to their undergraduate background. Courses in the program such as Forensic Accounting, Advanced Topics in Accounting Information Systems, Corporate Taxation, and Tax Research and Planning help students prepare for successful professional careers in various sectors of accounting. Students may qualify for graduate assistantships and scholarships offered through the School of Business. The Department of Accounting at Virginia Commonwealth University holds full accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). US News ranks Virginia Commonwealth University #157 (tie) in National Universities for its affordability, active student life, and rigorous academic programs.
Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA)
Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business offers a truly unique master’s in accounting with its blended Master of Accounting and Information Systems (MACIS) degree. This degree is an option for students with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, although prerequisites may be required to prepare students for the program. The program can typically be completed in 12 to 18 months, though students may take longer based on their academic backgrounds and scheduling availability. The 30 credit hour program offers specialization tracks in accounting analytics, information systems, audit, financial services, or tax. Graduate certificates in various areas including financial planning, management accounting, auditing, and information systems may also be earned to complement the degree. The program is competitive, with students expected to maintain a grade point average of at least a B throughout the curriculum. The Pamplin College of Business holds accreditation from the AACSB, and its graduates are among the most heavily recruited of any school at Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is ranked #76 (tie) in National Universities by US News.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Virginia
PBMares is among the largest accounting firms in the state of Virginia. Every year, PBMares hires accounting students immediately following graduation. Keiter Opportunity Advisors is another of Virginia’s largest CPA firms, where the focus is on insight for its clients. The firm is equally committed to developing its staff and is consistently hiring for quality candidates. Yount Hyde & Barbour, with offices in multiple Virginia cities, provides accounting, tax, and assurance services to individuals and commercial businesses. Yount Hyde & Barbour seeks out recent graduates to join its teams annually.
How to Become a CPA in Virginia
The Virginia Board of Accountancy oversees the process for becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the state. There are six main steps to complete in order to earn a Virginia CPA license.
- Complete a 150-semester hour or 225-quarter hour educational program of acceptable coursework in accounting.
- Accumulate the required hours of experience.
- Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
- Take a Virginia-specific ethics course.
- Apply for a license.
- Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
1. Complete a 150-semester hour or 225-quarter hour educational program of acceptable coursework in accounting.
Virginia follows the 150-hour rule, meaning that CPA applicants in the state must complete at least 150 semester hours of college education that include the award of a bachelor’s degree. The 150 semester hours must include 24 semester hours in accounting courses as well as 24 semester hours of business courses. The Virginia Board of Accountancy recommends but does not require that these hours include graduate study in accounting.
2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
Virginia CPA candidates must earn at least one year of full-time accounting experience or the equivalent part-time experience. Work may be performed in academia, government, industry, or public or private practice so long as it involves the use of accounting, financial, tax, and other relevant skills to accounting practice. Self-employment may not be counted towards the experience requirement.
3. Complete the AICPA ethics course and exam.
A passing score on the professional ethics course offered by AICPA is a requirement for Virginia CPA licensure. The self-study course can be ordered directly through AICPA. Candidates should request that their exam scores be sent by AICPA to the Virginia Board of Accountancy.
4. Take a Virginia-specific ethics course.
In addition to the AICPA ethics course and exam, candidates must take an ethics course that is specific to accounting practice in Virginia. The course must be at least two clock hours in length and be offered by a provider recognized by the Virginia Board of Accountancy. Information on course sponsors and providers is available through the Board website.
5. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
Candidates who are ready to take the Uniform CPA Exam should apply to the exam through the Virginia Board of Accountancy CPA Licensure Services portal. Once a candidate’s application has been approved by the board, he or she will receive further information on scheduling and taking the exam.
6. Apply for a license.
The final step to becoming a CPA in Virginia is to apply for a license. The Virginia Board of Accountancy uses an online process for first-time CPA applicants. Applicants may access the initial application and submit the required materials at the Virginia Board of Accountancy’s online portal.
Licensed CPAs in Virginia must complete 120 hours of continuing education for each three-year period. Licensed CPAs will also need to complete a board-approved Virginia-specific ethics course every year, just as in the original licensure process. You can find additional information at the Virginia Board of Accountancy website.
Virginia Accountant Salary and Job Outlook
Projected Job Growth
Accountants and Auditors in Virginia from 2016-20262
Accountants are in high demand in Virginia, which is one of the top ten states for accounting jobs; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 38,330 accountants and auditors are currently working within the state.3 Due to this demand, average accountant salaries here are high, averaging $84,740 per year.3 Within the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria triangle, average salaries are highest, around $92,660 per year. This makes Virginia an excellent place to start an accounting career.3
1971 University Blvd
Lynchburg, VA 24515
Student Review: “I went to Liberty University for just over 2 years. I completed some of my core classes as well as my accounting classes. I was able to do some of my classes online which was much easier on my schedule. The instructors and professors were very professional and were able to quickly help the students if they ever had any problems or needed extra help in the class. Being a Christian school I expected a “forced down your throat” approach but they are very courteous to all religious backgrounds and thought they presented their beliefs in an upfront and respectful way.” – Student at Liberty University
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Student Review: “The Virginia Tech accounting program is great and highly underrated by many college ranking sites. The school is overshadowed by its fantastic engineering program, but the accounting program has produced many great alumni, some of which spoke in class. My professors were very helpful and always made students aware of their office hours. The program would rate a 5 if not for the horrible online tests one of my professors used in a sophomore class. It was not very informative and just made that class more difficult than it should have been.” – Student at Virginia Tech
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections (2016-2026): https://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