Accounting Schools in Wisconsin
The following overview of accounting schools in Wisconsin provides key data that you can use to select an accounting school that is a good match for your learning goals and career aspirations. Diverse accounting programs including programs in auditing, accounting information systems, and international accounting, among many others, are available from Wisconsin schools. You may also find that online schools offer opportunities to earn an accounting degree that are a match for your needs and goals.
- There are 48 not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs in Wisconsin.1
- 6 not-for-profit schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in accounting.1
- Highest graduation rate*: University of Wisconsin-Madison, 87%1
- Highest transfer-out rate*: Cardinal Stritch University, 44%1
- Highest net price per year*: Marquette University, $32,3771
- Lowest net price per year*: University of Wisconsin-Parkside, $9,5421
- 1 school ranked in Businessweek’s Top Business Undergraduate Programs in 2017: University of Wisconsin-Madison (28)
- 2 schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Public Colleges in 2018: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (#64 in-state, #45 out-of-state), University of Wisconsin-Madison (#13 in-state, #19 out-of-state)
- 2 schools ranked in US News National Universities Rankings in 2019 (top 100): University of Wisconsin-Madison (49), Marquette University (89)
*For four-year not-for-profit colleges and universities with accounting degree programs.
Continue reading to find more information about popular programs, accounting schools, and career possibilities for accountants in Wisconsin.
Schools with the Highest 2015 First-Time CPA Exam Pass Rate with an Advanced Degree
- University of Wisconsin-Madison (89.2%)
- Edgewood College (72.7%)
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (67.1%)
- University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (61.5%)
- Marquette University (52.0%)
There were five schools in Wisconsin that had graduates take the CPA exam for the first time (with an advanced degree) in 2015. Of these schools, the first-time CPA exam pass rate ranged from a low of 52.0% to a high of 89.2%. You may consider first-time pass rate as a metric of student success at different programs, although the numbers may be artificially high or low at schools with few candidates. For a full statistical breakdown 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 Wisconsin
Concordia University (Mequon, WI)
Concordia University offers master’s programs that can prepare students to take the CPA exam and succeed in accounting and auditing careers. The university’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Accounting degree prepares students to meet career challenges and become leaders in the profession through a hybrid combination of on-campus and online learning. Courses are taken on an accelerated schedule, meeting one night per week over eight-week course terms. Weekend courses are also offered throughout the year. Courses in the accounting concentration include Advanced Auditing; Fraud Management; Governmental Accounting; and Statutory Accounting. Students may pursue more than one concentration and complement their accounting study in areas such as Finance, Management, and Risk Assessment and Management, among other options. Concordia is ranked #70 (tie) in Regional Universities (Midwest) by US News. It is a smaller, private school, and maintains small class sizes as part of its focus on academics and individual learning.
Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI)
Marquette University offers a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) that can be completed in one year. Although students from all academic backgrounds are admitted to the program, it is recommended that students have an undergraduate degree in accounting; those without an undergraduate background in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) may need to take additional undergraduate courses before pursuing graduate coursework. Full- or part-time study is permitted for the 30-credit hour program. Students learn technical, practical, and theoretical accounting skills through such courses as Advanced Corporate Issues; Auditing: Ethical, Legal, Professional, Reporting; Advanced Cost Management; and Analysis of Corporate Financial Statements. Students take courses with students in the MBA program for an advanced and well-rounded education. The Graduate School of Management, through which the MSA is offered, is known for its superior academics and nationally ranked programs. As a result, its graduates are heavily recruited and have the benefit of a global network of school alumni. US News ranks Marquette #89 (tie) in National Universities.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI)
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an optional career-focused concentration in accounting through the Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business. Recognizing that modern accounting is a blend of disciplines, including management and technology, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee developed its master’s degree program to build on interdisciplinary theory and practice. Students may pursue the degree through a Flex MBA program that allows for student-paced study or through the 20-month cohort program. Classes are typically held in the evenings. The advanced core of the program includes such courses as Accounting Analysis and Control, Corporate Finance, Analytic Models for Managers, and Strategic Management. Networking and team building activities take place across the curriculum, encouraging students to interact with peers and faculty for enhanced learning. The Sheldon B. Lubar School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is part of the University of Wisconsin system.
Top Accounting Firms for Graduates in Wisconsin
SVA Professional Services is consistently ranked as one of the top three firms in Madison by local executives, and also has branches in Milwaukee and Appleton. SVA recognizes its employees’ contributions to its success and actively recruits recent graduates. RitzHolman CPAs is based in Milwaukee and is considered one of the top 25 accounting firms in southeast Wisconsin by the Milwaukee Business Journal. RitzHolman builds its suite of services off of its core business of accounting, and the firm seeks to hire accounting students for internships and other opportunities. Baker Tilly is one of the largest accounting firms in the US and has been named one of the Best Accounting Firms to Work For, among other honors. It has offices nationwide, five of which are in Wisconsin; the firm often offers career opportunities for recent graduates.
How to Become a CPA in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board 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 Wisconsin.
- Complete a 150-semester hour or 225-quarter hour educational program of acceptable coursework in accounting.
- Accumulate the required hours of experience.
- Complete the Wisconsin On-line Ethics Exam.
- 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.
The Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board has adopted the 150-hour rule for prospective CPA licensees, which requires that candidates complete a 150-semester hour program of education to qualify for a license. The education program must include the award of at least a bachelor’s degree. The program must also include a concentration in accounting. Candidates who have an undergraduate degree must take 24 semester hours in accounting courses including financial accounting, auditing, taxation, and management accounting as well as 24 semester hours in business courses other than accounting. Candidates with a graduate degree must have taken courses in financial accounting, auditing, taxation, and management accounting totaling 24 semester hours at the undergraduate level or 15 semester hours at the graduate level, or an equivalent combination.
2. Accumulate the required hours of experience.
One year of accounting experience is required to qualify for CPA licensure in Wisconsin. The experience must have been earned after completing all education requirements. Part-time work may qualify, but full-time work is given preference. Experience earned in industry, government, or public practice or advanced and specialized teaching in academia typically satisfy board requirements.
3. Complete the Wisconsin Online Ethics Exam.
The Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board uses an ethics exam specific to the rules and statutes of the state of Wisconsin. Candidates may access the exam and review the materials covered by the exam through the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.
4. Pass the Uniform CPA Examination.
All 50 states require prospective CPAs to pass the Uniform CPA Exam to qualify for a license. The Wisconsin Accounting Examining Board uses the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) to administer the application and testing process. Candidates who are ready to test may apply through the NASBA website. Note that all four sections of the exam must be passed within an 18-month rolling period.
5. Apply for a license.
Once all licensing requirements have been met, prospective Wisconsin CPAs may submit an application for a license. The application must include three forms to be considered complete: the Application for Certified Public Accountant Credential; the applicant’s Experience Record; and the Verification of Employment and Experience Evaluation.
As long as the CPA license is kept current, continuing education is not required for CPAs in Wisconsin. You can find additional information at the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services website.
Wisconsin Accountant Salary and Job Outlook
Projected Job Growth
Accountants and Auditors in Wisconsin from 2016-20262
About 22,090 accountants and auditors work in Wisconsin, with an average annual salary of $67,240 per year.3 Positions do tend to be more numerous in metropolitan areas; in Wisconsin, the two major areas are Madison and Milwaukee, where the average salaries are $68,030 and $67,150, respectively.3 Demand for accountants and auditors is projected to grow by 12.7% through 2026 in Wisconsin, making this career a good choice for those interested in the field.2
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
1725 State St
La Crosse, WI 54601
Student Review: “While not the most illustrious of schools for the accounting and finance programs, La Crosse offers an outstanding education in both these areas. Not only are the instructors amazing teachers, but I have found that they have a great deal of real life industry knowledge. They also prepare you for the certification exams as well, as can be seen by their extraordinary pass rate which has been rated in the top 10-20 schools in the nation consistently for many years. Independent study for these exams will also allow students to collect credits, which are essential to being able to receive your certification after passing the exams (in order to receive your certification as a CPA you need 150 credit hours). They also offer classes during winter and summer breaks, allowing you to finish your degree even faster. If you’re looking for a great business school at a relatively reasonable price, look no further than UWL!” – student at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
2442 E Kenwood Blvd
Milwaukee, WI 53201
Student Review: “The UW-Milwaukee accounting program was a very good program that set me up for success in the real world. They have some of their accounting classes taught by professionals that actually work, or have worked in, the field for a few years. This kind of “hands on” experience is absolutely invaluable. If you ask them what it’s like working on a day to day basis, or what to expect when applying for jobs this information can really help you on learning what to expect and how to negotiate. You are going to have to learn to work with money after all. Overall I think the experience was great and I would recommend the program.” – student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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