What Is an Accountancy Degree? A Guide

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Open doors to a career as an accountant or auditor in a wide range of industries with an accountancy degree. Learn more about what you might study and what types of job opportunities to expect.

[Featured Image] An accountancy degree student in a blue jacket stands in front of a gray stone building on a university campus.

An accountancy degree, also known as a degree in accounting or accounting science, provides a foundation on which you can build a rewarding career in finance. Accounting majors often work to become certified public accountants (CPAs) and provide expertise in business finance for a wide variety of industries.

 The need for accountants and auditors for businesses throughout the nation is rising, with an estimated 135,000 new positions created every year through 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [1]. Entrepreneurs and corporate businesses in all fields, as well as the nonprofit industry, state and federal governments, schools, and accounting firms, need these finance professionals.

 It’s possible to open your own business as a CPA or work on a freelance basis for businesses as a consultant specializing in taxation, real estate, banking, or many other focuses. This fast-paced work often involves tight deadlines, strong teamwork skills, and an aptitude for balanced budgets and ledgers.

 While many accountants work regular hours in office settings, modern technology has also allowed for remote work opportunities—making it possible to build a career that is rewarding, flexible, and lucrative. With the right determination and experience, you can do a lot with an accountancy degree.

Types of accounting degrees

Accountancy degrees are offered at all levels, from associate degrees to the PhD level. Depending on the degree level you're pursuing and the institution, you may be able to specialize in a specific topic area.  

Types of specific accounting degrees include:

 

  • Forensic accounting

  • Real estate accounting

  • Taxation accounting

  • Management accounting

  • International finance

  • Environmental accounting

  • Analytics

  • Auditing

  • Mergers and acquisitions

 A certificate program or associate degree can provide an excellent way to break into the industry or determine if the career path is the right fit. 

 For most accounting and auditing professions, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field. You may need to complete additional coursework to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Read more: Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) Degree

What can you do with an accounting degree?

Each level of education could unlock additional jobs in the fields of accounting and finance. Those who hold a certificate from a basic accounting course could qualify to work as an administrative assistant, bill or account collector, or teller at a financial institution.

 With a bachelor's degree, you could be able to apply for jobs such as:

*Salary data represents median salaries in the United States in May 2021 (US Bureau of Labor Statistics). 

While not always necessary, a master’s degree could make you a more competitive candidate for accounting and finance jobs.

Next steps

Earn your Master of Accounting from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois, one of the top three accounting programs in the United States. Experience for yourself what it's like to earn your degree online by taking an open degree course, like US Federal Taxation or Financial Reporting. If you're admitted to the full program, your courses count toward your degree.   

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U.S. Federal Taxation

U.S. Federal Taxation of Individuals & Businesses. Learners will develop knowledge in U.S. federal taxation as applied to individuals and businesses.

4.8

(565 ratings)

10,451 already enrolled

INTERMEDIATE level

Average time: 9 month(s)

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Skills you'll build:

Depreciation, Federal Tax Returns, Tax Law

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Financial Reporting

Financial Reporting & Financial Statement Analysis. Learn financial accounting essentials to create and analyze an organization’s financial statements.

4.7

(482 ratings)

13,558 already enrolled

INTERMEDIATE level

Average time: 9 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Accounting, Accounting Analysis, Financial Statement

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Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Accountants and Auditors, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm." Accessed June 2, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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