The Top-Ranked Universities for Accounting in the US

By Luigi Wewege Saturday, July 18, 2020

According to QS Top Universities, the final rankings have come in for the best institutions to study accounting. In 2017 there were 82.604 degrees awarded in accounting - a decline of 1.14% from the previous year. 

However, accounting is still a popular choice for studies because it can open a lot of doors with opportunities and has an attractive average salary.

The Top 10 US Institutions for Accounting

  1. Harvard University
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  3. Stanford University
  4. University of Pennsylvania
  5. University of California, Berkeley (USB)
  6. New York University (NYU)
  7. Columbia University
  8. Yale University
  9. University of California (UCLA)
  10. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

The overall scores in this ranking take into account different elements such as employer reputation, H-Index citations, and citations per scholarly paper.

What Is the Average Salary for a US Accountant?

According to Data USA, the average salary for a US accountant in 2018 was  $90,364, which is an increase of 2.64% from the previous year. In 2017, the median in-state public tuition fees was $6,695, and the median out-of-state private tuition fees was $28,963.

The top three highest-paid public use micro areas (PUMA) for accounting include:

  1. Battery Park City, Greenwich Village, and Soho PUMA (New York)
  2. Walnut Creek (West) Lafayette, Orinda Cities, and Morgan Town PUMA (California)
  3. San Clemente, Laguna Niguel, and San Juan Capistrano Cities PUMA (California)

In 2018, there were 11.2 million business graduates in the US workforce, with roughly 1.4 million graduates working in accounting specifically. The average age of workers with a business degree was 43.7, indicating a 0.00684% decline from 2017.

Latest News in Accounting Education

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is offering up to $50,000 in education grants to assist undergraduate and graduate accounting students who have had their studies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These grants will be open to both undergraduate and graduate members of the AICPA, who specifically want to pursue a degree in accounting. 

Called the “COVID-19 Student Hardship Grant,” the AICPA Foundation will provide up to 25 students with $2,000 each. This will help reimburse education-related expenses, including the loss of an accounting-related internship or job.

In a public statement, AICPA Foundation President Ernie Almonte said, “The coronavirus pandemic has caused financial hardship for many Americans, including college students. We know many students are struggling to cover the cost of their education. The Foundation is committed to supporting these students as they complete their education and enter the profession.”

In order to be eligible, students must enroll or be enrolled full time in an academic year for an accredited accounting or business program for 2020 and 2021. Not only that, but the student must also have completed 30 semester hours of college coursework, including six hours of accounting.

Accountants must also provide copies of their college transcripts, resume, documentation of their financial hardship, and a written statement of how the pandemic has affected their studies for obtaining CPA licensure. Applications will be accepted until the end of August 2020.

What the Future Holds for Accounting Students

The ten highest-ranked institutes in the US for accounting offer a strong level of knowledge and have a great reputation for potential employment after graduation. Employers often focus on where students receive their degree from, which is why it is no surprise that the institutions listed above have the highest overall prestige.

The global pandemic ended physical classes in the first quarter of 2020, with students mainly receiving their classes online. With grants, organizations are offering hope that students can continue to study and achieve their goals.

With the previous decline in degrees being awarded and the current pandemic limiting many students’ academic success, it is also good for them to know what universities to look out for to maximize their accounting potential.

About the Author


Headshot of author Luigi Wewege

Luigi Wewege is the Senior Vice President, and Head of Private Banking at Caye International Bank. Outside of the bank, he serves as an Instructor at the FinTech School which provides online training courses on the latest technological and innovation developments within the financial services industry. Luigi is also the published author of: The Digital Banking Revolution.

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