Accounting is a highly lucrative field in Virginia and a range of around 30 schools offer accounting degree programs. Among these institutions, the University of Virginia is home to one of the country’s highest rated programs.
The 2013 Public Accounting Report survey of accounting professors designated it as the 21st best undergraduate program and the 23rd Master’s program in accounting nationwide.
Virginia Tech also made the top, being rated as 25th best in the large institution category. These universities also boast an excellent pass rate on the CPA examination, with the University of Virginia regularly among the top institutions in the country.
Tips for Choosing the Right Accounting Program
At the start of a challenging and exciting career in accounting, the choice of which accounting school to attend may be the most important you make.
With the difficult CPA exam looming ahead and a competitive job market, you should opt for the most rigorous and prestigious program in order to prepare for success in the field.
Before applying for an accounting program, try to look deeper than rankings when you make your decision. What you need is an AACBS-accredited school with excellent student satisfaction rates, a high graduate employment level and above average pass rate on the CPA exam.
Ask to see the most recent figures and try to gauge the quality of the course and the instructors. A successful faculty will have gained recognition through awards, student evaluations and published research.
It is also important to judge how the program will enhance your employability. The student organizations on campus, the real-world experience offered as part of the curriculum and the firms that tend to recruit accounting graduates are your biggest clues.
The most important thing to remember is that you have chosen a difficult career path – so don’t choose an easy accounting course: choose the challenging, highly-rated, demanding program that can hone your skills and prepare you to succeed.
How to Become an Accountant or CPA
If you have an affinity for business and economics and if numbers don’t scare you, you probably have what it takes to become an accountant.
However, you will need years of university education to practice your analytic skills and learn how to apply them in a changing business world. This can be an exciting journey, and one that not many complete successfully.
To practice as an accountant you will need at least a four-year Bachelor’s degree, but if you want to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) you will have to earn 150 semester credits, usually awarded after five years of study.
A CPA license can offer you greater opportunities for success in terms of employment possibilities and pay level. In order to apply for the license, you will be required to pass the CPA examination, to acquire at least one year of experience and to pass an ethics exam.
Having become a licensed CPA, you might need to renew your license regularly and to complete continuing professional education courses.
This is a profession that will constantly ask you to challenge yourself – so it is important to start off with a prestigious university education that can give you confidence in your future career.
Viginia CPA requirements
The Virginia accountancy board requires candidates to complete 120 credits at an accredited institution before taking the CPA exam, including a baccalaureate or higher degree with an accounting concentration. A minimum of 24 hours should be completed in accounting courses and an additional 24 hours in business courses.
However, in order to apply for a CPA license, you will need to have earned 150 semester credits. Additional requirements include passing all sections of the CPA exam, acquiring one year of experience in an accounting capacity, and completing an AICPA professional ethics course.
If you do not apply for your CPA license in the same year in which you passed the CPA exam, you will also need to complete a certain amount of continuing professional education hours.
Accounting Salaries in Virginia
In terms of employment level and pay, Virginia is among the top US states for accountants. In 2013 the annual mean wage for accountants was $76,670, significantly higher than the US average of approximately $65,000.
Moreover, the Washington metropolitan area is a thriving environment for business where highly skilled accountants are in demand. Within the metropolitan division, average accounting salaries can soar above $84,000.
Average graduate salaries start above $50,000 and can rise significantly with experience, while employment opportunities abound.
In 2013, approximately 40,000 accountants were working in Virginia, a larger amount than in most other US states.
|Virginia Accounting Jobs|
|Senior Corporate Accountant|
Accounting Program Sneak Peek
Virginia Tech secured the 25th place in the 2013 PAR survey top of large institutions offering undergraduate accounting programs thanks to its demanding and competitive Accounting Option.
The program prepares undergraduates for a challenging career in public accountancy or business, broadening their communication, teamwork and leadership skills alongside technical competence.
At the graduate level, the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech offers a Master of Accounting and Information Systems that allows students to specialize in audit, financial services, information systems or tax. Students who wish to sit for the CPA exam can take a 152-hour program leading to both the Bachelor and the Master’s degree in accounting.
With a graduate employment level of 92%, the Pamplin College connects accounting graduates to over 100 companies. Virginia Tech is rated as the 69th best university nationwide by US News and in 2013 the school had the highest CPA exam first-time pass rate for candidates with advanced degrees in Virginia.
Spotlight Featured School
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|Virginia Accounting Schools||Address|
|Christopher Newport University||1 University Pl, Newport News, VA 23606|
|College of William & Mary||540 Landrum Dr, Williamsburg, VA 23185|
|George Mason University||4400 University Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030|
|Hampton University||100 E Queen St, Hampton, VA 23668|
|James Madison University||800 S Main St, Harrisonburg, VA 22807|
|Liberty University||1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, VA 24502|
|Longwood University||201 High St, Farmville, VA 23909|
|Lynchburg College||1501 Lakeside Dr, Lynchburg, VA 24501|
|Marymount University||2807 N Glebe Rd, Arlington, VA 22207|
|Norfolk State University||700 Park Ave, Norfolk, VA 23504|
|Old Dominion University||5115 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23529|
|Radford University||801 E Main St, Radford, VA 24141|
|University of Richmond||28 Westhampton Way, Richmond, VA 23173|
|University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA 22904|
|Virginia Commonwealth University||821 West Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23284|
|Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University||Blacksburg, VA 24061|
|Virginia State University||1 Hayden St, Petersburg, VA 23806|
|Virginia Union University||1500 N Lombardy St, Richmond, VA 23220|
|Washington and Lee University||204 W Washington St, Lexington, VA 24450|
|Blue Ridge Community College (VA)||Weyers Cave, VA 24486|
|Central Virginia Community College||3506 Wards Rd, Lynchburg, VA 24502|
|Dabney S Lancaster Community College||1000 Dabney Dr, Clifton Forge, VA 24422-1000|
|Danville Community College||1008 S Main St, Danville, VA 24541|
|Germanna Community College||2130 Germanna Hwy, Locust Grove, VA 22508|
|J Sargeant Reynolds Community College||Richmond, VA 23285-5622|
|John Tyler Community College||13101 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Chester, VA 23831|
|New River Community College||5251 College Dr, Dublin, VA 24084-1127|
|Northern Virginia Community College||4001 Wakefield Chapel Rd, Annandale, VA 22003|
|Piedmont Virginia Community College||501 College Dr, Charlottesville, VA 22902-7589|
|Rappahannock Community College||12745 College Dr, Glenns, VA 23149|
|Southside Virginia Community College||109 Campus Dr, Alberta, VA 23821|
|Southwest Virginia Community College||724 Community College Rd, Cedar Bluff, VA 24609|
|Tidewater Community College||121 College Pl, Norfolk, VA 23510|
|Virginia Highlands Community College||100 VHCC Dr, Abingdon, VA 24212-0828|
|Virginia Western Community College||3093 Colonial Ave SW, Roanoke, VA 24038-4007|
|Wytheville Community College||1000 E Main St, Wytheville, VA 24382|
Top Ranked Accounting Program in Virginia
Founded in the 19th century, the well-established McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia offers a prestigious, AACBS-accredited accounting program at the undergraduate and graduate level.
The academic program is oriented towards success on the CPA exam, as well as towards acquiring marketable skills and experience.
Undergraduate students at the McIntire School follow an Integrated Core Experience program for three years and are able to choose an accounting concentration in their fourth year.
Students wishing to sit for the CPA exam can either acquire 150 credits at an undergraduate level or complete a one-year Master’s degree in addition to the four-year Bachelor’s degree.
McIntire’s M.S. in accounting offers a rigorous and dynamic curriculum with two specializations: financial reporting & assurance and tax consulting. Both tracks prepare students to navigate complex issues in professional practice and to acquire leadership skills essential in an ever-changing field.
An excellent careers service presents students with opportunities to network and be recruited by more than 300 companies, including the “Big Four”.
The McIntire school also boasts an undergraduate placement rate of 98%, as well as excellent opportunities for graduates of the M.S. in Accounting program, who report a starting salary of $56,000 on average.
The school is a gateway to academic and professional success, where students can prepare for the CPA exam and master advanced skills all while connecting to a rapidly growing business community.
University of Richmond
The undergraduate accounting program at the University of Richmond, Virginia was ranked 7th nationwide by Businessweek in 2012. It is thus no surprise that the Robins School of Business consistently ranks among the top 10 in the country in terms of scores on national accounting exams.
The accounting department at Robins School of Business strives to provide students with one-to-one education by facilitating interaction and maintaining small class sizes. In addition, the coursework may be tailored according to individual career goals.
Undergraduate students may choose an Accounting Major while pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. This consists of a core business curriculum as well as a pre-business curriculum. Accounting courses cover financial, cost and managerial accounting, taxation, auditing and information systems. Students can also choose an Accounting concentration if they are enrolled in a program with a different concentration.
Graduate students can pursue the University of Richmond MBA program, rated as the best in Virginia and focused on hands-on experience and business problem-solving.
Accounting graduates of the Robins School of Business find that employment opportunities abound. Around 70% of graduates go on to start careers in public accounting, while others secure jobs in cost accounting, government accounting or internal auditing. Major accounting firms including the Big Four are among the top recruiters of Robins graduates. Other graduates pursue higher degrees in accounting at prestigious institutions.
Students can apply for a wide range of scholarships and awards recognizing academic excellence. Those looking to gain more practical experience can contact the Center for Active Business Education, a hub for all business practical experience including research, student competitions and conferences. To enhance their resumes, students can also earn additional skills via the Center for Professional Skills and Development.
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