Number crunching isn’t for everyone, but accounting is one of those majors that almost certainly guarantees you a good, steady job at graduation, even when you get the degree at lesser known colleges and universities.
Every business needs an accountant, and every accountant needs formal training based in education. Accountants monitor the financial health of a business or an organization. It’s a discipline that assesses the assets, liabilities and the cash coming into and flowing out of an organzation.
Which business schools have the best undergraduate accounting programs? Truth is, accounting is such a core function of a business that there isn’t a business school without either an accounting department or a group of smart accounting professors. U.S. News & World Report annually publishes a ranking of the best undergraduate accounting programs and places numerical ranks on 38 different schools. Even though it is severely flawed (we’ll explain why below), the top of the U.S. News list is a pretty reliable ranking of the best.
Source: U.S. News & World Report 2017 specialty rankings
WHAT DOES BEST IN A RANKING REALLY MEAN?
In this case, best typically means that the professors are at the leading edge of knowlege in their fields, that a school boasts an expansive portfolio of accounting courses taught by a good number of accouting experts, and that the major accounting firms recruit heavily from these programs.
The ranking is solely based on U.S. News’ peer assessment poll of deans and senior faculty, which often turns it into more of a popularity contest that rewards well-known school brands more than the actual quality of the program. These deans and professors – two at each AACSB-accredited business program – are asked to nominate the 10 best programs in accounting.
For this accounting list, U.S. News ranks schools in descending order simply by the number of mentions each school receives from the responding deans and professors. But at the top of the list, where there is greater consensus among deans and faculty, you can trust that these schools are truly exceptional in teaching accounting. The bottom half of the list is less trustworthy, largely because it only takes seven votes to make the list and it’s known that some schools have collaborated with each other to land on the ranking.
MCCOMBS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AT UT-AUSTIN HEADS THE LIST
So who’s at the top of the latest ranking, published in September of 2017? The University of Texas at Austin, followed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
The next five schools that round out the Top Ten offer superlative dives into accounting. They are No. 6 University of Notre Dame, No. 7 University of Southern California, No. 8 Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, No. 9 New York University’s Stern School of Business, and No. 10 Ohio State University.