Which college is best for an undergraduate degree in accounting? If you’re looking at potential earnings alone, Georgetown University is the school for you. That’s according to a new study published Best Accounting Software, a platform that rates and reviews financial software. Researchers at Best Accounting Software combed the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard tool to analyze all colleges that were shown to offer a bachelor’s degree in accounting. It then averaged the median earnings of recent graduates with those degrees.
And the 67 accounting graduates of Georgetown earned a median $83,100 — far higher than any other school and the overall average of all 598 schools to be included of $46,528. Following Georgetown is Silicon Valley-based Santa Clara University and New York City’s Fordham University, which each had a median earnings of $65,300. Santa Clara won the tiebreaker because of a lower total median debt of $20,000 compared to Fordham’s $24,577. Fordham had 134 graduates comprise its median totals and Santa Clara had 70.
Boston College and Loyola Marymount University in Southern California tied for fourth with a total median earnings of $64,900. Boston College won that tiebreaker with a median of $17,000 in total debt compared to Loyola Marymount graduates, who had a median debt total of $25,105. Some 102 graduates made up Boston College’s total while 62 were included at Loyola Marymount.
STRAYING FROM THE U.S. NEWS RANKING OF ACCOUNTING DEGREES
For the most part, the ranking strays from the popular U.S. News and World Report ranking of undergraduate accounting programs. The biggest example is the University of Texas-Austin, which regularly places first in the U.S. News ranking. UT Austin places 110th in Best Accounting Software’s list with graduates earning a median of $54,400 and taking on a median debt total of $18,070.
Brigham Young University, however, was a bit closer, placing second in the most recent U.S. News ranking of undergraduate accounting programs and 27th in this ranking. Similarly, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign comes in third in the U.S. News and 20th here. Indiana University, however, was nowhere to be found on Best Accounting Software’s list and placed fourth this year in the U.S. News ranking. The reason for Indiana University’s no-show in the Best Accounting Software ranking could be because Indiana University’s program is a bachelor in science and this ranking was including bachelor in arts degrees. Similarly, the University of Michigan is ranked sixth in the U.S. News ranking but doesn’t actually have an undergraduate accounting degree so does not show up in the Best Accounting Software list.
The University of Notre Dame’s program, however, is very similar in both rankings, placing fifth in the U.S. News and sixth in Best Accounting Software’s list. The University of Southern California also places consistently in both rankings, earning 10th in the Best Accounting Software ranking and eighth in the U.S. News.
SKEWING TOWARDS HIGHER-EARNING LOCATIONS
A ranking that only considers total median earnings will naturally disadvantage schools located in lower cost-of-living areas in the country. For example, the annual mean wage of accountants in the District of Columbia is over $100,000. New York’s annual mean wage is almost $100,000. And states like Virginia, California, and Connecticut also have very high accounting mean wages.
Not surprisingly, California had six of the top-15 schools in Best Accounting Software’s ranking. Pennsylvania had three in the top-nine. And states like New York, Virginia, and New Jersey all had at least one school in the top-15. Notre Dame’s sixth-place finish is even more impressive considering its Indiana location.
Besides essentially using one data point to rank schools, another major limitation of this particular ranking is many top accounting programs have a four-plus-one model where students earn a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s in accounting in five years. Those graduates and programs are not included in this particular ranking but are a popular choice among students and produce highly competitive graduates into the job market.
Below are the top-50 colleges for BAs in accounting according to Best Accounting Software. For the entire list of schools and data included, go here.