California Accounting Degrees Online and On-Campus
California provides a vast amount of higher education opportunities for accounting jobs, being able to satisfy any student that is looking for an on-campus or virtual classroom experience.
It comes as no surprise that San Francisco and Los Angeles are two of the biggest cities in the state that provides the most accounting opportunities, and Deloitte is one of the Big Four accounting firms that provide a number of jobs in the state despite their national headquarters being in New York.
All of the Big Four (Ernst and Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers) have prominence in the state, and there are additional accounting opportunities at H&R Block, Facebook, and Google. There are a number of accreditations to look for within the state, including the more regionalized Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
California Accounting Career Summary
- Average Mean Salary for Accountants and Auditors in California: $75690
- Income Ranges: Top 90% Mean Salary: $127520 / Bottom 10% Mean Salary: $47190
- Employment Change: +28,000 jobs added between 2014 and 2024, an estimated average of 6,970 new accountant or auditor jobs in California per year.
Online Masters Degrees
Sacramento State University
Master of Science in Accountancy
The College of Business Administration has a curriculum that prepares students for the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) exam, specifically in categories such as auditing, regulation, and financial accounting. The online program will have video lectures and an instant messaging service to keep in touch with faculty and other students. Courses that are offered in the curriculum include Business Communication, Taxation of Business Entities, and accounting for government and not-for-profit organizations.
Minimum requirements to get into the program are obtaining an undergraduate degree with at least a 2.50 cumulative GPA and submitting GRE or GMAT scores unless students have a degree from an accredited university, are already certified as CPA or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), or acquired a 3.25 cumulative GPA with an undergraduate degree at Sacramento State. It is worth noting that students admitted into the program typically have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 and GMAT scores of 585. This program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
California Polytechnic State University - Pomona
Master of Science in Accountancy
The MSA at Cal Poly Pomona requires 30 credits to complete, which breaks down into seven core courses and three of the following four electives: Accounting Ethics, Internship in Accounting, Management Control in Not-for-Profit Organizations, and Fraud and Forensic Accounting. Typically, students can complete the program within two years with classes in the fall and spring and none during the summer.
An alternative degree is the Accelerated Master of Science in Accountancy, which can be completed in less time than the traditional version by taking more classes each semester. The curriculum is divided up into four classes in the fall and spring, and two classes and a comprehensive exam in the summer, so the program can be completed in just one year.
Master of Science in Accounting
This online university has a higher education accounting program that prepares students for the Certified Public Accountants exam. The curriculum consists of 10 courses and can be completed within two years. Admission for new students happens each Monday, and a unique feature with this university is the ability to work one-on-one with faculty members. There are also scholarship opportunities, including full-time tuition payment and a $20,000 award.
Admission requirements include earning a Bachelor’s degree at an accredited university. Technical needs in order to complete the online program are having a computer capable of running similar to an Intel Pentium 4 processor with 2 GB of ram, 40 GP of hard drive space, and having at least a 56 Kbps modem connection. A Windows or Mac operating system is preferred with Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader 10 or higher, and antivirus software. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
University of Southern California
Master of Business in Taxation
There are a number of Master’s degrees within accounting and data analytics through the USC Marshall of School of Business, but the one online program is the Master of Business Taxation for Working Professionals. There is a similar on-campus experience that has evening classes, but this provides another avenue for people to gain an education without having to leave a current job or dealing with the inconvenience of juggling trips to school and work. All coursework and communication is provided through the MarshallTalk content management system.
Professionals with an average work experience of six years are typically in the program, and each class has approximately 40 students. It is generally geared toward the mid-tier candidate that is looking to advance in their career, and at least half the student body work in companies that are in the middle or smaller.
Saint Mary’s College of California
Master of Science in Accounting
This hybrid accounting program is offered by the School of Economics and Business Administration. It can be completed in 15 months for those with an educational background in accounting, with an additional three months if needing to satisfy prior coursework requirements. Most courses are offered in the evening or on the weekend, and part-time students can complete a good portion of the courses online. 78 percent of students that have completed this program are employed are exploring further education, and nearly half of the graduates have seen an increase in salary.
Examples of some core courses in the program include Advanced Managerial Accounting, International Accounting, and Financial Statement Analysis and Valuation. These courses will provide study in the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), the ability to make business decisions based on evaluating variance analysis and differential cost analysis, and being able to analyze and create presentations and reports based off of financial statements.
Accreditation Options in California
While the the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is one of the most popular accreditation organizations to look for, there are other accreditation(s) to consider when looking at various programs in California. Accreditation shows that a university’s curriculum is current with the latest technological advancement and ethical standards, and it can give an edge to students in the hiring process.
Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
Since 1998, the ACBSP accredits all business programs across the world and has reached over 1,000 campuses. Their goal is to reach every business program and help them obtain a quality curriculum in order to best prepare students for a role in business. The association has on-campus visits to evaluate the education process and ensures a quality experience for students.
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
A regional accreditation group that focuses on higher education throughout the Pacific Coast and Hawaii. The process consists of a few members observing the school’s curriculum and operations, then a full review takes place by the stakeholders and they develop an accreditation plan. This is reviewed on a yearly basis and the process is tweaked if needed. This is separate from the Accrediting Commission for Schools (ACS WASC), which highlight schools within the K-12 education range and schools that do not distribute degrees. Accreditation power is granted by the US Department of Education, which also controls other regional accreditation groups.
International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
This agency has been recognized as an official accreditation group by the US Department of Education since 2011. They focus on various higher-level degrees within the business field and has accredited schools from over 20 countries. Schools are reviewed based on some of the following criteria: how well the faculty and curriculum are presented, professional connections the program has, and innovation that the university has implemented into the program.
Career Opportunities in California
A few companies that have the most accounting positions available within California include H&R Block, Deloitte, and BDO. At H&R Block, there are numerous positions as tax preparers to help clients, be it personal or business related, fill out their taxes and to help in audit support when reviewing information and making sure that all documents satisfy the Internal Revenue Service requirements.
72 employees that have reviewed H&R Block on Glassdoor would recommend working at the company to a friend. Deloitte is part of the Big Four accounting firms that provides services such as financial and tax advice, enterprise risk analysis, and auditing services.
Entry Level Accounting Jobs in California
For entry-level accountant positions in California, salary range averages between $55,177 to $66,729 according to Salary.com. Cities that rank on the higher end of this scale include notable places such as San Jose, Santa Clara, and Mountain View, the latter being home to a number of corporations within Silicon Valley.
This average rises all the way to $114,406 for higher-level accounting positions that require multiple years of experience and are reserved for more specialized positions. In some cases, a Master’s degree may be required to satisfy more technical or theoretical aspects of a specialized role. By comparison, tax preparers will get a little more than general accounting positions.
Top Cities for Accountant Careers in California
Both San Francisco and Los Angeles will have the most accounting positions available by location according to the latest Indeed listings. Many opportunities reach at least $66,000 on an annual salary, and senior and managerial positions will frequently offer salaries in the six-figure mark, but these big cities do have a rather high cost of living.
While San Francisco provides an opportunity for a number of more seasoned accounting professions, San Mateo, a city that continues to gain more Silicon Valley startups, has a number of entry-level positions available at a lower cost of living.