Accounting Degrees | Top Universities

What is accounting?

Accounting is the systematic process of recording, classifying, summarising, and interpreting financial transactions, which is also a fundamental aspect of finance and banking, critical for maintaining financial stability.  

It enables businesses and individuals to track their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities, providing a clear picture of financial health.  

By facilitating informed decision-making and ensuring regulatory compliance, accounting supports effective financial management and strategic planning in businesses. 

Accounting students gain advanced theoretical and practical knowledge of accounting and finance, mastering computational and calculation skills. They also learn to use specialised accounting software such as QuickBooks, Xero, and SAP.  

Upon completion, accounting students usually develop a broad understanding of the accounting, finance, and commercial sectors, often within an international context. 

Types of accounting degrees

Accounting degrees come in various forms, with undergraduate titles such as Bachelor of Accountancy (BAcc) or bachelor's in accounting. In the US, the Bachelor of Accountancy (BAcy, BAcc, or BAccty) is often the primary undergraduate degree recognised for professional accounting practice.  

Other common titles include the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in accounting and the Bachelor of Science (BSc) in accounting (also abbreviated as BS/ACC). 

Internationally, the titles of accounting degrees vary. In South Africa, for instance, undergraduate degrees are titled Bachelor of Accounting Science (BAccSci) and baccalaureus computationis (BCompt). Many universities offer accounting as a sole focus or in combination with subjects like finance, economics, or business management in a joint-degree format. Additionally, degrees such as the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in accounting and the Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in accounting are also popular. 

Most accounting degrees are accredited by national professional bodies, ensuring that graduates meet industry standards. Examples include the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA), and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in the UK, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in the US.  

An accredited degree often provides graduates with exemptions from certain exams, facilitating their path to becoming chartered accountants.  

Entry requirements for accounting degrees

Entry requirements at the best universities for accounting and finance vary globally but typically include a strong academic background in mathematics and business studies. For a bachelor's degree, applicants usually need a high school diploma or equivalent, with good grades in mathematics, economics or business studies. Some programmes may require standardised test scores such as the SAT or ACT in the US, or A-Levels in the UK.  

For a master's degree in accounting, candidates generally need a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field, with a competitive GPA.  

Additional requirements may include professional work experience and standardised test scores like the GMAT or GRE. Proficiency in English, demonstrated through tests like TOEFL or IELTS, is also commonly required for non-native speakers. 

What to expect from undergraduate accounting degrees

Generally, undergraduate accounting degrees last four years in the US, three-to-four years in the UK, and three years in Singapore, Australia, and most other countries. In Malta, they last two years for students with exceptional grades in a Bachelor of Commerce degree. 

In the first year, students are introduced to key topics in accounting, finance and business. They can then specialise in specific accounting topics based on the institution’s available modules. Assessment methods include major research projects, reports, group presentations and portfolios. 

Teaching is typically classroom-based, involving lectures, seminars, case studies and IT workshops using accounting software. Most institutions have teaching staff with professional experience in accounting and finance and the best accounting schools often offer industrial placements for students to gain practical work experience and professional contacts locally or abroad. 

Accounting specialisations

Accounting degrees typically start with foundational topics including accounting systems, techniques, theory, auditing, financial accounting, business fundamentals, IT skills, economics, management accounting, quantitative methods, and taxation.  

As students progress, they can specialise in emerging areas such as business strategy, financial planning, behavioural economics, international taxation practices, forensic accounting, sustainability accounting, and data analytics in accounting.  

These specialisations cater to evolving industry demands and integrate advanced technologies and analytical approaches into accounting practice. 

Some popular accounting topics students can choose include: 

Financial technology (FinTech) 

This specialisation focuses on integrating innovative technologies into financial services. It covers areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data analytics applied to financial transactions and reporting.  

FinTech specialists in accounting learn to leverage these technologies to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and security in financial operations. They also study regulatory frameworks and ethical considerations related to digital finance, preparing them to navigate and innovate within the rapidly evolving financial landscape. 

Blockchain in finance 

With this specialisation, students will get a chance to study about the application of blockchain technology to financial systems. Students will be taught how blockchain can enhance transparency, security, and efficiency in financial transactions and record-keeping.  

The curriculum typically covers the principles of blockchain, its implementation in areas like cryptocurrencies and smart contracts, and its impact on auditing and compliance. Graduates will be prepared to leverage blockchain technology to innovate and improve financial processes, addressing challenges related to fraud, data integrity, and transaction speed in the financial industry. 

Management accounting 

A specialisation in management accounting focuses on providing the skills and knowledge needed to support strategic decision-making within organisations. Students get a chance to learn about budgeting, cost analysis, performance measurement, and financial planning.  

The curriculum often includes topics like management control systems, internal auditing, and financial reporting for internal use. This specialisation prepares graduates to analyse financial data, develop effective management strategies, and contribute to the overall efficiency and profitability of businesses by offering insights that go beyond traditional accounting practices. 


Accounting course specialisations in taxation equips students with expertise in tax laws, regulations, and compliance. The curriculum typically covers individual and corporate taxation, tax planning and strategy, and the preparation of tax returns.  

Students also learn about international taxation, tax research methods, and the ethical implications of tax practices.  

This specialisation prepares graduates to navigate complex tax systems, provide strategic tax advice, and ensure compliance with ever-changing tax legislation, making them valuable assets to both individuals and organisations. 

Forensic accounting 

‘Forensic’ means ‘suitable for use in a court of law’. Thus, forensic accounting is the use of accounting principles to a specified standard in order to present findings at a court of law when investigating financial fraud and white-collar crime.  

Students will learn how to analyse financial statements, collect evidence, provide legal support and testify in court.  

The content of this specialisation typically includes fraud detection, forensic auditing, litigation support, and financial crime investigation, as well as topics like cybercrime, asset tracing, and regulatory compliance.  

Upon completion, graduates will be prepared to collaborate with law enforcement teams, and corporations to detect and address fraudulent activities, thereby ensuring financial integrity. 

Other accounting courses 

Other accounting courses you may come across during your studies include:  

  • Accounting information systems 

  • Business strategy 

  • Corporate reporting 

  • Cost accounting 

  • Data analysis 

  • Economics and management 

  • Financial analysis 

  • Government and non-profit accounting 

  • International accounting 

  • Macro- and microeconomics 

  • Professional standards and ethics 

  • Quantitative analysis 

  • Reporting procedures 

  • Risk management 

  • Strategic management 

Accounting careers 

Accounting is one of the most sought-after fields for students and employers alike, given its critical role in maintaining financial stability and success across all industries. Within accounting, graduates can pursue various career paths including roles in financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, taxation, and advisory services.  

Graduates from the best universities for accounting and finance will have a competitive edge in the job market. A master’s degree or its equivalent will also pave the way to more lucrative accounting careers, though many graduates initially secure entry-level positions as accountants or pursue professional accountant status through practical experience at accredited firms.  

Specialist roles within accounting, such as financial accounting, management accounting, auditing, taxation, and advisory services, offer diverse career paths. Many aspire to join prestigious 'Big Four' audit firms Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young, and KPMG known for their extensive international networks and professional services. 

Financial accountant 

A career as a financial accountant involves preparing financial statements, maintaining accurate financial records, and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards. Main responsibilities include managing ledgers, reconciling accounts, and providing detailed financial reports to assist in strategic decision-making.  

To secure a job as a financial accountant, one typically needs a bachelor's degree in finance or accounting, proficiency in accounting software, and strong analytical skills. Additionally, obtaining certifications such as CPA (Certified Public Accountant) can enhance job prospects.  

Financial accountant positions are available across a wide range of companies, including public accounting firms, multinational corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organisations, making this a versatile and in-demand career path. 

Management accountant 

A management accountant plays a crucial role in providing financial insights and strategic guidance to help organisations make informed decisions. Their main responsibilities include budgeting, forecasting, cost analysis, financial planning, and performance evaluation. They often collaborate with management to develop financial strategies and improve operational efficiency.  

To secure a job as a management accountant, one typically needs a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance, while professional qualifications like Certified Management Accountant (CMA) might offer a competitive advantage.  

Strong analytical skills, proficiency in financial software, and excellent communication abilities are also essential.  

Management accountants are employed across a wide range of companies, including manufacturing firms, financial services, healthcare organisations, and large multinational corporations, where they help drive financial stability and growth. 

Tax accountant 

A career as a tax accountant involves specialising in tax planning, preparation, and compliance for individuals, businesses, or organisations. Main responsibilities often include preparing tax returns, advising on tax strategies to minimise liabilities, ensuring compliance with tax laws, and staying updated on tax regulations.  

To become a tax accountant, one would need a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance, while many employers prefer candidates who also has a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) qualification.  

Tax accountants are employed across various sectors, including accounting firms, corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organisations, where their expertise is crucial for managing tax-related matters and optimising financial performance. 


An auditor reviews financial accounts of companies and organisations to ensure the accuracy and legality of their records. Main responsibilities include analysing financial data, examining control systems, conducting risk assessments, and preparing reports with recommendations for improvement.  

To become an auditor, a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance is essential, often supplemented by certifications such as CPA (Certified Public Accountant). Auditors work as internal auditors within private companies, ensuring internal processes are effective, or as external auditors with accounting firms, consulting firms, or government agencies, focusing on financial statements and tax compliance for various clients. 

Financial analyst 

A career path as a financial analyst involves evaluating financial data, preparing reports, and providing insights to help businesses make informed investment decisions. Main responsibilities include analysing financial statements, market trends, and economic conditions to forecast future performance and recommend strategies.  

To secure a job as a financial analyst, a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a related field is essential, along with strong analytical skills and proficiency in financial software. Certifications like the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) can also offer competitive advantage.  

Financial analyst positions are commonly available at investment banks, insurance companies, corporate finance departments, consulting firms, and asset management companies. 

Other accounting jobs 

Pursuing accounting courses can open doors to diverse career opportunities in the field. Other accounting jobs you could explore include:  

  • Actuary 

  • Budget analyst 

  • Claims examiner 

  • Cost estimator 

  • Credit controller 

  • Financial analyst 

  • Financial trader 

  • Investment analyst 

  • Payroll administrator 

  • Personal financial advisor 

  • Purchase manager 

  • Retail banker 

  • Tax adviser 

  • Other roles in corporate or personal finance, credit consultancy or risk management 

Further sectors relevant to accountants include management consultancy, banking, insurance, business and the public sector, building societies, the stock market and working for multinational companies, not-for-profit organisations, NGOs, SMEs and the local and national government.  

You could also teach accounting, business or mathematics at secondary school-level and lower but will need to pursue further studies (PhD or Doctor of Business Administration) to commence a career in accounting academia. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Accounting is the process of systematically recording, summarising, and interpreting financial transactions to provide insights into an entity's financial health and facilitate decision-making. 

Accounting and finance are disciplines that involve managing and analysing financial activities within organisations or for individuals. Accounting produces accurate financial statements, while finance encompasses managing funds and investments to achieve strategic goals. Together, they provide essential insights and tools for effective financial management and decision-making. 

Finance focuses on managing funds and investments, analysing risks, and planning for the future financial success of an organisation or individual.  

Accounting, on the other hand, involves recording, and interpreting financial transactions to produce financial statements and reports, making sure that they are accurate and complies with government regulations and industry standards.  

Essentially, finance deals with managing money and investments, while accounting focuses on tracking and reporting financial activities. 

In accounting, you study how to record, classify, summarise, and interpret financial transactions. This includes learning about financial statements, taxation, auditing, and compliance with accounting standards and regulations. 

An accountant is a professional who records, analyses, and manages financial transactions for individuals, businesses, or organisations, ensuring accuracy and compliance with financial regulations. They also provide critical financial insights and advice to support decision-making and strategic planning.