Working Online Towards an Associates Degree in Accounting

By Dana Hinders , last updated September 5, 2011

Working online towards an associates degree in accounting can facilitate any job search and many career goals. An associate's degree in accounting is considered preparation for a position as a bookkeeper, payroll clerk, tax preparer, accounts receivable clerk, or accounts payable clerk. Many working adults have found that earning an associate's degree in accounting can help them achieve their career goals while still meeting their other responsibilities.

Is Online Education Right for Me?

Although online education is certainly convenient, it requires a great deal of self-discipline to be able to learn effectively in this manner. If you struggle to stay motivated and on task without someone directly supervising your work, earning an associate’s degree in accounting by taking online classes might not be a good idea. Your accounting program will likely require classes in business law, macroeconomics, database management, financial statement analysis, and managerial accounting. Since many of these topics are interconnected, falling behind in even just one area will make it hard to complete all of the necessary coursework.

You generally don’t need to have a top-of-the-line computer, but having reliable Internet access is crucial when you’re working online toward an associate’s degree in accounting. If you do not have reliable Internet access at home, you’ll need to make arrangements to complete your schoolwork at the local public library, a coffee shop with free Internet access or a friend’s house. In most cases, you need to have a high speed connect in order to download course files and videos.

Choosing an Accounting Program to Attend

Online associate's degree programs in accounting are fairly popular, so you have a number of options to choose from. Some of the many colleges and universities offering online associate’s degrees in accounting include University of Phoenix, Everest University Online, Morrison University, Lincoln College of New England, ITT Tech, and Kaplan University.

Typically, programs offered as part of a traditional brick and mortar university are recommended over online-only programs. Accounting programs offered by for-profit schools are becoming more common each year, but these programs often charge high tuition and have low student graduation rates.

Accreditation is important when choosing a college to attend, since not all online schools are accredited. If you do not attended an accredited program, you will not be eligible for federal financial aid or be able to transfer your credits if you decide to attend a different college or university at a later date.

Some online colleges and universities allow you to start classes whenever you wish, while others stick to a more traditional academic calendar. However, even if the school lets you pick your own start date, you will likely need to have all of your coursework completed within a specific time period. Make sure you understand what deadlines you must meet before beginning the course. In most cases, you won’t be able to receive a refund for tuition and fees if you fail to complete the class on time.

At a traditional college or university, students have access to a career office that provides job placement assistance upon graduation. Not all online programs offer this service, however. Before choosing an online associate’s degree program, it is a good idea to ask about what job placement assistance they will provide when you are ready to search for your first accounting position.

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