When starting a career in accounting, the first step is to pursue an undergraduate degree in accounting. International students can make the decision to study as an accounting major while enrolled as an undergraduate student.
An undergraduate degree in accounting is usually a student’s first introduction to the field of accounting, as very few high schools or primary schools teach any sort of accounting curriculum. Students should enroll in a top university with a strong business school, make sure the accounting program is highly regarded, and ensure they will have the support of the program when searching for internships or post-graduate careers. If an international student is able to find the best program for them, they will surely leave undergraduate school as a highly educated accountant.
Accounting majors will find that the courses required for an undergraduate degree in accounting are challenging, yet very informative. Expect to take classes in business, accounting, finance and mathematics. Coursework is split into two separate categories: electives and major courses. Electives are usually outside the school of business, and are meant to give the student a chance to explore subjects other than accounting. Core courses are related directly to accounting and will be the foundation of the undergraduate degree. Accounting students will start by taking on introductory courses in accounting such as Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting. These courses set the principles of accounting that will be built on in future coursework.
Other courses you can expect to take include Cost and Quality Management, Auditing, and Federal Tax Procedure. Some programs may require undergraduates to take an advanced accounting course as well. Students will also take some specialized class such as Computer Applications in Accounting, which expose students to the new software that are necessary for accounting firms. You should also expect to take some type of business law classes. Some schools require multiple business law courses, and give students an option to study corporate law as well.
As with most educational programs, the usual program length for an undergraduate degree in accounting is four years. Some students excel in the program and graduate in three years, but it is not unusual to see some students graduating in five years. Accounting courses can be very challenging, and often students take a break to work in an internship position for a semester or a full year. This ensures some practical experience, as well as some course credit available. With courses in finance, statistics, mathematics and business, the typical course load of a student can be daunting. Accounting majors are required to take about 120 credits during their undergraduate career. This includes general education courses handled in the first two years of study, elective courses, and of course accounting major courses.
So what is the career outlook like for student pursuing an undergraduate degree in accounting? There are currently many openings as an accountant for a multitude of different companies, and future employment outlook appears to be great. While entering the work force is a great option, many students decide to go on to pursue a master’s degree. This degree demonstrates a real understanding of the field. In order to qualify for these programs, international students must also decide to pursue a CPA designation, which requires 30 extra credit hours beyond an undergraduate degree. This allows students to earn both a master’s degree and CPA designation and truly make them stand out. An accounting major in undergraduate school will build a get a great foundation in accounting and find that they are ready for their next step.