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What Degree is Required to Teach Accounting in College?

An interest in passing on accounting knowledge to others may lead you to discover what degree is required to teach accounting in college. The answer to this question may vary a little depending on where you are in your education and career when you ask it. You may just be getting started with your interest in accounting but already know your main interest is ultimately teaching, or you may have been an accountant for a while but are considering a move from the office to the classroom. Your entrance on the educational path will vary depending on where you start, but ultimately all those who want to teach accounting in college will end up traversing similar paths.

Resource: Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs

Just Starting Out: Becoming an Accountant

If you want to teach accounting in a college setting, obviously you need to have experience as an accountant yourself so you can pass on the knowledge and experience you’ve obtained. If you are just starting down the educational path, that means first becoming an accountant. Although it is possible to begin an accounting career with an associate’s degree, if you already know that your ultimate goal is to become an accounting professor in a college, it would be a wise idea to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Once you’ve gotten that, and completed any other educational hours that are required, you can take and pass the certification exam to become a certified public accountant (CPA). Exam requirements vary depending on where you plan to work, but many areas require that you have some classes in business as well as accounting. An alternate route, depending on your areas of interest, might be to major in business as an undergrad (making sure to take necessary accounting courses), and then go on for an MBA with an accounting concentration. Whatever your path, your goal is to become a CPA and gain some work experience.

Moving on Up: Becoming a Professor

Becoming a college professor in accounting will likely require that you take your education to the next level by going on for a graduate degree. For most potential accounting teachers, this means a choice between getting either a PhD in accounting or getting a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree. It is possible that you can begin a teaching career without a doctorate, but that would likely be as a part-time adjunct professor or as an instructor at a community college. Both of those would give you teaching experience you need, but if your plan is to enter and stay in academia as an accounting professor long-term, you will need to go on for an advanced degree. The PhD usually involves more research, and it may be the degree of choice if one of your goals is to pass on some of your accounting knowledge through research and written scholarship.

Whether you choose to pursue a PhD or a DBA, your ultimate goal will be to pass on your knowledge and experience of accounting to a new generation of up and coming CPAs. If you have a specific college in mind where you especially hope to teach, you might want to talk with them regarding recommendations about the degree required to teach accounting in college.