Deciding to pursue a career in accounting is a wise move; after all, there is a lot of scope for career growth and development, a strong sense of job security, and the potential to earn some of the highest salaries on the planet.
So, if you’re wondering which undergraduate programme is for you, then you’re in the right place. We’ve compiled the latest rankings data from Quacquarelli Symonds, Times Higher Education and the Academic Rankings of World Universities to find the best accounting schools in the world.
10. University of Sydney
Average ranking: 24.3
Location: Sydney, Australia
As Australia’s oldest and most prestigious institute of higher education, it’s little surprise that Sydney has secured a place on this list; its accounting programme is in keeping with these high standards, too, with the course regularly ranked within the top 20 in the world.
Taught at the university’s Business School, students are taken through all the basics of financial accounting principles, as well as given the opportunity to pursue various electives; modules on data analysis, sustainability and current issues reflect the school’s modern take on the subject.
9. University of Manchester
Average ranking: 23.7
Location: Manchester, UK
The largest bricks-and-mortar university in the UK (only the Open University has more students), Manchester can trace its roots back to 1824; during this time, the school has evolved into one of the most prestigious in the country, attracting students from all over the world.
Its accounting programme is consistently recognised for its high standard of teaching, its ICAEW-approved curriculum and its uniquely close ties to top accounting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers; as well as a three-year study option, there is also the chance for students to spend an additional year working in industry with one of the school’s many partners.
8. Tsinghua University
Average ranking: 22.7
Location: Beijing, China
Located in the capital, Beijing, Tsinghua is one of the country’s elite educational institutions; numerous politicians, business leaders and academics have studied there, with the school boasting the biggest budget of any Chinese university.
Accounting students are enrolled in the School of Economics and Management (SEM), with the curriculum taught to international standards; language skills – in both Mandarin and English – also receive a strong focus, with Tsinghua keen to produce graduates who can combine innovation with analysis.
7. Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
Average ranking: 21.7
Location: Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong
The newest school on this list (the university was only founded in 1991), HKUST is nonetheless considered one of the fastest growing in the world, as well as establishing itself as one of the top schools in Asia.
It offers a four-year BBA in Professional Accounting, which includes the opportunity for student exchange programmes, internships and cadetships at the ‘Big 4’ firms and a diverse range of academic modules across associated business and management programmes. There are also regular case competitions organised by various professional bodies, giving students a chance to make strong connections across the industry.
6. University of Toronto
Average ranking: 20.3
Location: Toronto, Canada
Although better known for its contributions to the field of science, Toronto is still a leader in business education, too.
Taught as a specialist stream under the university’s Rotman Commerce programme (students can also pursue the Management or Finance & Economics streams), the course aims to teach key accounting skills, as well as develop important decision making, communication and analysis skills; it’s not just about business, either, with the school incorporating liberal arts into the curriculum to produce more rounded graduates.
5. Indiana University, Bloomington
Average ranking: 19.3
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Taught at the Kelley School of Business, IU Bloomington’s undergraduate accounting programme is regularly recognised as one of the best in the US, with a curriculum that is specifically tailored towards the CPA career stream.
As well as covering accounting principles, there is a specific focus on cultivating intelligent approaches to analysis, as well as the opportunity to apply for internships; students are even required to attend industry-specific communication courses to prepare them for the world of business.
4. National University of Singapore
Average ranking: 18.7
Location: Singapore, Singapore
Originally a medical school, NUS has evolved into a prestigious, multi-disciplinary institute of higher education over the last 100 years, with its business school – founded in 1965 – regularly identified as one of the best in the world.
It introduced a BBA accounting programme in 2007 which allows graduates to directly enter the professional stage of the Singapore Chartered Accountant qualification, with the curriculum particularly geared towards giving an Asian perspective.
3. New York University
Average ranking: 9.7
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Located in Greenwich Village (but with additional campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai), NYU is a truly metropolitan college; its accounting undergraduates study at the Stern School of Business, a renowned and highly selective institution with ties to some of the wealthiest business people in the world.
Students graduate with a BSc in Business, of which accounting is one of 13 study streams; as well as learning the necessary accounting principles to progress towards CPA status, the school also encourages undergraduates to co-major in a related discipline, such as investment banking, corporate financial management or securities markets.
2. University of Pennsylvania
Average ranking: 6.7
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Taught at the world-famous Wharton business school (Donald Trump, Warren Buffett and Elon Musk are all alumni), UPenn offers its accounting undergraduates a genuinely world class education.
This includes access to the school’s highly innovative study facilities, a flexible study schedule with opportunities to spend time abroad, and integrated leadership modules that are designed to create ready-made managers in the professional services industry. The course also combines traditional accounting with modules that reflect the profession’s evolution, such as in predictive analytics and basic programming.
1. London School of Economics
Average ranking: 6.3
Location: London, UK
As one of the most renowned universities in the UK – and a school dedicated entirely to finance and economics – it’s little surprise that LSE is top of this list. Located a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament, many important political, financial and cultural figures have studied accounting here, including AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes, BBC CFO Zarin Patel and GRI CEO Richard Nesbitt.
As well as covering the “basics”, the school’s BSc in Accounting and Finance also takes a diverse social science approach to teaching, with the faculty constantly seeking to pioneer and innovate; due to LSE’s prime location, there are also frequent guest lectures from senior industry figures.
Of course, getting an accounting degree is only half the battle; in order to become certified or chartered, you still need to take additional exams and secure a set minimum amount of working hours, regardless of where you are hoping to qualify. But in terms of a rich student experience, access to resources and the potential for making connections, it doesn’t get any better than these 10 schools.
Are you hoping to study accounting? Which school have you chosen? Let us know in the comments below!