Every year, the leading business and academic periodicals issue their rankings of the top universities. Each survey has its unique ranking and methodologies, as well as rankings of specific study programs. The U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek rankings carry significant clout, and now that Businessweek has been acquired by Bloomberg, carries a higher cache when it comes to business school rankings. Below are five of the schools that ranked highly in each report when it comes to accounting programs, not taking going abroad for your program into account.
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame won Businessweek's top ranking in terms of the best undergraduate business school overall; it also ranked highly in the accounting specialty as the fifth best. U.S. News ranked it a similarly impressive sixth, for its accounting program, and awarded it a number 17 in terms of the best college universities. It is a private university, which generally suggests that tuition is going to come in well above national averages. Notre Dame delivers in this respect; U.S. News estimates annual tuition and fee costs of nearly $43,000.
Brigham Young won Businessweek's accounting survey, ranked as number one. Its overall rank for the Marriott campus was also high at number 11. U.S. News also ranked Brigham Young highly and awarded its Provo campus with a number three accounting ranking. Provo also deserves mention for a rock-bottom stated annual tuition and fee below $5,000. On the flip side, Provo was ranked a more lowly 68 in terms of the top national universities. However, from an accounting perspective, this could represent one of the more compelling values for a top-ranked program.
University of Texas
The University of Texas Austin won the U.S. News & World Report accounting ranking with the top spot. As a public, state-funded university, annual tuition for residents of Texas are very reasonable - below $10,000 annually - which could represent a solid return on your investment, given the ranking of the program. Students coming from out of state will pay nearly three times as much, but this is still cheaper than certain private universities, such as Notre Dame. As with Brigham Young Provo, the strong accounting showing didn't translate into a high overall ranking, as UT-Austin came in only 46 in the national university ranking. The Businessweek rankings were more consistent, with an accounting ranking of 19 and overall university ranking of 17.
University of Illinois
The University of Illinois Urbana Champaign was ranked just below Texas at number two in the U.S. News & World Report ranking. It also happened to tie UT-Austin at number 46 in the national university rankings, to mirror UT's high accounting ranking but much more mundane overall placement. Tuition for Illinois residents is very reasonable at around $14,000 annually, but costs double for out-of-staters to attend. The Businessweek rankings were 21 and 30 in terms of accounting and the overall university ranking, respectively. These are respectable rankings, but nothing impressive.
Staying in the Big 10 conference, Indiana University ranked number eight, in terms of the U.S. News accounting ranking. The national ranking was actually quite disappointing at number 83, even though in-state tuition is quite affordable at $10,000 annually; out-of-staters pay more than triple the in-state rate. The Businessweek rankings were average but more consistent; it ranked IU number 25 out of all the accounting programs and number 31 compared to all national universities.
The Bottom Line
Few of the above schools placed as strongly in the Businessweek rankings. Beyond the top-rated Brigham Young, Boston College, Emory and Richmond ranked numbers two, three and four, with Notre Dame in the fifth place spot. When it comes to choosing a specialty such as accounting, overall university rankings mean less, though it still pays to find a blend of a highly rated specialty and top overall ranking, such as Notre Dame. Obtaining your accounting degree from a well-respected program, along with pairing it with the right accounting certification, could pave the way for a successful career in accounting.