Accounting is a large field at undergraduate level. The most popular course in this field is the bachelor of accounting, which is the main pathway into professional practice as an accountant. Accounting can also be studied as a major within general courses, such as the bachelor of business or bachelor of commerce degrees. These general degrees allow students to sample many different business fields, including accounting, providing a good option for students who are unsure about committing to a full accounting degree.
Not all students who study accounting want to work as an accountant, with some simply looking to gain skills that they can use in a range of other careers. If, like many students in this field, you do want to enter the profession you will need to check that your degree is accredited by the relevant professional associations (CPA Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and the Institute of Public Accountants). Accredited courses are designed to meet the needs of the profession and follow a core curriculum. In order to gain full accreditation as an accountant, graduates must complete further study and a mentored practical experience.
There are many double degrees available, which allow students to combine study in accounting with fields such as business, law or even humanities. Another interesting option is to complete a cooperative (co-op) degree, which combines study with paid practical experience. Co-op degrees can be very competitive to enter, admitting only a small number of students. In addition, a new degree structure has been established at some institutions, which has the potential to become more common in the accounting field in the future. The structure follows a US-style model where undergraduates enter a general pre-accounting degree such as business or commerce and then transfer to a postgraduate qualification in accounting.
Applicants must meet academic and English language requirements, which vary between courses, institutions and qualification levels. Some undergraduate courses in accounting require the completion of prerequisite studies in mathematics in secondary school. For more information about undergraduate courses and entry requirements, see Higher Education Undergraduate.
Where to study
Undergraduate accounting courses are available at most universities around the country, as well as at some private colleges and TAFE institutes. There are a number of specialist providers that focus exclusively on business and accounting education.
Accredited accounting degrees do not differ greatly in terms of course content, offering a core curriculum that is determined by the requirements of the industry. Work experience opportunities are important in this field, so check course outlines and contact institutions to see whether industry placements are integrated into the course (through a co-op course structure that combines work with study, for example).