The Top 10 Accounting Schools in the Midwest

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Recently, some folks here at Common Form began a virtual journey across the U.S. to find the Top Accounting Schools in each region of the country. As a follow up to our two previous rankings, The Top 10 Accounting Schools in the West and The Top 10 Accounting Schools on the East Coast, we braved tornados and the Wicked Witch of the East to find the top schools in the Midwest. While we didn’t find Oz, we did find accounting gold spun out of straw.


The criteria used to evaluate these schools include:

  • Job placement rates and average starting salary for graduates
  • Awards and recognition
  • Faculty and staff
  • Funds generated and allocated for research


We present to you the very best that the Midwest has to offer in accounting education, The Top 10 Accounting Schools in the Midwest.


10. Northern Illinois University, College of Business


Northern Illinois


Starting our list off in fine form with a ranking of #10 is Northern Illinois University, College of Business. This mighty Illinois business school beat out two well-known alternates to secure its rank in our top 10 list. “Finish the Fight!” Well done Huskies! What sets this university apart is the offering of a Master of Accounting Science in Leadership.  A rare degree taught by their notable faculty. This program provides students with leadership skills and the ability to effectively make important business decisions. Having the distinction of being ranked #1 in Illinois by Businessweek for providing the greatest return on investment (calculated by salary earned per annual tuition dollar spent). A degree from NIU is money well spent.  Students from NIU are expected to make a mid-career salary of $ 120,000 with 94% being offered employment upon graduation.


9. University of Missouri, Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business


missouri logo


Next in the line-up with a solid #9 is University of Missouri, Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business and they MIZ BIZ! 2014 was a memorable year for the university, marking the 100 year anniversary of the school’s existence. This birthday hasn’t slowed down the University of Missouri a bit, even if it is a centenarian, as they recently launched their Entrepreneurial Scholars and Interns Program. This is a highly selective entrepreneurial program for students including a 10 week paid summer internship. University of Missouri didn’t stop there. The year was also notable for faculty member Elaine Mauldin, as her research on audit fees was published by the Wallstreet Journal. All this bodes well for students with an advanced degree from Trulaske, as they can expect an average mid-career salary of $125,000,with 96% of students finding employment soon after graduation.


8. Michigan State University, Eli Broad College of Business


Michigan State University Logo


Michigan State University, Eli Broad College of Business pulls in an honorable #8 in our ranking. The Master of Science in Accounting program boasts that it “readies students to become leaders in the accounting industry.” The Eli Broad College of Business ranked #13 in the Accounting Degree Review 2014 Best Accounting School Super Ranking. This ranking combines BusinessweekPublic Accounting Report, and U.S. News & World Report and that is why it is super! Research plays a role in deciding those rankings and Michigan State College of business takes it quite seriously with 6 research centers total. Two of which include the Center for Venture Capital, Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance (CVCPEEF)  and the Demmer Center for Business Transformation. The school is also known for the Ernst & Young Communication Center which offers students career preparation, so it comes as no surprise that 99% of Eli Broad graduates find themselves quickly employed with an average mid-career salary rounding out the $92,000 a year range.


7. Indiana University – Bloomington, Kelley School of Business


Indiana University Kelley School of Business logo


Indiana University – Bloomington, Kelley School of Business is Breaking Away from the pack as these Indiana Hoosiers earn the highly coveted lucky #7. The accounting program has also been recognized by U.S. News and World Report and TaxTalent as a top 10 graduate accounting program. The curriculum at Kelley School of Business “mirrors real-world situations.” Students are expected to participate in consulting projects in cooperation with top corporations. Kelley accounting faculty is unrivaled by other larger institutions. Patrick Hopkins was honored by the American Accounting Association for his research uncovering companies that hid poor accounting practices to make their bottom line look better than it really was. With remarkable faculty like Patrick, students are well prepared to take on a career in accounting and are highly sought after for a close to 100% employment rate and an average mid-career salary of $103,000.


6. University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business


Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business


The University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business is located in Northern Indiana and while there is no hunchback lurking in the school bell tower, legend has it that you can still hear echoes of “Rudy, Rudy” being chanted through the stadium corridors. These “fighting Irish” do business as well as they do football, earning a respectable #6 on our list. The Accounting department is recognized for its Center for Accounting Research and Education (CARE), whose objective is to “strengthen the bridges between accounting research, accounting education, and accounting practice.” According to Public Accounting Report and TaxTalent Mendoza College placed 4th in the nation and is a highly favored institution among tax hiring authorities. It makes perfect sense, that 99% of Mendoza College graduates had an immediate job offer and enjoy an average mid-career salary of $119,000 a year.



5. University of Iowa, Tippie College of Business

University of Iowa School of Management logo


University of Iowa, Tippie College of Business comes in at #5 and that is no Field of Dreams! UI is located in the small percentage of the state that is not dominated by farmland. The Tippie Master of Accountancy program puts the power in the hands of the students with four concentrations from which to choose.  Offerings are in Financial/Auditing, Management Information Systems, Managerial Accounting, or Tax. The Accounting department faculty is top in their field. Many have been recognized for their pace-setting curriculum. Ramji Balakrishnan is a bit of a Tippie celebrity on campus with many acclaimed published works in the accounting field, including “The Influence of Institutional Constraints on Outsourcing,” published in the Journal of Accounting Research, 2010. 48(4): 767-791. Due to the stellar preparation, Tippie students who took the CPA exam for the first time had an excellent CPA pass rate of around 75%. Graduates of UI often earn an average mid-career salary of $86,000 annually. 93% of students are employed upon graduation.



4. Miami University (Ohio), Farmer School of Business


Miami University logo


Don’t be confused by the name, you won’t see any farmer’s tans at the Miami University (Ohio), Farmer School of Business. This business school is nestled in the Ohio Valley just miles from Cincinnati and has earned the #4 spot on our list of 10. Farmer School of Business is no novice to this type of recognition. The graduate accounting program routinely falls in the top 20 of Public Accounting Report’s list of top programs. Farmer is extremely competitive only accepting 20-25 students each year. They are well-known for their Experimental Learning including the Center for Business Excellence (CBE), which serves as a bridge that connects faculty, their students and external stakeholders. Another Farmer innovation in education is the PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Case Competition, which prepares students by requiring them to work in teams to solve hypothetical problems relating to taxes and tax code. It is no wonder that graduate employment rate is 98% with active recruitment by “The Big Four accounting firms.” Their average mid-career salary runs around $81,000.



3. DePaul University


Depaul University Logo


Winning the bronze medal is DePaul University. This school is the highest ranked Chicago business college according to Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 national rankings of undergraduate business programs. The graduate school was named for Charles H. Kellstadt, the former CEO and chairman of Sears. Roebuck & Co, in 1992. The Accountancy program is credited with three programs ranked in the top 10 according to corporate tax hiring authorities surveyed by The college’s Master of Science in Taxation program was ranked No. 2, Master of Science in Accountancy program was ranked No. 3, and the undergraduate accounting program placed No. 6 nationally. Graduates of this fine institution become part of a close-knit alumni network in the accounting field. It follows that an impressive 90% of graduates find themselves gainfully employed within 6 months of graduation and on average earn a mid-career salary of $120,000.



2. The Ohio State University, Max M. Fisher College of Business


Ohio State University logo


Second place is The Ohio State University, Max M. Fisher College of Business. Earning Fisher this distinction is its unprecedented student-faculty ratio of 3-to-1. This individual attention helps students excel and exceed even their own expectations. Fisher College of Business does not only set the pace for learning, their research centers are impeccable. Charles A. Dice Center for Financial Economics is just one of 10 extraordinary research centers setting the standard for innovation and best practices. The College of Business enjoys a ranking of 11th and 12th in U.S News & World Report and Public Accounting Report, respectively. Another aspect of the program that sets the Buckeye’s apart is its flexibility. 78% of the coursework is made up of electives. Students can pick and choose from: financial reporting, managerial decision making, finance, taxation, and auditing. The school has a strong job placement assistance program FisherConnect. Graduates can expect calls from top firms such as: Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, Limited Brands, and Chase, putting the post-graduate employment rate at 92% with an average mid-career salary of $96,000 a year.


1. University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, College of Business


University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign logo


The blue ribbon goes to the third Illinois business school in the line-up, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, College of Business. University of Illinois, the second centenarian on our list has been running a remarkable accounting program for 100 years. The university is  in the news not only for putting their controversial mascot Chief Illiniwek to rest, the business school ranked in the top 3 in both U.S. News & World Report and Public Accounting Report. Maybe their next mascot should be King ROI, as they were ranked #5 in a national survey for educational return on investment. Additionally, University of Illinois is leader in research. Two highly regarded research programs on campus include KPMG & UIUC Business Measurement Research Program which supports research on new measurement, reporting and assurance concepts. The V. K. Zimmerman Center was originally known as the Center for International Education and Research in Accounting (CIERA). It remains a leader in the nation conducting research on the study and teaching of international topics as they relate to the field of accounting. 98% of graduates quickly find themselves employed and enjoy a highly successful career in the business world, earning an average mid-career salary of $100,000. Bravo University of Illinois!


If you enjoyed The Top Accounting Schools of the Midwest, stay tuned for our next journey through the southern part of the country to find the Top 10 Accounting Schools of the South. It is not all BBQ and Big Hair, many of the country’s finest business institutions call the South home.


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