What Types of Internship Opportunities are Available for those Receiving Online Accounting Degrees?

Forward thinking, future accountants consider the possibilities of obtaining valuable internships before they choose to enroll in a school’s online accounting degree program. These students often ask online accounting school admissions officers and academic advisers about the type of internship opportunities available to students who participate in their online degree program. Here is an overview of the accounting career path, the role of internships in professional development and the most common ways of gaining quality internships for students enrolled in online accounting degree programs.

Certified Public Accountant Versus a Graduate With an Accounting Degree

While earning an undergraduate accounting degree prepares students for many business positions, there are accounting jobs that require licensing and certification. To work officially as an accountant, a person must be a certified public accountant (CPA). The CPA certification examination is offered by each state, and the requirements for taking the exam may vary. The general requirements for aspiring certified public accountants often include 150 hours of formal accounting training, some level of supervised work experience and a computer based test consisting of four major areas of accountancy.

Important Role of Internships Within the Accounting Career Path

Reputable online accounting degree programs make sure that their courses prepare students adequately to meet the training hour and competency requirements, but the most difficult certification requirement for many students to fulfill is often the one pertaining to supervised work experience. The most common way for recent accounting students to comply with the state’s requirement is through internships. The type of internships available are those that include auditing work and financial statement generation. The requirement is a difficult one because it is largely out of the student’s control. Students land quality internships because they either have connections, they have outstanding academic credentials that attract employers or they have prepared themselves to gain a position well in advance.

Tips For Obtaining Internships With Online Accounting Degree Programs

Many online programs excel at providing students with a flexible curriculum and even a comprehensive set of course offerings. However, some do not have the industry partnerships or infrastructure in place to offer accounting students meaningful internship opportunities.

A way to make sure that one is positioned to gain valuable work experience tailored for the CPA requirements is to choose an online accounting program that is backed by a traditional school with a good reputation. For example, the University of Alabama-Birmingham’s Collat School of Business has a highly ranked, online accounting degree program as well as a career services center that specializes in preparing students to gain internships. Students who have already chosen an online degree program that does not have a good career services center often join and actively participate in professional organizations during their college years. These organizations usually have deep industry connections that can help accounting students gain the work experience they need to become a CPA.


Although choosing the right academic program has a huge impact on one’s internship opportunities, it is not the only way to obtain quality work experience. Students who have excellent academic records and are actively involved with nationally recognized, professional organizations for accounting have the best chance of landing the perfect internship.