Accountants and auditors are often lumped together, so it’s no surprise that many students wonder about the difference between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in auditing degree. While both degree programs can cover much of the same coursework and prepare students for many of the same career paths, an undergraduate degree in internal auditing tends to be rarer and more specialized than an accounting degree.
Studying Accounting and Auditing
Perhaps the biggest difference between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in auditing degree is the difference between general and specialized studies. Accounting students will take introductory courses in the principles of auditing along with their coursework in accounting, income taxation and macroeconomics, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students who enroll in a specialized program in internal auditing will also take accounting classes, but they will focus more narrowly on coursework in internal auditing. For example, these students will move on to intermediate and advanced studies in auditing tools and techniques, audit planning, laws and regulations related to auditing and audit function management.
The Popularity of Accounting and Auditing Programs
Another important difference between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in auditing degree is the availability of such programs. It’s only “a few universities and colleges” that offer undergraduate degrees in internal auditing specifically, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. These specialized programs are scarce compared to accounting degree programs.
Due to the rarity of finding an undergraduate internal auditing degree program, many aspiring internal auditors choose to earn a more general accounting degree from an accredited college, taking as many specialized auditing courses as possible during their college studies. Then they go on to gain enough auditing work experience to attain a professional certification like the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) credential from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) or the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) designation from the ISACA.
The Work of an Accountant and Auditor
The fields of accounting and auditing have a lot in common, which is why even the BLS combines the two careers into one occupation type. However, the work you would do in these positions is another difference between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in auditing degree.
Accountants are primarily responsible for producing financial documents. Auditors, on the other hand, review those financial documents for discrepancies, evidence of money mismanagement and ways to decrease costs and waste.
Due to its specialized nature and the difficulty finding one such program, not all students have the option or inclination to major in internal auditing as an undergraduate student. While the specialized coursework can be beneficial to aspiring auditors, it can also be limiting, since the degree is not as versatile as an accounting degree. Despite the many similarities, the differences between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in auditing degree should make you think critically about which education option is really the right choice for you.