Online Accounting Courses Find open online classes and tools for students & professionals

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Sam McIntire Sam McIntire is the founder of Deskbright an…Read full bio

Accounting classes can help students, established accountants and business owners gain important knowledge to make financial decisions. The convenience of online accounting courses and the array of supportive tools often help to ease the learning process. Online accounting courses typically teach students how to balance and budget, analyze data and use up-to-date accounting programs to develop financial literacy. Learn about the benefits of taking online accounting classes, how to find quality courses and where to turn for helpful tools and resources below.

Search for Online Accounting Courses

Accountants are typically detail oriented and accurate, so it’s understandable that prospective accounting students might be compelled to look through endless pages of online accounting courses to find the right fit. While such dedicated research is commendable, the search tool below may be a more efficient way to find well-suited online accounting classes. Users can filter results based on price, course length, start date and institution to find courses that meet their needs.

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Options for Online Accounting Classes

Accounting skills can be useful to many people in various careers and fields of study. Luckily, there are different types of online accounting classes to meet their individual needs and goals. Those looking for online accounting classes will most commonly find three course types: certificate, for-credit and informational only. The table below breaks down these categories to help students discover which types of courses are best suited for them.

Certificate For-credit Informational
What is this type of course?
Some courses offer certificates of completion to students who finish the class with a specified success rate. These accounting certificates can be used to validate knowledge and skills, but typically don’t translate to professional certification or college credit. Universities sometimes offer open online accounting courses. While they usually cost as much as regular college courses, anyone can enroll and earn college credit upon course completion. Informational courses give students accounting skills and knowledge, but do not provide any credit or tangible verification. They are typically an inexpensive way to learn about accounting for personal use.
Who takes this type of course?
Accounting professionals who want to learn new skills and have proof of knowledge to put on résumés. Accounting students looking to earn their degrees. Students and professionals who want to brush up on accounting skills, or beginners who want to learn accounting for their business or personal finances.

Add It Up: Top 5 Online Accounting Courses

While accounting is a fairly straightforward subject, there are a variety of online accounting courses from which to choose. The list below includes the best accounting classes for students who want a quick rundown on the latest accounting software, those who are interested in a detailed and comprehensive look at accounting and students who fall somewhere in between.

Accounting Basics for Managers and Entrepreneurs
  • Offered by: University of Illinois
  • Price: $79 each, $395 for all four courses
  • Length: 16 weeks, plus a capstone project
  • Format: Videos, readings, quizzes and a capstone
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This series of four courses is designed for students to learn the fundamentals of both financial accounting and managerial accounting, including how to analyze and understand managerial financial statements and assess information for decision-making. At the end of the four courses, new skills are applied in a capstone project, where students make a comprehensive mock business plan.

Accounting in 60 Minutes – A Brief Introduction
  • Offered by: Udemy
  • Price: Free
  • Length: 1.5 hours
  • Format: Videos and quizzes
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This accounting crash-course is aimed at business owners and managers as well as business and accounting students who are just learning accounting or do not feel they have a solid understanding of accounting basics. By the end of the course, students should have a good understanding of the accounting equation, balance sheets, income statements and the differences between debit and credit.

QuickBooks Pro 2015 Essential Training
  • Offered by: Lynda
  • Price: Free with Lynda subscription
  • Length: Four hours
  • Format: Videos
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This detailed video courses will introduce users to QuickBooks™ and those who need help getting to know this particular version of the program how to set up their company profile and navigate the daily accounting functions. Students will learn how to input company information, set up sales tax, conduct billing and receiving processes, and run reports.

Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination
  • Offered by: West Virginia University
  • Price: Free to audit, $49 for verified certificate
  • Length: Four weeks at 3-5 hours/week
  • Format: Videos, readings, discussions and quizzes
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This course details who commits fraud and how a person can defend against fraud. By the end of the course, students will understand the differences between accidental and predator fraudsters, the effects of fraud, how to use big data to catch those who commit fraud, the basics of money laundering and how to be an effective whistleblower.

Accounting Analytics
  • Offered by: University of Pennsylvania
  • Price: Free to audit, $95 per course for verified certificate
  • Length: Four weeks at 3-5 hours/week
  • Format: Videos, readings and quizzes
  • Eligible for college credit?: No

This course goes beyond collecting and organizing data and teaches students how to analyze the accounting information they collect to get insights into the financial performance of a business. Students will learn how this information can be used to create effective business strategies and forecast events.

Three Main Benefits to Online Accounting Classes

For some, the applicability of accounting skills in a range of settings and the convenience of online courses are reason enough to take an online accounting class. Those who are still not sure if online accounting classes are worth it should take a look at the top three reasons for people, from CPAs to freelance artists, to take online accounting courses.

1 Understand your personal finances

While accounting skills are good for those managing business finances, these skills can also be applied to personal finances. By taking an introductory accounting course online, students and professionals of any background can gain a better understanding of their personal finances, learning how to track expenses and how to stay within a budget.

2 Prepare for accountant certification

According the to Bureau of Labor Statistics, specializing in a certain area of accounting improves job prospects, which means many professionals may decide to become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Online courses are great study tools for those who want to prepare for the CPA examination.

3 Learn how to use new accounting software

Understanding the ins and outs of the latest accounting programs can aid in the bookkeeping process. Accountants who need to use programs like QuickBooks as well as individuals who are the owner, operator, sole employee or bookkeeper of their own business and are looking to use a simple accounting app can take advantage of online classes.

Apps & Podcasts for Number Crunchers

Apps

Phones and tablets can become powerful learning and business tools when the right apps come into play. From studying introductory concepts to preparing invoices, the apps below can help online accounting students during all points of their studies and into their professions.

Becker’s CPA Exam Review

Free
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Becker’s CPA Exam Review

Setting aside large chunks of time to study for the CPA exam is not always easy. Luckily, this app helps users study for the exam whenever they have a free moment. The app includes lectures, e-books, multiple choice questions and two full practice exams.

FreshBooks

$35.95/month
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FreshBooks

FreshBooks is a streamlined accounting app designed for small businesses. Users can make invoices, log receipts, take credit cards and track payments all from their mobile devices. Different payment options are available for different sized businesses.

Accounting Calculator

Free
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Accounting Calculator

When it comes to accounting, a regular calculator doesn’t always cut it. This app is a free, easy-to-use solution. Users can set up tax rates within the calculator, making it easy to account for taxes while doing other calculations.

My Accounting Teacher

Free
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My Accounting Teacher

Whether accounting students need extra help understanding specific accounting topics or they have a quiz they need to study for at the last minute, My Accounting Teacher provides lectures, videos and other study tools that can help.

Podcasts

For many, studying and practicing accounting means a lot of time in front of the computer. Podcasts are a great way to brush up on accounting skills, learn about new tools and discover the ins and outs of the professional accounting world while taking a break from the screen. The podcasts below conveniently and efficiently provide useful information to both accounting students and seasoned professionals.

The Bean Counter Andrew Argue Recent Episode to Try: 20+ Non-traditional Accounting Jobs

This podcasts covers pretty much every aspect of having a successful accounting career, from navigating college and creating résumés to negotiating pay and dealing with bad coworkers.

Accounting Best Practices Steve Bragg Recent Episode to Try: Accounting Internships

This extremely popular podcast offers quick, straightforward information on accounting standards and best practices along with a variety of other accounting topics, including accounting technology to investor relations.

CPA Exam Review Jeff Elliott Recent Episode to Try: NASBA’s 12 CPA Exam Errors to Avoid

This is an excellent podcast for accounting students who want to study for the CPA exam but who are too tired from reviewing notes to read anymore. CPA Jeff Elliott covers a range of topics, such as exam errors to avoid and how to take notes for the exam.

Thriveal Podcasts Jason Blumer and Greg Kyte Recent Episode to Try: Am I An Entrepreneur?

In this high-energy, quippy podcast, hosts Jason and Greg share their experiences in the public accounting world. Guests frequently appear on the show to provide additional insight and humor.

Expert Advice for Taking Online Accounting Courses

Do you think online accounting courses have certain benefits that in-person courses do not?
Sam McIntire

Online accounting courses can be served on-demand, meaning that it’s easy for students to re-watch lessons in which they need additional practice. This allows each individual student to create a customized, self-paced learning cadence and absorb information at his or her own pace. In-person classes, on the other hand, are generally delivered to large audiences of students, meaning that revisiting past lessons and continuing clarification of points is much more difficult.

Some students may worry about the quality of their online education. What are some characteristics of high-quality online courses that accounting students can look for?
Sam McIntire

High-quality online courses generally have a number of distinct characteristics: first, they come with live exercises that allow students to practice their skills in real-world scenarios; second, they have engaged instructors who are responsive to student feedback and questions; third, they have a large body of positive reviews from past students who have taken the course and enjoyed it; and fourth, they are taught by experienced educators who are qualified in their field of teaching.

How can taking online courses in various accounting-related topics impact students’ careers and educations?
Sam McIntire

Taking online accounting courses can help solidify students’ understanding of key concepts and allow them to practice important skills. This can be an invaluable tool that allows students to outperform at work and take charge of their careers.

Do you have any additional advice for people considering enhancing their accounting skills through online education?
Sam McIntire

Do your research! Search for online accounting courses online, and do a thorough check of reviews, professor credentials, syllabi and prices. Choose the course that looks like the best fit for you as a student, but still fits within your budget criteria.