Online Accounting Certificate Certifications, Programs & Resources for Accountants

The world of accounting requires a strong foundation of knowledge in financing, economics, mathematics and more. Years of higher education are necessary to earn the accounting degree; after that, certificates and credentials pave the way for more responsibility. Earning an online accounting certificate is the perfect opportunity for working professionals to expand their skill set, prepare for a new position or simply brush up on the theories and principles they learned during their first years of college. Here’s more information about accounting certificate programs that can help accountants reach their career goals.

Find Online Accounting Certificate Programs

Many students have benefited from the flexibility of online courses, and schools have taken note; today there are thousands of possible programs in accounting or related fields. How best can one narrow down the options? This search tool allows aspiring students to filter the potential programs based on tuition, the size of the school, the length of the program, and other factors that matter to them.

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Why an Online Accounting Certificate?

Those who want to expand their horizons, reach out for a promotion, enter a new field of accounting, or move into a related line of work might find an online accounting certificate quite helpful. Certificates can prove that a graduate has earned the in-depth knowledge necessary to move into higher levels of responsibility, or simply back up their already-sterling record for being “in the know” with the latest trends and technologies. Here are some compelling reasons why many in the accounting field choose to pursue accounting certificate programs.

Enhance Knowledge of Accounting Practices

Those who have been working in the business realm but don’t really have current information on accounting might want to pursue a certificate. That would give them the fundamental knowledge base necessary to move into new responsibilities at work, show their supervisors that they are learning more on their own time, and use what they have
learned to enhance their current job or look into a new one.

Remain Current on Accounting Best Practices

Those who are already well-versed in accounting know that the field is changing all the time; when a new law is passed or a shake-up happens in the markets, there is usually a ripple-effect that touches everyone who works in finance. By remaining current on the best practices in accounting, professionals can ensure that they are up-to-date on the points
that matter to their clients, their business, and their
personal endeavors in the accounting field.

Prepare for the CPA Exam

Accountants who want to be taken seriously must pass the CPA exam. Several certificate programs provide students with the practical and ethical knowledge to meet their state CPA requirements, thus allowing them to sit for the important exam. Keep in mind that many exam prep courses are tailored for a particular state, so those who are
looking into online programs should check to ensure the
program meets their own state’s criteria.

Open Doors to Financial Departments

Those who work in a big business might enjoy a lateral move from their current position to the bookkeeping or accounting department. In order to make that happen, students can look for certificates that will put the focus on accounting fundamentals. Once the courses are complete, graduates can then present their new knowledge to their supervisors
and request a transfer to the accounting department or one
in a similar area.

Explore Potential New Careers

What about changing tracks altogether? Those who have always been great with numbers and love the organization and details of accounting might choose to earn a certification that will, in turn, allow them to either sit for the CPA exam or move into a bachelor’s or master’s degree program. By branching out into a new area, graduates can
then move out into a new career, where they will test their
accounting mettle and build up a good reputation in the business.

Spotlight: 15 Great Online Accounting Certificate Programs

Certificate programs in accounting can be a great boost to a career. Taking those programs online means a flexible schedule, which allows working professionals and those with other obligations to complete the program at their own pace. Here are 15 popular online accounting certificate programs, to offer an idea of what students can expect.

  • Offered by: UC Berkeley Extension
    Cost: $7,225
    Length: 24 semester units (360 hours of instruction)
    Format: Fully online; however, some courses can be taken in the classroom
    Outcome: Accounting Certificate; those with a 3.7 GPA or higher can receive the Certificate of Distinction in Accounting

    Designed for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree, the program focuses on preparing students to meet the requirements of updated International Financial Reporting Standards through a solid understanding of accounting principles, reporting practices and regulatory requirements.

  • Offered by: School, institution or online program that creates this course
    Cost: $2,800
    Length: Four courses taken over the span of five weeks
    Format: Hybrid format; culminates in a six-hour weekend workshop
    Outcome: Preparation for the four modules required by the CPA examination

    The CPA examination requires passing four modules: Auditing and Attestation, Regulation, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Business Environment and Concepts. This four-module course prepares students to sit for all four areas of the CPA examination.

  • Offered by: Southern New Hampshire University
    Cost: $960.00
    Length: Six 9-week terms
    Format: Asynchronous online learning
    Outcome: Certificate in Accounting

    This program offers a strong foundation in accounting principles and practices, with courses in financial and managerial accounting, intermediate accounting, and federal taxation. Students will graduate with the knowledge they need to move into entry-level accounting positions in a variety of industries.

  • Offered by: Penn Foster College
    Cost: $2,424
    Length: 11 courses plus a proctored examination
    Format: Courses are online, but the proctored examination will be in-person
    Outcome: Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting

    Graduates will understand the basics of accounting, be able to analyze financial statements, use a variety of accounting software, create, organize and maintain financial records in accordance with law, assess financial operations and make recommendations to management concerning financial changes.

  • Offered by: Northwestern University
    Cost: $1,747 per course
    Length: Five courses
    Format: Online only
    Outcome: Fundamentals of Accounting Certificate

    Designed for those who have already earned their bachelor’s degree, this program is suitable for those who have budgeting responsibilities in their current job or those who want to move into accounting or budgeting work. Courses focus on all fundamental areas of accounting, such as reporting, assessment and taxation.

  • Offered by: Northwestern University
    Cost: $1,747 per course
    Length: 5-7 courses, depending upon prerequisites completed
    Format: Entirely online
    Outcome: Advanced Accounting Certificate

    This program is dedicated to preparing students for the CPA examination, including in-depth instruction in accounting research, communications, auditing and income tax. Students must have basic accounting knowledge before enrolling in this course.

  • Offered by: University of Virginia
    Cost: $11,400
    Length: About 20 months
    Format: Part-time online learning
    Outcome: Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting

    Ideal for those who are new to the accounting world or mid-level professionals who are hoping to increase their hiring potential, this program advanced student preparedness to sit for the CPA examination while explaining fundamental theories and principles regarding accounting.

  • Offered by: Harvard Extension School
    Cost: $10,200
    Length: Four courses, completed in up to three years
    Format: Fully online
    Outcome: Professional Graduate Certificate

    Students in this program will be exposed to advanced topics in accounting, preparing them to make intelligent decisions on cost behavior, budgeting, estimating and analysis, evaluation of financial performance, and communicate important information to stockholders, company management and others.

  • Offered by: Auburn University
    Cost: $15,300
    Length: 18 semester hours
    Format: Online program that follows a traditional university calendar
    Outcome: Graduate Certificate in Accounting

    This program consists of Masters of Accounting coursework for non-degree seekers; it is perfect for the working professional who wants to enhance their knowledge base. Graduates will be eligible to teach at the college level, move into the master’s program upon completion, and take classes required for CPA certification.

  • Offered by: Washington State University Global Campus
    Cost: $494 per credit
    Length: 30 semester credits
    Format: Online only
    Outcome: Graduate Certificate in Accounting

    This program, which is actually certification in business administration with an emphasis on accounting, offers students a broad range of knowledge that can be put to good use in the workplace. In addition to accounting courses, the program also touches on statistics, legal implications, business calculus and other topics that are helpful for the aspiring accountant.

  • Offered by: George Mason University
    Cost: $462.50 per hour
    Length: 30 credits
    Format: Fully online
    Outcome: Graduate Certificate in Accounting

    This program consists of 24 required credits and 6 electives, allowing for a well-rounded program plan that students can tailor to their needs. Certain courses are required as prerequisites, and those who already have a degree in business or accounting might have to take fewer courses than those who have a bachelor’s degree in some other field.

  • Offered by: Louisiana State University Continuing Education
    Cost: $231 per credit hour
    Length: 15 semesters hours/credits completed within four years
    Format: Student can choose correspondence or online delivery
    Outcome: Certificate in Accounting

    This undergraduate certificate is designed for working professionals who want to eventually earn their CPA license or need additional undergraduate credits for other endeavors. Courses include those in cost analysis and control, income tax and auditing, as well as electives that provide the student with room to specialize.

  • Offered by: University of Baltimore
    Cost: $2,554 per three credits
    Length: 24-30 credits, depending upon courses already completed
    Format: Online instruction
    Outcome: Certificate in Accounting

    This program is specifically tailored to those who have already earned their bachelor’s degree in another field but are hoping for a career change. The course consists of all the requirements set forth by the state of Maryland to prepare students to sit for the CPA exam.

  • Offered by: University of Miami
    Cost: $1,900 per credit
    Length: 16 credits
    Format: Fully online
    Outcome: Certificate in Accounting Practice

    Those who have no experience with accounting courses can turn to this certificate program, which introduces students to the most fundamental aspects of accounting and prepares them for entry-level jobs in the corporate accounting field. Courses focus on taxation, intermediate accounting, financial and managerial accounting and accounting information systems.

  • Offered by: Northeastern University
    Cost: $9,072.00
    Length: 24 credit hours (about one year)
    Format: Online only
    Outcome: Undergraduate Certificate in Accounting

    Working professionals who want to improve their skills or those who want to expand their accounting horizons can spend one year in this course, which will help them brush up on the fundamentals of accounting and finance. One of the key points of the program is instruction on compiling, analyzing and preparing critical business records.

MOOCs & Free Accounting Certification Courses

Those who are seeking free online accounting certification courses can find them through a variety of educational outlets. These free certificates can help professionals learn new skills, brush up on old ones or explore new avenues that might lead them to more exciting careers. Here is a sampling of what’s out there.

Course Offered by Length Outcome
Accounting – Advanced Controls and Transactions ALISON 6-10 hours Diploma
Accounting – Core Practices and Theory ALISON 10-15 hours Diploma
Financial and Managerial Accounting MIT Open Courseware 3 hours per week Students will learn the ins and outs of financial accounting for investors and managers
Influences on Accounting Regulation The Open University 6 hours Students will understand the history of regulations that affect accounting and reporting
Accounting – Control and Monitoring of Cash ALISON 2-3 hours Certificate
Business Analysis Using Financial Statements MIT Open Courseware 3 hours per week Students will learn to read financial reports, then use that information to value and analyze businesses
Introduction to Bookkeeping and Accounting The Open University 8 hours Students will become familiar with essential skills and concepts for day-to-day record keeping
Managerial Accounting New Jersey Institute of Technology 17 short lectures Students begin with basics of accounting and gradually work to accounting for managers
Accounting – Measuring and Reporting Inventory ALISON 2-3 hours Certificate
Completing the Accounting Cycle ALISON 2-3 hours Certificate
Corporate Finance for Healthcare Administrators University of Michigan 3 hours per week Financial and managerial accounting are presented in the context of healthcare
Accounting Analytics University of Pennsylvania/Coursera 3-5 hours per week for four weeks Certificate
Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination West Virginia University/Coursera 3-5 hours per week for five weeks Certificate
The Financial Markets Context The Open University 4 hours Students will get a crash-course on the basics of financial markets and the Effective Markets Hypothesis
Management Accounting and Control MIT Open Courseware 3 hours per week Intended for those who want to work as management consultants, senior managers or manufacturing leaders