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Associate of Accounting: Online Degree

Research online associate's programs in accounting. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Several schools offer online associate's degree programs in accounting. Students in these programs get a solid foundation in business practices and principles, as well as finance. Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in the field or for further education such as a bachelor's degree. Most programs are offered fully online, but some hybrid programs are available. Campus visits may be required for hybrid programs.

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Associate's Degree in Accounting

An online associate's degree program in accounting is designed to help prepare graduates for careers in finance, accounting, and acquisitions. In addition to covering basic accounting principles and theories, associate's degree programs in accounting feature courses in business law, finance, human resources and ethics.

Students interested in studying accounting could also look into online programs in business administration or financial support services. Similar concepts and courses can be found throughout these related programs.

Information and Requirements

Online associate's degree programs in accounting generally take two years as a full-time student to complete. Part-time study is an option in many programs, as distance learning opportunities are well suited to working adults. Many schools allow students to complete accounting degrees exclusively through online coursework, with hybrid programs also frequently available.

Delivery of online accounting courses is generally carried out with academic programs like Blackboard or Moodle, with lectures and assignments often posted by instructors in a message board-style environment. Often, students will engage with each other and with their instructor by posting comments and responses. Hybrid courses involve face-to-face class meetings as well as a Web environment for posting quizzes and other assignments. A student e-mail account is usually all that is needed to access course-related content.

Accounting Courses

Most associate's degree programs require general education courses. Though these requirements vary by school, accounting students are typically required to take courses in computer applications, mathematics and humanities. Core accounting courses generally focus on business law, finance and accepted accounting practices.

Financial Accounting

Students learn generally-accepted accounting principles and analyze business transactions. Ethics issues, financial statement preparation, and corporate accounting concepts are also covered.

Cost Management

This course helps students understand the accounting information needed in planning and controlling operations. Analyzing costs in business-related decision making is emphasized.

Business Law

Students are introduced to the ethical and legal framework of business. Focus areas include contracts, negotiable instruments and the Uniform Commercial Code.

Accounting Software Applications

This course examines computer applications related to accounting systems. Areas of emphasis include accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory and general ledger management.


Career Information

Graduates of online associate's degree programs in accounting can attain entry-level positions in government agencies, accounting firms or private industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects below-average employment opportunities for accounting, auditing and bookkeeping clerks in the coming years, with an expected decrease of 8 percent from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2015, the BLS reported a national median salary of $37,250 for accounting, auditing and bookkeeping clerks.

Continuing Education Information

Students who complete an online associate's degree in accounting often move on to earn bachelor's degrees or advanced degrees such as a Master in Professional Accounting (MPA). Certified public accountant (CPA) certification is necessary for many senior level accounting positions, and licensing requirements vary by state. A bachelor's degree with some additional coursework is usually the minimum education requirement for CPA licensing. Bachelor's and master's degree programs in accounting are also widely available in online formats.

Online associate's degree programs in accounting typically cover courses in financial accounting, cost management, business law and accounting software. Graduates may find entry-level work as clerks in accounting, auditing or bookkeeping, or they can pursue further education at the bachelor's or master's degree levels.

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