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Graduate Certificate in Accounting: Online Certificate

Get info about online graduate certificate programs in accounting. Read about program requirements, course topics and certification, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Students with a bachelor's degree, preferably in accounting or business, can fine tune their knowledge in a graduate certificate program. Many of these programs are available entirely through online study, which is convenient for working students because they can log in and view an archived class session at any time. Other programs combine online and on-campus studies. Students may be required to take proctored exams.

These certificate programs give students a look at accounting principles and various types of accounting, such as cost accounting and managerial accounting. Auditing is usually covered, and students learn about analyzing financial statements.

Credits from a certificate program usually can be applied toward the education requirements to take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam, or toward continuing education requirements in these professions. Each state has its own requirements for licensing CPAs, CMAs and other accounting professionals.

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Graduate Accounting Certificate

Online graduate certificate programs in accounting typically offer advanced courses in financial, cost and managerial accounting and taxation. Students who already have a bachelor's degree in accounting or business can apply their certificate toward career advancement or a master's degree.

Information and Requirements

Students can earn an online graduate certificate in accounting in about six to eight months, depending on the number of credits required. Many programs offer courses entirely online. Some programs include a hybrid option, which means students complete a combination of online and on-campus coursework. Proctored exams, which must be taken in person, are required at some schools.

Course Topics

Online graduate certificate in accounting programs typically include upper-level courses with different subject matter than students are exposed to in an accounting bachelor's degree program. Courses cover topics like financial statements, auditing and corporate taxes.

Advanced Financial Accounting

Students learn how to prepare financial statements for entities such as corporations, estates and partnerships. Other possible topics include preparing local and state income taxes, reporting for nonprofit organizations and analyzing consolidated financial statements.

Cost Management

This course covers managerial accounting topics, including interpreting financial data, using the information to make decisions and communicating the results. Students also learn about activity- vs. process-based costing, budgeting and evaluating performance.

Federal Taxation

In this course, students learn about federal taxation of individuals or businesses. Concepts include income tax exemptions, deductions and credits. Students also learn about payroll taxes and the effects of federal regulations on businesses.


Career Information

Graduates of online graduate accounting certificate programs can work as accountants, analysts and auditors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for accountants and auditors was expected to increase by 11% between 2014 and 2024, which is a fast than average growth rate for occupations. Also according to the BLS in May 2015, accountants and auditors made a mean annual salary of $75,280.

Continuing Education Information

After earning a graduate certificate in accounting, students might decide to pursue a master's degree in accounting or Master of Business Administration. Both degree programs are widely available online. Those who decide to pursue certification as a CPA or CMA should check the requirements of the state in which they intend to practice. Most states require students to have a bachelor's degree, a certain number of credit hours in accounting or taxation, at least one year of work experience and a passing score on the CPA or CMA exams.

In online graduate certificate programs in accounting, students learn skills related to accounting, auditing, and analyzing financial statements. Further education is available at the master's degree level, which is also available online.

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