Online Post-Bachelor Certificate Programs to Become a CPA

Find out about online accounting courses and in which degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

Those who already hold a bachelor's degree in accounting can find fully online and hybrid post-bachelor's certificate programs that help prepare them for professional certification. Accountants who file reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to be licensed as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). To earn the CPA license, an accountant must pass a national exam and follow all the requirements set forth by his or her state's Board of Accountancy. Many state boards require 30 semester hours of coursework beyond those earned through a typical bachelor's degree program. Continuing education is also required to maintain a CPA license.

Online Availability Online-only and hybrid programs are available
Online Requirements Accounting software may be required
In-Person Requirements On-campus classes may be required for hybrid programs

Post-Bachelor CPA Certificate

An online post-bachelor CPA certificate program prepares students and working accountants to take and pass the CPA exam. Programs cover current principles and practices in accounting and financial reporting, as well as enhance student skills in data interpretation and analysis. A number of schools offer CPA certificate programs online, with minor variations that reflect state-by-state differences in CPA certification requirements.

Program Information and Requirements

Post-bachelor CPA certificate programs are available fully online, in traditional classrooms or in a hybrid format. All course assignments, readings and lectures are accessible via a school's website. Some courses might have a fixed date for completion, while others may be entirely self-paced. A CPA certificate program can be completed in less than two years.

A personal computer, Internet access and basic productivity software are the minimum technical requirements for an online CPA certificate program. Some schools may use a course management system, such as Blackboard. Instructors may require students to purchase various accounting textbooks and software programs. Communication takes place through e-mail, discussion boards and chat rooms.

Course Topics

Many programs are built around a core set of three or four fundamentals courses and a range of electives.

Financial Accounting

Students learn how to identify, measure and report the effects of financial events on the operations of a business in this course. Accrual accounting, processing, transaction analysis, inventory valuation, depreciation and net present value are among the concepts covered.

Managerial Accounting

This course covers the role of management in controlling business costs. Students learn the importance of information flow and analysis to an organization for purposes of forecasting, budgeting and productivity enhancement.


This course examines the design of an audit, methods of testing a business' internal controls and other responsibilities of CPAs. Subject matter in the course is likely to appear on the auditing portion of the CPA exam.

Career Information

An online post-bachelor CPA certificate prepares certificate holders to pass the CPA exam and become certified public accountants. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment for accountants will grow 13% (about as fast as the average for all occupations) from 2012-2022. Growth will be driven by the need for businesses to keep abreast of changes in laws and regulations, greater transparency and accountability requirements for businesses ( According to the BLS, as of May 2014, accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $65,940.

Continuing Education Information

Workers who want to improve their prospects for promotion to a managerial position can consider a master's degree program in accounting. Those who are interested in research or in teaching at the postsecondary level can pursue a Ph.D. program in accounting.

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