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Accounting Certificate Programs in CA with Course Descriptions

California has a number of schools that offer accounting certificate programs. Learn about 10 of these certificate programs, tuition info and program options to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

Schools in California offer a variety of accounting certificate programs, ranging from undergraduate programs to professional programs that prepare students to take the state's Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, as well as other certification exams. Programs may offer elective courses as well as flexible scheduling and internship opportunities. Students might take some of their courses online, depending on the school.


California State University - Los Angeles

California State University at Los Angeles is located about five miles west of downtown and has a 90-credit undergraduate certificate program in accounting for those who already have a bachelor's degree in another field or are pursuing a bachelor's degree in a different area. Those entering the program must have completed several prerequisites, which include microeconomics, macroeconomics, managerial accounting and applied statistics. Several of the mandatory courses include financial accounting, individual taxes, cost accounting, accounting technology and business finance. Students may also take electives in auditing, state taxes and corporate taxation.

California State University - San Bernardino

California State University in San Bernardino is situated next to San Bernardino Valley, about an hour east of Los Angeles. The university has a 36-credit undergraduate certificate program that includes coursework in accounting, financial accounting, accounting information systems, management accounting, taxation and financial statement auditing. Some of the elective studies include internal auditing, estate taxes and non-profit accounting.

City College of San Francisco

The City College of San Francisco is a community college with 12 locations around the city of San Francisco. The school has several credit and non-credit certificate programs in accounting. The certificate program in microcomputer accounting consists of 18-19 credits and trains students to use computers for tasks in areas like accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll. Some of the coursework includes financial accounting, microcomputer accounting, spreadsheets and keyboarding.

Non-credit certificate programs at the college include training for computerized accounting specialists, clerical accountants and accounting assistants. The certificate program for computerized accounting specialists prepares students for entry-level roles in accounting. The clerical accounting program focuses on the computer skills used in clerical accounting careers, while the accounting assistants program provides the skills needed to work in payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable and banking services.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University is about 11 miles from downtown San Diego and has a professional certificate program in accounting. This program helps students meet the educational requirements needed to take the CPA and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exams. This post-baccalaureate program includes courses in financial accounting and managerial accounting and may also involve studies in cost accounting, auditing and tax accounting. Students complete 30-31 credits of coursework, which must include 24 credits of accounting courses.

University of California - Berkeley

The University of California (UC) at Berkeley is located roughly 15 miles across the Bay from San Francisco. UC - Berkeley offers a professional certificate program in accounting, which is designed to prepare learners to take the CPA exam. The program is offered through the university's extension division and includes eight courses, such as intermediate and advanced accounting, accounting ethics, cost accounting and financial statements.

University of California - Davis

University of California in Davis is located in central California, about 18 miles east of Sacramento. UC - Davis offers a certificate program in accounting for current professionals, such as bookkeepers, bankers and accounting clerks, who want to gain more accounting education. This 24-credit program includes courses in financial accounting, intermediate accounting and cost accounting. Students can choose from electives in governmental accounting, forensic accounting, business law and workplace ethics.

The professional certificate program in accounting is ideal for students preparing to take the CPA exam and includes the same required courses as the previous certificate program. Students must complete 36 credits of coursework.

University of California - Los Angeles

The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) is the largest school in California and offers a professional certificate program in accounting through the UCLA Extension division. This post-baccalaureate program helps prepare participants to take the CPA exam or other certification exams. The 36-credit program includes courses that cover management accounting, federal income tax and internal auditing. Students may also take electives in international accounting, sustainability in financial reporting and partnership taxation. Students can also complete an optional internship in accounting.

University of California - Riverside

The University of California at Riverside (UCR) is about halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs and has a 36-credit professional certificate program in accounting. This program trains students for work in corporate, government and non-profit environments and also prepares participants to take the CPA exam after graduation. A few of the required courses include financial auditing, reporting, managerial accounting and tax planning. Electives offered include forensic accounting, IRS agent exam preparation, internal auditing, QuickBooks and partnership taxation.

Additionally, UCR offers a professional achievement award program for governmental and non-profit accounting. This 3-course program focuses on accounting practices that are useful for careers in non-profit organizations, schools, governmental agencies and healthcare organizations.

University of California - San Diego

Located in La Jolla, the University of California - San Diego offers a professional certificate program in accounting with concentrations in public accounting or corporate accounting. This post-baccalaureate program is designed for those planning to complete the CPA exam or other certification exams. The program requires nine courses, including cost accounting, individual income tax, business taxation and auditing. Participants interested in one of the specialization areas may take additional recommended courses, such as finance management and organizational dynamics. Some of the courses may be offered online as well as on-campus.

University of California - Santa Barbara

The professional certificate program in accounting at the University of California in Santa Barbara provides coursework that can help students prepare for the CPA exam. This 36-credit program features courses in managerial accounting, financial statement analysis, corporate taxation and individual income taxes. The classes in this 36-credit program are typically offered during the evenings throughout the week, although some classes may meet on Saturdays. A certificate in business accounting is also available.

Career Requirements

In order to become a CPA, accountants need to possess a bachelor's degree, complete at least 150 semester hours of coursework, pass the Uniform CPA Exam, have one year of accounting experience and pass an ethics exam.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Accounting Certificate Programs Offered Program Tuition
California State University - Los Angeles 4-year; public; large city Certificate in Accounting $11,152 for program (includes tuition and fees for 2015-2016)*
California State University - San Bernardino 4-year; public; midsize city Certificate in Accounting $4,635 program cost*
City College of San Francisco 2-year; public; large city Certificate in Microcomputer Accounting,
Certificate in Computerized Accounting Specialist,
Certificate in Clerical Accounting,
Certificate in Accounting Assistant
$1,598 per year in-state; $7,554 per year out-of-state (includes tuition and fees for 2015-2016)**
San Diego State University 4-year; public; large city Professional Certificate in Accounting Ranges from $6,976 in-state, $18,136 (2015-2016)**
University of California - Berkeley 4-year; public; midsize city Professional Certificate in Accounting $7,225 (2016)*
University of California - Davis 4-year; public; small suburb Certificate in Accounting,
Professional Certificate in Accounting
Cost ranges from $4,650-$4,950 for certificate program; $6,975-$7,425 for professional certificate program (2016)*
University of California - Los Angeles 4-year; public; large city Certificate in Accounting $11,860 (2016)*
University of California - Riverside 4-year; public; large city Professional Achievement Award in Accounting for Governmental and Nonprofit Organizations,
Professional Certificate in Accounting
$2,000 for achievement award program; $5,900 for professional certificate program (2016)*
University of California - San Diego 4-year; public; large city Professional Certificate in Accounting $13,530 in-state, $38,283 out-of-state (2015-2016)**
University of California - Santa Barbara 4-year; public; midsize suburb Professional Certificate in Accounting,
Professional Certificate in Business Accounting
$4,635 for professional certificate; $3,090 for business accounting certificate (2016)*

Sources: *Schools' Websites, **National Center for Education Statistics.

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