Accounting: Program Coursework Summary

Essential Information

Accounting courses are available online and on campus through certificate programs, as well as degree programs ranging from the associate's to doctoral levels, in accountancy and business. Certificate and associate's degree programs provide a basic accounting background useful for bookkeeping, auditing and accounting clerk positions. Bachelor's and master's degree programs generally include coursework required for Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exams, and graduates may work as accountants or auditors.

Certificate and associate's degree programs in accounting introduce students to managerial and financial accounting principles, taxation, accounting software and cost accounting. Although the course is sometimes included in a certificate or associate's degree program, auditing is usually one of the advanced topics covered in a bachelor's program. Financial statement analysis, government and nonprofit accounting, advanced accounting and international accounting are other courses that may be encountered in a bachelor's program. Master's program students usually study many of these same topics at an advanced level.

Here are a few common concepts that students can expect to encounter in their classes:

  • Personal finance
  • Cross-cultural negotiation
  • Supply-chain operations
  • Marketing communications
  • Human resources management

List of Common Courses

Principles of Accounting Course

This introductory course explains basic concepts of the accounting cycle and financial statements, as well as their place within organizations. Reporting of assets, equities, revenues and expenses as they are handled in single owner, partnership, merchandising or service types of businesses are also common topics.

Managerial and Cost Accounting Course

Businesses use cost accounting to plan strategies, control costs and evaluate performance. In this course, students learn about budgeting, cost analysis, manufacturing cost flows and managerial decision-making models. The roles and responsibilities of accountants in organizational management may also be explored.

Financial Accounting Course

Financial reporting is a strictly monitored field; misrepresentation of financial events can constitute fraud and lead to penalties. This course covers both U.S. and international standards of financial reporting, including how to measure income, value assets and liabilities correctly. Financial reporting of mergers, consolidations and liquidations may be addressed in more advanced courses.

Auditing Course

Auditing coursework covers the way financial reporting is done to meet generally accepted auditing standards. This course explains standards compliance, accounting controls and auditing processes, as well as providing a review of how financial statements are examined. More advanced courses might examine case studies involving fraud, with a focus on prevention and detection. Auditing coursework is directly related to public accounting and can be important in preparation for the CPA exam.

Taxation Course

Businesses and individuals need to understand and plan for the tax impact of their decisions. Taxation courses cover current tax regulations. Initial coursework might examine corporate, individual and estate tax-return preparation. Advanced coursework tends to explore ways to structure business organizations, mergers, personal contracts and wills to reduce tax liabilities.

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