Online Bookkeeping Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

For prospective bookkeepers, online school programs can be a way to supplement your existing career, or launch a new one. The importance lies in the amount of time you can dedicate to a degree program and how many years you wish to spend earning your degree.

How to Select an Online Bookkeeping School

Online bookkeeping programs are differentiated from each other by the depth of information covered by the program and the format and time constraints under which students must work. Online bookkeeping programs are offered at the certificate and undergraduate degree levels by various online schools. Accounting degrees, which also teach bookkeeping concepts, are usually available at higher degree levels.

Program Type and Depth

Bookkeeping normally refers to accounting as practiced by smaller businesses. Accounting is usually associated with larger businesses that may have specialized roles and functions for each of their staff members. There is very little difference between accounting and bookkeeping education programs, except that more in-depth programs tend to be called accounting programs while more basic programs may be in bookkeeping.

Students who wish to take bookkeeping classes should first determine the depth of education they need, then decide what level of program to pursue. Certificates and associate's and bachelor's degrees are all commonly available for bookkeeping and accounting students.

Time Commitment and Format

Different institutions offer their degrees in different formats. Some degrees are designed for traditional students who wish to attend class online, but can attend at regular times and turn in assignments on a strict schedule. More often, degrees are designed for a more flexible schedule, with no set assignment deadlines and only a class end date by which all assignments and tests must be submitted.

Online Program Options for Bookkeeping

Online Bookkeeping Specialist Certificate

Bookkeeping specialist certificates are basic programs to train students in entry-level bookkeeping, usually in as direct and efficient a manner as possible. Certificates only require a few core courses, and there are few, if any, general education requirements. Course topics include:

  • Statistics for decision making
  • Management theory and practice
  • Foundations of business
  • Business communications
  • Accounting information systems

Online Associate of Applied Science in Accounting

An associate's degree in accounting is usually vocationally focused. While there are some general education requirements, the priority is still to educate students in the bookkeeping trade as quickly and effectively as possible. Curriculum includes:

  • Management theory and practice
  • Accounting ethics
  • College algebra
  • Personal finance

Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting

A bachelor's degree in accounting usually involves substantial general education requirements along with accounting trade knowledge. Bachelor's degrees are normally presented through college education software, and students may be required to have audio or video capabilities to communicate with the class in conferences or lectures. A few of the required courses include:

  • Introduction to statistics
  • Business law
  • Cost accounting
  • Macroeconomics
  • Federal income tax

Schools with Online Programs in Bookkeeping

Berkeley College offers two degree programs online - an Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration, with a focus in accounting, and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. The 60-credit A.S. and 120-credit B.B.A. are both offered in classroom settings as well as online. Both programs provide elective credits that may help prepare graduates to earn the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential.

Washington State University, through their Global Campus, offers an online bachelor's degree in accounting. Business courses take seven weeks as opposed to the sixteen-week duration of non-business and on-campus classes. Sessions run throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Students will also need to earn a university certification in business administration before moving to upper-level courses in accounting.

The University of Maryland University College has an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting. The program is available entirely online, and options exist for certain classes to be taken in a hybrid format. Along with the accounting major, this program requires student to register for a minor in business administration.

Online bookkeeping programs typically fall under the accounting umbrella, and several levels of study exist. You might even be able to supplement your online studies with the occasional classroom visit, depending on program availability.

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