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Online CPA Program Info: Training for Certified Public Accountants

Get info about online programs in CPA training. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

After earning a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field of study, graduates need additional 30 credit hours to qualify to take the national licensing exam for certified public accountants (CPAs). Many online programs offer CPA training, and students should make sure that any program they are considering meets their state's requirements for licensing.

In these online training programs, students can access course materials and watch lectures as their schedules permit. These programs focus on real-life lessons in accounting, and students spend time examining case studies. Courses may include taxation, accounting law, cost accounting and intermediate accounting studies.

Though many CPA training programs are offered fully online, some require in-person testing.

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CPA Training

Online CPA training follows the requirements set forth by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancies (NASBA), which include 30 additional hours of credit toward a bachelor's degree education. Extensive study materials and application of real-life situations are concentrations in training. Case studies provided in the curriculum help students apply these skills and evaluate their weaknesses.

Program Information and Requirements

In online study, courses are held in virtual classrooms and educate students through streaming videos, lectures and discussions. Students may enter class at their convenience. There may be a textbook the student uses in conjunction with online study. Some schools provide a CD that guides the student through steps in each course and connects them to the virtual classroom. Exams may be held online or through approved proctors in the student's area. Online programs require students to have a personal computer and Internet access for classes and some may require specific software.

List of Common CPA Courses

Intermediate Accounting

Financial accounting principles are studied in-depth and cover assets, liabilities, revenue and expenses. Students should already have taken a basic accounting principles course before intermediate accounting.

Federal Taxation

United States taxation laws are covered in this course. The course may be specific to individual taxation or include all business taxation in sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations.

Cost Accounting

Students in this course learn about the theory of cost accounting and systems. Accumulation, allocation and analysis of cost data and systems, along with managerial controls are some of the skills acquired.

Business Law

Laws applying to all types of business are covered in this course. Contracts, negotiable instruments, agency and bailments are some of the topics included.


Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual wages for accountants and auditors were $67,190 in May 2015. Employment in the field is expected to grow by 11% between 2014 and 2024, primarily driven by an increase in changing laws and regulations (www.bls.gov). As the number of businesses increase, more accountants and auditors will be required for tax preparation, bookkeeping and advice in financial management. Growth in these businesses will expand the need for consulting in internal control, costs and expenditures.

Continuing Education Information

CPAs can continue their education and achieve other designations in the field by meeting requirements and taking exams. These designations show a level of specialty knowledge that may provide career advantages. Some of the available designations are Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Accredited Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) and Personal Financial Specialist (PFS). In addition, most states require CPAs to complete a certain amount of continuing education to renew their license.

Online CPA programs allow certified public accountants to earn an additional 30 credit hours toward their bachelor's degree in order to qualify for the national licensing exam for CPAs. These programs may be taken fully online, although some require in-person testing.

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