Earning an online graduate certificate is a fast and efficient way to enhance your credentials, prepare for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, or earn continuing education credits to maintain certain certifications. These focused academic programs are designed to give working professionals advanced skills in a specialized area and enhance their credentials. Additionally, students who become Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) can expect better career opportunities and usually earn higher-than-average starting salaries. Moreover, an online accounting certificate allows you to fit learning into your personal and professional schedules while also providing greater flexibility than an on-campus option. The typical curriculum will give you the foundations of successful business decision-making and the skills to analyze and report on financial performance in various types of enterprises. You will gain the practical experience of a financial professional’s role by using financial modeling tools and increase your critical-thinking skills while studying auditing theory pertaining to the regulatory environment, risk assessment, internal controls, forecasting & cost prediction, analytical procedures, sampling, fraud, ethics, and more. Earning a graduate certificate in accounting can help you advance your career and add immediate value within an organization and earning it online allows you to fit learning into your personal and professional schedules while also providing greater flexibility than an on-campus option.
Accounting is a service profession that involves helping organizations run more efficiently and successfully by managing and reducing costs, standardizing financial reporting, and often providing consultative services. Accountants are in demand as they perform vital functions by offering an increasingly wide array of business and assurance services going well beyond preparing financial documents. Businesses are now expecting their accountant to assume the role of personal financial advisor, who is not only aware of the current financial laws and regulations but also uses their knowledge to provide fiscal insight and basically anything pertaining to the organization’s managerial control. In other words, accountants today are an inherent part of the financial information arena of any successful organizations and, because of these new responsibilities, they need to be able to interact comfortably with management and clients alike. Furthermore, this particular career path is closely related to the growth of the economy and as the health of the economy keeps improving, the demand for accountants will keep expanding as well. Accounting is the language of business and a large part of what defines financial success for today’s corporations. On average, accountants and auditors earn approximately $60,000 while a CPA earns roughly $67,000, and, according to AccountingToday, starting salaries are expected to rise nearly 4% in 2017. Of course, accounting also prepares students for positions as financial analysts earning an average $80,000 or financial managers earning an average of more than $115,000. The programs listed below will prepare you to become an effective leader in accounting and make you more viable as a CPA. Accounting professionals are definitely needed in today’s job market, and, in this competitive field, employers typically select students from the very best programs, so we have compiled a list of programs according to the following metrics: Flexibility, Prestige, and Percentage of Graduate Students Studying Online.
1. Pennsylvania State University–World Campus
Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), established in 1855, is a public, research-intensive institution. The school occupies an urban, 8,556-acre campus surrounded by mountains in University Park, PA–within the Borough of State College and College Township. Also accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Penn State is currently ranked #50 Best National University and #14 Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report. Pennsylvania State University registers about 40,742 undergraduate students, promises a student-faculty ratio of 16:1, and 38.9% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students. Penn State–World Campus is simply the online portal, and students have access to many of the amenities of the physical campus while enrolled.
Pennsylvania State University–World Campus’ Graduate Certificate in Accounting is designed for students who already have a bachelor’s in accounting or who have completed comparable accounting coursework, but are seeking to learn about advanced auditing theory and practice, and want to complement with knowledge on tax, cost management, financial statements and reporting, and other topics. For those pursuing CPA licensure, the graduate certificate program also provides an opportunity to earn additional accounting credits. In addition, all four courses in the certificate may be applied to a Master of Professional Accounting degree. The 12-credit-hour curriculum focuses on courses which match your interests in preparation for the CPA exam, but generally students take Auditing Theory and Practice in which you will study the regulatory environment, risk assessment, internal controls, materiality, computerization, analytical procedures, sampling, fraud, ethics, and professional responsibilities. Additionally, students choose 9 credit-hours of electives from a wide selection: Business Tax Planning Theory & Practice, Accounting Information & Decision Systems, Strategic Cost Management, and Governmental & Nonprofit Accounting are some examples. The program guarantees prestige thanks to its AACSB-accreditation–something less than 5% of international business schools can claim. Additionally, the program benefits from Penn State’s overall accolades from U.S. News & World Report including #7 Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA) and #8 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. Notably, 100% of graduate students are studying online at Penn State’s World Campus.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A
2. Harvard University
Harvard University, established in 1636, is a private, nonprofit, Ivy League research institution and one of the most selective and prestigious universities in the world. Harvard has produced 48 Nobel Laureates, 48 Pulitzer winners, and 32 heads of state. The school can be found on an urban, historical 5,076-acre campus that hosts the largest academic library in the world in Cambridge, Massachusetts–a part of the Boston metropolitan area. Accredited by The New England Association Of Schools And Colleges (NEASC), Harvard currently ranks #2 Best National University and ranked #1 Best Value School by U.S. News & World Report. Harvard University registers approximately 6,699 undergraduate and 15,250 graduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 7:1, and 73.2% of classes cater to less than than 20 students.
Harvard University’s online Accounting Certificate will help students develop a basic knowledge in accounting for application in a range of industries and professions. Learn to compile, analyze, and prepare critical financial information for a range of businesses in as little as 1.5 years, or take your time (up to 3 years). This rigorous certification program requires 4 core courses on general accounting principles that will teach students to make informed managerial decisions, evaluate an organization’s financial performance, and communicate findings effectively. After this, students choose 3 electives from a list including: Non-Profit & Governmental Accounting, Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination, Cost Accounting, Concepts Of Income Taxation, and others. The program promises prestige with its AACSB-accreditation–something less than 5% of international business schools can claim–and access to Harvard Extension School which makes high-quality education accessible and affordable to many. Moreover, the online program boasts good participation as the 13% of graduate students are studying online. Finally, the program offers flexibility because certain courses can also be counted as electives in a related degree and because graduate certificates are open enrollment.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: Open Enrollment, Course Transfer
3. Belhaven University
Belhaven University, established in 1883, is a nonprofit, Christian liberal arts college offering a blend of academic preparation and Christian experience. The establishment occupies a 42-acre campus that combines the best of traditional southern architecture with contemporary utilization of space in a historical residential neighborhood of state capital Jackson, Mississippi–180 miles from New Orleans and 210 miles from Memphis. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC), Belhaven ranks #205 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and #78 Best Regional Universities South by U.S. News.& World Report for 2018. Belhaven University enrolls about 2,600 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 11:1, and 86.9% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Belhaven University’s Online Accounting Certificate is unique blend of personal, professional attention with a flexible, on-the-go classroom, prepare for careers in public, tax, government, corporate, managerial, cost and not-for-profit accounting as well as auditing and internal auditing and also fulfill the requirements to take the CPA exam in Mississippi. Additionally, it integrates christian faith into the curriculum and has an estimated completion time of within 2 years. The 36 (12 courses)-credit-hour program requires core courses Cost Accounting, Auditing, Individual/ business income tax, Forensic accounting, Accounting ethics and more.. The program promises prestige as it ranked Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA) and Best Online MBA Programs and Belhaven University’s Online Program was ranked again in 2016 for its bachelor degree programs among national colleges and universities in the Best Online Education Programs rankings by U.S. News.& World Report. Additionally, 76% of graduate students study Online. Finally, the program provides flexibility because you can earn up to 45 hours of undergraduate college credit through a combination of options and accelerated courses.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: accelerated courses
4. Concordia University Wisconsin
Concordia University Wisconsin, founded in 1881, is a private, Lutheran-affiliated institution and member of the Concordia University System. Concordia University Online is at the forefront of an education revolution—Concordia prepares students for the workplace and uses teaching methods that are hands-on. Notably, Concordia places an emphasis on topical, relevant, and engaging material with less focus on textbook and rote memorization. The establishment can be found on a suburban campus in Mequon, Wisconsin. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Concordia Wisconsin is ranked #51 Regional Universities Midwest by U.S. News & World Report for 2018. Concordia University Wisconsin registers about 3,830 undergraduate students, guarantees a student-faculty ratio of 11:1, and 60.3% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Concordia University Wisconsin’s Graduate Certificate in Accounting is an online certificate program designed for students who intend to become CPAs and are seeking to fulfill the credit-hour requirements necessary to sit for the national CPA exam–all within a Christian-based framework. Students will learn about advanced auditing, global production and operations, systems management, and the cultural and ethical landscape within the world of business. Notably, this 15-credit-hour program will cover case studies, recent articles, and practical lessons–like database creation and administration to create data models. Students will also gain a deep understanding of financial analysis, decision-making, capital acquisition, strategic planning, forecasting, cost-profit relationships, break-even analysis, and management planning and control. Coursework includes Fraud Management, Global Production & Operations, Database Management, Government/Nonprofit Accounting, and others. Finally, the program offers an internship meant to give students a real world perspective in a business related area and requires 120 hours. The program offers prestige because of a #95 Best Online Graduate Business Program (Excluding MBA) and #113 Best Online Graduate Education Program ranking from U.S. News & World Report. Furthermore, the program boasts 43% of graduate students studying online. The program offers flexibility because certain courses can also be counted as electives in a related degree field and students can start at any date. Finally, the program provides prestige because Concordia received specialized accreditation for its business programs through the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: Flexible Start Dates, Course Transfer
5. American Public University
American Public University, started in 1991, is a for-profit, online-only university with a focus on providing higher education to members of the military and those interested in public service programs. The establishment does not offer physical classrooms, but APU has corporate and academic offices in Charles Town, WV. Also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, American Public is currently ranked #92 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News & World Report. American Public University enrolls roughly 43,000 undergraduate students and offers a student-faculty ratio of 19:1.
American Public University’s graduate certificate in Accounting will deepen the accounting knowledge of practicing professionals and help develop advanced skills in accounting topics, all while following industry trends to help ensure relevancy to today’s marketplace and prepare for industry, consulting, and government settings. Through this program, students can also fulfill the educational requirements to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam. The 18-credit-hour curriculum will prepare you to use accounting information in business decision-making and problem-solving; teach methodologies, analytical, and critical thinking skills; and develop effective communication skills and ethical values. Required coursework includes Financial Reporting & Analysis and Accounting Theory & Concepts. After this, you may select 3 courses from the following: International Accounting, Individual Tax Research & Planning, Cost Accounting, Federal Taxation, and Forensic Accounting. The program promises prestige because of an accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) through which APU’s program has earned a Specialized Accounting Accreditation. Finally, the program can claim 100% of graduate students are studying online.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: monthly start dates
6. University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth
The University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth (UMass–D), started in 1895, is a public institution, recognized as a Doctoral Research University, and one of the five campuses of the public University of Massachusetts system. The school can be found on a 710-acre campus in Dartmouth, MA–downtown New Bedford is a short ride away and features restaurants, galleries. running trails, cafes, and live music, only minutes from the beach–just a one-hour drive from Boston and a ferry-ride away from Martha’s Vineyard. Accredited by the New England Association Of Schools And Colleges (NEASC), UMass–D is ranked #207 National Universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2018. University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth registers about 7,000 undergraduate students, guarantees a student-faculty ratio of 16:1, and 41.4% of classes cater to less than than 20 students.
University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth’s Graduate Certificate in Accounting is designed to provide professional development opportunities for accounting professionals who wish to gain skills and professional credentials in a competitive global business environment. The 12-credit-hour curriculum places an emphasis on the various cost systems such as basic analysis of accumulating and reporting costs of operations, budgets and other tools of management for measuring a business profitability, study of the techniques used to interpret and analyze financial statements effectively, fundamental understanding of financial statements, teaching to critically evaluate and solve actual business problems, and the study of financial reporting for international firms who operate in the global environment. To this end, required courses include: Accounting for Decision Making, Financial Statement Analysis,
Strategic Cost Management, and International Accounting. The program promises prestige due to over 96% of faculty holding terminal degrees, an accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), and #105 ranking for Best Online MBA Programs from U.S. News & World Report which trickles down to all of UMass online programs. Finally, the program boasts 43% of graduate students studying online.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: Additional Certificate Options
7. University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut (UConn), founded in 1881, is a public, coed, information literacy-oriented institution. The school sits on a rural 4,109-acre campus in Storrs,CT–about a 30-minute drive from Hartford, CT; 60 minutes from Providence, RI; and 90 minutes from Boston, MA. Also accredited by The New England Association Of Schools And Colleges (NEASC), UConn is ranked #56 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2018. University of Connecticut matriculates roughly 19,324 undergraduate students, guarantees a student-faculty ratio of 16:1, and 51.3% of classes cater to less than than 20 students.
University of Connecticut’s Accounting Certificate Program (ACP) is an online graduate certificate program that is rigorous, innovative, and relevant by combining the material from five undergraduate accounting courses into a four-course graduate sequence. Students will learn to think critically about issues facing the accounting profession primarily by analyzing case studies and completing a research project. Although primarily asynchronous, there are synchronous activities that require you to be online at specified times, but the certificate has an estimated completion time of 2 to 4 semesters. The curriculum covers intermediate accounting and coursework includes: Financial Reporting, Assurance Services, and Federal income tax. To start, students will learn about fundamental financial accounting theory and practical applications of financial statements. Next, the program performs an in depth-study of legal liability and ethics, audit risk analysis, planning of audit engagements, and auditor reports. Finally, you will study the fundamentals of Federal income taxation for individuals and related issues of compliance, reporting, and planning. The program provides prestige due to its AACSB-accreditation–something less than 5% of international business schools can claim–and because the UConn accounting program was the first in New England to receive separate national accreditation from AACSB International. Additionally, UConn received a #4 ranking for Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA) in 2017 from U.S. News & World Report. Finally, the program reports that 12% of its graduate students study online.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A
8. Walden University
Walden University (WU), established in 1970, is a proprietary, coed, public benefit corporation. Walden offers 140 degree programs with more than 300 specializations and concentrations, and cutting-edge technology is used to promote the support that students need to succeed. Walden delivers quality student services that include a fully-digital library, a career center with practical online tools, and student support available 24 hours/day. The school headquarters are in Minneapolis, MN but Walden has access to a global network of over 100 universities distributed around the world. Also accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, Walden ranked #19 Best Colleges for Adult Learners by Washington Monthly in 2016. Walden University matriculates about 50,000 undergraduate students.
Walden University’s Graduate Certificate in Managerial Accounting will teach you to effectively manage, analyze, and communicate complex financial data that drive business performance. With an estimated completion time of 10 months, this certificate will also give you the opportunity to prepare for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam. The 12-credit-hour curriculum teaches through the use of current and seminal case studies where students take a practical approach to examining the best practices of doing business in the 21 century. Core coursework includes: Decision-Making Tools for Today’s Financial Professional, Analysis & Communication for the Financial Professional, Legal & Ethical Issues in Accounting and Finance, and Managerial Accounting for Organizational Performance. The program provides prestige thanks to its AACSB-accreditation. Moreover, the program promises flexibility thanks to a transfer-credit policy of up to 6 credits. Finally, the program boasts 100% of its graduate students are studying online.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: Transfer Credits
9. University of California–Berkeley
The University of California–Berkeley, founded in 1868, is a public institution and part of the University of California system. The establishment can be found on an urban 1,232-acre campus in Berkeley, CA. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC), UC–Berkeley ranks #21 National Universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2018. University of California–Berkeley enrolls roughly 29,000 undergraduate students, provides a student-faculty ratio of 18:1, and 52.3% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
University of California–Berkeley’s Certificate Program in Accounting is an online program geared for accounting students who are preparing to take the CPA exam or simply wish to gain current, comprehensive knowledge of accounting principles, reporting practices, and regulatory requirements. Students will learn how to make better operational decisions and they will acquire applications-level understanding of financial accounting concepts–including preparation and analysis of financial statements–all with an average completion time of 2 years average. The curriculum is approved by UC–Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and is comprised of 6 required courses and 6 semester units of electives for a total of 24 semester units. Core coursework includes Financial accounting, Managerial accounting, and Accounting Ethics while electives include Auditing & Attestation, Accounting for Government & Nonprofit Organizations, and Cost Accounting. The program provides prestige due to its AACSB accreditation–something less than 5% of international business schools can claim. Finally, the program reports that 6% of graduate students study online.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: N/A
10. Post University
Post University, established in 1890, is a private, for-profit institution. Career services will help prepare students for future marketability with the Career Planning Timeline designed for all class levels. The establishment sits on a suburban 58-acre campus–famous for its over a half-century-old Post tree, which also serves as the school logo–in Waterbury, CT (its main campus). However, the school has 3 regional satellite sites in the cities of Meriden, Danbury and Wallingford. Accredited by the Connecticut Department Of Higher Education and also by the New England Association Of Schools And Colleges (NEASC)–Post currently ranks Tier 2 Regional Universities North by U.S. News & World Report. Post University matriculates roughly 6,800 undergraduate students, offers a student-faculty ratio of 19:1, and 81% of classes cater to fewer than 20 students.
Post University’s Certificate in Accounting (Post-Baccalaureate) is designed for students who hold degrees other than accounting or business fields and wish to enter the field of accounting and advance their career. Through this program, students will gain accounting training in federal income taxes, accounting information systems, and auditing. Students then move on to study financial, managerial, and cost accounting as they move from intermediate- to advanced-level coursework. The 36-credit-hour curriculum requires basic core courses after which students choose 3 electives among the following: Analysis of Financial Statements, Fraud Prevention & Examination, Forensic Accounting, Intermediate Accounting III, Taxation of Corporations, and Advanced Accounting II. Notably, the program can boast that 100% of graduate students study online.
- Flexibility Enhancing Components: