Best Online Certificate in Accounting

by Doug Wintemute

Updated January 4, 2023

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An online accounting certificate can prepare graduates for entry-level financial careers and the CPA exam.

Accounting training equips students with practical skills and knowledge for the business and financial worlds. Many organizations seek to hire accounting graduates for their expertise in finance, operations, and management practices.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster-than-average 5% employment growth for the business and financial sectors from 2019-2029. While the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly affected the industry, many accounting professionals have continued to work remotely. The pandemic may have even increased the need for accounting expertise, with organizations shoring up their financial health and future-proofing their operations.

Individuals interested in accounting careers can pursue degrees, industry certifications, or accounting certificates. Certificates can help students prepare for entry-level roles, advance within their current careers, and bolster their industry qualifications. This guide provides in-depth information on these credentials, including available career options and a ranking of the best online certificates in accounting.

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The Best Online Accounting Certificate Programs

#1 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Coastal Pines Technical College

  • Waycross, GA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Coastal Pines Technical College’s online office accounting specialist certificate program appeals to students seeking flexible training relevant to the accounting field. From its campus in Waycross, Georgia, the public institution lets learners choose from 97 certificate options.

With career-focused classes, the program introduces participants to industry-relevant topics while providing insights into professional roles. Certificate-seekers participate in experiential learning opportunities to gain relevant skills for their career. Enrollees can choose classes based on their schedule and needs. The online program offers tracks for full-time and part-time students. These flexible options appeal to working professionals and busy students.

Learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about opportunities to pay for a certificate. Qualifying students enrolled in certificate programs can submit the FAFSA and pay for school with the Pell Grant. According to the school, 90% of enrollees receive financial aid and the graduation rate is 40%.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,147
Out-of-state
$4,294
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,498
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Ogeechee Technical College

  • Statesboro, GA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online computerized accounting specialist technical certificate at Ogeechee Technical College ranks high among programs of its kind. From its campus in Statesboro, Georgia, the public institution lets learners choose from 103 certificate options.

With career-focused classes, the program covers core topics while also offering insights into professional roles and responsibilities. Certificate-seekers prepare for the workforce by pursuing experiential learning opportunities. Flexible online classes and several enrollment options meet the needs of multiple learners. The online program offers tracks for full-time and part-time students. These flexible options appeal to working professionals and busy students.

Applicants can reach out to the financial aid office to learn more about opportunities to pay for a certificate. The school distributes federal financial aid programs like the Pell Grant. The institution reports a 52% graduation rate and 91% of enrollees receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,400
Out-of-state
$4,800
Retention Rate
67%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,079
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

University of Virginia-Main Campus

  • Charlottesville, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online accounting certificate at University of Virginia-Main Campus ranks high for students seeking online accounting training. The public institution, located in Charlottesville, offers six certificate programs.

The curriculum introduces participants to key industry topics while providing insights into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also prepare for the workforce with workshops, events, and experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can adapt the schedule to fit their needs with flexible coursework options. The program enrolls distance learners full time and part time. This flexibility makes it easier for busy students to balance school with work or other responsibilities.

When preparing for educational costs, learners should consult with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for assistance. The school's financial aid funding includes institutional aid, external scholarships, and federal financial aid programs. According to the most recent data, 57% of enrollees receive financial aid and the school has a 95% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,970
Out-of-state
$47,833
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
24%
Students Enrolled
25,012
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
10% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Fairbanks, AK
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online accounting certificate at University of Alaska Fairbanks provides accounting training in a flexible format. The public institution offers certificate programs in 47 areas.

The accounting program offers industry insights and career-focused training throughout its curriculum. Certificate-seekers train for their career goals by taking on experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can choose classes based on their schedule and needs. The online program offers tracks for full-time and part-time students. This flexibility benefits working professionals and busy students.

When preparing for educational costs, learners should consult with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for assistance. The school offers several internal and external funding opportunities, including scholarships and federal loans. The institution reports a graduation rate of 35%, with 88% of enrollees receiving financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$6,962
Out-of-state
$22,980
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
76%
Students Enrolled
7,179
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#5 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Lanier Technical College

  • Gainesville, GA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online office accounting specialist technical certificate at Lanier Technical College trains students for accounting careers in a flexible format. The public institution offers 123 certificate programs from its main campus in Gainesville, Georgia.

With industry-tailored classes, the accounting program introduces participants to foundational topics and offers industry insights. Certificate-seekers can also boost their career training with workshops, events, and internship opportunities. Enrollees can modify the program based on their schedule. The program uses full-time and part-time schedules for distance learners. This flexibility allows busy students to balance school with work or other obligations.

Distance learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for certificate programs. The school's funding options include scholarships, internal aid, and federal aid programs. With 83% of all enrollees receiving financial aid, the school boasts a 39% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,000
Out-of-state
$6,000
Retention Rate
60%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,616
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

  • Valdosta, GA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online accounting diploma program at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College appeals to students seeking career training in a flexible format. The public institution offers 106 certificate programs from its main campus in Valdosta, Georgia.

The curriculum covers industry-relevant topics while providing a deep insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers work with faculty mentors to individualize their program and pursue experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can also modify their coursework and degree trajectory to suit their schedule. The online accounting program enrolls students full time and part time. Busy learners benefit from the flexibility to balance school with work and other obligations.

The accredited institution meets federal requirements to distribute financial aid assistance through the FAFSA. The school distributes federal financial aid programs like the Pell Grant. Out of the total student body, 95% receive financial aid and the school reports a 45% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,400
Out-of-state
$4,800
Retention Rate
54%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,669
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#7 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

  • Rome, GA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online computerized accounting specialist technical certificate at Georgia Northwestern Technical College offers a flexible route to career training. The public institution offers 131 certificate programs, supporting distance learners from its main campus in Rome, Georgia.

Enrollees benefit from industry-tailored classes, deepening their knowledge of the accounting field while providing insight to industry professions. Certificate-seekers can also pursue experiential learning opportunities to gain career training while in the program. Students can modify the program based on their schedule. The program offers full-time and part-time options for distance learners. 

The accredited institution meets federal requirements for distance learners to submit the FAFSA and receive aid. The school offers several internal and external funding opportunities, including scholarships and federal loans. Out of the total student body, 92% receive financial aid and the school reports a 47% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,400
Out-of-state
$4,800
Retention Rate
67%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,616
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

University of California, Berkeley

  • Berkeley, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online certificate in accounting at University of California, Berkeley provides training in a flexible format.

The curriculum covers industry-relevant topics while providing a deep insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also participate in hands-on learning opportunities relevant to the field. Flexible enrollment options help enrollees make progress toward their certificate. The program uses full-time and part-time schedules for distance learners. This flexibility allows busy students to balance school with work or other obligations.

Learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for assistance. Qualifying students can cover the cost of their certificate program with funding sources like the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 63% of learners receive financial aid, and the school has a 93% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
16%
Students Enrolled
43,185
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#9 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Atlanta Technical College

  • Atlanta, GA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Atlanta Technical College offers an online computerized accounting specialist certificate for students interested in accounting careers. Learners benefit from 113 certificate options offered by the public institution, located in Georgia.

With career-focused classes, the program introduces participants to industry-relevant topics while providing insights into professional roles. Certificate-seekers prepare for the workforce by pursuing experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can choose classes based on their schedule and needs. The accounting program enrolls distance learners full time and part time. Busy students rely on this flexibility to balance school with work and other responsibilities.

The financial aid office helps learners identify funding sources for certificate programs. The school's financial aid options include external scholarships, internal funding opportunities, and federal financial aid. According to the most recent data, 94% of the student body receives financial aid while the school reports a graduation rate of 39%.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,400
Out-of-state
$4,800
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,797
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
58% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Florida State College at Jacksonville

  • Jacksonville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Florida State College at Jacksonville offers an online accounting technology specialist technical certificate that provides a flexible route to training for the accounting field. The public institution offers 98 certificate options.

Certificate-seekers benefit from industry-tailored classes, deepening their knowledge of the accounting field while gaining insight to industry professions. Students can also prepare for the workforce with workshops, events, and experiential learning opportunities. Flexible online classes and several enrollment options meet the needs of multiple learners. The program provides full-time and part-time enrollment options. Busy students can balance school with work and other responsibilities thanks to this flexibility.

Distance learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for certificate programs. The school qualifies for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. The institution reports a graduation rate of 37%, with 71% of enrollees receiving financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,095
Out-of-state
$7,947
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
24,605
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
74% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#11 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Golden Gate University-San Francisco

  • San Francisco, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online certificate in accounting at Golden Gate University-San Francisco offers career-focused training in a flexible format. At the private institution, learners can choose from 11 certificate programs offered from the San Francisco campus.

The curriculum covers industry-relevant topics while providing a deep insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also pursue experiential learning opportunities to gain career training while in the program. Flexible enrollment options allow learners to fit school into their schedule. The online program provides full-time and part-time enrollment options. This flexibility allows busy students to balance school with work or other obligations.

The accredited institution meets federal requirements to distribute financial aid assistance through the FAFSA. The school's financial aid funding includes institutional aid, external scholarships, and federal financial aid programs.

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,840
Out-of-state
$15,840
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,432
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
67% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#12 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Auburn University

  • Auburn, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The flexible certificate in accountancy at Auburn, Alabama-based Auburn University provides an online route to accounting training. 

The curriculum draws on industry-relevant topics to provide participants a deep understanding of the profession. Certificate-seekers gain hands-on experience to provide career-specific training. Flexible online classes and several enrollment options meet the needs of multiple learners. The online program provides full-time and part-time enrollment options. Working professionals and busy students rely on this flexibility.

Applicants can contact the financial aid office to learn more about opportunities to pay for a certificate. The school offers internal and external funding opportunities, which include scholarships and federal aid programs like the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 72% of the student body receives financial aid, while the graduation rate is 79%.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,816
Out-of-state
$29,448
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
30,460
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
27% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#13 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Kaskaskia College

  • Centralia, IL
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online accounting certificate at Kaskaskia College ranks high among programs of its kind. From its campus in Centralia, Illinois, the public institution lets learners choose from 67 certificate options.

The accounting program emphasizes industry-specific knowledge and professional insights throughout the curriculum. Certificate-seekers can also pursue experiential learning opportunities to gain career training while in the program. Flexible enrollment options help learners make progress toward their certificate. The program enrolls distance learners full time and part time. This flexibility helps working professionals and other busy students.

The financial aid office helps learners identify funding sources for certificate programs. The school's financial aid funding includes institutional aid, external scholarships, and federal financial aid programs. Currently, 78% of enrollees receive financial aid, and the school has a 35% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,050
Out-of-state
$11,850
Retention Rate
60%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,248
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#14 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Shoreline Community College

  • Shoreline, WA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online accounting certificate of proficiency at Shoreline Community College provides accounting training in a flexible format. From its Shoreline, Washington, campus, the public institution operates 49 certificate options for learners.

The curriculum incorporates industry-tailored classes that provide a deep insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers participate in experiential learning opportunities to gain relevant skills for their career path. Flexible class schedules and enrollment options meet the needs of diverse learners. The accounting program offers full-time and part-time options for distance learners. This flexibility makes it easier for busy students to balance school with work or other responsibilities.

Learners can contact the financial aid office for information about assistance and eligibility guidelines for certificate programs. The school connects students with financial aid information and provides guidance for applying to scholarships. Currently, 58% of the student body receives some form of financial aid, and the school has a 33% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,588
Out-of-state
$6,351
Retention Rate
59%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
5,884
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#15 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Liberty University

  • Lynchburg, VA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online certificate in accounting at Liberty University offers a flexible route to accounting career training. From its Lynchburg, Virginia, campus, the private institution operates 17 certificate options.

The program offers industry-tailored classes that help participants deepen their knowledge of the field while gaining industry insights. Certificate-seekers can work with faculty members to pursue experiential learning opportunities relevant to their career goals. Enrollees can adapt the program based on their unique needs and schedule. Full-time and part-time students can enroll. Busy students benefit from the flexibility to balance school with work and other obligations.

The financial aid office provides more information about eligibility for aid and funding for certificate programs. The school qualifies for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. According to the school, 99% of enrollees receive financial aid, and the graduation rate is 47%.

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,417
Out-of-state
$15,417
Retention Rate
81%
Admission Rate
51%
Students Enrolled
85,586
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#16 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Thomas Edison State University

  • Trenton, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Online

The online certificate in accounting at Thomas Edison State University offers career-focused training in a flexible format. Located in Trenton, New Jersey, the public institution lets learners choose from 13 certificate options.

The curriculum introduces participants to key industry topics while providing insights into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also participate in hands-on learning opportunities relevant to the field. Enrollees can modify the program based on their schedule. The online program enrolls students full time and part time. Busy students rely on this flexibility to balance school with work and other responsibilities.

Distance learners qualify for several forms of financial aid to cover the cost of a certificate. The school's funding options include scholarships, internal aid, and federal aid programs.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,926
Out-of-state
$9,856
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
10,227
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#17 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

University of California, Irvine

  • Irvine, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online applied accounting certificate at University of California, Irvine appeals to students seeking career training in a flexible format.

The program emphasizes industry-specific knowledge and professional insights throughout the curriculum. Certificate-seekers can also pursue experiential learning opportunities to gain career training. Flexible enrollment options help learners make progress toward their certificate. The program offers part-time and full-time tracks for distance learners. This flexibility benefits working professionals and busy students.

The accredited institution meets federal requirements for distance learners to submit the FAFSA and receive aid. Qualifying students in certificate programs can pay for school using the Pell Grant, for example. The institution reports that 63% of enrollees receive financial aid, and the overall graduation rate is 84%.

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,442
Out-of-state
$41,196
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
27%
Students Enrolled
36,908
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#18 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Casper College

  • Casper, WY
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online bookkeeper certificate at Casper College uses online classes to train students for bookkeeping careers. From its campus in Casper, Wyoming, the public institution offers certificate programs in 41 areas.

Learners deepen their knowledge of the field through industry-tailored classes. Certificate-seekers can also pursue experiential learning opportunities to gain career training while in the program. Flexible class schedules and enrollment options meet the needs of diverse learners. Full-time and part-time students take classes as part of the bookkeeping program. This flexibility allows working professionals and busy students to balance school with other responsibilities.

The accredited institution meets federal requirements to distribute financial aid assistance through the FAFSA. The school connects students with financial aid information and provides guidance for applying to scholarships. According to the most recent data, 92% of enrollees receive financial aid, and the school has a 39% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,970
Out-of-state
$8,910
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,619
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#19 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Champlain College

  • Burlington, VT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The flexible certificate in accounting at Champlain College provides an online route to accounting training. At the private institution, learners choose from 19 certificate programs offered from the Burlington, Vermont, campus.

The accounting program offers industry-tailored classes that help participants deepen their knowledge of the field while gaining industry insights. Certificate-seekers can also participate in hands-on learning opportunities relevant to the field. Flexible online classes and several enrollment options meet the needs of multiple learners. The program uses full-time and part-time schedules for distance learners. This flexibility allows working professionals and busy students to balance school with other responsibilities.

The accredited institution meets federal requirements to distribute financial aid assistance through the FAFSA. The college offers numerous internal and external funding opportunities, including scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid. With 100% of all enrollees receiving financial aid, the school boasts a 65% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$41,728
Out-of-state
$41,728
Retention Rate
82%
Admission Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
4,385
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#20 Best Online Certificate in Accounting

Community Care College

  • Tulsa, OK
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Community Care College offers an online accounts payable specialist certificate for students interested in accounting careers. Learners benefit from nine certificate options offered by the Tulsa, Oklahoma, private institution.

The program emphasizes industry-specific knowledge and professional insights throughout the curriculum. Certificate-seekers can also prepare for the workforce with workshops, events, and experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can adapt the program based on their unique needs and schedule. The program offers part-time and full-time tracks for distance learners. These flexible options appeal to working professionals and busy students.

Degree-seekers can reach out to the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for assistance. The school's funding options include scholarships, internal aid, and federal aid programs. The institution reports that 89% of enrollees receive financial aid, and the overall graduation rate is 66%.

Average Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
542
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools
Best Online Certificate

Online Accounting Certificate Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

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Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%

Affordability - 15%

Online Enrollment - 10%

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What Is an Online Accounting Certificate?

Online accounting certificates vary based on the program and education level. Some provide basic fundamental training, but others focus on a specialization or provide advanced or graduate-level education. Potential students should start by identifying their goals and what certificates align with those aspirations.

Accounting certificates typically attract new students, business professionals, and accounting graduates. New students can use certificates to build an educational foundation, gain entry-level skills, or earn transfer credits to later continue their studies. Existing business professionals can use certificates to specialize their knowledge and qualifications.

Some students earn graduate accounting certificates online after completing their bachelor's degrees in order to meet requirements for industry certifications. Certified public accountant (CPA) credentials, for example, require 150 undergraduate credits, but most bachelor's programs only include 120, so students need to earn more credits to sit for the exam.

What Is the Difference Between an Accounting Certificate and Degree?

Deciding between an online associate degree in accounting, an online bachelor's in accounting, and an online accounting certificate can be challenging. These credentials can lead graduates down similar professional pathways, but with different end careers.

The main difference between these programs is program scope. Associate degrees usually require 60 credits, and bachelor's degrees comprise 120 credits, while an accounting certificate may feature just 15-45 credits. This means that bachelor's degrees are more comprehensive than associate degrees, while certificates are often an added credential for bachelor's graduates. In general, graduates with higher-level degrees have more career opportunities.

However, these programs often complement each other. Associate degrees usually provide principles and foundations courses, bachelor's programs delve into more intermediate and diverse accounting topics, and certificates often have more specialized content. It's common for students to attend more than one of these programs.

What Can You Do With an Accounting Certificate?

With an accounting certificate, graduates can provide accounting and finance-related services in nearly every industry and organization imaginable. According to BLS employment data, some of the biggest industries for these professionals are finance and insurance, the government, and management.

Professionals with accounting training and credentials can also work in many business and financial jobs, including those outlined below.

Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers manage financial records for organizations, which involves filling out documents, preparing taxes, and checking forms for accuracy. These professionals may also create reports based on their financial analyses, which management departments use to make informed business decisions.

Students can acquire many of the skills needed to become a bookkeeper through an accounting certificate, including training on accounting software, gaining management skills, and understanding the accounting cycle and business accounts.

Internal Auditors

Internal auditors analyze organizations' finances to look for errors, inefficiencies, and potential risks or fraud. These professionals typically work within large organizations.

Accounting certificates can help students develop the specialty skills needed for this job, such as auditing, assessing regulations and compliance, and communicating effectively, which auditors use when presenting their findings.

Budget Directors

Budget directors have managerial roles within organizations, with responsibilities like setting budgets, monitoring spending, and analyzing the effectiveness of finances. They may also communicate budgets and spending to management, shareholders, or the public.

Accounting certificate training can often delve into budgeting and finance maintenance, which is relevant to this career. Students learn to analyze and evaluate spending, identify risks and opportunities, and compile information to present findings effectively.

Choosing an Online Program

When exploring the best online accounting certificate programs, students need to consider several factors. First, learners should identify which programs best suit their professional goals by researching things like available concentrations and focus areas. They should also consider accreditation status, tuition rate, course format, and schedule flexibility.

Top Accounting Degree Options Available by State
State Degree Level
California Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Florida Associate, Bachelors, Masters
Georgia Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Illinois Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
New York Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
North Carolina Associate, Bachelors, Masters
Pennsylvania Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Texas Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Virginia Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate
Washington Associate, Bachelors, Masters

Accreditation for Accounting Programs

Accreditation assures students that their schools and programs meet rigorous academic standards. Accounting professionals must earn their credentials from regionally accredited schools to qualify for most forms of financial aid, ensure their credits will transfer, and earn employment after graduation.

In addition to institutional accreditation, students should also look for programmatic accreditation. While not all accounting programs are programmatically accredited, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business recognizes many of the top business and accounting programs.

What to Expect From an Accounting Certificate

Accounting certificates can cover many topics and satisfy different purposes, so coursework differs. Prospective students should expect to encounter unique offerings in every program, but some common certificate program coursework is listed below.

Accounting Curriculum

  • Financial Accounting: At the basic level, financial accounting courses cover the major concepts of accounting and financial statements. More advanced courses delve into specifics like foreign currencies and nonprofit finances.
  • Managerial Accounting: Management accounting courses teach students how managers can apply financial data to improve decision making. Some of the topics covered include costing, profit analysis and planning, and working with accounting software.
  • Federal Income Tax Accounting: In this course, students learn the rules and regulations that govern federal income taxes. They explore guidelines for individuals and organizations, along with each of the major sections involved in the system.
  • Cost Accounting: Beginner-level cost accounting courses introduce students to goods manufactured statements, costing processes, and how managers use cost information to make better decisions and solve problems.
  • Small Business Accounting: Students in small business accounting courses observe the duties of a small business accountant, such as payroll and taxation. They may also learn how small businesses apply cost and management accounting principles.
  • Federal Taxation: Federal taxation courses teach students about the various purposes of and requirements for taxes at the individual or corporate levels. They cover topics like income tax requirements, exemptions, and sales tax.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Certificate in Accounting?

The length of an accounting certificate varies by program, but enrollees can complete most programs within one year. Since certificates typically require 15-45 credits, students usually take 2-12 months to graduate.

Some online accounting certificate programs allow learners to complete courses asynchronously. Students can fast-track their training or move more slowly based on their needs, with many programs offering both condensed and part-time schedules.

Accounting Certifications

While most colleges and universities offer accounting certificates, accounting certifications usually come from professional organizations. Certifications recognize professionals who meet or exceed industry standards in specific sub-fields.

To earn an accounting certification, candidates typically need to pass an examination. Once completed, certified professionals must maintain and renew their credentials every 2-5 years, usually by completing continuing education requirements. Below are a few popular certifications.

The CPA designation demonstrates to employers and clients that a professional has industry-leading skills and experience. Certified individuals can improve their job prospects, advancement opportunities, and salary potential with CPA certification. Some employers even make this credential a requirement for employment. CMA certifications recognize professionals who have advanced knowledge of data analytics and financial management. This credential demonstrates that the candidate can use their accounting knowledge to improve organizations' financial health and make better decisions based in financial data. The CIA credential identifies professionals with advanced auditing skills and knowledge. This certification assures employers that a credentialled candidate can perform an advanced audit for their organization. Certified professionals have more earning potential and advancement opportunities. Professionals with CFA credentials can perform the tasks required of financial managers, including auditing, asset and risk management, and investment analysis. CFAs typically earn more than traditional financial analysts and have more job opportunities.

What Is the Difference Between an Accountant and a CPA?

Accountants do not need a certification to practice, but industry-recognized credentials can help them in their careers. The most common credential that accountants earn is the CPA credential.

The CPA credential recognizes accountants who meet high industry standards for education, experience, and expertise. CPAs can perform duties that regular accountants cannot, such as signing tax returns and performing audits for publicly traded organizations. CPAs also have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, which governs them to act in the best interest of their clients.

Accounting Organizations

Professional accounting organizations help their members at every career level, including students, new graduates, and experienced professionals. Some organizations represent the profession as a whole, advocating for improved standards, debating policies, and dispersing information to the general public, while others cater to specific demographics, locations, or career specializations.

Members of these organizations often have access to specialized professional networks, training programs, certifications, and industry events. Aome of the largest and most renowned accounting organizations are listed below.

Accounting Careers

Many students earn accounting certificates in order to pursue careers as accountants and auditors, but certificates can prepare graduates for other fields, as well. Certificates can deliver a stand-alone education and access to entry-level careers, as well as career advancement potential.

In the table below, we examine career options that accounting certificate holders can pursue and the median annual salaries for each.

Accounting Career Median Salary (2019)
Accountants and Auditors $71,550
Tax Examiners and Collectors $54,890
Bookkeeper $41,230
Financial Clerks $40,540
Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions

What Jobs Can You Get With a Certificate in Accounting?

An accounting certificate can lead to many finance-related careers in the business world. In combination with experience or further training, certificates can even help graduates land management positions.

How Do I Get Certified in Accounting?

Several organizations offer accounting certifications for industry professionals, such as the American Institute of CPAs. Candidates typically need to meet education and experience requirements to qualify for credential examinations.

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Doug Wintemute

Doug Wintemute is a Toronto-based freelance writer with professional writing interests in higher learning and entertainment. He completed his BA and MA in English at York University, graduating summa cum laude and earning academic merit, research, and writing awards at both levels. Since 2014, he has contributed content and editorial work for award-winning digital trade publications, global SEO copywriting projects, and hugely popular online brands. He can be contacted through LinkedIn.

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