An online accounting certificate prepares graduates for entry-level financial careers or for the CPA exam. Both undergraduate- and graduate-level accounting certificate programs offer specialized training that can lead to career advancement opportunities. Certificate programs Typically, cost less and take less time to complete than accounting degrees. While some entry-level positions require education beyond an undergraduate accounting certificate, many certificate-holders work as CPAs, bookkeepers, auditors, and accountants.
Accountants enjoy a positive job outlook. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that accountants and auditors earn an average salary of $70,500 per year. The BLS projects a 10% job growth rate for accounting positions by 2026, which is faster than the national average for all occupations.
Many professionals pursue an online undergraduate certificate in accounting to gain foundational skills in accounting, auditing, and financial reporting. Online programs offer flexibility and convenience, making them ideal for individuals seeking a career change. Certificates also require less time than a degree, allowing prospective accountants to learn more about the field and decide if they should pursue further education. In this article, we at the best online accounting certificate programs for seasoned professionals and new students alike.
Accounting Certificate Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected these accredited online accounting certificate programs based on the quality of the program, types of courses provided, faculty strength, school awards, rankings and reputation, including the reputation for providing online degree programs.
The Best Online Certificate in Accounting Programs
1. Coastal Pines Technical College
Coastal Pines Technical College, part of the Technical College System of Georgia, began in 2014. The college offers diplomas, associate degrees, and technical certificates. Students who want to find entry-level jobs in accounting can earn a diploma in accounting from Coastal Pines Technical College, which takes three semesters to complete. The college also offers an accounting degree, which takes six semesters, and an office accounting specialist certificate, which takes two semesters to complete.
The program starts with students taking basic skills courses, such as fundamentals in English, basic psychology, and business math. After completing the basic education requirements, students take occupation courses, which give them technical and practical accounting skills. The curriculum teaches students financial accounting, computerized accounting, tax accounting, and payroll accounting. It also covers document production, computer literacy, and spreadsheet applications.
Classes run on an asynchronous format, with students participating in online discussions and completing assignments by set deadlines. To graduate, students must complete 42 credits. To enroll, applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED and be 16 years old or older. Candidates must also take the ACCUPLACER test and score a minimum of a 60 in English, 55 in reading, and 34 in math. Finally, students must attend an orientation in which they take an introduction to an online learning session.
Coastal Pines Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
2. Ogeechee Technical College
Ogeechee Technical College opened its doors in 1986. It now offers 28 completely online programs, including diplomas, associate degrees, and technical certificates.
Students can earn an accounting diploma in four semesters, or less than two years. Classes run asynchronously, so students can complete assignments and participate in online discussion boards as their schedules allow. However, professors require students to follow a class schedule and meet deadlines. The program lets students tailor their education to suit their career interests by concentrating in inventory management, payroll accounting, accounts payable, or accounts receivable.
To graduate with an online accounting certificate, students must complete 42 credits. These include eight basic skills credits and 34 occupation credits. The curriculum teaches students about document production, financial accounting, computerized accounting, spreadsheet applications, payroll accounting, and tax accounting. After their program, students gain the education to work as office managers, bookkeepers, and accounting technicians.
The admissions office allows students to begin classes at any semester. To apply for this program, students must complete an application and submit college or high school transcripts and test scores. Applicants must take the ACCUPLACER, Compass, SAT, ACT, PSAT, or GED to place them in reading and math classes.
Ogeechee Technical College also provides an accounting associate of applied science degree, computerized accounting specialist certification, office accounting specialist certificate, and payroll accounting specialist certificate.
Ogeechee Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. Foothill College
Los Altos Hills, California
Foothill College features online, hybrid, and in-person classes, offering 167 degrees and certifications, including a 53-credit certificate of achievement in accounting. Accounting degrees and certificates help students learn about accounting ethics, auditing, fraud examination, and accounting for nonprofits.
Students taking the certificate of achievement in accounting develop the skills to work in entry-level accounting jobs. Classes introduce students to basic accounting terminology and principles. Graduates can land jobs as accountants and corporate accountants. To earn an online accounting certificate, students must take 43 core courses and 10 support courses. Students do not need to take general education courses.
Required classes include business law, the principle of business, macroeconomics, financial accounting, managerial accounting, computerized accounting, and tax accounting. The college also offers a 40-credit certificate of achievement in certified public accountant (CPA) examination preparation for students who want to work as CPAs. Students can also earn an online accounting degree from Foothill College, which sets them up to transfer to a four-year college.
The college maintains an “open-door policy” for all high school graduates and non-graduates who are 18 years old or older. Foothill College accepts applications in the spring, summer, and fall. Classes run on a quarter system. Online classes operate on an asynchronous format, which allows students to make their own school schedule.
Foothill College is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
4. University of Virginia
The University of Virginia traces its roots to 1819, when Thomas Jefferson founded the institution. In addition to bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the college also offers online certificates and degrees. The school of continuing and professional studies at UVA offers an online accounting certificate. Students can complete the certification online within 20 months. However, students who take less than two classes per term may take longer to earn their certificate.
This program attracts new accounting students, along with working professionals who want to advance in their current careers. To complete the program, students must take six required courses in subjects such as introduction to accounting and cost accounting. To fulfill their credit requirements, students must also take four elective courses, including classes in federal taxation, fraud examination, and forensic accounting.
To earn a degree, students must complete 30 credits or 10 courses. The college offers start dates in August, January, and May. To apply, students need a high school diploma or GED. They must also complete an online application and submit their transcripts, a resume, a letter of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and an application for Virginia in-state education privileges. The college does not offer financial aid for this program.
The certification gives students the required education and hours to take the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. To apply for the CPA exam, students must complete a bachelor’s degree.
University of Virginia is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
5. Sheridan Technical College
Sheridan Technical College offers 27 career and technical study programs, along with 18 online programs. The undergraduate certificate in accounting takes nine months for full-time students to complete. Graduates develop the knowledge and skills to work as accounting assistants, clerks, and associates. The program teaches students basic accounting competency in QuickBooks, computers, and MS Excel.
In the first five weeks of the program, students take business core classes. They learn about software programs, including PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Windows, Microsoft Excel, and D2L. After completing the program, students can also take the QuickBooks certified user industry certification or MOS Bundle certification.
The program offers five start dates throughout the year. To enroll, students must attend an in-person orientation and take the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). Those who hold an associate in applied science degree may receive exemption from taking the TABE. Applicants must also meet with a program counselor to discuss the TABE and other college topics, such as tuition. Students also need basic skills and equipment, including headphones with a microphone.
Sheridan Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
6. University of Alaska Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks offers 178 programs and seven campuses for its 8,500 students. Besides its main campus, UAF holds five additional campuses in rural areas and six community centers. Students who want to hone their accounting skills can earn UAF’s accounting technician certificate. The entire program comprises 30 credits and takes full-time students about one year to complete.
After completing this degree, students can find jobs in payroll, bookkeeping, and payables or receivables. Students come into this program with varying career experience -- the program suits new students and small business owners who want to hone their financial accounting skills. Students can use the credits earned in this certificate and put it toward a 60-credit associate of applied science degree in applied accounting.
To begin this program, students need basic computer skills. Applicants who cannot meet this requirement must take the computer business applications course. The college requires students earning a certificate to take at least 15 credits at UAF. The major requirement classes include principles of accounting, payroll accounting, income tax, microcomputer accounting, business math, introduction to business, human relations, and business communications. To graduate, students must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA.
University of Alaska Fairbanks is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
7. Stanly Community College
Albemarle, North Carolina
Established in 1971, Stanly Community College offers more than 30 programs of study. Students can take classes on the main campus or at the Crutchfield Education Center, Economic Development Division, or Small Business Center.
The college provides several programs for prospective accounting students, including an accounting associate degree, accounting diploma, associate business and accounting pathway, and a completely online accounting certificate. The accounting certificate teaches students the basics of financial operations and accounting principles. Students also study economics and law. To earn an accounting certificate, students must complete 18 credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Students who take a full-time course load can complete their certificate in two semesters. In the first semester, students take classes in principles of financial accounting, federal income taxes, and introduction to business. In their second and final semesters, students take payroll accounting, accounting software applications, and principles of management.
At the end of the program, students possess the skills to compile financial statements and use accounting software. Graduates secure careers in hospitals, government agencies, schools, and accounting firms. To apply, students must complete an online application, submit their transcripts, explore their career interests to determine their best educational path. They should also submit placement test scores and attend an orientation prior to starting classes.
Stanly Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
8. Lanier Technical College
Lanier Technical College opened its doors in 1964. The college offers certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees. In addition to the main campus, students can take classes at four campuses throughout the state, or they can access online classes.
The certificate in office accounting specialist teaches students basic accounting skills to work as bookkeepers, accounting assistants, or accounts payable accounts receivable administrators. Students can take the certificate program completely online, or in-person at the Hall, Forsyth, or Barrow campuses. The online accounting certificate requires students to take 14 credits. Required classes include financial accounting, introduction to computers, and computerized accounting.
The admissions office accepts students into this program every semester. To apply, candidates must be at least 16 years old with a high school diploma or GED. They must also take the ACCUPLACER test or the SAT, ACT, CPE, COMPASS, or ASSET.
Lanier Technical College does not offer Pell Grant funding for this certificate program, but students may receive state or institutional funding. Lanier Technical College maintains transfer agreements with nearby four-year colleges for students who want to transfer credits from this online accounting certificate toward a degree. The college also offers a 64-credit associate accounting degree, which students can complete online in five semesters. The college also features a 42-credit accounting diploma, which takes four semesters to complete.
Lanier Technical College is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
9. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College
Wiregrass Georgia Technical College offers more than 160 programs. Students can take the online accounting diploma in-person at the Valdosta and Coffee locations, or complete classes online. The diploma requires students to take 34 credits, including eight general core credits and 34 occupational credits. General core courses include the fundamentals of English, business mathematics, and basic psychology. Occupational courses teach students specialized accounting skills they can apply to their future careers.
Students take classes in spreadsheet applications, tax accounting, payroll accounting, and financial accounting. The curriculum also consists of an occupation elective and accounting elective.
Online classes run asynchronously, allowing students to log on and complete assignments when it suits their schedule. Before beginning their classes, students must take the Distance Education Blackboard Orientation, in which they complete an assessment to ensure they are prepared for online learning. The college also provides library materials digitally through its Georgia Library Learning Online program.
To apply for the accounting diploma, students need to be at least 16 years old with a high school diploma, a GED, or at least 60 college credits. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College may require students to submit ACCUPLACER, ACT, ASSET, COMPASS, PSAT, or SAT scores. The college also offers an online accounting associate degree, which requires students to complete 64 credits.
Wiregrass Georgia Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
10. Georgia Northwestern Technical College
Georgia Northwestern Technical College was established in 2008 when Coosa Valley Technical College and Northwestern Technical College merged. Students can also attend classes at six other locations in Georgia, along with online classes.
Students can choose from 200 degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Georgia Northwestern Technical College offers classes in online, hybrid, and web-enhanced formats. The college’s accounting diploma requires students to take 42-43 credits. The diploma program teaches students the fundamentals to work in accounting, such as accounting vocabulary and concepts. Students also learn spreadsheet, database, and presentation software. Online students can take advantage of online tutoring.
Students begin their education by taking basic skills classes, such as the fundamentals of English, basic psychology, and business math. Students then hone their accounting skills by taking classes on financial accounting, document production, spreadsheet applications, tax accounting, and payroll accounting. The program also requires students to take a guided elective course. By the program’s end, students gain the skills to find entry-level jobs in accounting.
Georgia Northwestern also offers an accounting associate of applied science degree, which requires students to take 64 credits. Interested applicants must complete an online application, submit transcripts, and take a placement test. They can also submit SAT or ACT test scores.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
11. University of California – Berkeley
Since its founding in 1868, University of California – Berkeley has introduced countless programs and course offerings. Today, the school boasts more than 180 departments and programs. Through its extension school alone, students can access more than 20 online certificate programs. In the certificate program in accounting, students learn the practices and regulations that dominate the field. They acquire knowledge of accounting principles and learn to use many commonly used applications.
The 24-unit online accounting certificate Typically, takes two years to complete. It features six required courses, plus two additional electives that learners can use to complement their training. Some required courses include managerial accounting, ethics, and advanced accounting. For students pursuing a master’s degree or industry licensure, some of the certificate training leads to transfer credits or helps students qualify for the exams.
At Berkeley, online courses primarily run asynchronously and start every 4-6 weeks. While students can take classes in any order, the program does recommend that learners take certain introductory classes first. Berkeley offers flexible, start-anytime courses and fixed-date online classes. The anytime classes take anywhere from 90-180 days to complete, whereas fixed-date classes run on a more structured timeline.
Berkeley does not feature any specific admission requirements for the program, but it does recommend that applicants boast a bachelor’s degree. Once enrolled, students must maintain a 2.5 GPA overall and complete the program within five years.
University of California – Berkeley is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
12. Moraine Park Technical College
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
The distance education programs at Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC) have run since the mid-90s, but the school continues to innovate. Through its more than 25 online programs, the school makes education more accessible for contemporary students. Learners in the online accounting assistant technical diploma learn to manage accounting tasks for organizations, acquiring skills in planning, analysis, and decision-making. The program teaches students to perform tax accounting, payroll, and other financial tasks.
The 35-credit diploma comprises 12 courses covering a variety of accounting and general education topics. Most students complete the diploma in one year, taking two semesters worth of courses. In the first semester, learners take courses in introductory topics. During the second semester, the program delves into more advanced accounting courses and complementary topics like communication. Classes can run anywhere from 4-16 weeks.
At MPTC, online courses run asynchronously, and students can complete the program entirely online. Wisconsin residents receive a lower tuition rate than nonresidents. For successful admission, applicants need a high school diploma or GED and must submit Accuplacer, ACT, or SAT scores. MPTC may waive the standardized test scores for candidates with a GPA over 3.25.
Moraine Park Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
13. Atlanta Technical College
To improve access and available offerings, Atlanta Technical College (ATC) developed fully online programs to add to its web-enhanced and hybrid programs. The school now offers six fully online degrees, plus a variety of certificate and diploma programs, like the accounting diploma. In this program, students gain the knowledge and professional and technical skills necessary to acquire entry-level positions in accounting.
To earn the diploma, students must complete 45-46 credits. The program comprises courses in general education and occupational topics. The core program features accounting-focused and business-related electives. Online courses run through the same semester system as ATC on-campus courses, with 15-week sessions each spring and fall and eight-week summer sessions. Most students complete the diploma in four semesters. To graduate, learners need a minimum 2.0 GPA.
For program admission, applicants need a high school diploma or GED and must submit SAT or ACT scores. Online courses at ATC run asynchronously and do not require campus visits. Once enrolled, students gain access to online support, career services, and academic support services. Transfer students may receive credit for previous work completed with a C+ grade. Students must complete at least 50% of their coursework at ATC to satisfy the residency requirements.
Atlanta Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
14. Florida State College at Jacksonville
Founded in 1965, Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) offers more than 50 degrees and 100 certificates, many of which students can now access online. These online programs, like the accounting technology specialist technical certificate, allow students outside of the Florida region to enjoy an FSCJ education. The accounting certificate acts as an introduction to the accounting profession, providing training in accounting basics, payroll, and business reports.
This accelerated, 12-credit online accounting certificate comprises four courses, two of which students can select depending on their interests. In addition to accounting courses, learners complete courses in business and English composition. While FSCJ online programs allow for some scheduling flexibility, most students complete this certificate in five months.
Upon completion of the certificate, graduates may qualify to sit for the fundamental payroll certification exam. To graduate, students must complete the certificate with a 2.0 GPA. For learners pursuing a degree in accounting, the credits earned in this program may transfer.
At FSCJ, online students benefit from asynchronous study, no on-campus requirements, and standard tuition rates for everyone, regardless of residency. Online learners also gain access to student support services like tutoring, library resources, and career services. The school encourages transfer students to apply for transfer credit, but 25% of the credit requirements for the certificate must come from FSCJ.
Florida State College at Jacksonville is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
15. Golden Gate University
San Francisco, California
Founded more than 115 years ago, Golden Gate University (GGU) added online programs to its offerings to reach students nationwide. The online undergraduate certificate in accounting can prepare students for entry-level positions, a master’s degree in an accounting-related discipline, or the CPA or CMA licensure examinations. The program also equips learners with knowledge of state and federal standards and policies regarding accounting.
To obtain the 18 units necessary for the online accounting certificate, students must complete all courses with a 2.0 GPA. The curriculum comprises six courses chosen by each student from a variety of options, including cost management, auditing, and accounting information systems. Learners enjoy the freedom of building a program catered to their interests and career goals. The program Typically, takes one year to complete.
At GGU, online courses run asynchronously with no on-campus requirements. Furthermore, all online students pay the same tuition rate. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma and certain prerequisites for the program. GGU awards no transfer credits for certificate programs.
Candidates who wish to pursue a graduate degree afterward should aim for a 3.0 GPA in all courses. Once enrolled, GGU grants its online students access to tutoring, academic advisors, and student wellness services, along with career services and consulting.
Golden Gate University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
16. Auburn University
Since 1989, the business college at Auburn University has offered distance education programs. In 2000, it started offering the undergraduate certificate in accountancy for students looking to satisfy postgraduate continuing education credits or meet credit requirements for the CPA exam. The program covers much of the material on the exam, so it may also help prepare students for the test.
This online accounting certificate requires students to complete eight courses totaling 24 semester hours. Learners take two required courses in intermediate accounting and six electives chosen from a variety of accounting courses.
Online courses at Auburn follow the same structure as on-campus programs, but students can either watch streamed lectures live or on their own time. Full-time students can complete the degree in less than one year, whereas working professionals may pursue the certificate part time, taking six credits per semester over the course of four semesters.
For successful admission, applicants need a bachelor’s degree. While Auburn accepts students from nonbusiness disciplines, candidates need the necessary business prerequisites prior to starting the program. Transfer students may receive waivers for certain accounting courses if they earned a 3.0 GPA in the courses. Online students at Auburn benefit from the school job board, scholarship opportunities, and industry and examination information.
Auburn University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The online certificate in accountancy is programmatically accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
17. Kaskaskia College
Incorporating the lessons learned in its nearly 80-year history, Kaskaskia College (KC) offers 13 online degrees and certificates comprising more than 500 online classes. The school also delivers web-enhanced and hybrid programs. In the online accounting certificate, students obtain the skills necessary to take on a variety of accounting positions. They learn the principles of taxation and familiarize themselves with accounting software systems and applications.
Learners Typically, complete the 32-credit online accounting certificate in one year over three semesters. During the first semester, students complete introductory courses in business and accounting, moving into payroll and financial accounting by the second semester. In the final semester, they take on more complex computer applications and managerial accounting. At KC, all online students pay the same tuition rates, no matter where they live. They also gain access to academic advising, career services assistance, and library resources.
KC delivers its online courses asynchronously and offers frequent start dates for better access and schedule flexibility. Courses run for eight-week or 16-week sessions, and most students complete the program in 18 months. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma or GED, plus SAT or ACT scores. Since KC features an open enrollment policy, the transcript and standardized test score requirements only serve for student placement.
Kaskaskia College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
18. Shoreline Community College
Since 1964, Shoreline Community College programs have given students an opportunity to pursue lifelong learning and development. The school now offers 33 online learning programs, including a variety of fully online certificate programs like the accounting certificate of proficiency. In this program, students acquire the entry-level skills required for various accounting positions. The program offers training in the latest applications and knowledge of the industry’s best practices.
This 55-credit online accounting certificate program features 15 general education credits and 40 credits in core requirements. For the core program, students complete courses in payroll accounting, computer applications, and business English. For credits to count toward the certificate, students need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Learners pursuing a degree afterward may use the credits from this certificate for transfer credits.
At Shoreline, online courses run asynchronously, which allows students to customize their study schedules. The accounting certificate offers start dates in each of the three semesters: fall, winter, and spring. While Washington residents pay a lower tuition rate than nonresidents, online learners also benefit from a reduced rate.
The open admission policy at Shoreline allows any student with a high school diploma or a GED to apply. Some candidates may need to submit SAT or ACT scores to assist in placement. Once enrolled, online students gain access to student support services, online tutoring, and career services assistance, plus technical support and academic advising.
Shoreline Community College is regionally accredited from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
19. Liberty University Online
Distance education at Liberty University gives students from all over flexible and accessible study options. The school offers more than 500 programs online, including more than 50 certificates. The undergraduate certificate in accounting offers students the necessary training to enter the field of accounting. The program delivers basic accounting skills, along with more complex training in financial statement analysis and managerial accounting.
Requiring 21 credits to complete, the online accounting certificate comprises seven foundational courses, including cost accounting, taxation, and auditing. In total, most students complete this program in one year. To earn the certificate, learners must complete all credits with a 2.0 GPA and take them all at Liberty. Students can complete the program entirely online, and all online students pay the same tuition rate. Not only does the certificate offer a solid foundation for further education, but it also provides transfer credit.
At Liberty, online courses run asynchronously over eight-week sessions. Students benefit from multiple start dates each year. For admission into the program, applicants must boast a high school diploma or its equivalent. Candidates with prior college training need a 1.5 cumulative GPA. Once enrolled, online students can access a variety of resources, including the online writing center, student life resources, the library, career services, and academic advisors.
Liberty University Online is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
20. Thomas Edison State University
Trenton, New Jersey
Thomas Edison State University (TESU) is one of the oldest schools dedicated to educating adults and working professionals. The school offers more than 100 programs in various study areas, including an undergraduate certificate in accounting. In this program, students acquire the foundational knowledge and skills required for entry-level positions in the field. The program offers training in principles of accounting up to intermediate levels.
The online accounting certificate features 18 credits worth of courses. In addition to the core courses, students choose between topics in advanced accounting, tax accounting, and cost accounting. Graduates may count the credits earned in this certificate toward a bachelor’s degree at TESU. Most learners complete the certificate in less than one year and programs start every month. Online programs at TESU run asynchronously throughout 12-week sessions.
For successful admission, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. Students with previous undergraduate training must possess a 2.0 GPA or submit Accuplacer, SAT, or ACT scores. Transfer students may receive up to nine credits for previous training, but they must complete at least 50% of their degree at TESU. Online students gain access to student advisors, the digital library, career services assistance, and academic support.
Thomas Edison State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The undergraduate certificate in accounting is programmatically accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
21. University of California – Irvine
Since 1962, the continuing education school at University of California – Irvine (UCI) has offered educational opportunities for students and working professionals. In addition to the courses available at the school, it boasts more than 60 online certificates. The online applied accounting certificate program prepares students for a career in accounting, covering both the fundamentals and more advanced concepts. Students learn to take on a variety of tasks, including analyzing and preparing financial documents.
The online accounting certificate comprises 10 required courses for a total of 45 quarter units. The courses cover introductory topics, along with advanced topics in tax information systems and individual and corporate taxation. Students must complete each course with a 2.0 GPA for it to count toward the certificate. UCI enables most learners to complete the program in 12-24 months, with a maximum of five years allowed.
The online classes at UCI combine asynchronous and synchronous sessions. Most programs offer multiple start dates yearly, Typically, starting every semester. While UCI offers all courses online, offerings vary by semester, so students should plan their schedules ahead of time.
Transfer students with a bachelor’s degree may receive a waiver for up to three courses. The certificate not only prepares students for a career and further education in accounting, but it may also satisfy some of the educational requirements for the uniform certified public accountant examination.
University of California – Irvine is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
22. Snead State Community College
Committed to offering its students accessible and flexible online learning options, Snead State Community College delivers more than half of its credits through online learning. The school offers hundreds of courses, plus a variety of online programs and certificates. The online accounting technology certificate program gives students the requisite skills for entry-level accounting positions. Learners acquire best practices and application experience, along with the qualifications required by many employers.
The 27-credit, online accounting certificate features courses in microcomputer accounting, payroll accounting, and legal and social environments of business. Online students take part in 16-week semesters, though some classes feature eight-week mini-terms. Most online classes run asynchronously, though some classes feature synchronous sessions. Students benefit from multiple start dates throughout the year, Typically, every semester.
The open admission policy at Snead State allows applicants to gain entry with a high school diploma or GED. Transfer students may benefit from some transfer credit permitted they carry a 2.0 GPA. Snead State grants online students access to library resources, academic support services, career services, and student life resources.
To earn credit toward the certificate, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA. While out-of-state learners can complete the program entirely from their home state, Alabama residents also benefit from online courses by paying a lower tuition rate than nonresidents.
Snead State Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
23. Casper College
Since it was first established in 1945, Casper College has grown into one of the largest community colleges in its region. The institution offers more than 10 online programs, including a variety of nondegree options, like online certificates. In the online bookkeeping certificate, students learn how to prepare financial documents and fulfill bookkeeping tasks for various organizations. The program also teaches tax application and software skills.
The online accounting certificate comprises nine courses, including two in general education topics and seven in accounting. For the core accounting program, students complete courses in spreadsheet applications, information systems, and QuickBooks. In addition to earning the certificate, students also complete a Certified Bookkeeper exam review course to prepare for additional licensure afterward. Most students complete this program in nine months.
The online courses at Casper allow students to study asynchronously, and the school offers three start dates per year. Prior to enrolling, students take an online orientation and meet with an academic advisor. Once enrolled, learners can access the online library, the writing center, and career services. For admission into the program, Casper requires applicants to possess a high school diploma or GED. Some certificate candidates also require SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students may receive credit for prior training or experience.
Casper College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The bookkeeping certificate is programmatically accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
24. Champlain College
The on-campus programs at Champlain College have been running for more than 140 years. To accommodate contemporary students, distance learners, and working professionals, the school established online learning in the mid-90s. Students in the online undergraduate certificate in accounting learn to read, analyze, and prepare financial documents, along with tax preparation and bookkeeping requirements. The program equips students for the field and offers a foundation for further training, like a bachelor’s degree.
The 15-credit online accounting certificate comprises general education, accounting, and professional courses. Students complete courses in fundamentals, then progress into intermediate and managerial accounting. Online courses at Champlain run asynchronously throughout seven-week sessions. Some of the more advanced classes features 15-week sessions. The school also offers approximately six start dates every year.
For successful admission, Champlain prefers candidates to possess a high school diploma or previous undergraduate training with a 2.5 GPA. Applicants with a GED or a lower GPA can still apply. Transfer students may receive credit for prior undergraduate training or professional experience. Once completed, the program’s credits may count toward an associate or bachelor’s degree.
At Champlain, online courses feature no on-campus requirements, and online students all pay the same tuition regardless of location. Once enrolled, online students can access support for academics, student life, technology, and professional development.
Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
Note: The following school is a nationally accredited school. If you have any questions about nationally accredited schools, check out our Guide to Nationally Accredited Colleges: What You Need to Know.
25. Community Care College
Established to help students improve their skills and advance their careers, Community Care College (CCC) offers 11 career-focused online programs to provide students entry into the workforce. The online accounting assistant diploma, for example, prepares students to work in a variety of accounting roles, take on bookkeeping tasks, and work with financial documents. The program also focuses on other organizational roles to ensure students receive a well-rounded experience and meet the qualifications for many positions and employers.
The accounting program comprises courses in the fundamentals of accounting and teaches the applications and software components Typically, required by the profession, including QuickBooks and spreadsheets. Other courses include HR management, office management, and accounts payable and receivable, which give students a business foundation.
In addition to the diploma, students may also qualify to take the QuickBooks certification, plus a variety of other industry certifications after graduation. Learners may need additional experience for those.
Students Typically, complete the diploma program in 10 months, benefitting from flexible asynchronous classes, customizable schedules, and no on-campus requirements. For students looking for more interaction, CCC accommodates conversations between students and instructors and peer-to-peer engagement. For program admission, applicants Typically, require a high school diploma with a 3.0 GPA. Once admitted, students can access the online library, tutoring services, and career services.
Community Care College is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
The Advantages of an Accounting Education
Candidates with an online undergraduate certificate in accounting work in a variety of entry-level positions, finding jobs as bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and auditing clerks. An accounting certificate program offers training in areas such as financial document analysis, financial report creation, and ledger maintenance. Some, like online forensic accounting certificate programs, provide specialized, career-focused skills.
An accounting certificate requires approximately half the completion time of an associate degree in accounting. Many certificate-holders can further increase their earning potential and job opportunities by transferring into an associate program or pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Both options allow students to transfer credits earned in a certificate program toward a degree. As the following table demonstrates, professionals with a certificate in accounting earn $41,000 a year on average, while associate degree-holders draw slightly higher salaries.
Average Salary by Degree Level
|Degree Level||Average Salary|
|Associate Degree in Accounting||$44,704|
|Certificate in Accounting||$41,000|
Accounting Salary Information
Professionals with an online accounting certificate pursue a variety of career paths, working as bookkeepers, accounting clerks, accountants, and CPAs in many different settings. Although candidates with an undergraduate accounting certificate may qualify for certain entry-level positions, some roles require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. For example, students must complete a graduate-level accounting certificate of at least 30 credits before taking the CPA exam.
- Accountants create and organize financial records, prepare tax returns, and ensure that financial documents are accurate and compliant with U.S. laws and regulations. They work as CPAs, government accountants, and management accountants. Most entry-level accounting positions require a bachelor’s degree.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $45,500
- Mid-Career: $49,000
- Experienced: $54,000
- Late Career: $55,000
- Bookkeepers manage accounts for organizations. They record financial transactions, maintain ledgers, and monitor costs and income. Bookkeepers ensure that all records are accurate, create financial statements, and maintain their organization’s financial records. They also prepare invoices, make bank deposits, and oversee payroll. Many obtain bookkeeping work with an undergraduate accounting certificate.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $29,500
- Mid-Career: $31,700
- Experienced: $36,060
- Late Career: $38,460
- Financial Clerk
- Financial clerks perform administrative functions within an organization, including record keeping, customer assistance, and carrying out financial transactions. They update financial records, compute bills and charges, and correct accounting errors. Financial clerks, also called accounting clerks, work in billing, payroll, and related areas.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $29,850
- Mid-Career: $31,430
- Experienced: $33,590
- Late Career: $34,695
- Tax Examiner
- Tax examiners review and audit tax returns for the Internal Revenue Service or state tax departments. They evaluate individual tax returns, small business tax forms, and business tax returns to identify any funds owed and ensure that taxes are correctly reported and paid.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $44,000
- Mid-Career: N/A
- Experienced: $52,000
- Late Career: $58,000
- Certified Public Accountant
- Also called CPAs, certified public accountants serve individual clients, businesses, and government agencies. Their duties include tax reporting, auditing, and managing financial documents. CPAs also review financial information, create accounting reports on finances and taxes, and follow government regulations. To qualify for the CPA exam, accountants must complete 150 credits of postsecondary education, which can include a 30-credit graduate accounting certificate.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $52,000
- Mid-Career: $57,000
- Experienced: $69,000
- Late Career: $80,000
Choosing an Online Accounting Program
With so many accounting certificate programs online, it is easy for prospective students to feel overwhelmed as they explore their options. An online accounting program should fit your interests and career goals. By considering factors such as program cost, length, and transfer policies, you can narrow down your options and identify a program that meets your needs. For example, in-state public institutions Typically, offer the lowest tuition rates, although some public institutions charge one flat rate for online students regardless of state residency. Below are some variables to consider before you select an online program.
- Program Cost
- For many prospective students, program cost tops their list of concerns. The cost of an accounting program varies widely between institutions and often depends on the number of required credits. Generally, public schools charge lower tuition rates than private schools. In addition to tuition rates, candidates should factor in related costs like technology fees, books, and other expenses.
- Transfer Policies
- Students with prior college credit can save time and money by transferring credits toward an accounting certificate. Be sure to consider transfer policies when evaluating programs. Both undergraduate and graduate accounting certificate programs may allow students to transfer in credits.
- School Size and Type
- School size shapes the student experience. Some learners prefer a smaller program with a lower faculty-student ratio, while others enjoy the networking opportunities associated with cohort learning. You may also wish to attend a certain type of school, such as a community college, private college, or university.
- Program Length
- The number of credits required to earn an accounting certificate vary, from as low as 15-18 credits to over 30 credits. Along with credit requirements, shape program length, as do options like accelerated or part-time enrollment options influence program length, which in turn affects total cost.
- On-Campus Requirements
- Some online programs include on-campus components like orientation sessions or weekend residencies at the institution. While students who live relatively close to their school might not mind a program with on-campus requirements, those enrolled in out-of-state institutions may prefer a fully online program.
Accreditation for Online Accounting Programs
As you explore online accounting certificate programs, pay close attention to each school’s accreditation status. Accreditation designates academic excellence, and the best online accounting certificate programs come from accredited institutions. To earn accreditation, a college or university undergoes a voluntary review from an independent, nonprofit accrediting agency. The accrediting agency evaluates the college on its certificate requirements, faculty qualifications, and student learning outcomes. Once an institution earns accreditation, it must renew its status on a regular basis.
Most colleges and universities that offer accounting certificates hold regional accreditation, the gold standard for liberal arts and research institutions. In contrast, national accrediting agencies Typically, review vocational and technical programs. In addition to institutional accreditation that evaluates an entire college or university, individual programs or curricula may receive specialized accreditation. Some accounting certificate programs hold accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), an organization that defines industry standards.
To find out more about a school or program’s accreditation status, check out the Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation also maintains a comprehensive list of accredited institutions.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Certificate in Accounting?
All online accounting certificate programs maintain slightly different credit requirements and graduation timelines, and it is important to select a program that fits your schedule, lifestyle, and goals. Most students can complete an online undergraduate certificate in accounting in as little as one year. While an undergraduate accounting certificate Typically, requires 20-30 credits, an online certificate in accounting for CPA candidates may consist of around 30 credits. Part-time learners may spend up to two years earning a CPA certificate.
Many other factors can affect the length of an accounting certificate program, including the number of total required credits, institutional credit transfer policies, and accelerated or part-time enrollment options. Candidates with prior college credit can often save time and money by applying transfer credits to their certificate requirements, although most graduate-level programs will not accept transfer credits earned through undergraduate study.
Courses in an Online Certificate in Accounting Program
- Financial Accounting
- Courses on financial accounting explore transaction analysis, asset accounting, financial statement preparation, and financial document analysis. Lectures cover the accounting process, including strategies for communicating financial information and key financial accounting concepts. The course prepares undergraduates for roles as bookkeepers or accounting clerks.
- Managerial Accounting
- In this course, candidates learn to analyze and present financial information in business settings. Coursework emphasizes budgeting, financial report analysis, cost behavior, and accounting for management decision-making. Learners may also explore product cost accumulation, pricing, cost control, and responsibility accounting.
- Federal Income Tax Accounting
- A federal income tax accounting class trains students to prepare taxes for individuals and businesses. Coursework explores current tax laws and regulations, individual and business tax filing requirements, and general preparation requirements. Learners may also survey individual deductions, credits, and exclusions, as they gain specialized tax preparation skills used in different types of businesses.
- Cost Accounting
- Cost accounting courses examine budgeting and cost control systems, including business cost accounts and reports. Lectures survey job order costing, process costing, and alternative cost accounting methods such as activity-based costing. Candidates learn to create financial reports detailing profit, cost, and profit performance as they master study cost and profit analysis.
- Small Business Accounting
- Focusing on the accounting needs unique to small businesses, this class examines revenue and expense transactions, payroll and sales tax processing, and the small business accounting cycle. Students also learn about federal and state tax reporting requirements for independent organizations.
Accounting Membership Associations
Professional organizations provide new students and seasoned professionals alike with networking opportunities, educational resources, and up-to-date information on the field. Many provide recent graduates with career development resources like job boards, scholarship opportunities, and information about in-demand certifications like the certified public accountant credential.
- American Institute of CPAs
- Established in 1887, AICPA oversees CPA certification requirements and offers additional certifications in auditing, forensic accounting, and risk management. AICPA also provides educational resources for accountants considering the CPA exam and offers scholarships for accounting students.
- Institute of Management Accountants
- An association for management accountants, IMA provides members with educational opportunities, publications, and professional guidance. Members may pursue the Institute’s Certified Management Accountant credential or take advantage of the organization’s career center.
- Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
- ACFE promotes high professional standards by offering the Certified Fraud Examiner credential. Along with study materials for the CFE exam, members gain access to continuing education opportunities and professional development tools.
- Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance
- AFWA hosts conferences and events for women employed in accounting and financing roles. The organization’s website features career development tools and scholarship opportunities. Members may connect with nearby accounting and finance professionals through 70 local chapters.
- The American Accounting Association
- Emphasizing research and collaboration, AAA brings together academics and professional accountants. Founded in 1916, AAA publishes scholarly journals, provides information on graduate-level accounting programs, and maintains a career resource center.