The Best Online Accounting Certificate Programs

| Doug Wintemute

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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.

Top 10 Online Accounting Certificate Programs 2021
#1 Coastal Pines Technical College Waycross, GA
#2 Ogeechee Technical College Statesboro, GA
#3 Foothill College Los Altos Hills, CA
#4 University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA
#5 Sheridan Technical College Hollywood, FL
#6 University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, AK
#7 Stanly Community College Albemarle, NC
#8 Lanier Technical College Oakwood, GA
#9 Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Valdosta, GA
#10 Georgia Northwestern Technical College Rome, GA

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The Best Online Accounting Certificate Programs

Coastal Pines Technical College View School Profile Waycross, GA 0.57% Coastal Pines Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Ogeechee Technical College View School Profile $ Statesboro, GA 0.5% Ogeechee Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Foothill College View School Profile $ Los Altos Hills, CA 0.56% Foothill College is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

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.

University of Virginia-Main Campus View School Profile $$$ Charlottesville, VA 0.95% University of Virginia is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Sheridan Technical College View School Profile $ Hollywood, FL 0.56% Sheridan Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

University of Alaska Fairbanks View School Profile $ Fairbanks, AK 0.3% University of Alaska Fairbanks is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

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.

Stanly Community College View School Profile $ Albemarle, NC 0.36% Stanly Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Lanier Technical College View School Profile Oakwood, GA 0.32% Lanier Technical College is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Wiregrass Georgia Technical College View School Profile Valdosta, GA 0.39% Wiregrass Georgia Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College View School Profile Rome, GA 0.36% Georgia Northwestern Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

University of California-Berkeley View School Profile $$$ Berkeley, CA 0.91% University of California – Berkeley is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

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.

Moraine Park Technical College View School Profile $ Fond du Lac, WI 0.58% Moraine Park Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Atlanta Technical College View School Profile Atlanta, GA 0.44% Atlanta Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Florida State College at Jacksonville View School Profile Jacksonville, FL 0.35% Florida State College at Jacksonville is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Golden Gate University-San Francisco View School Profile $$$ San Francisco, CA 0.56% Golden Gate University is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

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.

Auburn University View School Profile $$$$ Auburn, AL 0.77% 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.

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.

Kaskaskia College View School Profile $ Centralia, IL 0.3% Kaskaskia College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Shoreline Community College View School Profile $ Shoreline, WA 0.31% Shoreline Community College is regionally accredited from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

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.

Liberty University View School Profile $$$$ Lynchburg, VA 0.47% Liberty University Online is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Thomas Edison State University View School Profile $$ Trenton, NJ 0.45% 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.

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.

University of California-Irvine View School Profile $$ Irvine, CA 0.85% University of California – Irvine is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

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.

Snead State Community College View School Profile Boaz, AL 0.43% Snead State Community College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Casper College View School Profile $ Casper, WY 0.35% 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.

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.

Champlain College View School Profile $$$$$ Burlington, VT 0.6% Champlain College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

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.

Community Care College View School Profile $$$ Tulsa, OK 0.73% Community Care College is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

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.

Best Online Certificate

Online Accounting Certificate Programs Ranking Guidelines

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

The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

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.

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

true 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.

true 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.

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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