Accounting Essentials Certificate Program

Accounting Essentials
Program at-a-Glance
18 months
6 online classes

Develop a Solid Foundation in Accounting

Whether you’re new to the practice or are looking to advance your career, our Accounting Essentials Certificate Program provides students with the groundwork needed to confidently and accurately apply accounting principles in their business or profession.

What You’ll Learn

This program is designed for those wanting to understand current accounting standards and procedures in order to meet financial accountability requirements, advance to higher professional levels, strengthen business practices or improve their organization’s bottom line. You will learn how to:

  • Prepare, interpret and present financial statements
  • Understand methods to analyze and interpret data
  • Use accounting principles to develop, manage and expand business

What You Get

Our program offers:

  • Online convenience
  • Access to exceptional instructors with years of industry experience
  • Unique networking opportunities with instructors and fellow students
  • Practical knowledge and current best practices that can be applied immediately to your business or job
  • Coursework that counts towards CPA requirements, if you are a candidate

Accounting is often considered a “recession proof” industry due to the constant need for the practice in periods of both strong and weak economies.

  • $61,696 is the average salary for accountants and auditors (Glassdoor).
  • The number of accounting and auditor jobs is expected to grow by 10% through 2026, which is faster than the national job growth rate (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • Top five states for accounting or auditing employment: California, Texas, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • Most accountants and auditors work full time, with 1 in 5 working more than 40 hours per week. Overtime hours are typical at certain times of the year, such as end of the fiscal year or during tax season (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

This program requires the successful completion of 16 required units and 8 elective units of designated online course work with a grade of “C” or better.

Course content is frequently revised to ensure that the program is up-to-date with the latest industry standards. For this reason, you must complete all of the course requirements of your certificate within five years from the day you enroll in the first course. A certificate will not be awarded if the requirements are not completed and your application for candidacy is not received within this timeframe.

These courses count toward the educational requirements to sit for the CPA exam or fulfill continuing education CMA requirements. For more information about the CPA license, please visit the California Board of Accountancy’s Educational Requirements page (click on the Tip Sheet – CPA Licensure Educational Requirements link).

For additional information about our enrollment policies, please click here.

Please note: The course, Principles of Financial Accounting, is a prerequisite for all other courses in this program.

Required Courses

Intermediate Accounting: Part I
Quarter Academic Credit

Gain a thorough understanding of the theory behind best practices in accounting and learn to incorporate those theories into practical usage. Focus on the preparation of principal accounting statements, including the recording, valuation and presentation of cash, temporary investments, receivables and inventories. Explore accounting concepts for physical plants and equipment, intangibles, current assets and liabilities, fixed asset accounting and current obligations.

Course Code
Intermediate Accounting: Part II
Quarter Academic Credit

Learn advanced accounting methods and be better prepared to take the accounting portion of the CPA examination. Examine best practices of financial reporting, income taxes, pensions, leases, investments, stockholder’s equity, statement of cash flows and earnings per share. Apply concepts learned to various real world applications, so you can more fully analyze financial statements.

Course Code
Principles of Cost Accounting
Quarter Academic Credit

Learn the fundamentals of managerial accounting and discuss how to use accounting/financial data to make better, more profitable business decisions. Examine the role of the managerial accountant in establishing budgets, evaluating the financial impact of day-to-day management decisions and using budgets as control tools. Topics include basic accounting principles; analysis and interpretation of financial statements; cost-volume profit relationships; how to analyze cost behavior; budgeting and the use of accounting data for business decision-making. This course is required to complete the CPA Accounting Certificate Program and the Accounting Essentials Certificate Program. This course is also known as Managerial Accounting

This course fulfills one of the three prerequisites for the UC Davis School of Management's Master of Professional Accountancy Program. Visit for more information.


Course Code
Principles of Financial Accounting
Quarter Academic Credit

Examine accounting theory, principles and practice. Learn about accrual account concepts, transaction analysis, recording and processing (journals and ledgers) methods. Gain an in-depth understanding of the preparation and analysis of financial statements (income statements, balance sheets and cash-flow statements); sales and cost of sales; inventory valuation; depreciation of operational assets; accounting for investments; and liability and present value concepts.

This course fulfills one of the three prerequisites for the UC Davis School of Management's Master of Professional Accountancy Program.

Course Code

Elective Courses

Accounting for Governmental and Nonprofit Organizations
Quarter Academic Credit

Gain an understanding of the characteristics of governmental and nonprofit accounting with an emphasis on various fund types and account groups. Review and evaluate the most recently recommended accounting and financial reporting practices for state and local governmental units. Explore both the theoretical and practical aspects of governmental and nonprofit accounting.

Course Code
Quarter Academic Credit

Examine the audit process in-depth and explore the most recent developments and trends in auditing practices. Learn how to plan an audit, perform analytical procedures, evaluate internal control systems and carry out tests of transactions and individual account balances. Discuss current best practices for conducting, completing and issuing an audit report. This course assists individuals who need to learn or review auditing concepts and/or prepare for the CPA, CIA or CMA examination. 

Course Code
Financial Statement Analysis
Quarter Academic Credit

Focus on the effective analysis of financial statements and how to integrate accounting concepts and principles into your statements. Examine the analytical tools for assessing a company's performance, the concept of quality of earnings and the approaches to valuation. Topics also include balance sheet analysis, asset and business evaluation issues, income statement analysis, profit margins, return on assets and equity and cash flow analysis.

Course Code
Ethics in Accounting
Quarter Academic Credit

Gain an understanding of ethical standards for accountants and auditors. Learn the nature and scope of ethical behavior and the need for it in business and society. Examine unethical behavior, including greed, corruption and fraud. Review professional codes of conduct for principal governing bodies and discuss their application in real-world situations. Obtain an understanding of ethics in the auditing, taxation and fiduciary professions.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand ethical frameworks including ethics and ethical reasoning
  • Review virtue, justice and social responsibilities
  • Analyze unethical behavior including greed and corruption
  • Examine fraud and earnings management
  • Review professional rules of conduct
  • Examine the duties of the public company auditors, taxation professionals and fiduciaries
Course Code
Individual Income Taxation
Quarter Academic Credit

Gain the practical knowledge you need to apply tax laws when preparing tax forms and helping your clients plan their processes. Examine the most current laws affecting capital gains and losses, adjustments to gross income, itemized deductions, tax credits and payments and estimated taxes.

Learn about sole proprietorship and small business taxation, as well as real estate property transactions, with an emphasis on issues relating to all aspects of individual taxation. Knowledge of current federal income tax laws as they relate to individual income taxation is critical for accountants. Acquire the skills to more effectively prepare, or help your clients prepare, their income tax returns.

Course Code

Required Courses

Required Courses Units Fall Winter Spring Summer
Principles of Financial Accounting 4 Online Online Online Online
Principles of Cost Accounting 4 Online Online
Intermediate Accounting Part I 4 Online Online
Intermediate Accounting Part II 4 Online Online

Elective Courses

Elective Courses Units Fall Winter Spring Summer
Accounting for Governmental and Nonprofit Organizations 4 Online
Auditing 4 Online
Financial Statement Analysis 4 Online Online
Ethics in Accounting 2 Online
Individual Income Taxation 4 Online

Required Courses

Required Courses Units Fall Winter Spring Summer
Intermediate Accounting: Part I 4 Online
Intermediate Accounting: Part II 4 Online Classroom
Principles of Cost Accounting 4 Online Classroom
Principles of Financial Accounting 4 Classroom Online Classroom Online

Elective Courses

Elective Courses Units Fall Winter Spring Summer
Accounting for Governmental and Nonprofit Organizations 4 Classroom Online
Auditing 4 Online Classroom
Financial Statement Analysis 4 Classroom Online
Ethics in Accounting 4 Online Online
Individual Income Taxation 4 Online
  • Tuition for the entire Accounting Essentials Certificate Program ranges from $4,980 to $5,280, depending on when you enroll.
  • Students will be expected to pay a one-time, non-refundable certificate application fee of $125.
  • Textbooks are not included in the tuition fee.

For information about financing your education, please click here.

Here are your options: 

Ready to enroll in the certificate program?

  • Register. Fill out a brief certificate registration form and pay the registration fee. By doing so, you declare your intent to complete the program, lock in program requirements and will be contacted by a program adviser who will work with you to map out your academic path.

Not ready to commit yet?

  • Enroll in an individual course. Check out individual courses that are currently open for enrollment. Courses will be applied to the certificate program if you later decide to complete your certificate.
  • Sign up for an information session. Learn more about the program by enrolling in a free information session. If an information session for this program is not currently open for enrollment, click on “notify me,” and we’ll contact you when the next one becomes available.

Questions? We’re here to help. If you’ve got a question, email us or call (530) 757-8895.