Free Online Lectures and Courses for Accounting

An accountant is a crucial component of any business or organization making financial transactions. Many individuals also employ accountants to oversee their personal finances. Academic preparation for accounting involves training in auditing, financial accounting and taxation. Ultimately, most accounting training leads to professional certification from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).

Accountants are responsible for the preparation and maintenance of financial records. They also ensure clients meet government regulatory standards for taxes, reporting, and other legislative compliance. Performing these tasks well allows businesses to operate in a cost-efficient manner that meets governmental tax and compliance rules.

Busy companies manage multiple revenue streams and conduct hundreds of thousands of transactions as part of the normal course of business. Accountants create financial statements, handle tax obligations, audit books and systems for legal compliance and cost efficiency, and organize reporting systems. All of these tasks must be communicated to management, and accountants are expected to provide cost-saving solutions for the business at hand.

Sample Courses

Undergraduate accounting degree programs commonly require students to take courses such as:

  • Governmental Accounting
  • Accounting for Not-for-Profits
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Federal Taxation I & II
  • Managerial Accounting
  • International Accounting
  • Accounting Software

Graduate-level accounting courses generally cover:

  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Advanced Forensic Accounting
  • Entrepreneurship Law
  • Tax Research Methodology
  • Issues in Reporting
  • Accounting Information Systems
  • Business Mergers and Acquisitions

Degree Types

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires that any accountant who files tax returns be a certified public accountant, or CPA. Most states require a bachelor's degree and an additional year of coursework before an aspiring CPA may sit for the certification exam. Many CPAs enroll in five-year degree programs that grant both bachelor's and master's degrees and qualify graduates to take the CPA exam. There are also certificate in accounting programs available.


An associate in accounting is the fast track to an entry-level career. In some respects, it is also an affordable first foray into the field. Once earned, students can decide if they want to continue to pursue an accounting education, another degree or simply a job. Bookkeeping, payroll and billing positions can all be pursued by an associate degree holder. More likely than not, someone with an associate's will start off as an assistant to a certified accountant.


A typical four-year bachelor's in accounting requires that students spend the first two years of school taking general education courses, along with supplementary classes that cover economics, advanced mathematics, and business law. The core of an accounting program prepares graduates for the CPA exam, and stresses technical competence in auditing, taxation and financial accounting.


At this point, new graduates of a bachelor's degree program may continue on to another year of schooling to earn the extra credit hours required for the CPA designation through a master's in accounting. Some firms hire these graduates in junior positions and allow them to continue their education, and some only hire accountants who have passed the CPA exam.

The master's degree program for accountants may either be a five-year program designed to award both degrees, or may be a separate program designed to prepare bachelor's graduates for the CPA exam.


The graduate work mentioned above is all relevant to the doctoral experience as well. But where the master's program is typically a vehicle for professionals who want to pass the CPA exam and then enter the workforce, the Ph.D. in accounting is more for committed research and education positions.

Most Ph.D. graduates will go on to teach at the university level, work on an academic, accounting-centric publication or become a senior member of some sort of financial think tank.

Ideal Candidates for Accounting

Accountants must first have a knack for math. Aside from the ability to crunch numbers, well-developed analytical and critical thinking skills lead to effective auditing and identification of inefficient business practices. Accountants must also be extremely detailed, organized, and able to explain complicated financial concepts to their employers and clients.

If you are skilled with numbers and detailed problem-solving, accounting may be the field for you. Consider exploring the wealth of undergraduate degree programs available; accounting is a degree program that lends itself well to online study. Young CPA groups exist on Facebook and LinkedIn, and many professional organizations like the American Institute for CPAs also offer resources for aspiring accountants.

Career Pathways

Once qualified as CPAs, accountants have many choices in the field. Most CPAs fall into one of four categories: public accounting, management accounting, government accounting, or auditing.

Public accountants are the most visible of all CPAs. Their clients may include individuals, corporations or government entities. For each of these clients, a public accountant must ensure all legal requirements are met. These include tax form preparation and payment, reporting, and disclosure of financial information or internal auditing of financial practices. Generally public accountants work as sole practitioners or with a group of other public accountants.

Management accountants work directly for an organization. Duties for management accountants include budgeting, financial document preparation, strategic planning, cost-efficiency analysis, and asset management. Management accountants often report to senior management.

Government accountants work for local, municipal, or state government agencies. Extensive legislative rulings in the accounting industry must be met, including tax payment and reporting compliance. Government accountants audit the entities that are subject to their employers' rules, ensuring that the governmental revenue stream is managed lawfully and efficiently.

Internal auditors usually work for an organization, sometimes as consultants. They scrutinize the organization's financial practices and identify fraud or cost inefficiencies. Internal auditors can help an organization avoid hefty fees and penalties for noncompliance with government regulations.

Accounting is a growing field, due to increasing governmental legislation on so many aspects of tax, reporting, and legal compliance. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 16% growth in new accounting jobs throughout 2020.

Newly-minted CPAs can choose which industry is most appealing. Public accounting firms, corporations, not-for-profit organizations and government regulatory agencies are all areas where CPA skills are valued. The typical career path for a CPA begins with an associate position. With time and good performance, promotions to the title of senior associate may follow. Ultimately, the career ladder for accountants extends all the way to senior management and Corporate Financial Officer (CFO) positions.

6 Courses

Get More Out of Your Online Accounting Courses

Accounting Journals & Trade Magazines

  • Journals

  • Trade Magazines

    • Accountancy Age

      Accountancy Age is an online magazine with news, opinion pieces, resources, videos, and more on the subject of accounting.

    • Accounting and Business

      ACCA is a magazine for professionals in the accounting and business industry with research, insights, news, and more.

    • Accounting Today

      Accounting Today is a free online magazine with newsletters, web-seminars, e-books, technology resources and more for accounting professionals.

Accounting Grants & Scholarships

  • Scholarships

    • AICPA Accountemps Student Scholarship

      Deadline: April 1

      Award Amount: $2,500

      The American Institute of CPAs awards this scholarship to students who demonstrate potential leadership as CPAs in the accounting industry.

    • AICPA Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

      Deadline: April 1

      Award Amount: $12,000

      Open to minority doctoral students, this fellowship supports those who have the potential of becoming educators in the accounting field.

    • AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship

      Deadline: April 1

      Award Amount: $5,000

      The John L. Carey scholarship is awarded to students pursuing graduate studies in accounting and the CPA licensure.

    • AICPA Scholarship for Minority Accounting Students

      Deadline: April 1

      Award Amount: $5,000

      Awarded to minority students majoring in accounting, this scholarship pays for the “expenseses that directly relate” to accounting education.

    • Beta Alpha Psi Medal of Inspiration Award

      Deadline: May 1

      Award Amount: $5,000

      Beta Alpha Psi students are eligible for this award, sponsored by the AICPA

    • EFWA Scholarships

      Deadline: varies

      Award Amount: $1,000 - $16,000

      The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting grants several scholarships to women studying accounting at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

    • Herman J. Neal Scholarship

      Deadline: April 1

      Award Amount: $4,000

      Awarded to African American students pursuing a degree in accounting and CPA designation, this award is offered by ICPAS.

    • MillerCoors National Scholarship

      Deadline: June

      Award Amount: $3,000

      A scholarship for junior and senior business, accounting, communications, economics, marketing, or public relations majors of Hispanic descent.

    • National Association of Black Accountants Scholarship Program

      Deadline: January 31

      Award Amount: $1,000 - $10,000

      The National Association of Black Accountants offers scholarships supporting ethnic minorities pursuing accounting or business degree programs.

    • National Society for Accountants Scholarship Foundation

      Deadline: March

      Award Amount: $500 - $2,000

      The National Society for Accountants (NSA) seeks to promote the industry of accounting by supplying this scholarship to undergraduate accounting students.

    • National Society of Accountants Scholarship Program

      Deadline: March 1

      Award Amount: $500 - $2,000

      An average of 32 awards are provided to undergraduate accounting students through the National Society of Accountants Scholarship program every year.

    • Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program

      Deadline: February

      Award Amount: $1,000 - $10,000

      This internationally-awarded scholarship is available to students majoring in accounting, business, finance and criminal justice.

    • Surety and Fidelity Industry Intern Scholarship Program for Minority Students

      Deadline: April 30

      Award Amount: $2,500

      This scholarship program provides up to $2,500 to minority students pursuing a degree in accountancy or related field.

    • Tau Kappa Epsilon: W. Allan Herzog Scholarship

      Deadline: March 15

      Award Amount: $3,000

      A scholarship for fraternity members pursuing a degree in accounting, finance, or economics.

    • TELACU Scholarship Program

      Deadline: March

      Award Amount: $1,000

      TELACU provides undergraduate and graduate school scholarships to students in California, Illinois, Texas and New York, for accounting studies.

    • UBS/PaineWebber Scholarship

      Deadline: March

      Award Amount: $8,000

      A scholarship for minority students attending UNCF Member Colleges and Universities majoring in a business discipline such as economics.

Accounting Internships

  • American Red Cross Paid Summer Internships

    Deadline: March

    While available positions vary from year to year based on need, the American Red Cross often seeks students with an accounting/auditing background to work at their Washington, D.C. headquarters.

  • Bank of America Corporate Audit Intern Program

    Deadline: December 16th

    The Bank of America corporate audit departent seeks applicants who have a desire to adapt and learn the multiple businesses within Bank of America.

  • BDO Internship Program

    Deadline: varies

    Experience the real life of a tax or assurance associate in one of BDO's 35 offices nationwide with this internship program.

  • Crowe Horwath Internships

    Deadline: varies

    Internships at Crowe Horwath provide an intense, but rewarding experience, sharing hands on opportunities with client projects in accounting, including tax preparation and financial statements.

  • Deloitte Undergraduate Internships

    Deadline: varies

    Gain experience in accounting working as a Deloitte intern, with various programs available for undergraduate students including Deloitte Discovery.

  • Ernst & Young Global Student Experience

    Deadline: varies

    Apply to join Ernst & Young's Global Student Experience to take on international finance assignments in major cities across the globe.

  • Garick 360° Accounting Internship Program

    Deadline: varies

    This program is designed for accounting majors considering a career in corporate accounting. It is extended to all students who have an interest in learning the interworking of a business.

  • Goldman Sachs Internal Audit Internship Program

    Deadline: varies

    The Internal Audit division of Goldman Sachs offers internships ranging from one week to ten weeks, each introducing how the division is structured and how it fits within the organization.

  • Grant Thornton Internships

    Deadline: varies

    With locations throughout the U.S., students can gain hands on experience in public accounting through Grant Thornton's internship program.

  • KPMG Internships

    Deadline: varies

    KPMG offers paid internships in audit, tax, and advisory practices with opportunities to explore career options, networking, and mentorship, as well as build experience in the real world.

  • Pricewaterhouse Coopers Internship Program

    Deadline: varies

    Interns with Pricewaterhouse Coopers learn from the firm's professional services learning environment through training, coaching, client experiences, and more.

  • Transamerica Internship Program

    Deadline: varies

    The Transamerica Internship Program employs 100-120 college interns every year, including approximately 30 in their accounting department.

  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Summer Honors Business Program

    Deadline: February

    This opportunity is for MBA students and other graduate students in such areas as accounting, economics, and finance, to the regulation of the securities markets and the work of the Commission.

  • U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Summer Honors College Program

    Deadline: February

    This 10-week long internship introduces undergraduate students studying accounting, economics, finance, and related fields, to the regulation of the securities markets and the work of the Commission.

Accounting Student & Professional Organizations