The 15 Best Free Online Accounting Courses – MBA Central

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The easy decision to take free online accounting courses can be happened upon with very little time or effort necessary. One may be finding herself bored with filling out test-procedure specification reports and needing to change course from software engineering and into a financial position requiring all of the basics granted by a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree. Or perhaps, she has worked through a few accounting periods and is wholly accustomed to the record-and-post adjusting entry cycle specifics but needs to further her knowledge with the ever-expanding distributed ledger possibilities of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Regardless of where one is on the path of processing financial decisions, these free online accounting courses deliver incredible viewpoints of the multitudinous, flexible, and convenient options available.

Every organized society needs information ordered and recorded concerning its activities and accomplishments, and accounting was created to fulfill this need. Comprehending and efficiently orchestrating so many exchanges and transfers is integral, as they can affect so many outcomes from simply solidifying a single investment opportunity or ultimately destroying a whole company. For example, the massive pivot still evolving worldwide from on-premise, office-centered rows of cubicles to individualized and remote work-from-home style positions needs sound, focused decisions coordinating all purchases, reimbursements, investments, and compensatory avenues – to name a few. Categorizing all available assets regarding employees, office equipment, and whole real estate investments is a massive undertaking alone. On top of that is the need to clearly delineate their value, position the assets to best account for scope and purpose, and negotiate the conflicts that will maximize those resources and increase the company’s future prospects. This is only part of the advising role that accountants play while engaged in all types of businesses. Free online accounting classes like Financial Accounting Fundamentals form a possibly crucial foundation for anyone wading into this field or looking to develop a larger salary.

Free Online Accounting Courses

Students interested in pursuing an accounting specialization will learn how to collect and assemble the needed information to evaluate the financial data and guide wise business decisions. These free online accounting classes can lead to degree programs, ultimately inspiring future financial leaders and preparing them for a wide range of satisfying careers. Just like these courses, even entire MBA in Accounting programs are now provided online. Through MOOCs on Coursera and edX, everyone can enjoy the convenient, online format, allowing them to continue working full-time while earning their accounting certificates. The following examines these free online accounting courses in more detail and uncovers what makes each of them unique.


Determining which free online accounting courses are most appropriate to list firstly considers a general overview of accounting topics. Secondly, these best-viewed classes are from the leading business schools throughout the country, which are ideally equipped to research, discern, and discuss the latest trends. The courses must be from the upper-level specializations and degrees to better see the full range open to beginners and up through advanced specialists. Coursera and edX are recognized leaders of the pack, which have proven their online platforms and are unrivaled at focusing the lens further. These MOOC websites also have optimal partnerships with many top schools, providing an even better perspective outside of their own offerings.

#1 Accounting in Engineering – Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management allows all to enjoy a free online accounting class. MIT provides this course on the edX platform.

Management in Engineering: Accounting and Planning is a free online accounting course that consists of a mathematically rigorous framework constantly pushing to understand financial markets and is delivered with data-driven insights from two distinguished professors. Coming from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Senior Lecturer Abbott Weiss joins Professor Jung-Hoon Chun. Together they lay out intermediate coursework meant to bridge the gap between business people and engineers. As mentioned, some decent effort will be needed to successfully navigate this course during its two-month time frame consisting of 10 to 12 hour weeks. From within an engineering framework, this free online accounting curriculum provides the experience of managing to open doors for novices that are perhaps less technical or engineers who are more people-oriented. Within this class, the learner will solidify their basic business knowledge in finance, sales, and marketing, practice constructing financial statements, and build up an analytical toolset for effective decision-making. Instilling these managerial abilities into the modern leader is essential for successful companies amidst the increasingly diverse business world. The class is the third in a series of eight that combine to form a Principles of Manufacturing MicroMaster’s Program produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and entirely hosted via edX. These graduate-level courses that showcase deep learning and in-demand skills are designed to advance careers and put learners on a pathway to an advanced degree. They even count as credits in at least a dozen Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Engineering Master’s degrees linked through edX.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology produces this comprehensive free online accounting course and offers it through edX. The Sloan School of Management at MIT upholds the University’s respected reputation. Accordingly, U.S. News & World Report positioned the business school as the fifth-best amongst United States universities. Also, as an AACSB-accredited business school, Sloan is an internationally recognized top choice for graduates. It offers business students the benefit of learning in a technologically-driven environment. Additionally, MIT generously provides over 200 online classes – an almost unprecedented number for this quality – all through edX, covering a massive variety of subjects in 11 full programs.

Course Name: Management in Engineering: Accounting and Planning
Business School: Sloan School of Management

#2 Accounting in Entrepreneurship – University of Maryland, College Park

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The University of Maryland, College Park houses one of the top business schools offering leading business courses. This free online accounting course expounds on entrepreneurial finance.

Financing Innovative Ventures is intended for aspiring or active corporate venture opportunists looking to secure and manage the proper funding from the right investors at the ideal time. Hosted through edX, this online accounting class will help clarify fundamental accounting and financing principles so entrepreneurs will be better able to guide their business and stay focused on its core underpinnings. It is meant as introductory for learners without an accounting background. Being the fourth and final course in the Professional Certificate of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, only a minor investment of about 11 hours over four weeks will bring about a wealth of knowledge. The resources gained from this free online class include highlighting the multitude of financing options, reviewing the basics of valuations, dilution, and non-dilutive sources of funding, and structuring a pitch for funding. New corporate ventures need to rely on internal and external funding sources, and understanding the solid fundamentals is central to the class’s second week. The following week will discover the process and tools needed to assess the venture’s growth, locate its true value, and strategize a comprehensive funding plan. This strategy is the key to unlocking financial resources and efficiently funding the company’s growth. Finally, the student will solidify this thinking into a clear investment proposal searching to land the repeatedly sought, but usually only hard-won funding. Michael Pratt, a lecturer of technology entrepreneurship, teaches the practical dos and don’ts of pitching and inspires the learners to create compelling stories for their new ventures.

At the University of Maryland in College Park, the Robert H. Smith Business School is well versed in experiential learning, and it shows. Their online classes include hands-on projects and propel students through introductory levels all the way through advanced programs. According to U.S. News & World Report’s list for its online MBA programs, the University of Maryland’s Smith School, is an outstanding place to learn, rated at number 10. The school of business is even accredited through the AACSB. The University of Maryland provides this online accounting course and almost 50 more free online programs through the accessible edX platform.

Course Name: Financing Innovative Ventures
Business School: Robert H. Smith School of Business

#3 Accounting Analytics – University of Pennsylvania

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Wharton’s 140-year-old finance department continually shows its leadership as it always has been at the forefront of financial education and research. The University of Pennsylvania presents a free online accounting course titled Accounting Analytics.

Accounting Analytics is a free online accounting course proposed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and is available through Coursera. Lasting four weeks and requiring 10 hours to complete this class, students examine accounting data and how it is relevant to financial performance and forecasting scenarios, including consumer behavior predictions, corporate strategy, and risk management. The skills gained explicitly in the first week include ratio analysis involving financial statements, decision making through forecasting, and corporate finance valuation. The second week isn’t any slower and is replete with an earnings management discussion covering the means, motive, and opportunity of intentional bias in financial statements. The following week reviews earnings management through a big data lens, specifically while asset prediction models are used to discover possible statement manipulation. Further understanding is then given towards connecting non-financial metrics to financial performance and recognizing the predictive analytics necessary to produce optimal results. As the fourth of five parts in the Business Analytics Specialization, this class brings together the previous analytic sections to prepare the engaged student for the capstone project that partners with Yahoo. Led by the experienced accounting professors Brian Bushee and Christopher Ittner, the hands-on design provides invaluable experience in examining and creating data-driven decisions, ultimately preparing the learner for the modern world of accounting for all aspects of business. All of this furnishes the student with an overall financial understanding that further propels them into more advanced financial topics and a rapidly-expanding view of the global financial markets.

Managing a massive curriculum curated by a world-renown faculty, the University of Pennsylvania includes this free online accounting class. The Wharton School MBA, born out of the University of Pennsylvania, is rated the number one program for 2021 by U.S. News & World Report. The business school is also accredited through the selective AACSB. As an original Ivy League member, the United States should be proud of its history and tradition as the University of Pennsylvania is one of the earliest higher education institutions. It is among some of the best experts providing these free online accounting courses.

Course Name: Accounting Analytics
Business School: The Wharton School

#4 Accounting Process – University of California, Irvine

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From the University of California, Irvine, the Paul Merage School of Business offers this free online accounting course offered through Coursera. The business school presents this course which explains the ins and outs of the accounting cycle.

Completing the Accounting Cycle is a free online accounting course that is part of an available three-part specialization produced by the University of California, Irvine. It only requires about 10 hours to complete, but it can easily be spread across four weeks for those in need of the most flexible options. So many basics are intrinsic to the most advanced topics within accounting education programs. Practicing them ensures that nothing is overlooked. This class offers a centralized understanding of the accounting cycle, all from within the Microsoft Excel framework. Specifically, the skills earned include adjusting entries, closing entries (focused on the adjustment to retained earnings), preparing income statements, retained earnings statements, and ultimately completing a complete balance sheet. Understanding and recording the four closing entries procedure rounds out the year’s accounting cycle to best prepare for the new fiscal one. And outside of this class, the Introduction to Financial Accounting: The Accounting Cycle Specialization will build the remaining essential skills needed in the accounting cycle regardless of the direction changes encountered along the way. The accounting equation, journal recording, and ledger posting are a few of the many notches available to add to the new accountant’s belt through this specialization. As the learner nears the end, the capstone project requires direct and specific usage of the knowledge, as mentioned earlier, to show true career readiness.

Students can satisfy their curiosity through this free online accounting class, or the University of California, Irvine also provides more than 150 additional courses. From risk management and blockchain to macroeconomics, the courses range across many accounting topics and are all offered via Coursera. Including a complete Project Management degree, UCI offers many of these learning avenues to its students through its partnership with Coursera. The University of California, Irvine’s Merage School of Business is AACSB-accredited. At a solid ranking as its 67th best business school, U.S. News & World Report also further distinguishes the Paul Merage School. Modern students must face industry disruption head-on, and it is the school’s holistic approach to education that aims to help them adapt and even seek to disrupt and find their own true success directly.

Course Name: Completing the Accounting Cycle
Business School: Paul Merage School of Business

#5 Banking – Columbia University

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The Institute for New Economic Thinking sponsored this course as an attempt to revive some forgotten traditions in monetary policy that have become relevant again. This free online accounting class is available from Columbia University.

In Economics of Money and Banking, the students learn about the monetary system as an essential infrastructure of a decentralized market economy. They come to understand monetary economics through the key analytical tool of the balance sheet to measure the calculated risk of debt in search of the forecasted investment returns. This computation helps highlight how previously separate capital and money markets have become intertwined more recently into a new system of market-backed credit. Integral to this understanding is ultimately what Perry Mehrling, Professor of Economics, teaches through the balance sheet approach. For over 30 hours spread across 13 weeks, the student will bear this in mind to form a better picture of an economy much larger and more interconnected than ever before. This painting of how banks now supply most market liquidity for a price exemplifies a central bank’s need to protect the ultimate precarious balance. Comprehending the money view’s conceptual apparatus will make sense of modern shadow banking in the financially globalized world and how this is now a part of standard economics.

The Columbia Business School proposes this free online accounting course. The school is ranked in the U.S. News & World Report’s list as the number eight best nationwide. As part of Columbia University, the Columbia Business School is accredited through the United States’ oldest and most prestigious accreditation council, the AACSB. They offer this class in partnership and through Coursera along with over 20 other online courses amongst seven different MicroMaster’s, programs, or certificates. Columbia University acknowledges that so much of its strength originates from the surrounding New York City. It constantly looks to connect its research and education to the vast resources of the great Northeastern hub. The Columbia Business School offers, alongside their in-person options on campus, asynchronous and live-online executive education courses. Columbia University helped produce this course and so many more courses for all of those searching for flexible online class structures. From such a distinctive and distinguished learning environment crossing so many scholarly and professional fields – who would not choose this class?

Course Name: Economics of Money and Banking
Business School: Columbia Business School

#6 Bitcoin – University of California, Berkeley

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Developed by Blockchain at Berkeley, this course presents Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as blockchain technologies’ end goal. This free online accounting class is available from the University of California Berkeley.

In Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies, the students gain knowledge about the fundamental concepts of cryptocurrencies with a particular emphasis on Bitcoin. Over a period of six weeks with just three to five hours each week, this introductory class offers everyone a chance to catch up with one of the modern economy’s significant financial developments. They come to understand how the basic properties and intent of a decentralized currency are currently changing the face of global economics. Seen through the four stages of Bitcoin, which include Identity, Transactions, Records, and Consensus, the learners can better navigate the mechanics behind Bitcoin, realize the necessary infrastructure, and appreciate its security schemes. Real-world aspects such as wallets, mining, transactions, and governance are exemplified through the course. Learning how a network attack can lead to the destruction of Bitcoin is even part of the material. Specifically, the vulnerabilities of pool cannibalization, double spending and forking attacks, the Goldfinger attack, malicious mining strategies, and 51% attacks are all discussed in this free online accounting course. Finally, the latter part of the class focuses on the properties of Ethereum, or what is currently the second-largest blockchain platform. The Ethereum Virtual Machine is introduced alongside Turing completeness, and some of the critical protocols are differentiated between Bitcoin and Ethereum. Ideally, with the background of use cases in Ethereum, the instructors conclude with an overview of smart contracts and creating decentralized applications. The Berkeley edX instructors, Rustie Lin and Mengyi (Gloria) Wang, ultimately encourage the students to think about blockchain use cases outside of cryptocurrency.

The Haas Business School proposes this free online accounting course. The school’s number seven rank on the U.S. News & World Report’s list underlines the effectiveness of developing leaders for which the University of California Berkeley is known. The Haas School of Business is accredited through the United States’ most prestigious accreditation council, the AACSB. They offer this class in partnership and with edX. It is for all of those in need of flexible online class structures that the University of California, Berkeley produced this course and so many more courses.

Course Name: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies
Business School: Haas School of Business

#7 Decision Making – University of Michigan

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The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business produced this free online accounting class through Coursera. The program explores the whole of the accounting cycle in the world today.

This free online accounting course, Accounting for Decision Making, is created by the University of Michigan for the new or even aspiring accountant. About a third of the people who finished with the course began a new career. The class is intermediate in nature but is comprehensive and requires about 29 hours to complete successfully. It is easily spread across seven weeks for those desiring the most flexible timing. Delivered by the highly-rated Professor of Finance, Greg Miller, the basic concept behind accrual accounting is underscored throughout this online accounting course through the balance sheet and income statement lesson. Building on this lesson, the student will come to terms with revenue and its related balance sheet item of accounts receivable. Of course, costs of goods sold and inventory, and their current accounting rules, will further show the conceptual economics. With these premises understood, long-lived assets, whether tangible like factories or computers or intangible like trademarks, brands, and even goodwill, will be investigated. The implications of most corporate financial decisions will be slowly clarified and begin to make more sense through a new understanding of liabilities and owner equity. Last but certainly not least are the notions of a cash T account (cash flow statements) and ratios to frame the conversation and ultimately find the valuation of projects and even whole companies.

The Ross School of Business is highly regarded and created this free online accounting course for all to enjoy. This MOOC is hosted through Coursera’s online platform. The Ross School of Business calls the University of Michigan home and is an AACSB accredited business school. U.S. News & World Report states Michigan Ross is tied for 12th place amidst the best business schools. The University of Michigan explores over 100 topics via Coursera. The content is often reproduced in multiple native languages (and not just in subtitles) to reach the world’s learners better. The University of Michigan offers six different 100% online degrees and certificates on Coursera with a Master’s in Applied Data Science and another in public health.

Course Name: Accounting for Decision Making
Business School: Ross School of Business

#8 Ethics – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Gies College of Business introduces an overview of accounting analytics through this free online accounting course. A fully online and complete MBA through Coursera’s platform comes from Gies as well.

Professional Responsibility and Ethics for Accountants is an intermediate free online accounting course that will push the student’s understanding to new levels. For over 20 hours spread across four weeks, learners will study why, when, and how professionals exist specifically regarding the certified public accountant. The business school aids all student stages, whether they are already a certified public accountant keeping their license or just beginning their careers as new accountants. They could be focusing their analytical skills on a similar non-accounting career or becoming a corporate finance officer. This free online accounting course underscores the need for a set of universal values and ethics that the accounting industry takes very seriously. The debate even covers what and to whom corporate management is and how they are held accountable. Should the trust relationship between management and corporate owners forged through private property rights be sufficient as a guiding capitalist principle? Or perhaps the public interest nature of society and business’ relationship should be the main focus of business? These questions are discussed and the role that corporate governance structures play through boards of directors, laws, regulators, and ethical codes. More prominent than just the primary function of business exists the need to support society as a whole, especially in large-scale corporate ethical lapses and wide-spread industry investment failures. Ideally, this course conveniently provides today’s University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign students with the chance to understand ethics in business better.

A free online class in accounting provides a solid foundation for understanding accountants’ responsibility and ethics better. Available from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this class is hosted through the Coursera platform. It is taught by Susan Curtis, who is Lecturer of Accountancy at Gies. The Gies College of Business is AACSB accredited and provides various cores of focus alongside eight different specializations. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is accustomed to online and distance education. It offers more than 170 free online courses with Coursera, including a fully-online master’s in areas like computer science, management, and accounting.

Course Name: Professional Responsibility and Ethics for Accountants
Business School: Gies College of Business

#9 Excel – Rice University

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Rice University produces this free online accounting class. Rice consistently ranks in the top quarter of best universities in the United States.

From within the roles of households to corporations to governments and all of the financial intermediaries connecting them, there are so many manners in which to organize and manage financial assets. Still, Excel has become the standard application of respected use. As the first part of the Business Statistics and Analysis Specialization hosted on Coursera, this free online accounting course provides a running start in the world of Excel data analysis. The course titled, Introduction to Data Analysis Using Excel is experienced over four weeks and requires about 20 hours of work to complete. To fully grasp the concepts presented, one does not need to be an advanced user of Microsoft’s Excel, and yet even the daily user of Excel will appreciate the growth curve afforded by this class. It is designed to review the basic functionalities, like reading, importing, and manipulating data, and progresses towards utilizing more advanced pivot tables, charts, and plenty of functions. And yet, those few snippets only go so far as mastering a complete picture of what this concentrated class provides. Combined with the rest of Rice University’s specialization, one can partake in a comprehensive overview of business statistics and analysis through Excel. The next course introduces probability and how, with a sample of population data, Excel is equipped with the functions to appropriately model for truly descriptive visualizations. Following that, the third course introduces confidence intervals and hypothesis testing and their respective calculations in Excel. Rounding out the specialization is the capstone in which perhaps the most essential business statistics tool of linear regression is demonstrated and used for analysis. Ultimately, the program explores the whole of the business statics and analysis through the lens of Excel as in use throughout the world today. 

Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University in Texas produced this free online accounting course. The Jones Graduate School is accredited through the gold standard, the AACSB. Their importance is underscored by a solid U.S. News & World Report ranking amongst business schools of #25. Also, their online MBA was ranked number nine through the same publication.

Course Name: Introduction to Data Analysis Using Excel
Business School: Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

#10 Financial Accounting – Babson College

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Babson College’s Olin Graduate School of Business benefits all with a free online accounting class. Babson provides this course on the edX platform.

This free online accounting course consists of a helpful framework constantly pushing to understand financial statements best and is delivered with data-driven tips from the distinguished professor, Peter Wilson. He lays out an introductory course meant to show the student how to interpret and best utilize the information delineated within financial statements. The course is the second in the Business Principles and Entrepreneurial Thought XSeries that connects with five other classes to form a MicroMaster’s Program in entrepreneurship produced by Babson College and all hosted on edX. As mentioned, some minor effort will be needed to successfully complete this course during its four weeks consisting of four to six-hour weeks. Within Financial Accounting Made Fun: Eliminating Your Fears, the learner will come to understand financial terms, statements, and metrics that are critical to becoming a winning entrepreneur or manager. The first half includes corporate finance and capital budgeting analysis through balance sheets, t-accounts, and free cash flow modeling. And after these concepts are wholly understood, ratio analysis and forecasting become the focus of the class. Specifically highlighted are the key ratios in regards to evaluating profitability, return on investment, and liquidity. And after these pieces are appreciated, profit forecasting and the applications of financial decisions in corporations will be assessed in terms of real options, varying payout policies, capital structures, and corporate bonds. This interaction between investment and financing will be acknowledged and thoroughly discussed in class. Through this financial forecasting, the students can better manage business and present to hopeful investors and creditors. Financial accounting can be engaging once the barriers to learning are bypassed.

Babson College produced this thorough free online accounting course and offered it through edX. Babson’s Olin Graduate School of Business holds true to the College’s respected reputation. In fact, U.S. News & World Report appreciates the business school at the number 72 spot amongst the United States graduate schools. The Olin Graduate School of Business is also NECHE, EQUIS, and AACSB-accredited. Additionally, Babson generously gives over a dozen online courses, including three programs covering entrepreneurial and leadership subjects all through edX.

Course Name: Financial Accounting Made Fun: Eliminating Your Fears
Business School: F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business

#11 Financial Risk – New York Institute of Finance

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A free online accounting course introduces the concepts of measured risk seeking a return of investment and debt. This class is available from the New York Institute of Finance.

In the Introduction to Risk Management free online accounting course, the students focus on calculating the risk of debt and equity in search of a higher return to better sustain business and even increase production or profit. Anton Theunissen continually guides the learner to understand the true weighted average cost of capital during two hours of study per week and no more than four weeks. Although geared for beginners, this program begs for some accounting principles to be previously grasped, experience in Excel, and an understanding of probability and statistics basics. Measuring risk is ideal for learning how to better plan for a business’s growth, but the student will learn the differences between business and financial risks. Without the ability to estimate known returns of any quantifiable asset, most companies will fail with no clear way to plan wisely regardless of how difficult it is to predict truly unforeseen freak events. However, once that company grows enough to need new capital, the risks involved need to be recalculated to take on more assets. Integral to this understanding is ultimately what the New York Institute of Finance instructor teaches through studying credit risk, liquidity risk, and operational risk and modeling each of their measurements. He makes a point to distinguish between risk measurement and risk management while also featuring loss distribution and the different variables involved. These topics are necessary for any well-managed operation in the corporate environment or even simply in a personal budget.

The New York Institute of Finance produces this free online accounting course. It is accredited through the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), and the Project Management Institute (PMI). Other accreditations include the International Association for Continuing Education & Training (IACET), the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), and the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI), to name a few. The New York Institute of Finance provides this program in partnership with edX along with over 60 other online courses amongst 11 different MicroMasters, programs, or certificates.

Course Name: Introduction to Risk Management

#12 Financial Technology – Stanford University

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This free online accounting course focuses on the review of financial services through a business-oriented lens. Stanford University offers this class via Coursera.

As a modern financial technology review for accountants, How Software Ate Finance presents a rather brief business-related examination of digital currency innovation, finance investing through software, payment security, blockchain technology, distributed ledgers, cryptocurrencies, digital assets, and even digital lending. As an introductory level course, students can expect to spend close to a couple of hours a week for four weeks completing the course. The review of current financial services would not be complete without further discussing government regulation and the modern technologies it is trying to support and not entirely hinder. Fintech developing through machine learning and artificial intelligence includes credit-scoring models, crowdfunding, and algorithmic trading, let alone cashless and cardless payment systems. Much of the current market trading began with Tradeweb and their request for a quote application programming interface (API). In this case, an API is a computer interface that defines interactions between multiple software applications. This type of financial technology infrastructure has continually developed. Now the internet of things aspect alone with constantly switching insurance coverage and the multitude of variations in electronic payments is spurring even more immense development through the likes of PayPal, Affirm, and Bitcoin. U.S. News & World Report states that new businesses launched on the stock market show 2020 as the best year for tremendous growth, with FinTech being a major component. These, and other anecdotes, are presented by lecturers R. Martin Chavez and Jeffrey Conn, who are perfect examples of the worldly caliber of faculty that reside with the Graduate School of Business at Stanford. 

Stanford University’s impressive Graduate School of Business provides this free online accounting course hosted through Coursera. The oldest and most prestigious AACSB accredits the business school, while Stanford itself is certified by the WASC Senior College and University Commission. This business school ties with Wharton for the U.S. News & World Report’s best business school nationwide, first before the whole nation. Stanford’s number eight rated graduate school accounting specialty is a considerable achievement. There are almost 50 other high-quality Stanford courses, all available on edX for a genuinely flexible engagement.

Course Name: How Software Ate Finance
Business School: Graduate School of Business

#13 Forensic Accounting – West Virginia University

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The John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University brings a free online accounting class for all to enjoy. It is hosted on the Coursera platform.

West Virginia University offers this free online accounting course titled Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination. This introductory level course takes approximately seven hours to complete over a five-week time period. Coursework in the first week covers those who actually may be accidental fraudsters (even while simply trying to do taxes correctly), the basic elements of fraud, and how costly fraud may impact ways of life, businesses, and whole governments. The second week investigates the predatory fraudsters who seek to attack and steal actively and what protections may be necessary to implement, specifically including internal controls and third-party agencies. The following week concerns “big data” and how data analysis through Benford’s Law can be applied to discover and identify fraudulent activities. The fourth week reviews cyber-crime and money laundering examples to better frame the discussion around the modern tools and techniques needed to examine and solve such cases. The fifth and last week provides an overview of whistleblowing and how it keeps systems and various institutional bodies honest while appreciating the inherent risks and difficulty of being a whistleblower. Drs. Richard Riley and Richard Dull, along with CFE John Gill, present the course simply and clearly and are dedicated to bringing many into familiar terms with forensic accounting when searching for all things fraudulent.

West Virginia University’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics offers this free online accounting course. Available on the Coursera platform for no cost, WVU’s investment proves it’s very familiar with producing successful business education programs and even provides the 47th best online MBA according to U.S. News & World Report. Of course, the AACSB fully accredits the Chambers College of Business. Now, WVU does provide MOOCs through Coursera in addition to the originally highlighted programs in the above paragraph. In fact, almost ten different courses are offered and vary from Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination to Forecasting, Budgeting, Territories, Evaluation and Legal/Ethical Issues, and Sales Force Management. Pivoting even further away from online accounting courses is a review of Today’s Music Industry and Wood Science: Beyond Building that West Virginia University provided on Coursera.

Course Name: Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination
Business School: John Chambers College of Business and Economics

#14 Managerial Accounting – University of Virginia

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The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business developed this free online accounting course to highlight the industry’s cyclic fundamentals. The University of Virginia has one of the longest histories of educational excellence.

Managerial Accounting Fundamentals is a free online accounting course that serves as an introductory guide and requires no prior experience. The class activities do not review the income statement, balance sheet, or cash flow statement and instead leave that to another UVA course on Coursera: Financial Accounting Fundamentals. Instead, the light commitment requires about 13 hours over only four weeks to complete, centered on making managerial decisions. Cost behavior, including different types of costs and their classifications, heavily impacts decision-making and becomes the next and main focus of the class. All of the cost-volume-profit analysis is run to seek answers to questions around making enough to generate profit, let alone to break even. The following week examines these analyses but now pivots to cost allocations and the various types of systems employed, whether traditional or activity-based. Calculating overhead rates and allocating overhead correctly within both systems finishes the week’s activities. The fourth and final week discusses these costs and relates them to their benefits to gain an understanding in making the necessary business decision. These fundamentals can shed some light on new emerging technologies like blockchain, especially recognizing how difficult cryptocurrency assets are to understand. Luann Lynch is a top-rated instructor on Coursera and is the Professor of Business Administration who teaches this free online accounting course. This online course is hosted through Coursera but ultimately offered by the University of Virginia.

The Commission on Colleges Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accredits the University, a premier learning institution. Boasting a #11 ranking in the U.S. News & World Report list of the best business schools, UVA’s Darden School is fully accredited by the AACSB. Much of their solid reputation and well-recognized performance is attributed to Darden’s signature case method, in which experiential learning readily pressures students to deal with real-world challenges. Decisions will be created with incomplete information and analyzed – just like the real world – while the faculty orchestrate the class conversations to build the best solutions. The skills practiced are everything an existing team or a future employer values most: critical-thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership.

Course Name: Managerial Accounting Fundamentals
Business School: Darden School of Business

#15 Taxes – Indiana University

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For so many business decisions in the modern corporation, taxes have become a key consideration. Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business offers this free online accounting course through a partnership with edX.

Taxes and Decision Making is a free online accounting course that provides a strong foundation in understanding the legal, conceptual, and integrative U.S. federal income taxation aspects. This course falls within a MicroMaster’s Program that ideally requires at least eight hours per week and continues for about three months. It is not a beginner-level accounting course but more advanced with a deeper search on applying federal income tax laws to both individual and business income taxpayers. It is intended for those who already attained at least a Bachelor’s or have junior standing at a college. In this class, essential finance tools must be used and aligned correctly to maximize the after-tax wealth and earnings of all individual taxpayers and businesses. Reducing the present value of income taxes is important. Still, the numbers are only as significant as the story, especially when being tax compliant and recognizing all available qualified business income deductions is just as integral. Greg Geisler, Indiana University’s Clinical Professor of Accounting, instructs the student in understanding the larger objectives surrounding more unique tax rules and forms and that all of them must fit within the U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The quality presented is clear to see with 97% of ratings four stars and above in this free online accounting course.

Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business provides this class and many other free online accounting courses. The world-renown and highly qualified faculty teaches both online and in-person programs at the Kelley School of Business. The student can customize 50% of their chosen MBA’s elective coursework and thus achieve the best of all that Indiana University has to offer. Better yet, the MBA programs at the Kelley School of Business are accredited by the AACSB. It is crucial to note that the U.S. News & World Report ranks the Kelley School of Business’s online MBA program at Indiana University as number three out of 295. The University provides 11 courses directly through edX and even allows full Master’s degrees in Accounting and I.T. Management online.

Course Name: Taxes and Decision Making
Business School: Kelley School of Business

What is New in Accounting?

We see technological evolution all around us every day. The advances in technology seem to be happening so fast, and constantly changing what is useful, efficient, and effective today. The need to know and understand these advancements do not escape the accounting world. Let’s look at some accounting trends for 2021/2022.

  • Automated Accounting Processes – “helps eliminate confusion and minimizes errors” and “empowers in-house accountants.”
  • Rise of Accounting Software Solutions – accountants need to learn the ins and outs of accounting software, like Sage Intacct, Gusto, FreeAgent, and Xero.
  • Outsourcing Accounting Functions – there is a rise in the need for CPA firms and business processing outsourcing (BPO) companies to employ more accounting professionals to meet the outsourcing demand.
  • Cloud-based Accounting – offers complete access to a company’s system anywhere, anytime, to any employee.
  • Data Analytics – is not a new trend but is growing in its importance and efficiency as analyzing valuable data provides actionable insights to improve performance.
  • Blockchain – accounting professionals need a solid understanding of blockchain technology, learning how to work with “digital distributed ledgers.”
  • Remote Work Setting – is an increasing option for accounting professionals, especially after the pandemic.

What Degrees are Available in Accounting?

It is imperative to have an enormous pool of “accounting-savvy” professionals to fill all of the essential accounting roles you find in every company, organization, governmental entity, and industry. Therefore, universities and business schools provide every level of degree in accounting. Here is a description of types of accounting degrees:

There are even more specific accounting topics of study throughout these types of degrees, whether it is a collection of electives or a total concentration devoted to a specialized area. Examples include Advanced Auditing, Taxation, Forensic Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Public Accounting, Financial Accounting, and Accounting Research.  

What can I do with an MBA in Accounting?

When you pursue an MBA, you are completing the most versatile graduate degree out there. It provides a broad understanding of business functions, principles, concepts, and theories while applying what you are learning to real-world scenarios. When you choose to specialize in accounting, some of your coursework will dive deeper into the world of accounting to successfully prepare you for an accounting career. But, what can you do with an MBA in Accounting? This type of degree is definitely the top choice for accountants. It offers incredible knowledge in “crunching the numbers” and fully understanding, analyzing, and explaining financial reports and statements. As mentioned above in the free online accounting class: Financial Accounting Made Fun from Babson College, understanding these reports “are critical to becoming a winning entrepreneur or manager.” Besides educating students in every aspect of accounting, an Accounting MBA fully prepares you to take the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) exam, a requirement to become a professional accountant. 

Accountants work in a wide variety of industries and environments, even in governmental agencies. Some of their responsibilities include tax preparation, regulatory compliance, audits, payroll, and corporate valuation. An Accounting MBA will most likely advance accountants into managerial and advisory roles, even C-Suite executives, where they can be found offering thought leadership in how companies can maximize profits. Not only will MBA in Accounting graduates excel in the corporate world, but they will have skills and tools to use in starting and running their own business. Here are some examples of types of jobs and salaries you can look forward to after obtaining an MBA in Accounting, according to PayScale: 

  • Senior Accountant – $69,000
  • Accounting Manager – $77,000
  • Financial Controller – $90,000
  • Corporate Controller – $104,000
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO) – $133,000

Different business schools offer Accounting MBAs in several formats, including on-campus, online, and hybrid. Check out The 10 Best Online Accounting MBAs. 

There is no better time than now to take advantage of all these free online accounting courses. If you are currently pursuing one of the types of accounting degrees, completing one or more of the courses in this list is an excellent way to supplement your education. With the growing trends and technology advancements, studying a free online accounting course could help you stay competitive in your field.