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  • Regionally & Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Accounting Essentials Certificate Program Overview

In Penn Foster's Accounting Essentials Certificate Program, you'll learn the knowledge and skills that will help you contribute to an accounting team, finance team, bookkeeping staff, or small business. The program covers a number of key topics required for today’s financial professional. In addition, all of the course credits you earn in this program are transferable to an Undergraduate Certificate or Associate of Science Degree in Accounting at Penn Foster College. And you can complete this program in as little as four months.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Accounting Essentials Certificate program provides students with new job skills or refines existing accounting knowledge to advance in a current position, improve performance in a current business or prepare for further training.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Understand how to examine financial statements to ensure that they are accurate and comply with laws and regulations
  • Explain how to inspect account books and accounting systems for efficiency and use of accepted accounting procedures
  • Create, organize, and maintain financial records
  • Demonstrate how to assess financial operations and make best-practices recommendations to management
  • Identify ways to reduce costs, enhance revenues, and improve profits
  • Demonstrate effective quantitative skills in basic mathematical operations pertaining to the business environment

Course 1

MAT106 Mathematics for Business and Finance

This course will hone your math skills so you are able to successfully use them in business and finance industries.


  • Use percentages, discounts, and interest formulas effectively.
  • Analyze present worth and sinking funds.
  • Understand how to buy in installments and price merchandise.
  • Explain depreciation, insurance, equations, and formulas.
  • Discuss investments and statistics.

Course 2

ACC111 Financial Accounting

This course will allow you to develop a basic understanding of the principles of financial accounting. 


  • Understand important accounting principles and concepts in order to prepare basic financial statements.
  • Understand the fundamentals of bookkeeping while using the general journal, general ledger, and trial balance to prepare financial statements.
  • Account for inventory, the use of different inventory costing methods, and their effects on financial statements.
  • Distinguish between different liabilities and account for and report current liabilities and long-term debt on the balance sheet.
  • Prepare a statement of cash flows using the direct and indirect methods and evaluate the company’s performance as it relates to cash.

Course 3

ACC112 Managerial Accounting

This course will introduce you to the basic concepts of managerial accounting.


  • Interpret financial statements for management purposes.
  • Understand the fundamental differences between management and financial accounting.
  • Apply various types of management accounting systems.
  • Identify the major components of product costing systems and the business situations in which they’re used.
  • Prepare schedules and budgeted statements to reflect an understanding of the concepts of budgeting.

Course 4

ACC211 Computer Applications in Accounting

This course will introduce you to two popular accounting software programs—Peachtree® and Excel.® You’ll explore how these business software tools are used to solve problems and enhance small-business decision making. You’ll also learn to apply accounting principles in business applications.


  • Operate Peachtree® effectively: print reports and back up data files.
  • Record, post, and complete the accounting cycle for a service and merchandising enterprise using an automated accounting system.
  • Analyze the business flow of transactions in automated accounting systems, including customer lists, vendor files, inventory records, and employee files.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the voucher system, accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll systems, and departmentalized accounting.
  • Analyze and solve management accounting problems relating to operations and business profitability and financial reporting.
  • Create and use simple and complex formulas and functions in Excel.®
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs using Excel.®

Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows XP® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view an Accounting Essentials sample lesson, click here.

Accounting Essentials Program Details

Penn Foster will help you gain the knowledge and skills you need, like managing taxes, account books, and analyzing case studies.


Online Accounting Essentials Certificate

The Accounting Essentials Certificate Program provides basic training for finance in business, financial accounting, and managerial accounting. This program is a great option if you’re looking to learn new job skills, refresh or refine existing accounting knowledge, or to improve the performance of small business through a better understanding of the essentials of accounting and finance. Here are a few qualities that skilled accountants have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Investigative: The challenge that comes with helping new and past clients is rewarding.
  • Analytical: You enjoy crunching numbers and critically thinking to solve a problem.
  • Independent: Make decisions and finish work on your own.

I am so happy that I made a career change with the help of Penn Foster. Penn Foster makes it easy, and they are always supportive and encouraging to you. Whenever I had a question, I just gave my instructors a call, and they were very helpful and easy to talk with. The online testing made it convenient, and my shipments always arrived right on time.

-Christina R., Penn Foster Graduate

I would highly recommend this school. The tuition is very low, and there are no specific deadlines for your assignments. The school allows you to work at your own pace, and transferring credits from other schools is simple.

- Bradley S., Penn Foster Graduate

I want to encourage anyone wishing to do a program with Penn Foster. You will get assistance and gain tremendous benefit from Penn Foster.

- Claudia W., Penn Foster Student

We make sure you have everything you need:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Learning aids included
  • Study Planner App to customize your study plans and keep track of your progress
  • Instructional support from our world-class faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online campus, plus immediate membership in the Accounting Essentials Certificate academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

The completion of a certificate-level program does not typically qualify a student for employment. Completion of this program may assist students who have previous academic or work related experience improve their chances for promotion or entry-level employment.

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