Accounting Associate Degree Curriculum Details

Your four semester Accounting Associate Degree curriculum consists of courses covering accounting topics like introduction to business, mathematics for business, financial and managerial accounting as well as advanced accounting topics including cost accounting, and more.

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Accounting Associate Degree program is primarily designed to prepare students for opportunities in entry-level positions in the field of accounting, but can also be used as a foundation for further training.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to...
  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal communication skills
  • Demonstrate a high level of inquiry, analytical, and problem-solving skills
  • Demonstrate effective quantitative skills
  • Demonstrate computer and information literacy
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the liberal arts, natural sciences, and social sciences
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the principles and processes involved in various functional areas and the need for collaboration among the different functions
  • Complete the accounting cycle and create and analyze financial statements to ensure that they are accurate and comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures.
  • Explain the key issues of internal control of cash in balance and cash flow statements and external financial reporting
  • Create, organize, and maintain financial records
  • Discuss and apply ethical and legal standards to the business environment
  • Demonstrate an understanding of economic and financial markets and the business economy
  • Demonstrate how to assess financial data and make best-practices recommendations to management

Semester 1

Basic Skills Assessment

All degree applicants are required to complete two Basic Skills Assessments, one in reading and one in math, to determine the level of readiness for beginning their selected program. Additional studies may be required.

In this course, you’ll develop the necessary skills to ensure your success in the program. You’ll learn how you can improve your study skills and use a number of tools that will help you to be successful.

You’ll also learn about the similarities between personal financial goals and business goals and how to determine personal financial goals. You’ll cover setting up a budget and researching, planning, starting up, and maintaining a business.


  • Demonstrate effective written and interpersonal skills
  • Demonstrate computer and information literacy
  • Identify skills needed to be a confident and independent online learner
  • Analyze the interdependent goals of life and business and the steps needed to achieve them
Information literacy is a fundamental skill of writing and recording research. In this course, you’ll learn what it means to formulate correct and effective research questions. You’ll also learn how to go about conducting and refining that research for any given project.


  • Identify how to formulate focused and specific research questions and the need for information
  • Explain the different types of research tools, how they’re used to conduct different searches, and how to evalu­ate the quality and usefulness of the information found
  • Explain how to cite sources properly using various citation styles in consideration of academic integrity, plagia­rism, and ethical use of resources
This course outlines the elements of business and the challenges businesses face in a global environment, such as competition and economic factors. You’ll learn why accounting, technology and information systems, marketing, and management are essential to starting and growing a business. You’ll also learn the basics of managing financial and human resources and the ethical and social responsibilities required of a successful manager.


  • Identify different elements that distinguish capitalism, socialism, communism, and mixed economies
  • Define the role of small business in the free enterprise system
  • Assess elements of the global economy, such as labor, capital, trade, and natural resources, and how they influence business
  • Analyze the functions of business, such as management, organization, human relations, marketing, financing, and ethics
  • Identify the purpose of business policy and strategy
In this course, you’ll gain an understanding of artistic media, historical periods and artistic movements, the roles of the artist and the viewer, and the principles of art criticism.


  • Define the language, visual elements, and principles of design of art
  • Identify two-dimensional media
  • Identify three-dimensional media
  • Explain the evolution of art from ancient Mediterranean cultures through eighteenth century Europe
  • Identify features and popular examples of art throughout the history of African, Asian, Pacific, and American cultures
  • Compare the genres of the Modern and Postmodern eras of art from around the world

Additional Course Material:
Living with Art

This course will provide the student with a foundation in basic mathematical operations. Topics covered include per­centages, discounts, interest, present worth, sinking funds, installment buying, pricing, depreciation, investments, insurance, use of symbols and their applications, equations and formulas, and the importance of statistics.


  • Analyze functions of whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percents
  • Show calculations involved in simple interest, compound interest, and time value of money
  • Prepare various business math applications involving financial reports, installment buying, and depreciation
  • Analyze various financial concepts related to taxes, insurance, financial investments, and basic business statistics

Additional Course Material:
Practical Business Math Procedures

This course will provide students with a basic understanding of the principles of Financial Accounting. Topics covered include analyzing transactions; completing the accounting cycle; merchandising businesses; inventories, assets, and liabilities; and corporations, stocks, bonds, and cash flow.


  • Solve important accounting principles and concepts by creating four types of financial statements: balance sheet, income statement, statement of retained earnings, and statement of cash flows
  • Explain inventory systems, the inventory process, and the role of ethics in accounting
  • Explain cash and receivables, assets, current liabilities, and debt
  • Analyze stocks and the statement of cash flows and financial statements that are used to assess the value of a business
  • Solve accounting problems using knowledge of accounting forms and functions

Additional Course Material:
Financial Accounting

Proctored Exam

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 2

This course will allow you to build your computer skills through a combination of reading and hands-on practice. You will navigate popular software tools such as Windows® and Microsoft® Office.


  • Create, edit, and illustrate Microsoft® Word™ documents.
  • Apply formulas and functions to large data sets in Microsoft® Excel.®
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs to summarize data.
  • Add, delete, sort, and lay out table data.
  • Create presentations in Microsoft® PowerPoint® using advanced tools, tables, and charts.
This course provides an introduction to managerial accounting; analysis: C-V-P and management; budgeting and performance evaluation; decentralized operations; differential analysis and product pricing; capital investment analysis, and cost activities.


  • Analyze the various concepts related to managerial accounting and the cost accounting
  • Explain the different tools of management used for the decision-making process
  • Identify the various budget analysis processes and the performance measurements for decision making
  • Analyze the various components of capital budgeting, cash flow statements, and ratio analysis
  • Solve examples of real-world accounting problems using knowledge of accounting forms and equations

Textbook: Managerial Accounting


This course teaches the skills and techniques of effectively developing, drafting, and revising college-level essays toward a specific purpose and audience: active reading, prewriting strategies, sentence and paragraph structure, thesis statements, varied patterns of development (such as illustration, comparison and contrast, and classification), critical reading toward revision of structure and organization, editing for standard written conventions, and use and documentation of outside sources. Students submit two prewriting assignments and three essays (process analysis, comparison and contrast, and argumentation).


  • Use writing skills to construct well-written sentences and active reading skills to understand and analyze text.
  • Develop paragraphs using topic sentences, adequate detail, supporting evidence, and transitions.
  • Contrast the revising and editing steps of the writing process.
  • Distinguish between different patterns of development.
  • Write a process analysis essay using prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing skills
  • Recognize how to determine the reliability of secondary sources and to give proper credit to sources referenced in an essay.
  • Write a comparison and contrast essay by using persuasive writing techniques to defend a claim.
  • Create a sound written argument using techniques of drafting and evaluating sources.
This course will familiarize you with both the business environment and the manager’s role within it. It covers decision making, planning, organizing, leading, and controlling, as well as developing an ethical perspective.


  • Summarize the functions of management and the basic steps in various planning processes
  • Explain how to make effective decisions as a manager and a leader
  • Describe the fundamental elements of an organization’s structure and the components of an organization’s competitive environment
  • Explain principles for setting goals that motivate employees, why companies develop control systems, and why teamwork is beneficial
  • Analyze why diversity is a critical organizational and managerial issue, and describe the criteria for technology decisions and managing change

Additional Course Material:

(Choose one) ...

HUM104 - Music Appreciation

In this course, you'll understand how to appreciate music by learning about the roles of the composer and the listener, the principles of music theory and instrumentation, musically significant historical periods, and varying styles of music.


  • Identify the building blocks of music a composer can use to create a piece, such as rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, form, and timbre
  • Differentiate between the music of the baroque era and the musical styles of previous time periods
  • Recognize the major characteristics of classical music, including form, melody, and instrumentation
  • Discuss the musical trends and innovations that occurred during the romantic era
  • Explain the evolution of American popular music in the twentieth century
  • Recognize the influence of world music on modern Western composition
  • Relate musical styles of the early twentieth century to comparable movements in art and literature
  • Write an essay researching composers’ influence in their respective genres

Additional Course Material:
Textbook: Experience Music

ENG115 - Introduction to Literature 

This course will allow you to develop your critical thinking skills and broaden your knowledge of the main genres of literature — fiction, poetry, and drama.


  • Explain how to effectively read fiction for both knowledge and enjoyment
  • Identify different styles and forms of poetry
  • Use what you've learned in this course to discuss, write about, and understand literature
  • Prepare a critical interpretation of fiction or poetry based on what you've learned in this course
  • Discuss how literary dramas differ from fiction and poetry
  • Identify different strategies of critical literary analysis
This course will provide an overview of macroeconomics and the modern market economy. Law of supply and demand, the cost of living, monetary systems, international factors, and short-run economic fluctuations will be examined and discussed.


  • Explain the economic systems and the economic perspective
  • Identify the key factors in macroeconomics and how economists study the economy as a whole
  • Explain the macroeconomic models and fiscal policies
  • Explain money, banking, and financial policy
  • Explain extending analysis of aggregate supply, current issues in theory and policy, and international economics
  • Analyze foreign exchange and investment and the effects each nation’s economy has on another nation’s economy
Proctored Exam

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 3

This course will provide students with the knowledge to apply accounting theory, concepts, and procedures to financial problems. Topics covered include: computing earnings per share; lease transactions; income tax accounting; cash flow information; pension and benefit information; financial statement analysis.


  • Discuss the process of creating journal entries and balance sheet for disclosing financial information
  • Analyze the fundamentals of income statement, cash flows, revenue recognition, and value of money concepts
  • Compare the different ways to properly account for cash, receivables and inventory
  • Analyze value and account for changes to long-term assets as well as intangible assets

Additional Course Material:
Intermediate Accounting

This course will introduce students to the world of finance including financial concepts, instruments, and financial decision making. Topics covered include financial assets, investing in long-term assets, capital structure and dividend policy, financial planning, and working capital management.


  • Categorize financial management functions and organizational structure
  • Analyze the time value of money, financial ratios, and risks and returns from investments
  • Categorize the capital structure and the capital management of a firm
  • Perform financial calculations and analysis related to basic financial concepts

Additional Course Material:
Finance: Applications & Theory

This course provides an introduction to the various methods of organizing material for a professional setting. Students will compose business documents using the ABC method. These include memos, emails, outlines, reports and proposals, descriptions, and organizing materials. Students also work on honing their grammar skills.


  • Recognize how to use words correctly and effectively
  • Produce a well-constructed interoffice memo, workplace email, and business letter
  • Produce a brief business report based on findings obtained using research techniques and methods of documentation
  • Produce an informal report that lists findings of an investigation and provides recommendation for issues raised in the findings
  • Describe procedures for creating proposals, descriptions, instructions, and manuals for the workplace
  • Create a detailed proposal designed to solve an internal human resource issue
Study basic algebraic concepts. Review the systems of equations, polynomials, and radicals. Learn how to factor polynomial expressions and simplify rational expressions.


  • Explain basic algebraic concepts
  • Solve and graph linear equations and inequalities
  • Analyze relations, functionality, and systems of linear equations
  • Prepare algebraic operations on polynomial and rational expressions and equations
  • Solve problems involving radicals and complex numbers

Additional Course Material:
Textbook: Intermediate Algebra

This course will provide students with an expansion on materials presented in Intermediate Accounting 1. Topics examined and discussed include: inventories; investments; intangible assets; current, contingent, and estimated liabilities; premium and discount on long-term debt; stockholder’s equity.


  • Evaluate how companies deal with investments, current liabilities, and the contingencies they present.
  • Differentiate leases, bonds, and long-term notes.
  • Analyze and account for other types of liabilities including income taxes, pensions, and post-retirement benefits.
  • Categorize the fundamentals of share-based compensation, accounting changes, and the statement of cash flows.

Additional Course Material:
eBook: Intermediate Accounting

(Choose one) ...

SCI120 - Introduction to Biology

An introductory course that explains the origin of life and the relationships between all living things. It describes how a significant number of organisms are structured and how they work, in order to enable students to discuss intelligently the various forms of life and their processes.


  • Analyze cells and their processes for obtaining energy and reproducing.
  • Explain how traits are passed on from one generation to the next.
  • Explain how different species of living things have evolved and are classified.
  • Write responses to fundamental biology essay prompts.
  • Identify the characteristics and behavior of plants and animals.
  • Diagram the anatomy and physiology of the human body.
  • Describe the ecology of living things.
  • Summarize complex biological issues using research articles.

SCI140 - Nutrition

Personal decision making about nutrition; nutrition science; water; exercise; human growth and aging; safety of the food supply; the global view.


  • Explore how nutrition supports a body’s wellness
  • Explore the body’s use of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
  • Discover the body’s use of water, minerals, and micronutrients
  • Discuss nutritional needs for maintaining a healthy weight
  • Develop a healthy and safe lifestyle

Additional Course Material:
Nutrition for Life

SCI110 - Earth Science

Surveys a broad range of topics within the fields of geology, meteorology, oceanography, and astronomy.


  • Categorize the matter, minerals, and materials that compose the Earth.
  • Differentiate the elements and their ways of sculpting the landscapes.
  • Distinguish the various theories of forces behind Earth’s history.
  • Point out the geological features of oceans and the important concepts of geology.
  • Categorize the causes and effects of various phenomena affecting Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Analyze the components of the solar system and the universe.

Additional Course Material:
Foundations of Earth Science

Proctored Exam

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Semester 4

Students will be able to use cost data in budgeting and capital planning for various types of manufacturing operations and use a personal computer to perform various accounting functions. Topics covered include timekeeping and pay­roll procedures; setting overhead rates; accounting for spoiled and defective goods; development of cost analysis; process cost accounting; job-order cost accounting.


  • Analyze the fundamentals and processes of cost decision making
  • Categorize the various costing processes related to cost accounting
  • Identify the methods of analyzing cost performance and the importance of management control systems
  • Apply your accounting skills on cost accounting computation and analysis
  • Prepare a balance sheet, an income statement, and post-closing trial balance for Ice Cream Systems

Additional Course Material:
Fundamentals of Cost Accounting

Presentation of data; frequency distribution; averages; dispersion and skewness; index numbers; time series analysis; correlation and forecasting; the theory of probability and statistical inference.


  • Show the methods of collecting data and visualizing of qualitative data in statistics
  • Analyze the methods of computing probability for discrete and random variables
  • Apply sampling distribution methods, estimation, and hypothesis testing in business applications
  • Point out the process of computing inferences, linear regression, and least square

Additional Course Material:
Statistics for Business and Economics

This course is an introduction to the legal environment of business. Topics covered include American court practice and procedure, torts, employment law, international law, environmental law, and contract law.


  • Categorize the various sources of law in the U.S. legal system
  • Analyze the formations and characteristics of sole proprietorships, partnerships, and the corporation forms of business entities
  • Point out the various constituents of the contract law
  • Show the rules of a written contract with the rights and breaching of a contract
  • Report the contract laws that govern principal-agent relationships, law of agency, and labor-management relationships

Textbook: Business Law with UCC Applications

This course builds on concepts learned in Financial and Managerial Accounting and covers Sage 50® Accounting. Combines real-world accounting systems and examples with computer-based solutions. The course is a blend of problem solving, reading, case projects, and computer applications to problems encountered in today’s accounting environment.


  • Explain the processes involved in the Sage 50 accounting software program
  • Demonstrate accounting functions in the Sage 50 software
  • Show various procedures in the Sage 50 accounting software program for setting up merchandising businesses
  • Demonstrate how to complete the accounting cycle for a merchandising business

Additional Course Material:
Computer Accounting with Sage 50 2017

This course provides students with a foundation in the basic concepts of public speaking. Students will learn how to research, organize and write effective speeches, incorporate presentation aids, and rehearse and deliver speeches effectively. Students will prepare, rehearse, record and submit speeches in a number of rhetorical styles to be graded.


  • Analyze the different methods and principles required for effective public speaking
  • Point out the principles, methods, and skills required to rehearse and deliver effective public speaking
  • Prepare and record a narrative or speech on personal experience
  • Prepare and record an informative podcast for a website
  • Create and record an infomercial by using one of the mentioned methods
  • Prepare and present a motivational or reasoning speech to persuade your audience
  • Develop a speech by using key information delivery of a speech

Additional Course Material:
The Essential Elements of Public Speaking

(Choose one) ...

SSC130 - Essentials of Psychology

This course covers biology and behavior, consciousness, memory, thought and language, intelligence, personality and gender, stress, and community influences.


  • Describe the science of psychology, basic structure and function of the human nervous system, and basic struc­ture and function of the sensory system.
  • Explain various states of consciousness, learning theories, and thought processes and development.
  • Summarize the nature of human motivation and development, the human development cycle, and approaches to understanding and assessing personality.
  • Prepare an essay on the topic of conditioning, memory, or motivation and emotion.
  • Recognize psychological disorders and available treatments.
  • Explain social psychology as it relates to attitudes, influences, behaviors, and stress.
  • Use critical thinking skills to determine the likely causes of behaviors of individuals and groups discussed in case studies.

Textbook: Psychology and Your Life with Power Learning

SSC105 - World Civilizations

This course serves as an introduction to many of the major events of the fifteenth through twenty-first centuries and examines the causal relationships between events and trends.


  • Summarize the various causes and consequences of global trade and its conflicting worldwide impact.
  • Report the impact of social and industrial revolutions, fifteenth century onward, on various nations.
  • Analyze the conditions that led to the World Wars, decolonization, and the Cold War.
  • Analyze post–World War II effects on the economic and political structures around the world.
  • Summarize an event that occurred after the fifteenth century and had an impact on a world civilization.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of World War II and its effects on the world population.

Textbook: A History of Societies Volume 2

SSC125 - Introduction to Sociology

In this introduction to the field of sociology, you’ll learn about social structure, forms of power, and social relationships, as well as deviance, crime, and social control. You’ll explore issues of identity and inequality regarding class, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, and sexuality. Social institutions including the family, religion, education, work, and the media are examined, as well as the topics of health, politics, social movements, globalization, and social change.


  • Examine foundational concepts and theories of sociology and recognize how they inform research.
  • Analyze the ways in which culture, social structure, and power influence daily life.
  • Evaluate the effects of socialization, interaction, deviance, and social control on human behavior.
  • Develop an essay reflecting on the importance of cultural traditions amid increasing globalization.
  • Examine the ways in which class, race, gender, and sexuality influence identity and inequality.
  • Distinguish the various social institutions and issues in the current global system.
  • Develop an essay examining the ways in which social inequality informs social change and movements.

Textbook: Experience Sociology

Proctored Exam

You will be required to complete a proctored exam on selected courses each semester. These assessments will evaluate the knowledge and skills that you learned during the semester. You choose the time, the location, and the qualified exam supervisor.

Additional Details

Associate Degrees from Penn Foster College are awarded under licensing from the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education.
The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has evaluated and recommended college credit for many Penn Foster College courses. Students who plan to continue their education with another school after completing coursework at Penn Foster College should check with that school regarding credit transfer policies. No form of accreditation guarantees that any learning institution will accept credits from any school as transfer credits.

Penn Foster College Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster College has been nationally accredited for over 40 years, and has met the high standards of integrity and performance set by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) in Washington, D.C. Penn Foster College has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations and licensing. We also participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

Surround Sound Support

A Committed Support System

While you can study independently, you’re not alone! With a dedicated Student Services department, the Student Community, and instructors just a call away, you’ll have access to the support you need.
Over the course of the Penn Foster Accounting Degree program, you will have the opportunity to attend live or recorded webinars to help you better understand your lessons. The live webinars will allow you to ask our instructors questions in real time.
People in a meeting.

Student Community

Looking to connect with other Penn Foster students? Our Student Community is the perfect place for you to interact with your peers - as well as Penn Foster faculty and staff - to discuss your online learning experience, congratulate fellow students, and share your Penn Foster experience.

Sample Accounting Associate Degree Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what an Accounting course would look like.
Penn Foster Sample Lesson
Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, Microsoft® Office 2019 or Microsoft 365®, and an email account to complete this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
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