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A business owner researching the best online accounting courses.
accounting

Learn accounting fast: 10 online accounting courses (quickest to longest)

Accounting can feel overwhelming, but technology can help you quickly learn the basics. The slew of online accounting courses available can equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to manage your business finances. 


They cover a variety of accounting topics and allow you to get a grasp on the basics of digging into complex topics. Whether you're a complete beginner or looking to brush up on specific accounting concepts, there's an online course that’s perfect for you. 


Here are the top 10 online accounting courses available to small business owners today: 


  1. Corporate Finance Institute: Accounting Fundamentals
  2. QuickBooks Training
  3. Wharton: Accounting Analytics
  4. Wharton: Fundamentals of Finance
  5. University of Virginia: Managerial Accounting Fundamentals
  6. Wharton: Introduction to Financial Accounting
  7. Purdue University: Business Accounting Basics
  8. Babson College: Financial Accounting Made Fun
  9. University of Illinois: Fundamentals of Accounting
  10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Financial Accounting


Let’s explore the benefits of online accounting courses and introduce you to some of the most popular options available, ordered from the shortest to longest time it takes to complete:

How online accounting courses can help business owners, such as learning accounting principles.

1. Corporate Finance Institute: Accounting Fundamentals

Best for: Learning the basics of accounting

Price: Free

Estimated time commitment: ~5 hours 


The Corporate Finance Institute’s Accounting Fundamentals course is great for those with little or no accounting experience. It works well for people new to finance or business owners looking to get a better understanding of accounting before moving on to more complex topics.

The course covers things like key accounting terms, recording financial transactions, and how to create and use financial statements. It’s a good starting point for those wanting a basic understanding of accounting. However, it focuses on the fundamentals and may not be sufficient for in-depth accounting knowledge.

2. QuickBooks Training

Best for: Learning QuickBooks 

Price: Price: Starts at $599.95

Estimated time commitment: ~10 hours 


QuickBooks Training is perfect for small business owners who already have their hands full with running their business. Accounting software can help you manage your employees and gain insights into what’s working best.

Used properly it can help automate time-consuming tasks and reduce human error. This training program gives you the skills you need to put your QuickBooks software in just two days—making it quick and easy. You’ll learn how to record transactions and create reports, as well as customize QuickBooks for your specific business.

3. Wharton: Accounting Analytics

Best for: Learning how to use accounting data beyond the basics

Price: Free with optional upgrade 

Estimated time commitment: ~9 hours 


Wharton's Accounting Analytics course goes beyond understanding accounting data to analyzing the accounting information they have. This works well for business owners looking to get insights into the financial performance of their businesses.

The course explores how financial data and other nonfinancial metrics can be used to understand and improve business performance. For example, using data to forecast future financial scenarios or using accounting data to gain insights into various business areas like consumer behavior and strategy.

4. Wharton: Fundamentals of Finance

Best for: Learning the basics of corporate finance

Price: Free with optional upgrade 

Estimated time commitment: ~9 hours 


Wharton’s Fundamentals of Finance course is great for building a foundational understanding of business finance. This course provides a foundational understanding of corporate finance with concepts like the time value of money.

You don’t need any knowledge or experience to enroll, but you should be comfortable with high school math. This finance program consists of four modules that progressively cover the basics of finance, like valuation.

5. University of Virginia: Managerial Accounting Fundamentals

Best for: Learning managerial accounting

Price: Free with optional upgrade 

Estimated time commitment: ~13 hours 


The University of Virginia’s Managerial Accounting of Fundamentals course is designed to teach you the basics of managerial accounting. Managerial accounting is a field of accounting focused on providing information to managers for internal decision-making.

The course is valuable for anyone who wants to understand how businesses use cost data for decision-making. For example, calculating and allocating overhead costs using costing methods, or distinguishing relevant from irrelevant costs for making informed decisions.


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6. Wharton: Introduction to Financial Accounting

Best for: Learning how to analyze financial data 

Price: Free with optional upgrade 

Estimated time commitment: ~13 hours 


Wharton’s Introduction to Financial Accounting course covers various aspects of financial accounting, from financial statements to ratio analysis. The keys to this course include learning to read and understand financial statements, as well as calculating key financial metrics.

The course is a good starting point for those interested in learning the basics of financial accounting. However, if you're looking for a more in-depth program with hands-on exercises, you might want to consider other options.

Best practices for picking an online accounting course, such as understanding the costs and credentials.

7. Purdue University: Business Accounting Basics

Best for: Learning the principles of financial accounting 

Price: Free with optional upgrade 

Estimated time commitment: ~15 hours 


Purdue University’s Business Accounting Basics course teaches the fundamentals of financial accounting. Beyond learning about financial statements, this course provides materials for analyzing a company’s financial health.

It’s good for anyone who wants to understand the basics of accounting, including those with no prior accounting knowledge. For example, you’ll learn about break-even analysis, target profit analysis, and understanding operating leverage.



8. Babson College: Financial Accounting Made Fun

Best for: Getting a better understanding of financial statements 

Price: Free with optional upgrade 

Estimated time commitment: ~20 hours 


The Babson College Financial Accounting Made Fun course is great for understanding financial statements. It teaches a breakdown of the main financial statements, how to interpret them, and how to use key financial ratios to analyze your company’s performance.

The course also covers more detailed topics than other courses on our list, such as financial forecasting. These advanced topics can help business owners who need to make detailed financial decisions about their company.

9. University of Illinois: Fundamentals of Accounting

Best for: Learning financial and managerial accounting 

Price: $79 per month 

Estimated time commitment: ~80 hours 


The University of Illinois Fundamentals of Accounting is a five-course series that’s more comprehensive than others on our list. Taking roughly two months at 10 hours per week to complete, it covers both financial and managerial accounting.

It’s a more comprehensive option for business owners wanting to understand the different types of accounting information and analytical tools and techniques to use that information. For example, it’s broken into five courses in total, focusing on understanding financial statements and accounting topics for business decision-making.

10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Financial Accounting 

Best for: [What it’s good for]

Price: Free with optional upgrade 

Estimated time commitment: ~168 hours 


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Financial Accounting course is the most intensive on our list, taking roughly 12 weeks to complete and requiring 10-14 hours per week. This course is a deep dive into the fundamentals of financial accounting, helping business owners understand financial statements and company performance.

This is a more advanced course that covers advanced accounting topics like accrual accounting and revenue recognition. You should have some experience with topics like algebra and statistics. 


Streamline your accounting and save time

Whether you’re looking to improve your bookkeeping skills or develop actionable skills for cost management and revenue forecasts, online accounting courses can help. Taking it a step further, implementing accounting software can boost your productivity and help you more readily pull insights from your numbers into your business decisions to improve processes and profitability.

Online accounting courses FAQ


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