Accounting professionals record, report, and analyze the financial transactions of an organization. This Accounting Foundations Graduate Certificate will help you grow in your technical knowledge of financial and managerial accounting while also shaping professional skills like critical thinking, communication, leadership, and decision-making.

Led by top-ranked faculty in the field, you’ll study the principles, concepts, and methods that govern professional accounting. Experiential learning opportunities give you the chance to apply what you’ve learned to real-world problems. This program helps prepare you to launch or advance in your professional accounting career.

The courses in this certificate program can be applied toward the education requirements for the Uniform CPA Exam.

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Start Dates
August, October, 
January, March, or May

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8 Months

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Program Fees
$8,080 - $10,200 USD
(Depending on electives)

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Credit Hours

Develop the technical knowledge and professional competencies needed to excel in accounting

  • Understand what accounting information is and how different capital market participants use it
  • Record financial information in accounting language and produce the primary financial statements
  • Appreciate fundamental accounting concepts and revenue recognition criteria in preparing financial statements
  • Conduct the accounting for fixed assets and short-term assets with a particular focus on accounts receivables and inventories
  • Understand accounting for liabilities and evaluate the shareholders’ equity section of a balance sheet
  • Understand the preparation and information provided by cash flow statements
  • Examine tools and techniques of financial statement analysis from the perspective of investors and creditors
  • Understand theoretical and empirical properties of financial ratios

Course structure and format

This fully online program is designed to fit the schedules of working professionals.

  • Weekly live classes and office hours with top faculty
  • Self-paced, downloadable course material on Coursera
  • Group discussions and projects with peers around the globe
  • Immediately applicable graduate-level coursework


Course details

You can complete the program in as few as eight months. This certificate is comprised of two required courses and one elective course. This translates into a commitment of about ten hours per week.

Required courses

The following two courses are required for this graduate certificate.

ACCY 501: Accounting Analysis I

This is the first course in a two-course sequence (ACCY 501 and 502) that covers the collection, processing, and communication of accounting information (via financial reports) about economic entities to interested parties (i.e., managers and external stakeholders such as stockholders and creditors). This sequence focuses on accounting concepts, principles and theory with an emphasis on problems that arise in applying these concepts for external reporting purposes. Specific emphasis is placed on measurement of assets, liabilities, equities and income, as well as disclosure of additional information that may assist users to understand the financial reports. Because this sequence is intended to assist you in professional preparation, you will be expected to develop analytical, problem-solving and technical skills used by accounting professionals.

ACCY 502: Accounting Analysis II

ACCY 502 is a continuation of ACCY 501. This course begins with a discussion of current liabilities and contingencies and continues with long-term debt and bonds. The course next explores the accounting model for leases, both lessees and lessors, and a discussion on deferred tax assets and liabilities. Participants will learn the latest accounting standards including the new accounting model for leases effective for public companies in 2019 and private companies in 2020. The second half of the course begins with a discussion of pensions and retiree medical benefits and continues with equity and share-based payments. It then explores earnings per share (EPS) and a discussion on accounting changes. The course will conclude with a discussion on the statement of cash flows.

Elective courses

Learners should select one course from the list below.

ACCY 500: Accounting Measurement, Reporting, and Control

A managerial perspective of the nature and role of accounting in organizational measurement, reporting and control processes.

ACCY 503: Managerial Accounting

In this course, you will identify and analyze managerial accounting practices used inside organizations to facilitate and guide managers’ operational and strategic decisions. There are two important roles of managerial accounting information. First, managerial accounting has a decision-facilitating role, as it allows decision-makers within the company to adjust their beliefs, and thus affects their evaluations of and decisions surrounding the company’s strategies and operations. Second, managerial accounting has a decision-influencing role, as it can be used to evaluate performance, and align the incentives of the decision-maker with those of other stakeholders. This course will explore both roles of managerial accounting.

ACCY 517: Financial Statement Analysis and Valuation

This course examines the tools and techniques of financial statement analysis and company valuation from the perspective of investors and creditors; emphasizes theoretical and empirical properties of financial ratios as well as valuation methods used in practice.

How to apply

To apply for a graduate certificate program, you'll need to start an online application through the University of Illinois Graduate College.

The following items are required for your application:

  • Bachelor’s degree: Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  • Professional resume: This should include personal information (name, address, telephone number, and email address), educational background, work experience (start and end dates for each position and a brief description of responsibilities), educational training, professional associations, and leadership experiences. Please limit your resume to two pages. 
  • Brief personal statement: A 500-word or less statement describing your interest in the certificate program.
  • English proficiency scores (international students only): If you are a non-native English speaker, you will need to upload your TOEFL or IELTS scores directly to your application. Review the Graduate College’s English proficiency requirements for more details on possible exemptions.

Continue your learning journey

Stack your credit hours into a graduate business degree

If you are interested in continuing your education with Gies, the twelve credits you earn in the Accounting Data Analytics Graduate Certificate can be directly applied to one of three Gies online master's degree - the iMBA, iMSA, or iMSM. 

    Looking for CPE Credits? This graduate certificate qualifies for credit toward continuing professional education requirements. Upon completion of the course, you can request CPE credit by submitting this online form.

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