The CPA Pathway Graduate Certificate will enhance your technical knowledge and skills in financial accounting, taxation, and accounting data analytics. The program not only builds the expertise you need to excel as a Certified Public Accountant, it prepares you to sit for the CPA exam.

Our accounting faculty review the contents of the CPA Exam regularly to ensure that the curriculum in this program is up-to-date with the latest requirements.

You’ll learn from a global network of experts around the world, including a well-connected body of University of Illinois accounting alumni who can provide professional insights and advice. Along the way you will grow business competencies like critical thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving.

Gaining knowledge is only half the battle in the modern business world; application is equally important. That’s why our program emphasizes real-world projects and work samples that demonstrate your advanced skills and help you stand out to current and potential employers.

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

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8 Months

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Program Fees
$5,960 - $10,200 USD
(Depending on electives)

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Credit Hours

A graduate certificate that builds specialized knowledge to prepare you for the CPA exam.

You’ll develop a full set of accounting and finance skills you’ll be able to apply immediately, including the ability to:

  • Apply data analytics in a variety of accounting and business contexts
  • Critically solve business problems using data-intensive business and accounting information
  • Synthesize and effectively communicate data-intensive information, findings, and conclusions to other environment-constituents, including supervisors, peers and subordinates, clients, and regulatory agencies
  • Learn a variety of tools to break apart financial reports into meaningful units for analysis
  • Understand accounting for mergers and acquisitions: investment accounting, preparation of consolidated financial statements, business combination achieved in stages, divestitures and deconsolidations, and more

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 569: Data Driven Decisions in Accounting

This course prepares students to use analytic software to explore, visualize, and statistically analyze accounting data. It first introduces students to the need for analytics in accounting by sampling problems from different accounting domains. Students then learn to frame problems in a way that can be answered by using data, and how to structure data so that it’s ready to be analyzed. Students create interactive visualizations in Excel and Tableau to examine data, identify patterns and relationships in the data, and then communicate the findings. This course also introduces students to statistical analyses (i.e. regression and clustering) for quantifying patterns and relationships that are observed in the data. Finally, this course introduces accounting students to programming via macros and the VisualBasic editor in Excel to automate data preparation and data analyses.

ACCY 576: Data Preparation for Accounting

This course focuses on developing Python skills for assembling business data, taught within the context of multiple accounting settings (e.g., financial statement data, stock data, loan data, point-of-sale data, etc.). The first half of the course uses an integrated development environment to automate data analytic tasks. We discuss how to manage code and share results within Jupyter Notebook, a popular development environment for data analytic software like Python and R. We then review some fundamental programming skills, such as mathematical operators, functions, conditional statements and loops using Python software. The second half of the course focuses on assembling data for machine learning purposes. We introduce students to Pandas dataframes and Numpy for structuring and manipulating data. We then analyze the data using visualizations and linear regressions. Finally, we explain how to use Python for interacting with SQL data.

Elective courses

Learners should select at least one of the following:

ACCY 504: Auditing

This course provides an intensive conceptual and applied introduction to auditing in society. It focuses on concepts and applications related to financial-statement auditors’ professional responsibilities, as well as major facets of the audit process, including risk assessment and audit reporting.

ACCY 506: Advanced Topics in Accounting

This course covers accounting for business combinations (ASC 805), the preparation of consolidated financial statements (ASC 810), and other related topics including, but not limited to: step-by-step acquisition, deconsolidation, segments reporting, and the goodwill impairment test. This course begins with a discussion of the scope of ASC 805 and the differences between business combinations and asset acquisitions. Next, the course explores the measurement and recognition principles of the acquisition method to account for business combinations. Then, the course covers the consolidation process. You will learn how to prepare the consolidated financial statements and make all of the necessary consolidation adjustments.

ACCY 507: Taxation of Business Entities

The first half of the course provides an introduction to the U.S. federal income taxation of corporations and their shareholders. The course focuses on the relevant provisions of Subchapter C of the Internal Revenue Code, as well as related Treasury Regulations and judicial opinions, governing corporate formation, operations, distributions, and liquidation. The second half of the course provides an introduction to the U.S. federal income taxation of pass-through business entities, including Subchapter S corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. It focuses on the relevant provisions of Subchapters S and K of the Internal Revenue Code, as well as related Treasury Regulations and judicial opinions, governing the formation, operation, and termination of pass-through entities. Practical in-class study problems facilitate self-discovery of technical tax knowledge along with the development of a variety of professional skills and attitudes.

ACCY 516: Professional Responsibility and Ethics for Accountants

This course covers key principles of accountants’ professional responsibility in their jobs, organizations, and careers, and adopts both theoretical and practical perspectives of the role of ethics and morals within the accounting discipline. The course begins with a general overview of these key constructs and principles, including various philosophies from a variety of disciplines and cultures. Next, the course provides a historical perspective of major instances of accounting-related “failures” and “successes” in the area of professional responsibility and ethics. This historical perspective provides the underlying reasoning for many contemporary codes of conduct, ethics, and professional guidelines. A variety of experiential learning opportunities will help students explore and develop their own perspective on ethics and morals, and how these principles affect their professional roles, responsibilities, and choices.

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.

Learners should select 4 credit hours from following:

ACCY 577: Machine Learning for Accounting

This course introduces machine learning algorithms and their applications in accounting problems. It covers classification, regression, clustering, text analysis, time series analysis. It also discusses feature importance and model optimization. This course provides an entry point for students to be able to apply proper machine learning algorithms on business related datasets to solve various problems. By end of the course, combined with the skills learned from ACCY 576, students should be able to complete an entire data analytics process with Python.

ACCY 578: Accounting Analytics Applications

This course develops students’ knowledge regarding the role, methods, and implications of business and data analytics in accounting via real-world applications of fundamental and advanced analytics principles. Application opportunities span multiple areas of accounting, including audit, fraud identification and detection, financial accounting, and managerial accounting. Students will (1) gain a foundational understanding of the role of business / data analytics in accounting and (2) be able to apply this knowledge to real-world clients, business decisions, etc. Course sections vary by application topic, may be repeated in the same or separate semesters, if topics vary.

  • 1 Credit Hours, Fall and Spring


BADM 403: Corporate & Commercial Law

In this course, you will learn about several important legal concepts that affect businesses. The first half of the course focuses on contracts and employment law. Students will learn what is required in order to form agreements that can be enforced in court, examine the rights of third parties and what happens when someone doesn't fulfill their contractual obligations, and understand legal issues that impact the hiring, firing, and ongoing employment of workers. The second half of the course turns to business organizations, business financing, and governmental regulation. Students will discuss the characteristics of a number of the most common forms of business entities, such as corporations and LLCs, explore debtor-creditor relationships, including bank financing, debt financing, secured transactions, and bankruptcy, and learn about the most important aspects of governmental regulation, including the process by which administrative agencies make rules, and the regulation of anti-competitive behavior and securities transactions.

MBA 563: Data Toolkit: Business Data Modeling & Predictive Analytics

The emphasis of this course is placed on developing a business analytic mindset. You will then be exposed to various tools to perform tasks including extracting, transforming and loading (ETL) data to conduct exploratory data analytics (EDA). These tools are Power BI, R, and Alteryx. In addition, you will learn different machine learning algorithms but also develop the ability to evaluate and select the right algorithms for the right circumstances and use Notebooks to communicate results with others.

MBA 564: Data Analytics Applications in Business

These courses develop students' knowledge regarding the role, methods, and implications of business and data analytics in business. Application opportunities span multiple areas of business. Special topics may include marketing, finance, supply chain, and accounting. Topics covered may include forecasting using time series models, modern portfolio theory, measurement and scaling, A/B testing, ANOVA, and conjoint analysis. Course sections vary by application topic, may be repeated in the same or separate semesters, if topics vary.

  • 2 Credit Hours; 4 Weeks in Length

MBA 565: Infonomics

This course provides a non-technical perspective on and methods for monetizing, managing, and measuring information as if it were any other kind of corporate asset.

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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