Accounting Essentials Certificate Program | UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education

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Accounting Essentials Certificate Program

Develop a Solid Foundation in Accounting

Whether you’re new to the practice or are looking to advance your career, our Accounting Essentials Certificate Program provides students with the groundwork needed to confidently and accurately apply accounting principles in their business or profession.

What You’ll Learn

This program is designed for those wanting to understand current accounting standards and procedures in order to meet financial accountability requirements, advance to higher professional levels, strengthen business practices or improve their organization’s bottom line. You will learn how to:

  • Prepare, interpret and present financial statements
  • Understand methods to analyze and interpret data
  • Use accounting principles to develop, manage and expand business

What You Get

Our program offers:

  • Online convenience
  • Access to exceptional instructors with years of industry experience
  • Unique networking opportunities with instructors and fellow students
  • Practical knowledge and current best practices that can be applied immediately to your business or job
  • Coursework that counts towards CPA requirements, if you are a candidate

About the Program:

Gain practical knowledge that matters

  • Learn to prepare, interpret and present financial statements.
  • Understand methods to analyze and interpret data.
  • Learn accounting principles to develop, manage and expand business.
  • Complete an introductory CPA foundation if you are a candidate.
  • For information regarding CPA credential requirements, contact the California State Board of Accountancy

Designed for professionals like you

This program is for those wanting to understand current accounting principles and practices, or who need to meet financial accountability standards. Bookkeepers and accounting clerks who want to advance to a higher professional level as well as business and franchise owners who want to strengthen their business practices benefit. Accountants and others who want to acquire specific knowledge of accounting best practices, and public sector staff, nonprofit employees and board members of nonprofits gain the expertise to improve their bottom lines.

Estimated Cost:

Tuition for the entire Accounting Certificate Program is $4,980 to $5,280, depending on when you enroll. The certificate application fee ($125) and textbooks are not included in the tuition fee.

Program Requirements:

Courses may be taken individually or as part of a certificate program. Participants will be awarded a certificate in Accounting upon the successful completion of 16 required units and 8 elective units of designated course work. Courses are typically offered in the evenings and on some weekends. It is possible to complete the program in one year.

Many of the accounting courses count toward the educational requirements to sit for the CPA exam or fulfill continuing education CMA requirements. For more information about the CPA license, please visit the California Board of Accountancy's Educational Requirements page (click on the Tip Sheet - CPA Licensure Educational Requirements link).

Course content is frequently revised to ensure that the program is up-to-date with the latest industry standards. For this reason, you must complete all of the course requirements of your certificate within five years from the day you enroll in the first course. A certificate will not be awarded if the requirements are not completed and your application for candidacy is not received within this timeframe.

Consider a Master's Degree in Accountancy

Successful completion of the following three UC Davis Extension Accounting courses fulfills the prerequisite requirements for the UC Davis Graduate School of Management's Master of Professional Accountancy Program:

  • Principles of Financial Accounting
  • Principles of Cost Accounting
  • Business Law

For more information, visit

Required Courses

Examine accounting theory, principles and practice. Learn about accrual account concepts, transaction analysis, recording and processing (journals and ledgers) methods. Gain an in-depth understanding of the preparation and analysis of financial statements (income statements, balance sheets and cash-flow statements); sales and cost of sales; inventory valuation; depreciation of operational assets; accounting for investments; and liability and present value concepts.

This course fulfills one of the three prerequisites for the UC Davis School of Management's Master of Professional Accountancy Program.

Sections of this course open for enrollment:

Gain a thorough understanding of the theory behind best practices in accounting and learn to incorporate those theories into practical usage. Focus on the preparation of principal accounting statements, including the recording, valuation and presentation of cash, temporary investments, receivables and inventories. Explore accounting concepts for physical plants and equipment, intangibles, current assets and liabilities, fixed asset accounting and current obligations.

Sections of this course open for enrollment:

Learn advanced accounting methods and be better prepared to take the accounting portion of the CPA examination. Examine best practices of financial reporting, income taxes, pensions, leases, investments, stockholder’s equity, statement of cash flows and earnings per share. Apply concepts learned to various real world applications, so you can more fully analyze financial statements.

This course is not currently open for enrollment.

Learn the fundamentals of managerial accounting and discuss how to use accounting/financial data to make better, more profitable business decisions. Examine the role of the managerial accountant in establishing budgets, evaluating the financial impact of day-to-day management decisions and using budgets as control tools. Topics include basic accounting principles; analysis and interpretation of financial statements; cost-volume profit relationships; how to analyze cost behavior; budgeting and the use of accounting data for business decision-making. This course is required to complete the CPA Accounting Certificate Program and the Accounting Essentials Certificate Program. This course is also known as Managerial Accounting

This course fulfills one of the three prerequisites for the UC Davis School of Management's Master of Professional Accountancy Program. Visit for more information.


Sections of this course open for enrollment:

Elective Courses

Focus on the effective analysis of financial statements and how to integrate accounting concepts and principles into your statements. Examine the analytical tools for assessing a company's performance, the concept of quality of earnings and the approaches to valuation. Topics also include balance sheet analysis, asset and business evaluation issues, income statement analysis, profit margins, return on assets and equity and cash flow analysis.

This course is not currently open for enrollment.

Examine the audit process in-depth and explore the most recent developments and trends in auditing practices. Learn how to plan an audit, perform analytical procedures, evaluate internal control systems and carry out tests of transactions and individual account balances. Discuss current best practices for conducting, completing and issuing an audit report. This course assists individuals who need to learn or review auditing concepts and/or prepare for the CPA, CIA or CMA examination. 

This course is not currently open for enrollment.

Gain an understanding of the characteristics of governmental and nonprofit accounting with an emphasis on various fund types and account groups. Review and evaluate the most recently recommended accounting and financial reporting practices for state and local governmental units. Explore both the theoretical and practical aspects of governmental and nonprofit accounting.

Sections of this course open for enrollment:

Learn to examine financial records from the perspective of a fraud investigator. Examine a wide range of civil and criminal fraud accounting activities, from false business valuations and employer fraud to information security and counter-terrorism. Focusing on audits and financial reporting, you will become firmly grounded in the practicalities of real-world forensic accounting investigation. Accountants, auditors and bookkeepers gain invaluable knowledge and the ability to support litigation proceedings and contribute to dispute resolutions.     

This course is not currently open for enrollment.


Learn to spot fraud and embezzlement ploys, and discover how good intentions can have unexpectedly corrupt outcomes. This 40-hour overview emphasizes fraud detection and prevention techniques through a basic review of the common fraud-scheme elements coupled with in-depth case study and analysis. If you are an accountant or have auditing responsibilities, no matter what the capacity, you need to know how to detect fraud early on and how to take the appropriate next steps. From discovery to prevention to whistle-blowing, find out how to avoid the pitfalls of misappropriations. 

This course is not currently open for enrollment.

Gain the practical knowledge you need to apply tax laws when preparing tax forms and helping your clients plan their processes. Examine the most current laws affecting capital gains and losses, adjustments to gross income, itemized deductions, tax credits and payments and estimated taxes.

Learn about sole proprietorship and small business taxation, as well as real estate property transactions, with an emphasis on issues relating to all aspects of individual taxation. Knowledge of current federal income tax laws as they relate to individual income taxation is critical for accountants. Acquire the skills to more effectively prepare, or help your clients prepare, their income tax returns.

This course is not currently open for enrollment.

Heighten your awareness and understanding of workplace ethical issues and learn how to avoid the slippery slope of an unethical work environment. Acquire the conceptual framework and practical methods for making ethical and effective business decisions. Learn when and where ethical issues are most likely to surface and how to maintain their integrity.

You will also gain an understanding of the impact of cultural and organizational pressures to conform, and explore a variety of ethical decision-making models, evaluate possible courses of action, and respond to challenging situations. Business experience and case studies form the core of this highly interactive course.

This course is not currently open for enrollment.

Explore the legal environment in which businesses operate. Examine various areas of the law integral to the operation of businesses today, such as contracts, torts and negligence; product liability; constitutional law as it applies to business; and federal and state civil procedures. Gain a better understanding of:

  •  Employment laws
  • The U.S. legal system
  • Criminal law
  • Law of agency
  • Contracts, including Article II of the Commercial Code
  • Bankruptcy
  • Legal principles applicable to the different forms of business entities

Business owners, managers, accountants, paralegals and all those seeking to enhance their general understanding of the legal system benefit. This course fulfills one of the three prerequisites for the UC Davis School of Management’s Master of Professional Accountancy Program.


This course is not currently open for enrollment.

Gain an understanding of ethical standards for accountants and auditors. Learn the nature and scope of ethical behavior and the need for it in business and society. Examine unethical behavior, including greed, corruption and fraud. Review professional codes of conduct for principal governing bodies and discuss their application in real-world situations. Obtain an understanding of ethics in the auditing, taxation and fiduciary professions.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand ethical frameworks including ethics and ethical reasoning
  • Review virtue, justice and social responsibilities
  • Analyze unethical behavior including greed and corruption
  • Examine fraud and earnings management
  • Review professional rules of conduct
  • Examine the duties of the public company auditors, taxation professionals and fiduciaries
This course is not currently open for enrollment.

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"These courses supplied a strong foundation to advance my career and opened an opportunity to channel myself with an excellent group of people. The courses fit perfectly into my life as a parent and working professional."

Elvamae F. Bolano, Sr. Accountant, ALPHA Fund

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