Accounting CPA Exam Track Certificate Program | UC Davis Extension

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Accounting CPA Exam Track Certificate Program

A recent report from U.S. News lists the field of finance as the number one safe-haven career, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with professional certification, especially CPAs, have the best prospects. In addition to the Accounting CPA Exam Track Certificate Program, we also offer a more basic Accounting Essentials Certificate Program for those who want to strengthen their accounting skills, such as bookkeepers, accounting clerks, and business and franchise owners.

The Accounting CPA Exam Track Certificate Program provides you with the core 24 semester/36 quarter units of accounting educational requirements to take the CPA examination. Prepare to take the CPA exam by gaining a comprehensive understanding of accounting principles at the management level. Acquire thorough knowledge of the principles and practices of accounting and financial reporting by exploring the concepts and theories underlying current best practices. Develop the analytical skills to evaluate accounting and financial reporting methods, and examining auditing processes in-depth so you can develop internal control processes and procedures.

Note that students will still need to complete 24 semester/36 quarter units of business-related education requirements and show the following:

  • Business Administration
  • Economics
  • Marketing
  • Computer Science and Information Systems
  • Business Management
  • Finance
  • Statistics
  • Business-related law courses offered at an accredited law school
  • Business Communications 
  • Business Law
  • Mathematics
  • Any Accounting subjects in excess of the above 24 semester/36 quarter units needed to fulfill the accounting requirement


About the Program:

Gain practical knowledge that matters

  • Fulfill the core accounting educational requirements to take the CPA examination
  • Prepare for a career in senior level business management
  • Learn to expand accounting applications to a wide variety of business and financial settings
  • Prepare for public and private accounting positions

Designed for professionals like you

The Accounting CPA Exam Track Certificate Program is designed for those who want to develop professional competencies and technical knowledge in accounting and who are seeking a long-term career as an accountant in either the public or private sector. Those who have or are working toward their college degree and want to fulfill the accounting educational requirements for the California CPA exams benefit from gaining a comprehensive understanding of fundamental and advanced principles of accounting.

Advisory Board:

  • Donald Adcock, CPA, M.A., senior manager, Ernst & Young, LLP
  • Mary Khoshmashrab, CPA, MSBA, deputy director, The Gambling Control Commission
  • John Langreck, CPA, MST, president, Fox Consulting Group, LLC
  • Jerry Lundblad, MBA, adjunct faculty, UC Davis, Managerial Economics; CSUS, College of Business Administration; financial consultant, Lundblad Consulting
  • Daniel Staszak, CPA, M.S., partner, Willis & Walsh, CPA
  • Monique Smalling, CPA, MBA, faculty, UC Davis Extension and DeVry University; former SEC reporting manager, controller and senior audit manager
  • James Venneman, CPA, CIA, MBA, audit manager, California Controller's Office

Estimated Cost:

Tuition for the entire Accounting CPA Exam Track Certificate Program is $7,470 to $7,920, 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 an Accounting CPA Exam Track Certificate upon the successful completion of 16 required units and 20 elective units of designated course work. Courses are typically offered in the evenings and online.

These courses prepare you to take the CPA exam. Completion of this certificate program itself does not represent CPA certification. For more information about CPA credential requirements and licensing, 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


"A CPA salary is pretty hard to beat. New industries, more sophisticated technologies, and expanding opportunities for business add up to better opportunities for CPAs. Depending on firm size and location, the average starting salaries in public accounting range from $40,000 to $57,000. Those with a graduate degree and the CPA certification can expect to earn 10-15 percent more than the average starting salaries."

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Salaries and Job Market,

Required Courses

4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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:
4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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.

This course is not currently open for enrollment.
4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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.

Sections of this course open for enrollment:
4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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.


This course is not currently open for enrollment.

Elective Courses

4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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.
4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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.
4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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:
4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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.
4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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.

Sections of this course open for enrollment:
3.0 quarter units academic credit 3.0

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.
2.0 quarter units academic credit 2.0

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.

Sections of this course open for enrollment:
4.0 quarter units academic credit 4.0

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.



  • 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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