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Graduate Certificate inAccounting

Program summary

Master topics in auditing theory, tax planning, cost management, financial statement analysis, and reporting for government or nonprofit entities as you prepare for CPA licensure through this online certificate program.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by October 1 to start January 13

Credits and costs

12 Credits$1,017 per credit

Gain Accounting Skills to Prepare for CPA Licensure

  • Identify accounting problems and conduct research to make informed financial decisions

  • Apply professional accounting standards in your work and that of your organization

  • Analyze data and communicate results and financial reporting to your coworkers and stakeholders

  • Take ethical and legal considerations into account when making business decisions

  • Learn tax planning and financial records management

Online Financial and Managerial Accounting Courses

This 12-credit online program offers you the opportunity to learn auditing theory and practice, and to supplement that knowledge with courses in disciplines of your choosing, including tax, decision-making, cost accounting management, financial statements and reporting, and others.

The curriculum is carefully designed to include courses which align to your interests in preparation for the CPA exam and generally accepted accounting principles.

Required Course (3 credits)

  • 3

    Auditing theory pertaining to the regulatory environment, risk assessment, internal controls, materiality, computerization, analytical procedures, sampling, fraud, ethics, and professional responsibilities.

Elective Courses (select 9 credits)

  • 3

    Tax theory pertaining to corporations, partnerships and conduit entities, estates, trusts, ethics, and professional tax responsibilities.

  • 3

    The study of business processes, transactions cycles, and internal control structure with an emphasis on computerized accounting information systems.

  • 3

    Current managerial accounting topics such as activity-based costing, theory of constraints, and performance measures and their use in organizations.

  • 3

    The study of ethical systems and ethical decision-making and their application in accounting.

  • 3

    The exploration of conventional and advanced methods of analyzing financial statements, including earnings quality and financial distress assessment.

  • 3

    Accounting theory and practice for reporting consolidations, foreign currency transactions, and preparing financial statements for governmental and NGOs.

  • 3

    All articles of the Uniform Commercial Code, banking relationships, debtor-creditor law, and bankruptcy law.

  • 3

    Accounting, reporting, and auditing principles and procedures for public sector agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Start or Advance Your Accounting Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue a career path in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Possible Career Paths

With a graduate education in finance, you can pursue various career paths in financial management, auditing, business law, and public accounting. Graduate coursework can also help prepare you to pursue CPA licensure and a career as a certified public accountant.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Learn more about this program

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by October 1 to start January 13. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Graduate Tuition

Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,017 per credit
12 or more$12,203 per semester

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?Cost
11 or fewer$1,027 per credit
12 or more$12,325 per semester

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

A Head Start toward a Master’s Degree

A figure standing halfway up a set of stairs leading towards a graduation cap

Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward a full master’s degree.

Continue Your Education in Accounting

Admission into the master's program is a separate step and is not guaranteed. Certificate program students who wish to have the certificate courses applied to the master's degree program must apply and be admitted to the master's program. Upon admittance to the master's program, certificate courses completed with a grade of B or better will be applied to the degree.

In addition to the certificate being an excellent stand-alone credential, with program approval, all four courses in the certificate may be applied to the following Penn State World Campus degree program:

Develop knowledge of auditing, commercial transactions, consulting, and more through this online graduate degree program designed to prepare students for the CPA exam and advancement within their field.

Learn more about the Master of Professional Accounting

Who Should Apply?

If you’ve completed a baccalaureate degree in accounting or completed comparable accounting course work, this program is for you. Professionals seeking course work to meet the CPA accounting credit requirements are also good candidates for this program.

AACSB Accredited

This program is AACSB Accredited

The School of Business Administration also carries the elite AACSB accreditation, an honor reserved for the top 5% of business schools worldwide.

Set Your Own Pace

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Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Certificate in One Year

  • Take 2 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Certificate in Two Years

  • Take 1 course each semester


Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

Professional Licensure / Certification

Qualify for a CPA certificate and license to practice public accounting.

How to Earn the CPA Licensure

  • Meet the 150-credit hour education requirement for entry into the accounting profession. Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree will earn a minimum of 120 credit hours.
  • Pass the Uniform CPA Examination to qualify for a CPA certificate and license (i.e., permit to practice) to practice public accounting.

Keep in mind...

  • The exam is the same no matter where it is taken, but every state/jurisdiction has its own set of education and experience requirements that individuals must meet.
  • If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession, remember that completion of this program alone does not meet the requirements for licensure.
  • You can visit our Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map to learn more about the requirements in each state.

Pennsylvania CPA and Licensing Requirements

For more details on the CPA Exam and licensing requirements in the state of Pennsylvania, visit the Penn State Harrisburg website.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by October 1 to start January 13

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by October 1 to start January 13
  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by February 1 to start May 19
  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by June 1, 2025

Steps to Apply

  1. For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.

    If CPA licensure is your goal, please verify your state's rules and requirements. See the State Regulations for more information.

    If your undergraduate degree is not in accounting, you should have completed or be in the process of taking the following minimum core of accounting course work (or its equivalent) prior to submitting your application:

    ACCTG 211: Financial and Managerial Accounting for Decision-Making (generally Principles of Accounting I, covering financial accounting, and Principles of Accounting II, covering managerial accounting, at other universities)
    ACCTG 310: Federal Taxation I (covering individual taxation) — ACCTG 211 is a prerequisite for this course.
    ACCTG 340: Cost Accounting — ACCTG 211 is a prerequisite for this course.
    ACCTG 471: Intermediate Financial Accounting I — ACCTG 211 is a prerequisite for this course.
    ACCTG 472: Intermediate Financial Accounting II — ACCTG 471 is a prerequisite for this course.
    ACCTG 403: Auditing — ACCTG 471 is a prerequisite for this course.

    Should you decide to take any of the prerequisite courses through Penn State World Campus, you'll need to complete a nondegree enrollment form. Scan and email your completed document, along with an unofficial transcript as evidence of your undergraduate degree, to [email protected].

  2. You will need to upload the following as part of your application:

    Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed — Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of your academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.

    English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

    Test Scores — GRE and GMAT test scores are NOT required.

  3. To begin the online application, you will need a Penn State account.

    Create a New Penn State Account

    If you have any problems during this process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

    Please note: Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application or create a new Penn State account. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions.

  4. You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.

    • Choose Enrollment Type: "Certificate Admission"
    • Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus

    Checking Your Status 
    You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form. 

    Technical Requirements  
    Review the technical requirements for this program.

  5. 5. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact an admissions counselor at [email protected].

Contact Us

Customer service representative wearing a headset

Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Accounting, contact:

For general questions or questions regarding how to apply, contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
[email protected]

For questions regarding your submitted application, contact:

Sherri Harkins
Administrative Support
Master of Professional Accounting
Phone: 717-948-6008
[email protected]

For questions regarding program curriculum, contact:

Renee Flasher, Ph.D., CPA, CMA, CFE
Assistant Professor of Accounting
Master of Professional Accounting Program
Phone: 717-948-4316
[email protected]

Learn from the Best

This program is led by the School of Business Administration at Penn State Harrisburg, which is consistently recognized by employers as having outstanding graduates. You will learn from the same faculty who teach in resident programs at Penn State campuses and are experienced in teaching online.


  • Thomas T. Amlie

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Accounting, University of Maryland
    • Degree
      MBA, University of Maryland

    Dr. Thomas T. Amlie's teaching interests are in the area of financial accounting and reporting. His research interests center on the proper disclosure of accounting information, the assumptions underlying that accounting information, and the effects of those assumptions on business decisions and reporting.

  • John C. Cameron

    • Degree
      J.D., Widener University School of Law
    • Degree
      LL.M., Corporation Law, New York University School of Law
    • Degree
      MBA, Temple University
    • Degree
      B.A., University of Pittsburgh

    John C. Cameron, associate professor of management and organization, has held corporate positions in health care administration and corporate law. He is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. He serves as the co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Health Care Law Committee. He teaches courses in leadership development, business ethics, bioscience management, and negotiations. His research interests are in the areas of corporate governance, bioethics, leadership, and regulatory compliance.

  • Patrick Cusatis

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Finance, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Finance, Penn State

    Dr. Patrick Cusatis, CFA, is an associate professor of finance. Prior to joining Penn State, he was an institutional portfolio manager at CoreStates National Bank, First Union National Bank, and Tucker Anthony. Prior to that, he was an investment banker at Lehman Brothers in New York City, specializing in new product development. His research interests include corporate restructuring, portfolio management, derivative securities, and municipal bonds.

  • Ashutosh Deshmukh

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Accounting, University of Memphis
    • Degree
      MBA, Finance, University of Alabama
    • Degree
      DCM, Computer Programming, University of Mumbai
    • Degree
      B.S., Chemistry, University of Mumbai
    • Degree
      Professional Certifications: CPA, ACA, CFE, CMA, CISE

    Dr. Ashutosh Deshmukh is a professor of accounting and MIS at Penn State Behrend. He holds certification in public accounting, information systems auditing, management accounting, and fraud examination, and he has served as an expert witness in the U.S. House of Representatives, estimating the potential for fraud, waste, and abuse of grant money awarded over a five-year period by the U.S. EPA. He is the associate editor of the International Journal of Accounting, Auditing, and Performance Evaluation and the author of the book Digital Accounting: The Effects of the Internet and ERP on Accounting.

  • Lydia Didia

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Business Administration, Jackson State University
    • Degree
      MBA, Jackson State University
    • Degree
      B.S., Accounting, State University of New York at Brockport

    Dr. Lydia Didia, CPA, is an assistant professor of accounting. Prior to joining Penn State, she was an auditor for the Mississippi Department of Revenue for more than 13 years. She taught at Jackson State University and at Belhaven College in Mississippi. Her research interests include effects of rules and regulations on decision behaviors of different stakeholders in the U.S. and developing countries, audit quality and audit risk, and outsourcing and offshoring of business activities.

  • Richard Scheib

    • Degree
      J.D., Widener University
    • Degree
      LL.M., Georgetown University
    • Degree
      B.S., Business Administration, Bloomsburg University

    Richard Scheib is an instructor of law, tax, and accounting. Prior to teaching, and simultaneously with his consulting practice, he worked in private accounting for corporations, public accounting with Big Five accounting firms, state government, and large and small law firms handling a variety of both accounting and legal issues.

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State graduate certificate?

Apply by October 1 to start January 13. How to Apply