Students considering an accounting major might want to first make sure that the coursework for an accounting degree aligns with their own interests and long-term career goals. The program is dominated by classes that focus on corporate financial reporting, corporate structure, some basic management skills, taxation, and more. Degrees in this field are justifiably broad, since accountants who graduate from such a program can find themselves working as personal accountants, tax professionals, corporate accountants, accounting managers, and many other, varied positions. Before choosing the major, consider the most common components of this program at today’s best institutions for aspiring accountants.
Financial Reporting Classes
Students will typically begin their studies in accounting with up to six credits in financial accounting and corporate reporting. These classes are designed to give students basic insight into what the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) are and how they impact everyday accounting work. These classes will also teach students about the fundamentals of ledgers, balance sheets, cost accounting, inventory methods, and other basic concepts that will be repeatedly discussed in higher-level courses as the degree advances.
Internal Auditing or Forensic Accounting
The GAAP discussed in the financial accounting classes require enforcement, and that’s where both auditing and forensic services come in. Whether students take a class in internal auditing, which basically involves self-evaluation of a company’s accounting practices, or forensics, which focuses on external investigations, they’ll learn how to uncover irregularities and report them as needed. This class will give students more advanced insight into the accounting profession and its more advanced guidelines for ethical work. They’ll be equipped with the basic skills they need to pursue either of these interests further, perhaps in elective coursework or in graduate programs.
Principles of Taxation
A large number of accountants work in tax-related industries, whether it’s to help a single corporation comply with state and federal tax laws or to help individuals file their annual tax returns. Almost all accounting programs require at least three credits in tax policy, which will introduce the structure of the federal tax system and how accountants can help with deductions, exemptions, credits, appeals, and many other facets. Some taxation courses will also teach the fundamentals of state tax policy, specific to the state where a given university is based. Others will leave this information out.
Fundamental Business and Management Classes
Accountants are destined for work in the business sector, and that means they need to understand how this part of the economy works so that they have a chance at succeeding over the long-term. As most accounting programs are based in a university’s business school, students will be required to take a broad core of classes that teach economics, finance, management, communication, and quantitative analysis. These skills will give accountants the framework they need to advance into managerial roles or to pursue graduate-level education in Master’s of Business Administration or master’s degree in accounting at some point in the future.
Practical Skills Taught Through Engaging College Coursework
The accounting profession requires a great deal of ethical and legal considerations, as well as a very in-depth, working understanding of how to properly report expenses, account for costs, and state corporate earnings. The most common coursework for an accounting degree focuses on those elements that entry-level accountants are expected to know: GAAP, tax policy, cost accounting and auditing, forensics, and basic business skills.