The core courses in an undergraduate accounting program typically cover the basic theories and techniques that professional accountants use every day. These degree programs usually require students to take classes in taxation, auditing, internal controls, business laws and financial management.

Resource: 50 Best Accounting Schools in the USA 2016

Mandatory Classes

Introductory accountancy classes will explain the fundamental principles used to analyze and process business transactions. Students will learn how to prepare financial statements and communicate complex data to stakeholders with varying levels of financial competency. Class topics may cover accounting-based cycles, transactions, operations and administration. Some classes may emphasize financial and managerial accountancy, which helps accountants to understand business transactions, internal control characteristics, managerial techniques and the interdependency of financial reports. Financial topics may cover equities, liabilities, investments and business functions.

Managerial accountancy topics may cover job orders, process costing, external reporting and cost-volume-profit analysis. Other accountancy classes may cover global topics, such as the current status of international financial reporting standards and anti-corruption regulations. These classes teach students about the strong influence of politics and culture on accountancy systems and statements. Students are taught strategies to manage foreign exchange, taxation and currency exposure. Classes on governmental and non-profit accountancy teach students how to properly evaluate transactions, prepare statements, write financial briefings and apply special rules.

Possible Required Classes

Some degree programs will require students to learn about state and federal income taxation for various business entities. These could include corporations, non-profits, estates and trusts. These classes teach students how to conduct tax planning, analyze compliance issues, execute tax research, define tax implications and communicate tax risks. Class assignments may involve tax ethics, research, planning, procedure or compliance. Classes on auditing processes and systems teach students how CPAs implement audits. Students learn how to design audit plans, apply procedures, evaluate findings, assess risks, identify non-compliances and submit recommendations.

Class assignments may cover statistical sampling, the generally accepted auditing standards and control and substantive tests. Introductory classes in statistics teach how to organize, summarize, interpret and present financial data using graphs and tables. Students learn how to apply the principles of inferential statistics and how to assess the validity of statistical conclusions. Class assignments may involve probability concepts, sampling methods, confidence intervals, probability distributions and sample size calculations.

Course Outcomes

All of the above mentioned classes teach students how to relate accountancy concepts to real agencies, companies and organizations. Students will understand basic laws and forms regulated by agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission. Students will know how to examine financial statements, operation reviews, professional standards and auditing procedures. All students will understand important ethical issues related to professional integrity and legal compliance.

After graduation, students will know how to clearly communicate with non-financial audiences to help them make appropriate business decisions. Graduates will know how to quickly and accurately research and prepare financial data by applying business management principles. Related to this, graduates will be familiar with current analytical tools and technology used to facilitate decision making. Business classes teach students how to employ critical thinking and problem solving tools to validate financial processes and systems.

In addition to these core undergraduate accounting courses, most degree programs require business classes like microeconomics, human resources, management theory, organizational leadership and information technology.
Graduates should consider earning the CPA certification through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification through the Institute of Management Accountants.