Depending on a student’s needs, there is a variety of stand-alone accounting courses available. These range from a management accounting course intended to help business managers understand and manage business processes to very detailed courses on debits and credits. A course on debits and credits explains the double-entry bookkeeping method and how to record transactions using debits and credits. An accounting course such as one in accounts receivable teaches students about recording transactions related to sales that result in customers owing a company money.
Accounting principles courses teach the basics of accounting, from recording the original transaction to balancing ledgers and generating basic financial reports or statements. This type of course is usually the first one required for students who seek an accounting degree. Bookkeeping is an accounting course that focuses in detail on recording transactions. Twenty or thirty years ago, most smaller businesses recorded transactions by hand on paper specially printed with columns and bound into ledgers. Now it is more common for even small businesses to use computer-based software, and the desktop-computer software is affordable.
One accounting course that is especially valuable for business managers is the cash flow statement course. Understanding the difference between income and cash flow is critical for business managers, as cash flow can strongly impact business operations.
College Accounting Course Types
College accounting courses are designed for several different types of students. Principles of Accounting I & II are often required for all students who wish to graduate with a degree in business fields, including marketing, finance, and business administration. Several years of classes in accounting are required for those who want to earn a degree in accounting. Graduate students who do not have an undergraduate business degree might also have to take one or more college-level accounting courses.
An accounting course at the college level differs from one taught at a technical or business college in several ways. College-level courses often include more information about the theory that underlies accounting principles and practices. College-level classes can also require more individual study and problem-solving. Also, classes in universities can be quite large, with more than 100 students. Individual instruction and help are more difficult to obtain when students are in this type of large class. Especially at large universities, frequently college-level classes in accounting use lectures taught by professors on video and have discussion periods led by graduate teaching assistants. These graduate students are working toward a master’s or doctorate and are paid a small stipend to help with their educational expenses.