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Practical Approach to Accounting is a Course

Practical Approach to Accounting


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Certificate in Practical Approach to Accounting

After completion of this Certificate, students will have a solid grasp of accounting basics and corporate financial reporting.

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About the Certificate

Accounting, known as the “language of business,” is one of the most critical functions of any enterprise; its activities can determine the health and efficiency of a business, and increase its profitability. This course introduces students to a broad range of practical accounting concepts such as accounting cycle, transactional analysis, financial statements, ratio analysis and accounting practices for merchandising versus plant, property and equity business. Students will learn to read and understand a balance sheet and its three components (assets, liabilities and stockholder’s equity), income statement with its inputs of revenues, expenses, gains, and losses as well as a statement of cash flow that accounts for cash generated and used through a company’s investments, operations and financing.

After completion of this Certificate, students will have a solid grasp of accounting basics and corporate financial reporting.

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Unit 1 Unit 2 Unit 3

Unit 1: The Accounting Cycle and Financial Statements

In Unit One students are introduced to the definition and role of accounting and the following accounting tracts: cost accounting, taxation and financial accounting. Emphasis is placed on the process of internal record keeping and mechanisms used to prepare financial statements for different types of business entities.

Upon completion, students will be able to:

  • Describe the role of accounting and different accounting tracks.
  • Identify the end users of accounting information and the type of information needed.
  • Compare and contrast the types of financial statements that must be presented by different types of legal business entities lenses.


Unit 2: Merchandizing Business and Plant, Property and Equity Accounting

In Unit Two students learn accounting strategies as applied to the business of merchandise. Issues related to managing and documenting accounts receivable and inventory are explored. Building upon this, accounting issues related to the cost and depreciation of property, plants and equipment (PP&E) are explained. Finally, accounting issues surrounding, and the impact of, an organization’s financial obligations, its liabilities, are examined. 

Upon completion, students will be able to:

  • Navigate within the accounting cycle and interpret financial statements.
  • Apply the traits of Accounts Receivable when analyzing financial statements.
  • Select which accounting system, perpetual or periodic, better serves the unique needs of a specific enterprise.
  • Manage and document the depreciation of property, plants and equipment (PP&E).
  • Distinguish between and explain the impact of tangible and intangible assets.
  • Identify and apply accounting issues specifically related to liabilities.

Unit 3: Stockholders Equity and Cash Flow

In Unit Three students examine the structure and capitalization of publicly traded organizations and the types of equity securities issued by corporations. Next, students investigate how a company accounts for dividends, stock split and treasury stock in addition to accounting for the sources and uses of cash flow. Students also learn tools including ratio analysis and trend analysis for use in evaluating a company’s financial strength and operating performance.

Upon completion, students will be able to:

  • Evaluate an organization’s cash flow provided financial statements.
  • Apply the Model of Financial Statement Analysis.
  • Calculate the following from a financial statement:
    • Assets and Liabilities.
    • Net Credit Sales / Average net Receivables.
    • Cost of Goods Sold / Average Inventory.
    • Average Days per year / Average Inventory.

Who should enroll:  This Certificate is ideal for business professionals from non-accounting backgrounds who want to more involved with, or better understand, accounting within their area of expertise. These include:  

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Operations executives
  • Healthcare personnel
  • Marketing managers
  • Not-for-profit executives.



Kendall Simmonds is a master teacher who has spent more than 30 years perfecting his craft and teaching accounting at USC. He has served as Director of the Marshall Undergraduate Honors Program and is currently the Director of the Leventhal School Summer Leadership Program. A member of numerous financial associations including the National Association of Financial Planners and National Association of Accountants, Professor Simmonds’ primary teaching interests are in financial and managerial accounting.

University of Southern California

Marshall School of Business

*2nd Private University in US | 10th Worldwide*

Based in the bustling center of glamorous Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) has been ranked among the Top 10 Dream Colleges in America and is the oldest private research institution in the state, serving 43,000 students—a quarter from around the globe. The university is also Los Angeles’ largest private-sector employer and a $5 billion annual contributor to the region’s economy.

Ranked among the top 50 universities in the world by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities and 23rd in America by the 2016 U.S. News & World Report, USC is one of the globe’s most impactful institutions, shaping the future of multiple industries. A hub for innovation, pioneering research and extraordinary talent, USC counts among its faculty and alumni Nobel Laureates, Rhodes Scholars, MacArthur Fellows, Fulbright Fellows, and winners of the Turing Award, Academy Awards and Emmy Awards as well as recipients of National Medals of Arts, Humanities, Science and Technology and Innovation. Over the years, USC’s student athletes have also won 287 Olympic medals, more than any other university in America, and uniquely, its marching band has earned two platinum records.Through its world-class education, groundbreaking research, and 375,000 global alumni from film moguls such as Clint Eastwood and George Lucas to the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, USC is contributing to international excellence and investing in the most powerful human bedrock – its students and scholars – to continue shaping the world of tomorrow.



Course Rules

Question Policy
How is the Short Course Certificate designed? Each Certificate Course is specialized content from a top university and contains three Units. Each Unit has an end of Unit quiz which must be passed prior to moving forward. At the end of all three Units, you must pass a Certificate final exam in order to earn the Certificate.
How is the Certificate Unit graded? The lessons are pass/fail in nature. The Unit quizzes and final exam must be passed with 80% proficiency in order to complete and receive the Certificate.
How many times can I take an end of Unit quiz in the Certificate? The Unit quiz may be taken an unlimited number of times.
How many times can I take the end of Certificate exam? Students have two attempts to pass the end of Certificate final exam. Students who do not achieve the required minimum score of 80% by the second attempt will not pass the course and will not receive a Short Course Certificate.
How long do I have to complete the Short Course Certificate Unit? You will have two weeks following the last in-class session to complete the final exam. Qualification for receipt of certification requires in-class attendance for at least seven of the eight class sessions.
What if I signed up for the wrong Certificate? (What is the refund policy?) Your satisfaction is our goal. If for any reason you are not satisfied, you will have 3 days from purchase by which to request a refund for the International honors certificate. However, please note that if you have accessed more than one lesson/module/topic's worth of content, no refund will be given. For assistance, please email
What if I have a technical or policy question? Please email
What are the Small Business Center policies? There will be eight (8) in class sessions taught by the Alamance Community College professor. Each of these in class sessions will have the corresponding USC Marshall video made available for each student. In addition to the requirements stated above, all students must attend at least seven (7) of the eight (8) in class sessions to receive a class certificate of completion.