Online Accounting Degree or Certificate: Which to Choose?

Linfield College Adult Degree Program offers both a bachelor’s degree and a post baccalaureate certificate in accounting. We frequently hear from prospective students wondering what the major differences between these programs are so they can decide which is right for them.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two programs:


Prerequisites for each program are different.  In order to enter the accounting certificate, you must have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college (in any major), and completed the equivalent of Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting. Linfield College offers these courses during the fall and spring semesters. You may also transfer the credits to Linfield from Financial and Managerial Accounting courses.

Linfield’s accounting degree, on the other hand, is a full bachelor’s degree. Requirements include general education courses (the Linfield Curriculum) and courses in the accounting major. If you have completed credits from accredited community colleges and four-year colleges and universities, they may transfer to Linfield to satisfy some of the degree requirements.

Number of Courses

The Linfield post bacc accounting certificate requires a student to take six courses in addition to the prerequisites. These courses are:

  • BUSN 361 Intermediate Accounting I
  • BUSN 362 Intermediate Accounting II
  • BUSN 461 Cost Accounting
  • BUSN 466 Advanced Accounting
  • BUSN 468 Federal Income Tax
  • BUSN 469 Auditing

The Accounting Degree Program, on the other hand, looks much like a regular bachelor’s degree. Courses will include all of the courses in the accounting major, the general Linfield Curriculum education requirements and the math courses of statistics and calculus. Linfield College waives the general education requirements for those with a first bachelor’s degree who decide to earn a second bachelor’s degree in a different field from the first.


The outcome of completing an accounting degree or certificate is similar. Both the accounting certificate and bachelor’s degree program help prepare you sit for the CPA exam. Both programs advance your career in the field of accounting, whether you’re new to the industry or mid-career. Higher accounting education will be a valuable addition to your resume and can be a great foot in the door if you are job hunting.


For someone who currently holds a bachelor’s degree, choosing to earn a post baccalaureate accounting certificate may be the preferred route. This achievement of knowledge is a recognized asset to one’s resume for career advancement. That was the case for Jeremy Gingerich, who completed an accounting certificate online after working in sales for Ford.

Those students who wish to dive more deeply into the areas of study in management, finance and accounting, may prefer earning the bachelor’s degree in accounting. If this is your first bachelor’s degree, the Linfield Curriculum provides the wonderful opportunity to study areas spanning the arts and humanities, natural sciences and social-behavioral sciences.

A study by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that the projected growth rate for accounting careers is estimated to increase more than 22 percent before 2014, making this an attractive field of study. The decision on which accounting program to choose is different for each individual. Make the decision that works best for you based on your past education, experience and future goals.