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Program Overview

CPA Preparation

Online CPA Exam Preparation Program

Students who wish to sit for the CPA exam in Illinois and other states can meet their accounting course requirements by completing the CPA Preparation certificate. This program consists of 12 units (equivalent to 30 semester hours). All courses are taught by CPAs who have extensive teaching and professional experience. For information on becoming an accountant and meeting CPA requirements, please see information for the Illinois CPA examination or for CPA exams in other states.

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About the Online CPA Exam Preparation Program

CPA Preparation Goals and Courses

Transfer Credit for CPA Preparation

Students in the CPA Preparation program may transfer up to three comparable credit courses that have been completed at other schools prior to admission to SPS. The courses must have been completed at a regionally accredited institution and must have carried academic credit. The courses should be introductory in nature, such as Introduction to Financial Accounting, Introduction to Managerial Accounting, or Income Tax. Transferring courses should be considered only if the courses were completed recently and the student feels adequately prepared for advanced courses. SPS recommends that students admitted to the CPA Preparation program consult with their SPS academic adviser before transferring  previous courses.

Please note that SPS requires an official transcript showing the grade for the course in order to transfer the credit. If the course was not taken at the institution where the student earned an undergraduate degree, those transcripts should be sent to the SPS Registrar. If the course appears on a transcript submitted as part of the application for admission, no additional transcripts are needed. Courses previously applied toward a Northwestern University bachelor’s degree may not be transferred into the certificate program.

CPA Preparation Program Tuition

Post-baccalaureate students at Northwestern's School of Professional Studies pay per course. For more information about financial obligations and tuition, visit the Tuition page.

Admission for the CPA Preparation Program

In addition to completing an online application, you'll also need to submit a few supplemental materials. A list of requirements for admission including application deadlines and tips on how to apply can be found at the Admission page.

CPA Preparation Registration Information

Whether you're a first-time registrant or current and returning student, all students register using our online student registration and records systems. Important information about registering for courses at SPS, including registration timelines and adding or dropping courses in which you are already enrolled, can be found at the Registration Information page.

CPA Preparation Career Options

Read more on the CPA Preparation Career Options page.

Find out more abut the CPA Preparation Program

Program Courses:Course Detail
Intro to Financial Accounting <> ACCOUNT 201-CN

The content of this course is designed to provide students with a firm understanding of the financial accounting process, to include identifying, recording and communicating accounting information to external users. The course will discuss Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), and explain how their framework fosters the relevance and reliability of financial statements. Students can expect an introduction to the techniques of accounting and the accounting profession with an emphasis on organizing information for decision making and the information needs of creditors and equity holders. Topics include financial statements, transaction analysis, accrual accounting, cash management, inventories, receivables, long-term and intangible assets, liabilities, stockholders' equity, cash flow statements, and financial statement analysis.


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Intro to Financial Accounting <> ACCOUNT 201-DL

The content of the course is designed to provide students with a firm understanding of the financial accounting process, and to include identifying, recording and communicating accounting information to external users. The course will discuss Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and explain how their framework fosters the relevance and reliability of financial statements. Students can expect an introduction to the techniques of accounting and the accounting profession with an emphasis on organizing information for decision making and the information needs of creditors and equity holders. Topics include financial statements, transaction analysis, accrual accounting, cash management, inventories, receivables, long-term and intangible assets, liabilities, stockholders' equity, cash flow statements, and financial statement analysis.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


View ACCOUNT 201-DL Sections
Intro to Managerial Accounting <> ACCOUNT 202-DL

A continuation of the introduction to accounting, with emphasis on providing relevant and timely accounting information and analysis to managers for use in planning, decision making, and controlling strategic operational objectives. Topics include the classifications of costs and different ways of reporting and analyzing those costs; the operating budgeting process; capital budgeting; and job-order, standard, process, and activity-based costing systems. Prerequisite: ACCOUNT 201.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


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Income Tax I <> ACCOUNT 208-DL

Introduction to the field of taxation, with attention to individual income taxation. Gross income, capital gains, deductions, and alternate tax methods. IRS forms used. Prerequisite: ACCOUNT 202.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


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Intermediate Accounting I <> ACCOUNT 210-DL

Accounting theory and concepts; analysis of special problems that arise in applying these underlying concepts to financial accounting. Accounting information as a basis for decisions by management, stockholders, creditors, and other users of financial and accounting reports. Prerequisite: ACCOUNT 202.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


View ACCOUNT 210-DL Sections
Intermediate Accounting II <> ACCOUNT 211-DL

This course covers the accounting problems of a corporation's valuation, cost allocation, stockholder equity, and long-term debt; leases, pension plans, and income tax allocations; financial statement construction, effect of errors, cash and other funds, and issues relating to the analysis of financial statements; the present-value concept. Prerequisite: ACCOUNT 210.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


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Income Tax II <> ACCOUNT 308-DL

This course is a continuation in the field of taxation with particular attention to the field of corporate and business taxation at the Federal level. Corporate formation and capital structure, corporate income tax, other corporate levies, consolidated tax returns, partnerships, and S-corporations are among the topics covered. Some IRS forms will be used, but the emphasis will be upon a deeper understanding of federal tax law. Prerequisite: ACCOUNT 208 (Income Tax I).

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


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Managerial Cost Accounting <> ACCOUNT 310-DL

Managerial uses of cost data in planning, controlling, and evaluating organizational activities and in making business decisions. Topics include discussion of activity-based costing, standard costs, inventory costing, and review of cost allocation techniques. In addition, contemporary topics, including pricing decisions, balanced scorecard, and capital budgeting techniques will be discussed, along with ethical and behavioral issues addressing both manufacturing and service sectors. Prerequisite: ACCOUNT 202.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


View ACCOUNT 310-DL Sections
Auditing I <> ACCOUNT 350-DL

Auditing Principles and Procedures provides the foundational concepts of balance sheet audits, allowing students to exercise the role of an external auditor, identifying audit risks, determining appropriate audit techniques and evidencing, and executing audits of primary financial areas present at most companies. Students will be confronted with common ethical issues faced by auditors, issues of auditor independence, fraud risks, and audits of key accounting cycles such as cash, accounts receivable, inventories, accounts payable, debt and capital. By the end of this course, students will be proficient in recognizing audit risks at both, the client and financial statement line level, writing engagement letters, and communicating results to auditees. Students will join group discussions, complete online homework assignments, research and write papers on various topics, and complete online quizzes and examinations. Students are highly encouraged to share articles and their own experiences related to auditing and auditors as part of their assignments.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


View ACCOUNT 350-DL Sections
Auditing II <> ACCOUNT 360-DL

Auditing II builds on foundational audit concepts and applies them to real-life situations including the understanding and analysis of company financial statements. The course also introduces a number of internal control frameworks and standards, explores alternatives to the traditional financial statement audit, compares and contrasts the roles of the external and internal auditor, and considers whether auditors can be truly independent. By the end of this course, students will be proficient in analyzing financial statements, including understanding a company’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as whether a company presents a good investment opportunity. Students will also be able to design audit procedures to prevent or detect fraud and will have an understanding of the differences between IT controls and manual controls. Students will join group discussions, complete online homework assignments, research and write papers on various topics, participate in group projects and complete online quizzes and examinations. Students are highly encouraged to share articles and their own experiences related to auditing and auditors as part of their assignments.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


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Topics: International Accounting <> ACCOUNT 390-DL

This course covers accounting issues uniquely confronted by companies involved in international business. The primary focus of the course is to provide an overview of international accounting by drawing on real business problems, economies, and finance in order to understand what is contained in and how to develop and interpret financial reports. The course includes fundamental financial accounting concepts and methods across countries.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


There is no available section.
Topics: Research and Communication <> ACCOUNT 390-DL

CPAs are required to conduct research when performing tax, accounting, and auditing services. The successful accountant will not only be able to access and utilize online databases but also concisely convey their findings to clients and third parties using proper grammar and punctuation. This course introduces the type of research the professional will encounter in their practice and covers the available research databases and steps to conduct such research. Also covered are communication techniques, grammar, and punctuation.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition


View ACCOUNT 390-DL Sections
Topics: Forensic Accounting ACCOUNT 390-DL

This course is designed for students who wish to explore the forensic accounting profession. Since most students have been or will be affected by fraud on a personal and/or professional level, this course is also designed for students who simply wish to know more about forensic accounting so that they are in a much better position to recognize fraud and know how to respond. Students completing this course will have a basic understanding of forensic accounting opportunities and career possibilities in this field. Students will apply accounting, research, and investigative skills and become knowledgeable about areas of the law relating to fraud examination and litigation services. These skills, when combined with this knowledge, will enable students to collect, analyze, and evaluate evidential matter and to interpret and communicate their findings.

This course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.


View ACCOUNT 390-DL Sections
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