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Introduction to Financial Accounting

Part of the Business Foundations Specialization »

Master the technical skills needed to analyze financial statements and disclosures for use in financial analysis, and learn how accounting standards and managerial incentives affect the financial reporting process. By the end of this course, you’ll be able to read the three most common financial statements: the income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows. Then you can apply these skills to a real-world business challenge as part of the Wharton Business Foundations Specialization.

Sessions

Eligible for

Business Foundations Specialization
Course Certificate

Course at a Glance

About the Course

PART OF WHARTON’S BUSINESS FOUNDATIONS SPECIALIZATION

See Geoffrey Garrett, Dean of the Wharton School, talk about the Specialization here.

Accounting is the language of business. Learning this language is essential for anyone who must make decisions based on financial information.  In this course, students will develop the technical skills needed to analyze financial statements and disclosures and will learn how accounting standards and managerial incentives affect the financial reporting process. The course focuses on understanding how economic events such as operating activities, corporate investments, and financing transactions are recorded in the three main financial statements (i.e., the income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows).

Complete this course as part of Wharton's Business Foundations Specialization, and you'll have the opportunity to take the Capstone Project and prepare a strategic analysis and proposed solution to a real business challenge from Wharton-governed companies like Shazam and SnapDeal or to a challenge faced by your own company or organization. Wharton-trained staff will evaluate the top submissions, and leadership teams at Shazam and SnapDeal will review the highest scoring projects prepared for their companies. 

Watch this video to learn more about the Wharton Foundation Series on Coursera:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgS3AJCe6i8

For more information about courses offered online at Wharton, please go to online.wharton.upenn.edu

Course Syllabus

Key topics include:

  • Introduction and Balance Sheet
  • Accrual Accounting and the Income Statement
  • Cash flows
  • Ratio analysis  

Recommended Background

The course is recommended for students with little or no prior background in financial accounting who want to improve their financial literacy.  There are no academic prerequisites for the course.  Although we will work with numbers in the course, the only required math knowledge is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Suggested Readings

The course is designed to be self-contained.  Students wanting to expand their knowledge beyond what we can cover in this course or who want more practice problems or more in-depth explanations can consult any Introduction to Financial Accounting textbook geared toward MBA students.  Because the material in the course has been fairly unchanged for the past few years, any used prior editions of textbooks should be acceptable.   

Course Format

This course is presented as a combination of lecture videos, quizzes and discussion.

FAQ

How does this course help me with my own business?

At the end of this course, you will know how to read the three most common financial statements: the income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows, and also why you need them. Along with the other courses in Wharton’s Business Foundations Specialization, Introduction to Accounting will provide you with the tools you need to able to address your own business challenges. You can even choose to do your capstone project on your own business challenge, and get feedback on your plan from your classmates and Wharton-trained staff.

How does this course help me in my job?

Introduction to Accounting covers not only the key principles of accounting, but also the vocabulary used to describe them. After successfully completing this course, you will be able to read, understand, and create financial statements, which you can use at your current job, or to get a new one.

How does this course help me if I am thinking about going to business school?

This course was designed to give you a glimpse into what you can learn at business school. While it is based on courses offered at Wharton, it is shorter, and focuses on foundational skills that are a requirement for further study in business. Completing this course and the others in Wharton’s Business Foundations specialization will give you a solid grounding for pursuing further studies in graduate business education. 

Once I complete this course, how can I learn more?

This course is part of Wharton’s Business Foundations Specialization, where you can learn the foundational skills and language of business necessary to address business challenges and then apply them to a real-world challenge by creating a strategic plan. For more information on the specialization, please go to (link to Specialization page). For more online learning opportunities from Wharton, please go to online.wharton.upenn.edu.

I took one of these courses in an earlier version. Will I get credit for it in this Specialization?

If you earned a Verified Certificate in one of these courses when they were offered in 2013-2014, you may apply it towards completing this Specialization and participating in the final Capstone project. However, if you earned an unverified Statement of Accomplishment in any of the courses, you will need to retake the course or courses and earn a Verified Certificate to complete the Specialization.