Accounting is the language of business. Companies communicate their performance to outsiders and evaluate the performance of their employees using information generated by the accounting system. Learning the language of accounting is essential for anyone that must make decisions based on financial information.
The course is designed to provide an understanding of financial accounting fundamentals for prospective users of corporate financial information, such as investors, creditors, employees, and other stakeholders (e.g., suppliers, customers). 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). Students will develop the technical skills needed to analyze financial statements and disclosures for use in financial analysis. Students will also learn how accounting standards and managerial incentives affect the financial reporting process.
The course is broken up into six weekly modules:
Accounts Receivable and inventory
Long-lived assets and marketable securities
Liabilities and long-term debt
How to read an Annual Report
The course is intended as a follow-up to Introduction to Financial Accounting. Students should complete that course before beginning this one.
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 that is 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.
The course will combine video of the instructor with Powerpoint slides to the deliver the material. The lectures will be “interactive” in that the instructor will periodically ask students to pause the presentation and guess an answer before proceeding. The videos will also cover “case studies” of real companies to illustrate the course concepts. The course will provide eight short homework assignments and two exams.
What is the difference between this course and the “Introduction to Financial Accounting” course that you also offer?
I originally designed a 10-week course for Coursera. One big issue with that course structure is that it was hard for many students to commit to a 10 week block of time because of work or personal commitments. So, I decided to split the course into two more manageable chunks. The Introduction to Financial Accounting course is four weeks of “essentials” that fits nicely into the Wharton Business Foundations Specialization. This course is a six-week trip around the balance sheet in which we cover each area in more detail to further build your financial literacy. You can take this course immediately after finishing the first course, or you can take a break and come back during another offering when you can commit to another six weeks. Either way, I highly recommend you take both courses if you want a thorough introduction to financial accounting.
What resources will I need for this class?
Everything you need will be provided via the Coursera platform.
Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
Contingent on academic performance, you will get a Statement of Accomplishment stating that you completed this course. However, no certificate will be given from Wharton / Penn and successful completion of this course does not make you a Wharton / Penn alumnus.
What is the coolest thing I’ll learn if I take this class?
You will not only better understand what people in the business media are talking about, you will also be able to notice when they don’t know what they are talking about!