19 Free Continuing Education Courses for Accountants in 2023

Like many working professionals, accountants need additional knowledge and training through continuing professional education or online CPE courses.

It is every professional’s desire to work for the greatest companies in their industry, such as Ernst & Young and Deloitte accounting firms–and tapping into platforms like the Corporate Finance Institute and a legitimate accountant knowledge center free course can make a difference!

Featured Programs

The changing principles and standards make continuing professional education or free CPE programs in self-study CPE format a must for accountants!

The Lowdown: 

Accountants have a wealth of free options when it comes to online CPE courses. They are mostly designed to help professionals work toward their license renewal. These free CPE courses, which are also self study courses for CPE credits set on specific dates, tackle new trends, principles, and tools for accounting professionals, allowing learners to expand their learning and boost their credentials at their own pace. 

Free Continuing Professional Education Courses for Accountants

Accounting Analytics

Penn State University

University of Pennsylvania via Coursera

In this Accounting Analytics continuing professional education course, attendees learn to deploy data and deliver insight, exploring many areas where accounting data could be useful. This free CPE course includes consumer behavior predictions, risk management, optimization, corporate strategy, and corporate finance fundamentals.

Attendees of these self-study CPE individual courses make better business decisions with the help of accounting analytics, allowing you to apply your newly acquired knowledge when creating a strategy using financial modeling and available data. 

Best Features: 

  • Flexible deadlines
  • Self-paced learning 
  • 100% available online 
  • Shareable certificate 
  • Takes about 10 hours to complete 
  • Comprehensive syllabus 

Economics of Money and Banking

Columbia University

Columbia University via Coursera

The modern monetary system’s institutions have undergone a remarkable evolution in the past decades. After the financial crisis in 2008, there were calls for a similar evolution in the analytical theories used in understanding that system.

As one of the popular online courses from the Institute of Economic Thinking at Columbia University, this free class for CPE credits forges new economic thinking by reviving and updating some forgotten traditions in monetary thought. 

Best Features: 

  • Flexible coursework schedule and deadlines 
  • Shareable certificate upon course completion 
  • Fully available online
  • It takes approximately 33 hours to complete 
  • Comprehensive syllabus and exam 

Accounting for Decision Making

University of Michigan

University of Michigan via Coursera

This online course for CPE credits gives an in-depth look into key financial statements – balance sheets and income statements. You will gain a nuanced understanding of the individual components of doing business, such as making a sale or building inventory.

Similar to a series of free webinars, this free CPE credits course helps you build a thorough understanding of accounting by considering a company’s common actions.

Best Features: 

  • Flexible coursework schedule 
  • Shareable certificate and CPE credit upon completion 
  • Fully available online
  • Takes approximately 29 hours to complete 

Professional Responsibility and Ethics for Accountants

University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign - Logo

University of Illinois via Coursera

Most of the tasks performed by accountants, such as auditing, accounting, tax management and consulting, and financial management, require them to act in the public interest.

One of the fundamental accounting online courses, this free class is your guide in carrying out your obligation and acting in the public interest while upholding behavioral ethics and meeting your professional responsibilities to employers and clients.

This free CPE course of free credits is part of the 100% online Master of Science in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Best Features: 

  • Flexible coursework and schedule 
  • Allows you to earn a certificate upon CPE credit completion 
  • Free and fully available online and on-demand
  • It requires around 20 hours to be completed 

Excel for Accountants: Mapping Table



Microsoft Excel is a valuable tool for many accountants. Award-winning instructor Jeff Leaning demonstrates in these CPE courses how this tool can be used to create mapping tables that will automate reporting tasks.

In these self-study courses, he discusses the advantages of storing source data in tables, using the SUMIFS function to conditionally sum transactions, and translating labels with a mapping table. 

Best Features: 

  • Free and available 100% online 
  • Flexible learning pace 
  • Includes practice Excel files with corresponding answers 

Financial Accounting

Babson College

Babson College via edX

Brushing up on your financial accounting acumen is made possible with this free CPE credits course from Babson College via edX.

These CPE courses cover the construction of financial statements and the types of information captured in each statement. It presents a better understanding of cases and profits, how they differ, and how to use that information to manage growth effectively.

Best Features: 

  • Estimated to take four weeks to complete (4 to 6 hours per week) 
  • Progress at your own pace and earn CPE credits
  • Free and 100% online 

Accounting for Inventory

Saylor Academy

Saylor Academy via Alison.com

Accounting for purchases and the integration of merchandise is integral in every business. The Accounting for Inventory free CPE credits course tackles the inventory valuation concepts of FIFO (first in, first out) and the weighted average for overall cost determination.

The inventory valuation you choose is an important decision for merchandising business entities before purchasing merchandise. 

Best Features: 

  • It takes 1.5 to 3 hours
  • Flexible schedule 
  • Comprehensive and clear-cut module 

Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination

West Virginia University

West Virginia University via Coursera

Thousands of businesses all over the world deal with fraud. In the Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination CPE courses, you will learn the circumstances behind these crimes.

Headed by three experienced instructors, Dr. Richard Riley, Ph.D., John Gill, J.D., CFE, and Dr. Richard Dull, Ph.D., this free CPE credits course teaches fraud detection, fraud investigation, internal control, and forensic accounting. 

Best Features: 

  • 100% available online and on demand
  • Shareable certificate and CPE credit upon completion 
  • Flexible coursework schedule 
  • It takes approximately 7 hours to complete 

Structure: Building the Frame for Business Growth

Rice University

Rice University via Coursera

Business acumen is a good quality that most accountants possess. If you want to improve your business savviness and expand your knowledge base, you may consider taking the Structure: Building the Frame for Business Growth course. This free online course that offers CPE credits gives you rich insights into the business framework that succeeds. 

The course comprises three videos, one reading, and a quiz. 

Best Features:

  • Flexible deadlines that can fit around your schedule 
  • Shareable certificate after completing the course 
  • Available 100% online 
  • It requires approximately 9 hours to complete

Startup Valuation Methods

Duke University

Duke University via Coursera

Accountants who want to learn something new about the challenges and pitfalls of financing new enterprises may consider the Startup Valuation Methods course offered by Duke University via Coursera. This free CPE credits class looks into the insights of different types of investors when it comes to an investment opportunity.

This Accounting CE course provides the basic tools for evaluating companies and how to use them, including using discounted cash flow analysis in Excel. You will also understand how to apply this model to an entrepreneurial venture.

Best Features: 

  • Flexible deadlines and schedules 
  • Earn a certificate and CPE credit upon completion 
  • Fully available online and on-demand
  • It takes approximately 6 hours to complete 

Cloud Security Basics

University of Minnesota

University of Minnesota via Coursera

With the advent of online technologies and applications, accounting must evolve with the changes and innovations to remain competitive.

Cybersecurity for the cloud is an exciting free CPE credits course for accountants who want to learn and apply classic techniques to today’s cloud security problems. 

The topics included in the syllabus include the following: 

  • Introduction to Internet Server Security 
  • A Secure Network for a Private Cloud 
  • Cryptography for Remote Access and Support 
  • Cloud Security 

Accounting System Structure and Information Management

New York Institute of Finance

New York Institute of Finance via edX

Starting with an introduction to financial accounting, this course allows you to understand how accounting information helps make decisions. You will be expected to look at the balance sheet components to analyze the effect of transactions on the balance sheet equation.

The course will help you learn the different types of ownership and how they compare with sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. 

Best Features: 

  • Takes four weeks to complete (1-2 hours per week) 
  • Self-paced and flexible learning 
  • Fully available online for free and with an option to upgrade
  • Ideal for beginners and working professionals who need a refresher 

Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

University of California – Berkeley

University of California Berkeley via edX

This free continuing professional education course offered through edX by the University of California Berkeley is perfect for those who want to learn the fundamentals of Blockchain and the cryptocurrency space. Free courses like this introduce smart contracts and the Ethereum platform. 

Best Features: 

  • The CPE credit course can only take six weeks to complete, with an estimated 3 to 5 hours needed per week. 
  • It is self-paced to deal with the coursework at your speed. 
  • This a timely topic in a world governed by ever-changing technologies 

Advanced Financial Reporting

University of California – Berkeley

University of California Berkeley via Coursera

If you want to learn more about preparing consolidated financial statements and all the necessary consolidation adjustments that go along with it, this free CPE credits course from the University of Illinois is a good choice. It is part of the university’s online Master of Science in Accountancy.

This free CPE course results in free CPE credits and teaches accounting for business combinations and consolidated financial statement preparation.

Best Features: 

  • Flexible schedule and deadlines 
  • Earn a certificate and CPE credit upon completion 
  • Available 100% online 
  • Takes approximately 25 hours to complete 
  • Available subtitles for other languages, such as French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish

Supply Chain Excellence

Rutgers University Newark

Rutgers University via Coursera

An effective and efficient supply chain requires good management by supply chain leaders of products, information, and corporate finance fundamentals. This certificate program, offered by Rutgers University through Coursera, is a free online course that discusses the three distinct flows integral to creating excellent supply chains in companies.

Best Features: 

  • Shareable certificate 
  • Provides rated feedback from the instructor and live sessions
  • Available 100% online and on-demand
  • Self-paced and flexible schedule 
  • It requires approximately 13 hours to complete
  • Available subtitles in other languages, including Italian, Vietnamese, and German, among others 

Predictive Modeling and Analytics

University of Colorado Boulder

University of Colorado Boulder via Coursera

Data Analytics is important to accountants as it helps them uncover valuable insights into business and corporate finance. It allows them to formulate more efficient processes while managing risks. If you want to dig deeper into data analytics and apply it to your current work, these self-study courses are for you.

This course offering free CPE credits introduces students to some of the most widely used, up-to-date predictive financial modeling techniques and their core principles.

Best Features: 

  • 100% online format
  • Shareable certificate and CPE credit upon completion 
  • Takes around 11 hours to complete
  • Part of the Advanced Business Analytics Specialization 
  • Comprehensive and in-depth syllabus

Financial Markets


Yale University via Coursera

The market is ever-evolving. As an accountant, you will want to keep up to date with the latest trends and ideas surrounding financial markets through these free courses. Yale University’s Financial Markets offered through Coursera could be a good fit. 

This free CPE course involves a lot of financial analysis and tackles the ideas, methods, and institutions that allow society to manage enterprise risks.

Best Features: 

  • Flexible deadlines and self-paced coursework 
  • Requires about 33 hours to complete 
  • Earn a certificate and CPE credit once completed 
  • Fully available online and on-demand
  • Subtitles available in French, Arabic, Korean, and Italian, among others 

Accounting for the Charity Sector

Alpha Academy

Alpha Academy via Alison

If you want to gain specialization, you might consider the Accounting for the Charity Sector course from Alpha Academy offered through Alison.

This course of free CPE credits lets you explore account and corporate finance management for charities and not-for-profits. As a growing economy segment, the charity sector offers exciting career opportunities for accounting professionals.

Best Features: 

  • 100% online and free courses
  • Flexible learning 
  • Option to purchase a certificate and get CPE credit
  • The course is presented in simple and clear-cut modules 

Accounting Process

University of California, Irvine

University of California Irvine

The Accounting Process free courses offered by the University of California in Irvine introduce you to the field of financial accounting, covering the foundational activities, tools, and users.

Other topics tackled in such free CPE courses include financial statements, ethical considerations, recording business transactions, and applying credit/debit rules. 

Best Features:

  • Flexible, self-paced, scheduled 
  • Shareable certificate
  • Fully available online
  • Takes approximately 9 hours to earn free CPE credits

Understanding the Importance of Free Continuing Professional Education or Free CPE Courses for Accountants

CPA Licensure Requires Free CPE

For CPAs, completing online courses with free CPE credits is required in most states. Most of the time, the states detail the number of CPE hours or CPE requirements you need to complete for CPE courses every year.

Free CPE Courses Can Demonstrate Competence

Exhibiting your competence in the field is important. As an individual professional, meeting CPE requirements and gaining free CPE credits can help you brush up on and expand your knowledge base on corporate finance, taxes, and other accounting topics.

Free CPE Courses Can Boost Earning Potential

Many accountants and CPAs seek further education through free courses to allow them opportunities for career advancement and better compensation.

Free CPE Credits Contribute to Career Growth

Want to work for global leaders in accounting like Ernst & Young? Find online courses that offer CPE credits. Earning a CPE credit can help boost your credentials.

Continuing Professional Education Can Refresh Dormant Skills

Being on the same job for too long can stagnate your otherwise evolving knowledge. With a specific number of free CPE credits from the Corporate Finance Institute and similar platforms, you give your dormant skills a revamp that can help you stay ahead of the curve.

Continuing Professional Education Can Help with Career Transitions

When switching to another field or industry smoothly with your solid credentials, find available options for continuing professional education courses and meet the CPE requirements to earn free CPE credits.

Free Continuing Education Courses for Accountants - fact

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is continuing professional education or free CPE courses important for accountants?

Just like other professionals, CPE units for accountants matter!

As the world embraces technology, many accounting principles have also evolved. CPE plays a vital role in this. Most states require CPAs to earn free CPE credits for their license renewal and keep their occupational competence. It is even possible to meet CPE requirements when you earn free CPE credits.

Did you know that the passing of the Affordable Care Act called for the hiring of many CPAs? These professionals now play a major role in helping companies comply with the healthcare mandate. Attending classes that offer CPE credits takes you a step closer to this goal.

Are there requirements for continuing professional education for accountants? What are they? 

Keeping the required license as an accountant means meeting the associated CPE requirements. Taking continuing professional education or CPE units, therefore, is a must.

While the requirements vary by state, the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy has published overarching CPE program standards. They often guarantee that providers of the self-study courses, such as schools, MOOCs, and platforms like the Corporate Finance Institute, are accredited and meet the standards.

The NASBA also has the National Registry of CPE Sponsors program, which recognizes CPE sponsors to the CPE programs. The NASBA site allows for the confirmation of the CPE sponsor’s status or registered sponsors.

How many CPE credits are needed, you ask? The individual state boards of accountancy have the final authority on the hours you need to render for free CPE units.

Key Takeaways

Accountants can benefit a lot from earning free CPE credits from free CPE courses (or even paid courses). It is best to find more than two primary options for CPE courses and get these benefits:

  • Maintain your license as a Certified Public Accountant
  • Boost your chances of career growth thru promotion and better compensation
  • Ensure job stability and security 
  • Increase your marketability
  • Equip you with new ones
  • Present free networking opportunities
  • Forge a better career path 

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