Career Diploma

Program Outline

Our online Bookkeeping program consists of seven courses to help you gain the knowledge and skills relevant for a career in finance. Learn the basics of the general journal and ledger, assets and liabilities, revenue and expenses, and more — online, and at your own pace.

Here's how it works
You receive the first course as soon as your enrollment has been accepted, and other courses will follow as you complete your exams.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows® 10 or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, Microsoft® Office 2019 or Microsoft 365®, and an email account to complete this program.

Here is an overview of what you'll learn and the order in which you'll access your lessons:

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal
The program goal for Penn Foster's Bookkeeping Career Diploma program is to prepare graduates for an entry-level career as a Bookkeeper via several distance learning courses.

Program Outcomes
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to...

  • Explain financial statements, with attention to detail, from accounting records for organizations
  • List employment opportunities in many industries, including firms that provide accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll services; federal, state, and local governments; and schools
  • Demonstrate basic math and computer skills, including knowledge of spreadsheets
  • Describe how to become certified in areas of bookkeeping by being able to carry out all bookkeeping tasks, including overseeing payroll and balancing accounts, according to accepted accounting procedures
  • Apply proper procedures for controlling an organization’s financial documentation and guard against misappropriation of its funds
  • Describe how to use accounting software to record, store, and analyze information
  • Apply proper procedures for receiving and recording cash, checks, and vouchers in compliance with federal, state, and company policies, procedures, and regulations
  • Create financial reports using QuickBooks online to complete bookkeeping tasks, ensure accuracy in receiving and recording payments, handle banking transactions, and monitor business accounts



Starting Your Program
Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

The Accounting Equation
This lesson will allow you to take the first step toward becoming a bookkeeper by learning the basic accounting equation.


  • Identify the initial steps in the accounting equation.
  • Explain the purpose and components of a balance sheet.
  • Explain and apply the accounting equation.
  • Prepare a balance sheet.
  • Define the terms assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity, and explain how they apply to accounting.

Additional Course Materials:
Supplement: A Glossary of Accounting Terms

The Books of Accounting
This lesson will provide you with the information you need to work with balance sheets, the general journal, and the general ledger.


  • Explain the journal’s function in accounting.
  • Identify the components of the journal.
  • Record the opening entry in a journal.
  • Identify the components of a ledger.
  • Explain and use the steps for posting an entry.
  • Post items in the ledger from the journal.

Assets, Liabilities, and Owner's Equity
In this lesson, you’ll focus on the balance sheet classifications of assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity. You’ll learn how to use the double-entry bookkeeping system and the proper way to debit and credit accounts.


  • Prepare a chart of accounts.
  • Identify asset, liability, and owner’s equity accounts.
  • Analyze and prepare journal entries.
  • Post entries from the journal to the general ledger.

Additional Course Materials:
Workbook One
Learning Aids:

  • Account Analyzer
  • How to Use Your Account Analyzer

Revenue, Expenses, and Trial Balance
This lesson examines the activities that affect owner’s equity accounts and how such accounts react.


  • Debit and credit revenue accounts and expense accounts based on their relation to the owner’s equity section of the accounting equation.
  • Analyze, organize, and post transactions by determining what accounts are involved, classifying them into asset, liability, revenue, or expense accounts, and then determining how the transactions affect the accounts used.
  • Explain the purpose of a trial balance and prepare a trial balance.

Financial Reports
This lesson focuses on the income statement, balance sheet, and activities that take place at the end of an accounting year.


  • Prepare a worksheet.
  • Prepare an income statement.
  • Prepare a closing balance sheet and compare it with an opening balance sheet to determine the period’s changes.
  • Distinguish between temporary and permanent accounts and explain the roles they play in the accounting cycle.
  • Close the accounting records to summarize the activities of the period.

Additional Course Materials:
Workbooks Two and Three

Accounting for Cash and Payroll Accounting
This lesson details the importance of cash management and how to carefully document cash transactions. You’ll also learn about payroll accounting, different types of deposits, proper check writing, and how to reconcile a bank statement with the checking account.


  • Prepare and balance cash receipts journals and cash disbursements journals.
  • Open a business checking account.
  • Deposit to and withdraw from the business checking account.
  • Reconcile all cash and checking account activities.
  • Compute and prepare employer-withheld payroll taxes.

Accounting Systems
This lesson will enhance your knowledge of accounting systems. You’ll learn about accrual accounting and how it differs from accounting for cash. You’ll also discover the critical role that an accurate inventory system plays in a business’s success or failure and the two major systems used with inventory.


  • Calculate accrued interest and record adjustments for interest revenue.
  • Apply and compare the three methods for determining the value of the merchandise in inventory.
  • Enter transactions in the cash receipts journal, and post entries to the general ledger.
  • Discuss accrual accounting.
  • Define inventory accounting, and discuss the two major inventory systems.
  • Determine the cost of merchandise percentage, estimated cost of ending inventory, total monthly sales, estimated gross profit, cost of sales, and estimated end-of-month inventory balance.

Wholesale Accounting
This lesson will allow you to apply what you know about ledgers and accounts to the wholesale industry. You'll discover some new items that are more strictly related to the wholesale industry — like cash discounts, trade discounts, and sales allowances. You'll also take a look at promissory notes.


  • Compute the balance on sales invoices.
  • Enter purchase invoice transactions in the purchase invoice register and the accounts payable ledger.
  • Compute the interest on notes payable.
  • Enter sales invoice transactions in the sales register and the accounts receivable ledger.
  • Compute the balance on purchase invoices.

Additional Course Materials:
Workbooks Four, Five and Six
Supplement: How to Read an Income Statement and a Balance Sheet

Assets and End-of-the-Month Activities
This lesson will provide a more in-depth look at a company’s assets. You’ll discover the accounting activities that occur at the end of the month, and you’ll learn the necessary procedures that bookkeepers and accountants carry out at the end of the fiscal year.


  • Manage all assets in the accounting process through valuation, amortization, depreciation, asset retirement, and adjusting book value.
  • Calculate end-of-the-month adjustments and enter them in the ledgers.
  • Complete end-of-the-month accounting procedures such as balance the journals, post the amounts to the ledgers, and balance the ledgers.
  • Prepare end-of-the-month accounting reports such as the worksheet, the income statement, the balance sheet, and schedules.
  • Prepare a year-end worksheet and determine the necessary adjustments.
  • Prepare a year-end income statement, balance sheet, and a post-closing trial balance.

Microsoft® Excel®
This lesson focuses on the most widely used spreadsheet program, Microsoft® Excel.® You’ll learn how to perform numerical calculations, create charts, organize lists, access data, create graphics and diagrams, and automate tasks in Excel.®


  • Use the basic elements of Excel.®
  • Create and use simple and complex formulas and functions.
  • Incorporate useful charts and graphs.
  • Add, delete, sort, and layout table data.
  • Graded Project: Microsoft® Excel®

Introduction to QuickBooks
This lesson introduces you to the QuickBooks Online Plus (“QBO”) cloud-based financial system for freelancers, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. You’ll begin by learning the basic QBO navigation and settings. Next, you'll learn how to customize the QBO Chart of Accounts, which helps users track information for tax return preparation. The lesson concludes with explanations on how, when, and why you’ll enter transactions into QBO.


  • Identify basic QBO navigation and settings
  • Describe how to customize the QBO Chart of Accounts
  • Explain how to enter transactions into QBO

QuickBooks for Banking and Business Transactions
This lesson focuses on QBO applications for banking and business transactions. The first section explains how QuickBooks Online can be used to track and manage banking activities, particularly the transactions charged to checking and credit card accounts. Next, you’ll learn about Customer and Sales transactions in QBO, including how the platform manages the various transactions your company has with its customers. Finally, the lesson will go over Vendors and Expenses in QBO with a particular product on service-based expenses, such as consulting or other professional services.


  • Describe how to track cash flows using QBO banking features
  • Explain how to record customer transactions
  • Explain how to record vendor transactions

QuickBooks for Inventory and Payroll
In this lesson, you’ll learn about important tools and functions on QuickBooks Online related to maintaining your company’s Inventory and Payroll. You’ll begin by learning about QBO’s Vendor and Customer Transactions, as well as the Products and Services List you’ll use to main inventory information and record sales and purchases. Next, you’ll move onto using QBO for Employee and Payroll services, which goes over the services that QuickBooks offers for timekeeping, employee payroll, and payroll tax. The final chapter for this lesson discusses the purpose and need for adjustments during the accounting period.


  • Summarize how to record the purchase and sale of product inventory
  • Describe how to record employee and payroll transactions
  • Identify the purpose and need for adjustments during the accounting period

QuickBooks Financial Reporting Project
In this lesson, you’ll learn about important tools and functions on QuickBooks Online related to forms and processes frequently used in financial reporting. At the end of this lesson, you'll use all the skills you've learned throughout this course to complete a graded project.


  • Explain the different uses of various QBO reports
  • Show a proficiency in QBO accounting functions

Additional Course Materials:
Textbook: Computer Accounting with QuickBooks Online

Bookkeeping Project
This project will allow you to put the knowledge and skills you’ve gained throughout the program to practical use. In this project, you’ll maintain the accounting records and prepare financial statements for a sole proprietorship. Although the basic procedures will remain the same, you may be required to adapt the skills you’ve obtained to suit the specific needs of your employer’s specialized business. The project includes ledgers, business papers and checks, journals, and the narrative of transactions. The project must be completed manually.

Additional Course Materials:

  • General Ledger
  • Subsidiary Ledgers
  • Journals
  • Documents and Forms


Online Library and Librarian
Students in Penn Foster College have access to an online library for use during their studies. Students can use this library to do the required research in the courses they complete or can use it for general reference and links to valuable resources. The library contains helpful research assistance, articles, databases, books, and Web links. A librarian is available to answer questions on general research-related topics via email and to assist students in research activities during their studies with Penn Foster College International.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.

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Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.