The Best Electives for Accounting Students

accounting classes to take
Sebastian Joll
Written by Sebastian Joll

Choosing your electives while studying accounting is exciting. The minimum requirements for your accounting degree normally include financial accounting, management accounting, audit, tax, and accounting systems. In accounting, your electives give you a chance to broaden that knowledge and make yourself unique. There is a huge range of options for any accounting student, and so many of these great options are outside the accounting subject area. These units can be the difference between making you a good accountant and a great accountant.

To help you out, here’s our take on the 5 topics you should consider exploring while you’re at accounting school that are not part most core programs. Some will be available through your business school, while others will need the flexibility to work with other departments at your school. Here’s the list of the best accounting electives, starting at #1…

  1. Management

This is a no-brainer. The core requirements for most accounting programs make excellent accountants who can understand a tax return while standing on their heads. Pretty soon after graduating, though, accountants start leading teams and taking charge of client engagements. It’s a jump that not everyone is prepared for, but there are important skills that can be learned at University or College to get you prepared. You’ll get acquainted with all kinds of fun concepts, from Laissez Faire management to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The knowledge will give you an upper hand when you start working at a more senior level, helping you excel while your peers are still working it all out.

  1. Programming or Database design

Your accounting program probably has an “accounting systems” course already baked in, which is great. However, today’s professional world requires a deep understanding of not only what systems can do, but also how they do it. Although programming and database design (SQL mostly) may be a bit foreign to accounting students, we highly recommend stretching yourself into these topics. It will give you an edge and flexibility in the job marketplace that can’t be beat.

  1. Psychology

Despite its reputation, accounting is a people oriented field. The more you understand how people bias their behavior, interpret their world, and make decisions, the better equipped you will be to manage teams and clients. We’re not suggesting you become the next Freud, just that you understand your fellow accountant a little better!

  1. Real Estate

One of the big things you’ll think about after graduating college is buying a house. We think it’s a great idea to spend some of your time at school really understanding how real estate works as an asset. It’s guaranteed to help you out personally when you decide to enter the market, and could set you up with a new career path. With your accounting skills, you’ll be uniquely placed to really understand how to apply rental income, depreciation, and other numerical magic to make your properties run at their best. We have no guarantees about retiring at 40, but this will certainly help.

  1. Professional Writing or Communications

Accountants are not always known for their ability to communicate, which is a shame. As a profession, accountants have to tell extremely complex things to clients who are busy. Your clients will need the best information compressed into the shortest possible story. Give yourself a unique edge by studying how the best do it, either through an arts-inspired writing course or a more business focused communications unit.

Whatever you decide, these opportunities to step outside accounting and learn something new at University or College are extremely valuable. Stretch yourself and explore your interest. You won’t regret it!

About the author

Sebastian Joll

Sebastian Joll

Sebastian Joll is a senior executive with 15+ years of experience across Strategy & Operations, Sales, and Technology groups. His leadership roles include positions at Salesforce and Deloitte Consulting, managing global teams through growth challenges, operational restructures, innovation programs, and strategic planning.