Course Syllabus

Welcome to BUS103: Introduction to Financial Accounting

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Description

Learn how to compile and analyze financial statements, determine the value of a firm, and evaluate a business and its competitors. This introductory survey course of financial accounting will help you prepare for more advanced business courses.

Course Introduction

Accounting can be considered the language of business. If you are learning accounting for the first time, embracing its foundational concepts may be a challenging process. Mastery of accounting primarily rests in your ability to critically think through and synthesize the information as it applies to a given situation. You should approach the learning of accounting the same way you would approach learning a foreign language; It will take time and practice to ensure you remember the concepts. There are a number of sub-disciplines that fall under the umbrella of "accounting,” but in this course, we will be focused on financial accounting. Accounting as a business discipline can be viewed as a system of compiled data. The word data should not be confused with "information.” In terms of accounting, "data” should be viewed as the raw transactions or business activity that happens within any business entity. For example: Someone uses $30,000 of their savings to start a business. The use of these funds within the start of this new business is in fact data. Now that you have this data, what are you going to do with it? The answer to this question can be summed up in one word - accounting! Taking this data and transforming it into useful information is what happens when accounting is implemented within a business. The word information should be viewed as the communicated results of the data as it has happened in the business within a specified period of time. This information is used by decision makers to support how they determine specific courses of action within the business. This course introduces you to financial accounting in preparation for more advanced business topics within the business major. Recording financial information in a standard format allows managers, investors, lenders, stakeholders, and regulators to make appropriate decisions regarding their respective interests. In this course, the formats of focus will be identified as the Income Statement, the Balance Sheet, Statement of Cash Flows, and Statement of Shareholders' Equity. In this course, you will learn how to compile and analyze these financial statements, determine the value of a firm, and compare the firm to its competitors.

This course is comprised of the following units:

  • Unit 1: Accounting Environment, Decision Making, and Theory
  • Unit 2: Recording Business Transactions
  • Unit 3: Adjustments for Financial Reporting
  • Unit 4: Completing the Accounting Cycle
  • Unit 5: Financial Reporting and Financial Statement Analysis
  • Unit 6: Accounting for Inventory – Measuring and Reporting
  • Unit 7: Receivables and Payables Identified
  • Unit 8: Accounting for Property, Plant, and Equipment
  • Unit 9: Long-Term Liabilities and Stockholders’ Equity
  • Unit 10: Statement of Cash Flows

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the foundational principles and objectives of accounting;
  • apply the accounting equation to illustrate the impact of business transactions and to transform business transactions (data) into usable information;
  • describe the accounting cycle and identify specific debits and credits, journals, t-accounts, a trial balance, and resulting financial statements;
  • explain why adjusting entries are necessary and distinguish between various types of adjusting entries;
  • discuss and demonstrate the use of the accounting worksheet as a means of preparing financial statements;
  • explain and execute the closing process for a specified accounting cycle;
  • identify the foundational accounting concepts, assumptions, and principles through the analysis of specific business situations;
  • locate public company financial statements, and read and interpret financial statements;
  • identify and analyze accounting transactions of a merchandising company;
  • define and solve for specific business events involving various inventory methods;
  • define and apply the accounting elements associated with receivables and payables;
  • identify, record, and depreciate property, plant, and equipment;
  • distinguish between tangible and intangible assets;
  • describe the difference between bonds and capital stock; Account for bonds and capital stock;
  • account for paid-in capital, cash dividends, stock dividends, stock splits, and retained earnings appropriations; and
  • describe the types of business transactions that are included in operating, investing, and financing activities on the statement of cash flows; prepare a statement of cash flows.

Throughout this course, you'll also see related learning outcomes identified in each unit. You can use the learning outcomes to help organize your learning and gauge your progress.

Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are readings, lectures, video tutorials, and other resources.

You may want to bookmark this links to these particular resources now for easier access during review and study:

All course materials are free to access, and can be found through the links provided in each unit and subunit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will instruct you as to what specifically to read or watch at a given point in the course, and help you to understand how these individual materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also access a list all of the materials used in this course by clicking on Resources in the course's "Activities" menu.

Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first attempt, you may take it again as many times as needed, following a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Saylor Certificate of Completion.

There are also 16 unit assessments and other types of quizzes in this course. These are intended to help you to gauge how well you are learning and do not factor into your final course grade. You may retake all of these as many times as needed to feel that you have an understanding of the concepts and material covered. You can locate a full list of these sorts of assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course’s “Activities” menu.

Earning College Credit

This course is eligible for college credit via Saylor’s Direct Credit Program. If you are seeking to earn college credit, you must opt to take and pass the Saylor Direct Credit final exam. That exam will be password protected and require the presence of a proctor. Upon passing that final exam you will receive a Proctor Verified Course Certificate, and will be eligible to earn an Official Transcript. For more information about applying for college credit review the “Guide: College Credit Opportunities”. Be sure to check the section on proctoring for details (fees, technical requirements, etc.)

Note: There is a 14-day waiting period between attempts of the Direct Credit final exam. There is no imposed wait period between attempting the non-credit certificate-bearing exam and the credit exam. Some credit exams have a maximum number of attempts allowed, which will be detailed on the exam’s instructions page.

Tips for Success

BUS103: Introduction to Financial Accounting is a self-paced course in which you the learner determines when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or predetermined schedule to follow. While learning styles can vary considerably and any particular student will take more or less time to learn or read, we estimate that the "average" student will take 57 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular (daily, or at least weekly) progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so below we've compiled a few suggested study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Pay special attention to Unit 1, as it will lay the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, explanatory material presented in the latter units.
  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories as you read. This can help you differentiate and contextualize concepts and later provide you with a refresher as you study.
  • As you progress through the materials, take time to test yourself on what you have retained and how well you understand the concepts. The process of reflection is important for creating a memory of the materials you learn; it will increase the probability that you ultimately retain the information.
  • Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor students through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums at

Technical Requirements

This course is delivered fully online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one, free of charge, here. Although you can access some course resources without being logged into your account, it’s advised that you log in to maximize your course experience. For example, some of the accessibility and progress tracking features are only available when you are logged in.
  • Occasionally, Flash may be required to run certain multimedia and/or interactive applications in the course. Should you be prompted to enable Flash, click the option to allow or follow these instructions for enabling Flash on your computer or laptop.
  • If you plan to attempt the optional credit recommended final exam that accompanies this course, then you will also need access to a webcam enabled computer. A webcam is needed so that our remote proctoring service can verify your identity, which will allow Saylor Academy to issue an official transcript to schools on your behalf.

For additional technical guidance check out Saylor’s tech-FAQ and the Moodle LMS tutorial.


There is no cost to access and enroll in this course. All required course resources linked throughout the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, activities, etc are accessible for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

This course does contain an optional final exam that will provide students an opportunity to earn college credit. Access to the exam itself is free, though it does require the use of a proctoring service for identity verification purposes. The cost for proctoring is $25 per session.

Last modified: Thursday, March 28, 2019, 5:52 PM