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 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, imagine that 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 includes 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 will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.


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 calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.

There are also end-of-unit assessments and other quizzes in this course. These are designed to help you study, and do not factor into your final course grade. You can take these as many times as you want until you understand the concepts and material covered. You can see all of these assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's navigation bar.


Earning College Credit

This course is eligible for college credit via Saylor Academy's Direct Credit Program. If you want to earn college credit, you must take and pass the Direct Credit final exam. That exam will be password protected and requires a proctor. If you pass the Direct Credit exam, you will receive a Proctor Verified Course Certificate and be eligible to earn an official transcript. For more information about applying for college credit, review the guide to college credit opportunities. Be sure to check the section on proctoring for details like fees and technical requirements.

There is a 14-day waiting period between attempts of the Direct Credit final exam. There is no waiting period between attempts for the not-for-credit exam and the Direct Credit exam. You may only attempt each Direct Credit final exam a maximum of 3 times. Be sure to study in between each attempt!


Tips for Success

BUS103: Introduction to Financial Accounting is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. 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 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 we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.
  • 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 entirely 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 for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.
  • If you plan to attempt the optional Direct Credit final exam, then you will also need access to a webcam. This lets our remote proctoring service verify your identity, which is required to issue an official transcript to schools on your behalf.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.



This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

This course also has an optional final exam that can give you an opportunity to earn college credit. This exam requires the use of a proctoring service for identity verification purposes. The cost for proctoring for this optional exam is $5 per session.

Last modified: Friday, July 30, 2021, 1:55 PM