Course Offerings

Accounting addresses the measurement, aggregation, and evaluation of economic information useful for decision making. Because decision makers are outside the firm (e.g., shareholders, creditors, regulators) and inside the firm (e.g., managers, auditors, tax professionals), accounting is divided into more manageable areas of study. Auditing uses established methods of testing and confirming financial information prepared by managers and is conducted by an independent third party who attests to the reliability of financial reports that are to be disseminated outside the enterprise. Financial accounting is concerned with the needs of external users of firm-related, audited financial information, which is prepared and presented according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the US or some other authoritative guidance with which the reporting entity must comply. Managerial accounting focuses on the needs of managers in their roles as decision makers, planners, and evaluators of business objectives, relying on internal, proprietary firm information. Tax accounting identifies tactical and strategic issues related to prudent financial planning and cuts across an enterprise’s operating and financial activities. Because accounting is the language of business, successful managers must be knowledgeable and discerning consumers of accounting information to understand and present their own business goals and performance and to evaluate and judge other entities from an independent perspective.

The course offerings in various programs are listed below.

The Duke MBA-Daytime

The Duke MBA-Global Executive

The Duke MBA-Weekend Executive

The Duke MMS


The Duke MBA-Daytime

ACCOUNTG 590 – Financial Accounting

This course addresses the construction and interpretation of corporate financial reports. Our goal is not to train you to become an accountant. Rather, we want you to become an informed user of financial statement information. Because annual reports are somewhat formidable, we will spend time discussing how firms present the information for various accounts in the statements, including the footnotes. Specifically, we will focus on accounting for specific assets (e.g., Accounts Receivable, Inventories, Property, Plant and Equipment, Intangible Assets), liabilities (e.g., Bonds, Deferred Taxes) and owners’ equity on a firm’s balance sheet. We will also focus on how a firm’s performance is presented in the income statement through Net Income, and in particular, discuss how different revenue and expense recognition practices affect this performance measure. By the end of the course, you should have a basic understanding of financial statements and the ability to use them for decision making.

ACCOUNTG 591 – Managerial Accounting

This course emphasizes the use of accounting information for internal purposes as opposed to the external disclosure focus of the financial accounting course.  The design of management accounting systems for planning and controlling operations and for motivating personnel is covered.  The course integrates accounting with ideas from microeconomics, data analysis, decision analysis, finance, and operations management.  There are no prerequisites for this course.

ACCOUNTG 592 – Detecting Earnings Management (SEE FAQ VIDEO HERE)

When companies report financial performance to the capital market, do you understand and believe what management communicates?  This course gives you the skills to rigorously evaluate and understand corporate financial reporting.  Earnings press releases from corporate management and related media coverage attempt to explain and interpret reported accounting numbers.  Are the accounting numbers being managed?  How can you tell?  How do incentives of managers and other market participants like financial analysts and regulators influence reported performance? For accounting numbers to be managed and for incentives to play a role, there must be some level of discretion in the financial accounting system.  As such, in this course we identify and study the areas of financial reports that require the most managerial discretion.  These areas naturally include accounting estimations that span multiple periods, including long term revenue recognition, long term receivables, restructurings, contingent liabilities, leases, uncertain tax positions, stock based compensation, pensions and derivatives. This course is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in consulting, credit and equity analysis, investment and commercial banking, and any other career where an understanding of financial reporting is part of the decision making process.

ACCOUNTG 596 – Accounting for Mergers and Acquisitions

The principal objective of this course is to provide in-depth understanding of financial reporting issues related to business combinations, intercorporate investments, joint ventures, leveraged buyouts, and similar corporate restructurings. International accounting is also included. All of these transactions often have a major impact on financial statements, and understanding their economic substance and the ways they are reflected in corporate financial statements is essential to sophisticated financial statement analysis. Each topic is introduced by discussing the business environment producing the various transactions and related reporting issues. The key measurement and reporting issues are then examined, and their impact on the interpretation of financial statements is analyzed. This course builds on the corporate reporting concepts and methods studied in ACCOUNTG 590.

ACCOUNTG 597 – Financial Statement Analysis

This course provides a broad framework for using financial statements and other SEC required regulatory disclosures in business analyses. Emphasis is placed on developing a critical, general manager’s perspective for interpreting required financial disclosures, understanding the types of financial information available in the public domain and their purposes, developing an appreciation of (some of) the inherent ethical conflicts that may color managers’ and sell-side analysts’ disclosures, and formulating an approach to evaluating an enterprise’s overall financial reporting and the implications of that analyses from the perspective of a potential shareholder or creditor. The class assumes a basic understanding of financial accounting, finance, and Excel. The topics covered are intended to complement those discussed in ACCOUNTG 598 (Valuation). This course is useful for individuals planning careers in investment banking, portfolio management, corporate finance, management consulting, and security analysis.

ACCOUNTG 598 – Valuation and Fundamental Analysis

This course focuses on the valuation of equity securities using fundamental analysis. The course material augments and extends the basic material in Financial Statement Analysis (ACCOUNTG 597) to the specific and complex setting of valuing equity securities. The tools covered in this course consist of valuation models (i.e., discounted dividend, cash flow (weighted average and adjusted present value methods), abnormal earnings and economic profit) as well as multiples approaches. The course emphasizes the role of financial statement data in equity valuation, using advanced problems and cases developed around actual financial statements. In addition to viewing equity valuation from a fundamentals perspective, we will cover selected technical strategies, including momentum-based trading rules. The course assumes a basic understanding of introductory financial accounting and introductory corporate finance/investments. Although not required, some basic understanding of financial statement analysis (ACCOUNTG 597) is helpful. The topics covered in the class are intended to complement related elective courses in accounting (such as financial statement analysis) and in finance (such as corporate restructuring).

ACCOUNTG 599 – Taxation and Global Management Decisions (SEE FAQ VIDEO HERE)

The objective of this course is to develop a framework for understanding how taxes affect business decisions. Part of being financially savvy is having a basic understanding of how taxation affects business decisions that companies typically face: forming the business and raising capital, operating the business, compensating employees, financing new projects, expanding through acquisition, divesting lines of business, and expanding internationally. Taxes have a direct impact on cash flow and often divert 30% to 40% of a firm’s pretax cash flow to the government. Taxes are everywhere and are an essential part of the global business environment. Throughout the course, we will link the tax strategies that we learn with concepts from corporate finance, financial accounting, business law, and economics. We will make extensive use of real transactions to illustrate the impact of the tax structures on earnings and cash flows. Understanding how tax rules work and how they interact with other relevant factors places students at a distinct advantage in the marketplace. This course is particularly useful to those interested in a career in general management (e.g., executive in a large company, entrepreneur, or owner of a family business) or financial intermediation (e.g., financial analyst, venture capitalist, consultant, or investment banker). Although significant time will be dedicated to learning important tax “rules” this is NOT a rules-oriented class. Instead the course takes the perspective that taxes are one additional set of constraints which should be considered in global business decisions.

The Duke MBA-Global Executive

ACCOUNTG 590C – Financial Accounting

This course provides an introduction to the financial reporting process and to using financial reports. Students learn skills that can be used to read, analyze, and understand financial reports. The course focuses on fundamental accounting concepts and the economic events and transactions that form the basis of the information in financial reports. The course considers topical issues in financial reporting and makes considerable use of exercises and cases based on financial reports.

ACCOUNTG 591C – Managerial Accounting

This course emphasizes the use of accounting information for internal purposes as opposed to the external disclosure focus of the financial accounting course.  The design of management accounting systems for planning and controlling operations and for motivating personnel is covered.  The course integrates accounting with ideas from microeconomics, data analysis, decision analysis, finance, and operations management.  There are no prerequisites for this course.

ACCOUNTG 597C – Financial Statement Analysis

This course provides a broad framework for using financial statement information in a variety of business analysis contexts. Students first develop an understanding of a firm’s competitive strategy through the use of techniques such as ratio analysis and prospective analysis. Topics in the second portion of the course include intangible assets,
international accounting, earnings quality, and earnings management.

ACCOUNTG 598C – Valuation and Fundamental Analysis

This course emphasizes the role of financial statement information in equity valuation, using cases developed from (real) financial statements. The course is intended to provide students with a strong theoretical and applied understanding of the equity valuation and stock selection approaches used by financial managers, investment professionals, securities analysts, and portfolio managers. The approaches covered include relative valuation (price-multiples) and discounted payment models (such as free cash flows and residual income). The course focuses on the implementation of these models using information reported in the financial statements and notes thereto.

The Duke MBA-Weekend Executive

ACCOUNTG 590W – Financial Accounting

This course introduces the student to the types of information requirements imposed on the firm by agencies in its environment and develops an understanding of the activities of the firm within the framework of a financial accounting system designed to satisfy these information requirements. Emphasis is given to the study of financial accounting, reporting, and measurement problems from a theoretical and an applied basis, using cases and topical problems in financial accounting as a foundation for the learning experience.

ACCOUNTG 591W – Managerial Accounting

This course emphasizes the use of accounting information for internal purposes as opposed to the external disclosure focus of the financial accounting course. The design of management accounting systems for planning and controlling operations, and for motivating personnel is covered. The course integrates accounting with ideas from microeconomics, data analysis, finance, and operations management.

ACCOUNTG 597W – Financial Statement Analysis

This course provides a broad framework for using financial statement information in a variety of business analysis contexts. Students first develop an understanding of a firm’s competitive strategy through the use of techniques such as ratio analysis and prospective analysis. Topics in the second portion of the course include intangible assets, international accounting, earnings quality, and earnings management.

ACCOUNTG 598W – Valuation and Fundamental Analysis

This course Emphasizes the role of financial statement information in equity valuation, using cases developed from (real) financial statements. The course is intended to provide students with a strong theoretical and applied understanding of the equity valuation and stock selection approaches used by financial managers, investment professionals, securities analysts, and portfolio managers. The approaches covered include relative valuation (price-multiples) and discounted payment models (such as free cash flows and residual income). The course focuses on the implementation of these models using information reported in the financial statements and notes thereto.

The Duke MMS

ACCOUNTG 510F – Introduction to Financial Accounting

This course provides you with a basic understanding of the construction and interpretation of corporate financial reports which are used by external parties (including investors, creditors, and regulators). Our goal is to help you become informed user of financial statement information. Fulfillment of these objectives involves acquiring several skills: (i) gaining familiarity with business transactions; (ii) understanding how those transactions map into accounting numbers; (iii) developing fluency in accounting terminology; and (iv) appreciating the complexity of accounting due to the (considerable) discretion and judgment involved in implementing accounting rules. The course emphasizes the use of real financial statements, so that you become accustomed to the many variations that these reports take.

ACCOUNTG 511F – Principles of Cost and Managerial Accounting

Managerial accounting is concerned with the internal use of accounting information by managers to plan, control, and evaluate operations and personnel of the firm. The course covers two broad topics: (i) cost management systems and their use in decision making (these systems provide information about the costs of the goods and services sold by the firm, and decisions based on them include break-even analyses, pricing, and make/buy decisions); and (ii) management control systems and their use (control systems help the firm plan, execute, measure, and evaluate its operations). Topics covered include cost structures, costing systems, budgeting, variance analysis, performance measurement and evaluation, and transfer pricing.

ACCOUNTG 512F – Fundamentals of Financial  Analysis

This course focuses on financial analysis of a firm and on valuation of its shares. The course provides a framework to analyze and interpret financial statements, exposes students to the publicly available sources of financial information used in capital markets, and develops important Excel modeling skills pertaining to financial planning, analysis, and valuation. The course builds on prior coursework (in financial accounting, strategy, managerial accounting, investments, and corporate finance) by having students: (i) evaluate the financial implications of a firm’s articulated strategy; (ii) use that information to project the firm’s financial statements several years into the future; and then (iii) apply various valuation techniques (such as free cash flow valuation and multiples approaches) to determine forecasted (target) prices of the firm’s shares.