Financial Accounting

Close up of dollar bill with A equals L plus E written on it.

Accountants use the equation Assets = Liabilities + Shareholders' Equity as the basis for their balance sheets. (Image courtesy of Matthew Palmer. Used with permission.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2003



Cite This Course

Course Features

Course Description

Our goal is to help you develop a framework for understanding financial, managerial, and tax reports. The course goal is divided into five subordinate challenges that can help you organize the way you learn accounting:

  1. The record keeping and reporting challenge
  2. The computation challenge
  3. The judgment challenge
  4. The usage challenge
  5. The search challenge

The course adopts a decision-maker perspective of accounting by emphasizing the relation between accounting data and the underlying economic events generating them. Restricted to first-year Sloan MBA students.


Acknowledgment is hereby given to Professor G. Peter Wilson for his authorship of the following content in this course:

  • The Five Challenges (see Syllabus and Lecture 1)
  • "What Do Intel and Accountants Have in Common?" (see Lecture 1)
  • A Conceptual Framework for Financial Accounting (see Lecture 1)

George Plesko, Kin Lo, and Richard Frankel. 15.515 Financial Accounting, Fall 2003. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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