New program for accounting majors takes them straight to a master’s degree

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    The Neeley School of Business plans to get accounting undergraduates enrolled in a new Professional Program in Accounting that would take students through their master’s degrees, Sandra Callaghan, director of the new program, said.

    Callaghan said students could apply for the Professional Program in Accounting their junior year. Students would earn the undergraduate accounting degree then matriculate to graduate studies to earn the Master of Accounting (MAc)in one additional year.

    “The demands of the accounting profession are different than other professions,” Callaghan said. “In accounting, you prepare for your internship in your junior year and you intern senior year, then go full-time after your MAc.”

    Callaghan said she believes the new program would keep students on track and thinking about their careers earlier.

    “Essentially, you are making those decisions at the beginning of your junior year,” Callaghan said. “We have to move very quickly to get them ready.”

    Callaghan said students who choose to apply to the Professional Program in Accounting would receive the Personal Success Plan, an element of accounting education unique to the university.

    “Any student who is in the professional program will have a Personal Success Plan, which includes a curriculum portion, recruiting portion and a personal development program,” Callaghan said. “They will be following through with those programs through their junior year, senior year and their MAc year.”

    For accounting students, earning a master’s degree is essential to career development.

    “People who want to become a CPA [Certified Public Accountant] now have to have 150 hours of education,” Brian Lauderdale, a current MAc student , said. “A bachelor’s degree only gives you 124 to 126 hours, so you need an extra year.”

    “The 150-hour requirement includes two hours of research, two hours of accounting-related communications, three hours of a state-approved ethics course and 30 hours of upper-level accounting,” Callaghan said.

    Lauderdale said he thinks the new program would be less stressful for students looking into graduate schools.

    “For students who know they’re going the accounting route, it’s a good option for them because they won’t have to deal with the uncertainty of getting into a program,” Lauderdale said. “They have senior year to focus on internships instead of where they’re going to go grad school.”

    Other major accounting schools in the state, such as the University of Texas, have already integrated bachelor’s and master’s programs in accounting. According to UT’s business school’s website, UT allows students to enroll in a five-year program and take as many as half of their graduate courses at an undergraduate tuition rate.

    Both UT and TCU still allowed students to apply for their master’s during their senior year, like the old program.

    Accounting professor Jerry Turner  said colleges were changing to fit the accounting profession.

    “The change in the profession itself is causing universities to change a little bit of what they do,” Turner said. “We need to stay modern and make sure all of our people get jobs.”

    Callaghan said the accounting department had more changes to come.

    “Changes are huge,” Callaghan said. “We are in the process of redefining both the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. We hope a new curriculum will roll out next fall.”

    Interested students should attend one of four upcoming information sessions. Senior sessions are Sept. 7 and 8 while junior sessions are Oct. 6 and 7. 

    The department would begin accepting applications from seniors on Sept. 15 and from juniors on Oct. 15.