Accounting schools are scrambling to stay ahead of the IFRS curve.

Last spring, Rama Ramamuthy, a professor of accounting at William & Mary's Mason School of Business, devoted eight weeks of a graduate class to IFRS. Her students were "very receptive," she said, and the classroom discussions over application of IFRS principles in accounting situations became "quite feisty."

Some other accounting classes, including at the undergraduate level, also gave students a taste of IFRS, she said. Next year, Ramamurthy will be teaching a class devoted entirely to IFRS, perhaps one of the first such classes in the country.

Meanwhile, graduate students at the University of Denver's accounting school have been getting a heavy dose of IFRS in a case study class, according to Ron Kucic, the school's director. He said that the faculty has been feasting on IFRS resource materials developed by the Big Four accounting firms.

And a plan is in the works at the University of Southern California's Leventhal School of Accounting to "completely redo our curriculum in the master's program with special attention to what the world is going to look like after IFRS becomes the rules of the road," says Randy Beatty, the school's dean.

The impending embrace of IFRS "provides us with a unique opportunity to think about the new skill sets that people will need in a world in which there is less reliance on, 'The rule said this' and 'We can do that,'" Beatty says.

With its expectation that accountants judge the substance of transactions, IFRS will demand more inquisitiveness, problem-solving and communication skills from accountants than were required in the GAAP world, Beatty said. "I think it's going to change the way we look for students," he predicts.

But he also expects accounting schools like USC to receive a lot more applications from students "who thought they were going to be finance majors working in investment banking, who will discover there aren't very many investment banks left to work for."

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