In the Jan. 8-27, 2007, issue of Accounting Today, Professor Tony Tinker of Baruch College presented a commentary titled, "New York State's CPA hiring problems to worsen after 2009" (page 6).The professional and educational landscape in accountancy is rapidly changing. Sarbanes-Oxley legislation intensified the need for excellent talent in the field. Baruch College's curriculum is linked to state-regulated professional certification, and New York State will significantly increase the number of credit hours required to sit for the CPA licensing examination in 2009. This is a dramatic change in requirements, and Baruch's Stan Ross Department of Accountancy seized this opportunity to build programs that continue Baruch's historic dominance in accountancy.
Baruch boasts the largest accredited accounting program in the country, and we hold true to a century-old ethic of providing an excellent and affordable pathway to success for bright, deserving students. At Baruch, accounting has the most undergraduate majors - over 3,000 - and the second-most graduate majors. There are 34 full-time accounting faculty and 40 professionals serving as part-time professors.
The department is a source of tremendous pride for thousands of Baruch alumni, and has a distinguished history as the place that launched the careers of many of Baruch's most successful and prominent graduates. Not surprisingly, recruitment of Baruch graduates by the top accounting firms, always robust, has increased by 40 percent in the last four years alone.
Building on these strengths, Baruch College used the upcoming exam requirement to diversify our course offerings and career paths in ways that serve the needs and desires of our students. Our undergraduate programs in accounting are becoming more expansive and flexible than they have ever been. Students will be able to specialize in internal audit, financial statement analysis or financial reporting. Students who wish to pursue the CPA designation can do so by following any of these tracks.
The department also redesigned its Master of Science program to be flexible enough to meet the needs of diverse undergraduates. Accounting majors, other business majors and even students from the arts and sciences can study at the masters level and earn their graduate degree while meeting the course requirement to sit for the CPA Examination.
We also augmented career services resources, expanded fundraising for scholarships, increased student access to CPA prep courses, and facilitated spring internships with accounting firms. We are doing all this while preserving our traditional role as a training ground for both public and private accountants.
At $4,000 per year for in-state undergraduate tuition, we have also remained true to our mission of providing an affordable and excellent education.
In other states, when the 150-hour requirement began, the number of students taking the CPA Exam dipped, and this is likely to occur in New York. But the quality of newly minted CPAs is not in jeopardy, and we are doing our part to ensure the quantity of new graduates. Students who pursue the CPA credential in New York in the coming years will show an extra measure of determination and effort to earn the 150 hours required to sit the exam. Flexible course offerings and paths to success in both private and public accounting will draw more students with a broader range of talent and experience into the profession.
Baruch College remains committed to our students and to the accounting profession, and will continue to work with students and firms in every way possible, including finding every practical means to bring in dedicated, high-quality teachers. We need to find creative paths, including scholarships and part-time employment at CPA firms, to help students through the fifth year of study required to sit for the CPA Exam. We also have to navigate through a critical national shortage of qualified Ph.Ds to teach accounting (noted recently in the Jan. 9, 2007, Wall Street Journal).
Despite the external challenges of the new licensing requirements and the demand for faculty, Baruch College is steadfast in its dedication to remain the college of choice for accounting.
John A. Elliott
Irwin and Arlene Ettinger Professor of Accountancy, vice president and dean
Chair, Stan Ross Department of Accountancy Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College
New York City
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