The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board today announced the awarding of 52 merit-based scholarships in the inaugural year of its new program.

The $10,000 scholarships will be given for the 2011-12 academic year to students nominated by their undergraduate or graduate institution.

“We are grateful to Congress for allowing us to bring the PCAOB and the academic community closer together with this scholarship program that will provide a source of funding to encourage outstanding students to pursue a career in auditing,” said PCAOB Chairman James R. Doty in a statement. “We hope to inspire future thought leaders in auditing for the benefit of investors.”

The PCAOB Scholarship Program was created to satisfy the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, stipulating that funds generated from the collection of monetary penalties imposed by the PCAOB must be used to fund a merit scholarship program for students in accredited accounting degree programs.

The PCAOB selected ACT, Inc. of Iowa City, Iowa, to administer and manage the program.

Eligible students must be enrolled in an accredited bachelor’s or master’s accounting degree program at a participating, nominating institution. They must also demonstrate high ethical standards and an interest and aptitude in accounting and auditing.

PCAOB employees or children or spouses of PCAOB employees are not eligible.

More information on the scholarship program and a list of this year’s recipient academic institutions can be found on the PCAOB website.