Graduate school is an option for accounting majors. Monmouth College graduates are prepared to enter MBA or MS in Accounting programs with proper scheduling of classes in consultation with their academic advisor. Illinois currently requires 150-semester hours of education to sit for the CPA exam including a bachelor's degree in accounting. Some students have elected to enter graduate school directly after graduation, others have elected to enter the workforce and plan to enter graduate school later. In some cases, a graduate's employer will pay for the cost of graduate school if the individual is willing to work full-time and go to school part-time.
The department has developed articulation agreements with several graduate programs which allow students to enter the graduate program immediately upon graduation. These agreements require students to complete courses beyond the major requirements. If this option is desired, early contact with an academic advisor in the department is recommended to ensure meeting requirements of the graduate program the student intends to matriculate.
As part of the department's assessment program, the Master Field Test (MFT) in Business is administered to accounting seniors in the spring.
A frequent statement in the business world is that accounting is the language of business. A successful business manager uses accounting information to make decisions affecting the future health of the firm. An accountant serves many roles within a business to ensure that information is useful and valid. Accountants also serve to ensure that investors, creditors, and government regulators receive information that is a fair depiction of an entity’s business activity.
The most widely recognized credential in the accounting profession is the CPA (certified public accountant). A CPA is the only person allowed to sign an audit opinion attesting to the fairness of financial information. People who receive a set of audited financial statements put more faith in the information because a third party has investigated and determined that no material information has been overlooked or presented in a misleading manner. The public accounting profession is experiencing a rebirth after recent scandals and is working to rebuild itself after a few individuals breached ethical standards.
Two other credentials which have gained wide acceptance, but are lesser known, are the CMA (certified management accountant) and the CIA (certified internal auditor). Both of these professional designations assess a candidate’s skills and abilities in areas which are valuable to an organization. The CMA designation places greater focus on management areas and internal decision making skills than the CPA designation. The CIA designation focuses on the knowledge and abilities needed to evaluate the internal management processes of an organization and on how those processes can be improved.
A credential which is rapidly increasing in stature and demand is the CFE (certified fraud examiner). The CFE focuses on the knowledge and skills necessary for an individual to successfully investigate a potential fraud situation. A related area is forensic accounting. The forensic accountant is the individual who provides assistance in circumstances requiring reconstruction of business and financial information. Examples are providing help to legal counsel in litigation or to a creditors’ committee in a bankruptcy proceeding. Both of these fields require extensive experience to build the investigative skills required for success.
Studying accounting in a liberal arts environment is an excellent means of preparing for your future. Combined with our general education program, we will help you develop the learning-to-learn skills, communication skills, and foundational accounting knowledge necessary for success in the changing accounting landscape. This accounting landscape is continually changing as managers invent new ways of doing business and researchers identify areas where accounting policies/procedures can be improved. Organizations value an individual’s ability to seek new information and to integrate that information into that individual’s existing knowledge base. Our accounting courses are structured to require an understanding of accounting and business issues and the rationale for the related accounting pronouncements.
The Accounting Education Change Commission in its first pronouncement, identified learning-to-learn as the most important skill for success in the accounting profession. A liberal arts environment is a perfect complement to our accounting courses in developing student skills. The original intent of the 150-semester hour proposal by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (for those desiring to sit for the CPA exam) was to require students to take more non-business courses as a means of developing “well-rounded” professionals. In the non-accounting courses, students develop thinking skills in a non-business context. Also further developed are oral and written communication skills. Our students then utilize these skills in successfully completing the accounting courses we offer.
Individuals earning an accounting major do not limit themselves to accounting positions in the future. Accounting provides a background which is useful in a wide variety of business fields. A national survey has reported that approximately 40% of CEOs for U.S. companies started their careers in accounting positions. Monmouth College accounting graduates have obtained positions in Big 4 CPA firms; regional and local CPA firms; large international businesses; national, regional, and local businesses; banks; and government agencies. These positions have been in auditing, tax preparation and planning, business consulting, finance, management, and internal auditing.
As part of the department’s assessment program, the Master Field Test (MFT) in Business, published by ETS, is administered to accounting seniors in the spring. In Spring 2004, 2006, and 2010, the average score placed the program in the top 5% in the country. Over the past ten years, the average score placed the program in the top 25% in the country.
In summary, the study of accounting opens many opportunities in the business world. The Monmouth College Accounting program provides a challenging, yet rewarding curriculum which opens the door for future success.
Those future endeavors may include, but are not limited to:
- Graduate study
- Sitting for a professional examination: e.g., CPA, CMA, CIA
- Employment with a large corporation, CPA firm, or public entity
Accounting majors have the opportunity to pursue careers in a variety of career fields and industries. Public Accounting (large and small firms), private industry, and government all provide challenging opportunities for graduates. Many accountants who begin in industry move into management and become successful corporate CEO's.