The Castleton State College faculty recently voted to implement an accounting Master’s Degree program that will begin in the fall of 2011. The plan includes redesigning the current bachelor’s degree program and adding more in-depth accounting classes for the master’s program. This will allow students to receive 150 credit hours for their major and qualify them to take the certified public accountant exam – a difficult and career-necessary exam – and give them a Master’s degree in the process.
The program implementation came about when business professors Angele Brill and Joanne Pencak returned from their individual summer breaks.
Both had attended conferences and had heard that larger firms were no longer accepting job candidates with only bachelor’s degrees in accounting. Students were graduating from the program without the 150 credit hours needed to take the CPA exam, which many large firms now require.
Professors Brill and Pencak both agreed that because of the new requirements, Castleton needed a master’s program.
“There’s no other option,” Brill said when interviewed after the recent faculty decision.
Heather Huntington, a fifth-year double major in computer information systems and accounting, believes that the extended program is beneficial to both existing accounting and business majors as well as incoming freshman.
Huntington recently finished an internship with General Electric and said that businesses are telling business students not to go to a school that doesn’t have a master’s program in accounting.
Castleton currently offers the accounting major with only a bachelor’s degree, but you have to be here ten semesters to complete it, she said.
“You need 150 credit hours for the CPA exam,” Huntington said, which she said requires a student to stay the extra two semesters, yet leave with only a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Another senior, Jeff Alexander, says that the extended program “basically makes the accounting and business programs more marketable to potential students.”
He said that the master’s program is intended to keep Castleton State College competitive with other colleges across the country.
International accounting standards have also increased and new regulations have been added to make the accounting major an increasingly more demanding program, the accounting professors said.
Because of such incidents like the Enron bookkeeping scandal, firms and companies are trying to make sure that the candidates they hire are well-prepared for the challenges and situations they’ll face.
Although in-state students majoring in accounting will finally able to catch up with students on other states in terms of nationally accepted standards, Alexander stressed that the new program will be “marketable for out-of-state students because they’ll get their 150 credit hours they need to be licensed in both Vermont and their home state.”
Brill emphasized, however, that the program has only been approved by Castleton State College’s faculty and has yet to be reviewed and voted on by the Vermont State College board.
Brill added however, that she is optimistic the program will be approved and ready for the 2011 planned implementation.
“We think it’s going to be an excellent program,” she said.