The last few years have seen a number of top-25 business schools add specialized master’s programs to their lineups. Stern was driven to add a master of science in accounting to respond to a need from both prospective students and employers. Members of the admissions team were constantly hearing from people who wanted an accounting MS that would give them the required educational preparation to become CPAs, says Isser Gallogly, assistant dean of MBA admissions at Stern, and head of admissions for the accounting program. At the same time, employers were looking for more and more skilled accountants.
“There isn’t really a sort of premium, high-end accounting program in our region,” Gallogly says. That will change next fall, as the inaugural class of Stern MS in Accounting students takes their seats in class. As for how many students will be accepted, that’s TBA.
“We don’t know,” Gallogly says. “It’s the first year. We’re going to see what the applicant quality is like. No more than 60.”
STRAIGHT OUTTA COLLEGE
Administrators expect the majority of students to come straight from their undergraduate programs, meaning the admissions team will in many cases not be using work experience as a criteria for evaluation, Gallogly says. “A lot of it’s going to be based on their academic record and the courses they’ve taken,” he says, adding that some applicants may have internship experience that the admissions team can evaluate. Fluency in numbers will be necessary to get into the program, but even pure quant genius won’t be enough, Gallogly says. The “big four” accounting firms – Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Deloitte, KPMG, and Ernst & Young – have consistently told Stern officials that what makes or breaks an accountant is the ability to translate complex numeric information into language clients can understand, Gallogly says. To get into Stern’s new program, applicants will have to show they have excellent communication skills, he says.
Unlike an MBA program, the range of target careers for master’s of accounting students will be quite narrow: the vast majority will be coming into the program as a step toward work as CPAs. Two tracks will be offered: the conventional financial accounting and assurance track, and the more specialized taxation track. Gallogly notes that very high employer demand exists for CPAs who specialize in taxation. “It’s one that people who are pursuing a CPA should really consider,” Gallogly says.