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PwC U.S. Recruiting Lead Rod Adams (right) at interns. PwC photo

Business Firms Are Creating Their Own Customized Degrees

Big Four firms are working with B-schools to customize accounting and management programs to ensure graduates job-ready by graduation.

PwC, KPMG, and Ernst & Young are all customizing graduate programs that feature company-tailored training with a goal of closing the gap between traditional B-school curricula and the needed skills and knowledge of the job, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“This is a new frontier on how to collaborate with universities,” Leah Houde, chief learning officer at PwC, which is partnering with Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business on a new online Master of Science Management (MSM) degree.


The new program will integrate D’Amore-McKim coursework with PwC experiential learning opportunities with a focus on the skills necessary for a ‘digital-first’ future.

“So, the CPA ready for this world needs to possess technology and data-based literacies enhanced by human-centric capabilities like collaboration, creativity, and entrepreneurial and systems thinking as critical determinants of future success,” Raj Echambadi, Dunton Family Dean at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, says in his statement. “Our co-designed program with PwC aspires to do just that: develop CPAs of the future.”

According to WSJ, the pilot program will enroll 40 students. Upon completion, students get hired by PwC.

In addition to ensuring B-school grads are job-ready, the PwC program will also focus on providing a diverse workforce by enrolling primarily Black and Latino students and helping them reach the 150-credit CPA requirement, WSJ reports.

“We cannot aspire to recruit diverse talent without tackling the systemic barriers to entry faced by students that belong to racial and ethnic minorities,” Dean Echambadi says.


Last year, EY partnered with the Hult International Business School to create its first corporate virtual MBA. The new program focuses on in-demand technology and data science skills.

“The EY Tech MBA by Hult is focused on helping EY employees develop the growth mindset, leadership qualities, and technological know-how for a constantly changing business environment,” according to a post by the Hult International Business School. “All of these skills are at the core of our curriculum and fundamental to business success.”


In 2016, KPMG launched its Master’s in Accounting program with Data Analytics (MADA) at Villanova University’s School of Business and Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. The firm’s program focuses on data and analytics training alongside traditional accounting curricula and KPMG software and technology.

According to Villanova, students who select the Audit and Advisory Services track with internship are guaranteed an interview opportunity with KPMG for a spring internship.

In 2019, Villanova expanded the KPMG program to include tax.

“The addition of a tax concentration provides our students with a competitive advantage to better support their career development,” Jennifer Altamuro, Associate Professor, Accounting and Faculty Director, Masters of Accounting Programs, at VSB, says in a press release. “This program is a rarity in academic-industry collaboration that goes well beyond a traditional Master of Accounting by integrating competencies in taxation and analytics into a unified curriculum. Our students will be provided with additional opportunities and skills to stay ahead of the curve and become leaders in the profession.”

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Northeastern University, Hult International Business School, Villanova University

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