TAMPA – USF will have a new, revamped Master of Accountancy degree program coming this fall.
The MAcc program in the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy in the USF Muma College of Business will equip students with the skills employers seek in today’s rapidly changing, technology-driven, financial-reporting workforce.
The program redesign, in the works for the past year, infuses the 30-credit-hour coursework with the skills accounting firms and businesses say they want to see in potential hires — that is, accountants who are savvy in using digital tools and technologies and adept in data mining and predictive data analysis of financial data.
“Accounting firms across the nation are pivoting to a blended professional model where individuals can harness not only technical accounting, auditing and tax skills but also technology skills more than ever before,” said Christine Andrews, associate professor of instruction at the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy. “The newly designed MAcc is addressing the curriculum and skills needed ahead of the curve. Graduates of this program will be equipped to meet wide talent gaps in public accounting as well as corporate and governmental accounting.”
Today’s accountants need higher digital acumen to access, visualize, analyze, mine, wrangle and transform data. They also need the story-telling skills required to communicate data-driven insights used for decision making and to inform business strategy. Skills in project management are required as well, since every field of accounting including audit, tax and consulting involve engagements that operate as individual projects.
“We looked to the market, to our Advisory Board members, and to our Accounting Circle Board members to learn what the marketplace is requiring and will be requiring of our graduating students and made historic changes to the program to ensure that our students have the skills and technical competence to meet and exceed those requirements,” said Mark Taylor, director of the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy.
Under the updated program, USF graduate accountancy students will be required to take core courses in data innovation and accounting analytics, data mining, data visualization, data wrangling and project management. These skills are essential for the audit, tax and consultancy professions of the future.
As a result, students will graduate with deeper skill sets in data analysis and more competencies in emerging financial technologies like blockchain and AI applications such as robotic process automation.
The curriculum changes were validated by a 2021 report that showed many college accounting programs have major gaps in emerging technology-related curricula, including the areas noted above, and recommended that schools of accountancy update their programs to keep pace with a changing profession.
The joint report was conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, which are two national groups that advocate for, oversee, and regulate the accountancy profession in the U.S.
In 2024, a new CPA Exam is expected to debut that will test skills and knowledge in auditing, accounting, and tax, and will incorporate questions related to data analytics and technology in the profession.
The recommendations stemming from the 2021 report were echoed by members of the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy’s Advisory Council and the Accounting Circle Board, both of which provided input on the curricula changes.