For Immediate Release — May 20, 2004


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516


GENESEO, N.Y. — The State University of New York at Geneseo will begin offering a master’s degree in accounting next year to better prepare students for the increasingly demanding profession and comply with new stringent New York state requirements.

The master’s program, which will start in the summer of 2005, will provide students with "an additional year of education that the accounting profession says they need," noted Mary Ellen Zuckerman, dean of the Jones School of Business.

Accounting has become "an ever-changing profession" with increased technological demands and regulations, Zuckerman explained. In addition, accountants are increasingly being required to have excellent oral, written and critical thinking skills, she said.

"It is really a field that has changed dramatically," Zuckerman observed.

In the 1980s, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants determined that a 120-hour curriculum didn’t provide sufficient opportunity for students to learn all the skills and knowledge required for contemporary practice.

Currently, 43 states require candidates for the Uniform CPA Examination to have completed 150 semester hours in an approved program. Five states, including New York, have passed legislation to require 150 hours for candidates to sit for the exam. Only two states — California and Colorado — do not have such requirements.

While some colleges in the state have chose to work the additional 30 hours into a double major program, Geneseo opted to have that extra work result in a master’s degree. It will make the graduates more attractive to firms and better prepare them for the workforce, Zuckerman said. Young accountants face demanding workloads and travel.

"If they are going to spend another year (in college), they ought to get their master’s," she said.

Students, who will be entering their senior year at Geneseo in the fall of 2004 and opt to stay on to earn their master’s, will begin their master’s coursework after they graduate with their bachelor’s in accounting or equivalent. The program includes two summer courses and four courses each in the fall and spring semesters. The first master’s class would graduate in May 2006.

Although accounting graduates may sit for the CPA without the additional 30 credit hours through 2009, Geneseo wants to offer the master’s degree now because "it’s in the best interests of our students," Zuckerman said.

"We’re telling our students, ‘we really think you should do this,’" she said.

The Jones School of Business has 155 students who are majoring in accounting or are accounting pre-majors, and 45 of those students will be seniors in the fall of 2004. Zuckerman said the school’s goal is to enroll 10 students in the first year of the program and expand from there to an average of 20 to 25 students each year. Zuckerman expects most of the students will be those who receive their undergraduate degree from Geneseo. However, the program is open to other students who earn their bachelor’s degree elsewhere, she said. The tuition is competitive with other options for graduate study. Tuition for the program will be approximately $9,405 — $7,455 for the fall and spring semesters and $1,950 in the summer.

The program will consist of five accounting courses, covering topics in financial, managerial, tax accounting, advanced audit, and a capstone in financial accounting theory and research. Also, courses with a management or economics prefix will cover information systems, quantitative methods, managerial economics, advanced financial management and an elective. In creating the master’s program, Geneseo sought feedback on the curriculum from accountants working in the field, Zuckerman said.

The move to add the master’s program is another step the Jones School of Business has taken to make the program more beneficial to its students. In 2002, the school was accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, elevating it to the rank of one of the world’s most highly regarded business schools.

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Geneseo student Joanna Laker, who will begin her senior year in the fall, has applied to this program for the 2005-06 school year and is willing to talk to the media.