Carlson School offers new program for accountants

The program is the first in the state to offer the specialized accounting program.

Derrick Biney

Students looking to become certified public accountants can look forward to a new one-year Master of Accountancy program offered by the Carlson School of Management in fall 2007.

Because corporate scandals have emerged in the past few years with companies such as Enron and WorldCom, more accountants and auditors who are well-trained in the areas of fraud detection and control systems have been needed, said Stephen Bodine, partner for Larson, Allen, Weishair & Co.

In July legislation that requires 150 semester hours, or credits, for accountants to be certified in Minnesota was put in place. Because students need only 120 semester hours to graduate from the University, this one-year program tacks on the needed 30 credits.

Bodine, who is also a member of the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants, said that at its meeting in May 2005, the board agreed to endorse the program by encouraging its development and making a commitment to recommend it to students.

This is the first such program in the state, said James Hare, partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Because all state-certified accountants will need the 30 credits, Hare said the program will draw students from other colleges and universities in the state.

The program requires students to take three core classes – Internal Control, dealing with risk management; Information Systems and Securities and Exchange Commission; and Standard Setting.

Larry Kallio, a Carlson School senior lecturer in accounting who helped design the curriculum for the program, said that with a mixture of faculty members from academic and professional backgrounds, and with deep involvement by accounting firms, he believes the program will remain on the cutting edge of issues relating to accounting.

Instead of using textbooks for some courses, students will use technical manuals from accounting firms, Kallio said.

“It’s a way of integrating what students will need most in the profession,” he said. “Textbooks are not able to keep up with the current trends of accounting.”

Companies are moving toward what he called “enterprise-wide processing” – a process by which companies integrate different departments within a business by sharing information through a central system.

The University is undergoing an actual model of this process, Kallio said, in reference to the University’s realignment initiative to become one of the world’s top three public research universities.

Kallio said Judy Rayburn, chairwoman of the accounting department, has been the driving force behind the development of the program. Rayburn did not return phone calls requesting an interview.

After two years of Rayburn’s advocating the program, the Board of Regents approved it at its monthly meeting in February, Kallio said.

Andrew Scheevel, finance and accounting sophomore, said he is unsure what he wants to do in school, but said he enjoys managing money. Although he is uncertain of where he will end up in his collegiate journey, he said he thinks the program would be a great experience.

For students who are “getting kind of sick of school,” it’s an interactive program that allows students to go for one year instead of an extra two or three years for a Master of Business Administration degree, Scheevel said.

Students interested in the program, which requires a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and at least 24 credits in any area of accounting, can attend an information session from 5 to 7 p.m. tonight in room 2-260R at the Carlson School.

Brochures on the program will be available Thursday at the Carlson School, Kallio said.