By Laura McDonough
Youngstown State University is set to begin a specialized Master of Accountancy program in the fall of 2016.
The Lariccia School of Accounting and Finance and the College of Graduate Studies proposed the new program to the Board of Trustees on Sept. 8, where it was recommended for approval by President Jim Tressel.
The creation of the program is awaiting formal approval from the Chancellor’s Council of Graduate Studies. YSU will present the proposal at the Nov. 20 meeting.
Betty Jo Licata, dean of Williamson College of Business Administration, said there is a notable difference between the current Master of Business Administration program and the proposed program.
“One of the major differences between the two programs is the Master of Accountancy is what is called a specialized degree, it focuses on accounting and finance. Where the MBA is more of a broad based degree that includes all areas of business,” Licata said.
Ohio and Pennsylvania currently require applicants to complete 150 hours of university credit before taking the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination.
Raymond Shaffer, former chair of accounting, said the program is better suited to accounting majors looking to gain valuable experience in classes that will help them further their career and reach the 150-hour university requirement for the CPA.
“The rules that govern the CPA exam say students need 150 hours, but it does not specify what they need to be in,” Shaffer said. “The intent is for them to take classes to better themselves professionally … but if it was offered they could take basket weaving for credit, and it would count.”
Licata said students should not take advantage of easy classes to meet the requirements.
“Smart students will use those hours to build their knowledge of skill competency. In order to build those hours, we believe students would be better served by pursuing a graduate degree than taking additional undergraduate hours,” Licata said.
Megan Guliano, a junior majoring in accounting, plans on enrolling in the program if it is approved.
“I wasn’t interested in getting the MBA. I didn’t want to take that route. I wanted a more specific degree in accountancy,” Guliano said. “I think the extra hours of class time and one-on-one time with the professors will prepare us for those exams and will be a great benefit.”
Guliano said she wants to stay with YSU, and has previously been afraid that she would have to relocate to another university.
“To learn that I could stay where I’m comfortable, at YSU, it’s exciting,” Guliano said. “It means another year staying close to YSU, being a part of the program and staying close to the faculty I’ve known in my undergraduate years.”
The graduate program will be offered within the WCBA. Licata said they hope to attract graduates from regional colleges and universities that do not offer a similar degree, such as Baldwin Wallace University or Mount Union University.
“Other schools have been very supportive and have also expressed interest in possible collaboration,” Licata said.
The program will focus on advanced knowledge of tax, finance and accounting, as well as broad management skills. This includes leadership, ethics, communication and knowledge of business processes. Four new courses will be developed for the program.
The program is estimated to enroll 12 to 15 students initially, with the goal of eventually having 23 to 35 students pursuing the degree at any given time. The program is neither designed nor expected to become a large program.
In the beginning, Shaffer said that no new staff will need to be hired to support the program.
“The program is designed to work with our existing staff at first, and if enrollment increases enough we will look into hiring someone,” Shaffer said.
The program is projected to cost the university about $72,000 next fall, with costs rising to around $165,000 by its fourth year. Without taking State Share of Instruction into account, they expect to bring in around $50,000 in the first year and nearly $70,000 by the fourth year.