New program, higher pay boost interest in accounting

October 11 2007

When thinking of pairs, CSIs and CPAs probably don’t top your list. However, a relatively new program that combines accounting with forensics has helped fuel an already hot field in Indiana State University's College of Business.

Joe Sanders, professor of accounting, said that 24 students are currently enrolled in the forensic accounting minor, and he believes that a degree in accounting and a forensic accounting minor “will be a marketable combination.” Full-time enrollment of accounting majors has increased 13 percent since last year, from 160 to 180, he added.

Another factor in the success and popularity of ISU’s accounting program is that students are well-prepared for the workforce before they leave campus. Sanders gives some of this credit to the preparations students have prior to taking the CPA exam.

“A lot of our students do internships and get the actual experience while they are going to school,” he said.

April Huey of Scottsburg, a May 2007 graduate, holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and completed ISU’s new minor in forensic accounting. Huey is a staff auditor at BKD, LLP, in Indianapolis. She feels ISU helped her leave campus ready to begin her career.

“My professors never brushed off the CPA exam. They constantly reminded us of how important the exam is,” she said.

Huey also credits her involvement in ISU’s Networks Scholars program, which gave her many chances to experience professional development, study abroad and work in team settings.

“These experiences were great for my career,” Huey added. “For every audit I work on, there is a team of two to five auditors. Projects such as planning a business ethics conference my junior year and holding the position of recruiting coordinator for the program put me in teamwork situations almost every day.”

Recruiters have been impressed with the credentials of ISU accounting grads, said Bill Svihla, assistant professor of accounting. One particular aspect is that students are using some of the same software in class that they will use on the job.

“It’s a big plus that our students get that training before they go out (into the workforce),” he said.

The software, developed by ACL Services Ltd., is used by three out of four Fortune 500 companies, all of the so-called “Big Four” national auditing firms and many local, state and federal government agencies, Svihla noted.

“That has been increasingly of interest to some of our recruiters when they see that on some of their resumes,” he said.

2004 ISU graduate Crecentia Gastos, an auditor at KPMG, LLC, in Indianapolis, said the ISU accounting program helped her get a head start on her career.

“I passed all of the CPA exams before completion of my first few months at KPMG, long before any other members of my start-class,” she said.

Students are also obtaining help preparing for their careers outside of the classroom. Rachel Williams of Bridgeport, Ill. is one student who received such help.

“The Career Center and my job on campus helped me with other skills, such as communication, leadership, and professional skills,” said Williams, a payroll analyst for Boeing Company, who will complete her degree in December.

Rising accounting salaries have also contributed to an increase in the number of accounting majors, Sanders said. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported in its fall 2007 Salary Survey that starting salary offers for this year’s accounting graduates increased 3 percent over last to an average of $46,292.

In addition to higher salaries, accounting firms offer excellent working conditions, Svihla said, noting accounting firms took the top three positions in a recent Business Week magazine report on the best businesses to work for in America.

Sanders also noted that companies have a strong demand for highly qualified individuals with specialties in a variety of accounting areas, especially fraud investigation.

The training that ISU students obtain in these areas before graduation makes them more attractive to employers, Svihla added.

Kate Korosi, a May 2007 ISU graduate who is currently a Leaders in Motion associate with Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) in Indianapolis, obtained her full-time position at DFAS after earning an internship there last year.

In central Indiana, the future looks especially bright for the accounting field as DFAS, an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense, continues to expand its operations in Indianapolis as part of a base re-alignment from 18 facilities around the country to four.

“Indy is going to be their primary base. With more than 3,000 employees now, it is expected to increase to as high as 6,000,” Sanders said.

Photos:
Joe Sanders, professor of accounting, Indiana State University
April Huey, accounting graduate, Indiana State University
Kate Korosi, accounting graduate, Indiana State University

Contact: Joe Sanders, professor of accounting, Indiana State University, (812) 237-237-2015 or jsando@isugw.indstate.edu

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

A new forensic accounting minor, salaries and improved working conditions are boosting interest in the accounting program in Indiana State University's College of Business. Growth at a U.S. Department of Defense accounting facility in Indianapolis also bodes well for the profession in Indiana, professors say.

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