A Vote for a Four-Year Degree

BY JOHN F. TEMMERMAN

I am not surprised at the precipitous drop in the number of accounting students reported in “The Crisis in Accounting Education.” I believe there are several contributing factors, including the present post-Enron image of CPAs.

However, the seeds for this were sown by passage of the 150-hour requirement a few years ago. The primary result was to restrict the number of new CPAs by requiring an extra year of education.

The article blames the drop in students on academic resistance to curriculum shifts. This appears to be conjecture since no survey data were provided. I’m sure academic inertia exists, but not so sure prospective students think about it. I think they find the concept of a meaningful career and compensation after a four-year degree much more compelling.

Given the post-Enron climate, I don’t have much hope for a turnaround. Faced with this environment, talented students will vote with their feet, as they already have.

For years, we were among the professions that offered credentials after a four-year degree. The fact that people were passing the CPA exam indicated a four-year degree was (and is) sufficient academic preparation. Should the profession need to enhance the quality of new CPAs, the best way to do so would be to revamp the CPA exam, rather than offer artificial barriers to taking it.

The 150-hour requirement should be voted out immediately. Meanwhile, I would welcome a statistical study on the drop in accounting students, as opposed to the reported speculation.

John F. Temmerman, CPA
Skokie, Illinois

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