Challenges to Audit Education for the 21st Century: A Survey of Curricula, Course Content, and Delivery Methods: The 2000-2001 Auditing Section Education Committee American Accounting Association

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: This paper reports the results of a survey of auditing and assurance courses in the U.S. and several other countries conducted during 2000-2001. The survey, commissioned by the Auditing Section of the American Accounting Association, yielded data on a total of 285 auditing and assurance courses taught at 188 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and several other countries. The syllabi data were analyzed on a number of dimensions and the results compared to two prior surveys of auditing courses (Frakes 1987; Groomer and Heintz 1994).

Our findings document substantial changes in content (e.g., new or expanded coverage of fraud, information technology, and assurance services) and pedagogy (e.g., increased use of team projects, student presentations, cases, and the Internet) in both introductory and advanced auditing courses over the past several years. These changes are discussed in the context of events that significantly impacted auditing education and practice from the late 1980s through the end of the 1990s.

Data Availability: Course-level syllabi data that do not indicate the identity or institutional affiliation of individual auditing faculty are available from the authors.


The 1990s were a decade of significant change in the auditing profession. At the beginning of the 21st century, investors and other stakeholders in an increasingly global capital market are demanding that companies provide accurate and relevant performance data in real time. In connection with these changes, the scope of the financial audit and the role of the independent auditor have expanded. In addition to attesting to the fairness of historical financial statements in accordance with prescribed accounting principles, the independent auditor now includes consideration of the client's performance, validity, and risk management of business processes in assessing overall engagement risk (Elliott 1998).

In order to keep pace with these fundamental changes in the market for financial information, calls for significant change in accounting and auditing education have come from the accounting profession (e.g., Arthur Andersen et al. 1989; Elliott 1997) and academia (e.g., Accounting Education Change Commission [AECC] 1990; Williams 1993; Albrecht and Sack 2000). These changes include taking a broader, less structured, and less technical approach to accounting and auditing in the classroom, as well as integrating information technology into the curriculum, both as an instructional vehicle and as a tool to enhance students' research and communication skills.

Another significant change impacting accounting and auditing education in the United States is the number of states that have adopted a 150-hour education requirement for the licensing of certified public accountants. Prior to 1990, only two states, Florida and Hawaii, had 150-hour requirements in effect. As of 2002, that number has grown to 38 states plus the District of Columbia, and nine additional states have enacted the requirement with a future effective date. This change has led to widespread redesign of accounting curricula across the country.

To determine the impact of these changes on auditing education, we collected a large sample of auditing course syllabi, performed content analysis on the syllabi, and compared our results to those of two similar prior studies (Frakes 1987; Groomer and Heintz 1994). Frakes (1987) focused on the content and delivery of 233 undergraduate auditing courses in the late 1980s. Groomer and Heintz (1994) reported on 196 advanced auditing courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the early 1990s. As part of our analysis, we identified nine distinct auditing curriculum models among the institutions in the sample. These models range from a single financial auditing course at the undergraduate level to several specialized auditing courses at the graduate level. …


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