Academic journal article Journal of Business and Accounting

A CPA Perspective of a Contemporary Auditing Curriculum: Helping to Keep It Relevant

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Accounting

A CPA Perspective of a Contemporary Auditing Curriculum: Helping to Keep It Relevant

Article excerpt


The Pathways Commission on Accounting Higher Education was created in response to a recommendation from the U.S. Treasury Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession (U.S. Dept, of Treasury, 2008). The Commission, created by the American Accounting Association (AAA) and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to study the future structure of higher education for the accounting profession, was charged with developing recommendations for educational pathways to engage and retain the strongest possible community of stakeholders in the profession. As discussed in their report, stakeholders include students, academics, practitioners, and all other knowledgeable leaders in the practice and study of accounting.

The Commission's seven recommendations include [Recommendation 4] developing curriculum models, engaging learning resources, and mechanisms for easily sharing them as well as enhancing faculty development opportunities in support of a robust curriculum. Specific objectives to accomplish their recommendations include engaging the accounting community to define the body of knowledge that serves as the foundation for accounting curricula of the future and implementing curricular models that serve future needs (AAA, 2012).

More recently, the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the Management Accounting Section (MAS) of the AAA formed a joint Task Force to extend the work of the Pathways Commission [Lawson et al, 2014). The Task Force developed a proposed Framework that offered definitions of the competencies required by all accounting students for long-term career requirements and an understanding of how to develop the competencies within the accounting curriculum. Much of the discussion is impacted by Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) legislative influences that require practicing CPAs to have extensive knowledge of internal controls to effectively complete an audit and comply with regulatory requirements. The Task Force, however, recognizes that knowledge of internal controls is a competency all accounting graduates need, even graduates that do not enter public accounting but instead join other organizations. The purpose of this research is to assess the relevance of contemporary auditing curricula by surveying an important stakeholder in auditing education-practicing CPAs. The survey identifies the stakeholders' assessment of the relative importance of sixty-three auditing topics within the auditing curriculum in preparing students for entry level work and career advancement. Faculty may use these results to assist in the development and modification of their course content in response to changes in demands of the contemporary workplace, especially changes resulting from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Similarly, textbook authors may find these results useful for further refining coverage of topics in their respective textbooks.

The 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) had major impact on firms auditing publicly-held companies and many other stakeholders, including audit committees and internal auditors (Cohen et al, 2013) as well as corporate lawyers and accountants (Reed et al, 2007). The NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges adopted greater independence requirements for board of directors in new exchange listing requirements.

As noted above, university faculty and students entering the workforce are also affected stakeholders. Professional demands from the SOX legislation make college business school curriculum modifications necessary, especially accounting curriculum. Indeed, The Pathways Commission (AAA, 2012), in evaluating accounting knowledge competency, identified knowledge topics for accounting in the Financial Accounting and Reporting area and Auditing and Attest Services area that are directly affected by the Sox legislation. Our research extends results of earlier surveys to assess whether auditing curriculum changes provide students with the appropriate emphasis on Sarbanes-Oxley legislation requirements as perceived by CPA's. …

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