Magazine article The CPA Journal

Teaching for the Accounting Profession: CPAs and PhDs

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Teaching for the Accounting Profession: CPAs and PhDs

Article excerpt

Accounting professors have the awesome responsibility of preparing their students to be the best possible accounting professionals, no matter where in the wide world of opportunity these students will find themselves. Academia has long debated whether accounting should be taught by PhDs or CPAs. Accounting is a practical profession. The preponderance of PhDs do not have practical experience, but they do have textbook knowledge. The practical aspects of the profession that a student may encounter need to be taught by the practicing CPA.

Our students need to be prepared to handle all phases of the accounting profession. For example, they may be faced with the challenge of clients with complex transactions. Conversely, the challenge may be clients with many simple transactions. They may have clients who need guidance from their CPA, or who have complex tax, pension, or estate planning needs. Our students may find themselves with clients who are small manufacturers or who are always planning new takeovers. They may be hired by firms with unyielding management structures, or with minimal supervision and insufficient staffing, or management structures with which they are unfamiliar. Alternatively, our students may open their own firms.

Professors have the responsibility to prepare their students to have the rudimentary tools to meet each of the above situations, which include manufacturing, financial accounting, taxation, and professional ethics. Professors need to help students to "learn how to learn."

With the understanding that a student's first position in all probability will be with a public CPA firm, any accountant may eventually receive offers from corporations. If a CPA accepts such an offer, the public accountant is now a corporate accountant. If we have performed our job well, all the CPA's professional training will transfer to the corporate world: ethical behavior, internal controls, delegating skills, and supervisory skills.

Based upon the various potential career paths open to students of accounting, if college professors were to be asked which courses they would eliminate, how could they respond? Not knowing what the future may hold for our students, how could we eliminate financial accounting, accounting theory, managerial accounting, or advanced accounting with consolidations? …

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