Large public accounting firms have been calling for the reform of accounting curriculum for several years, with a demand for students that are more tech savvy than ever before.

In 2015, PwC’s recommended focus for Master of Science in Accounting programs was advanced computing and statistics applied in accounting courses. The AICPA — the world’s largest member association for accounting professionals — has also recognized, through its efforts to transform the CPA licensure model, recommended coverage of statistical analytics and computational analytics.

To answer this call and meet real-world demand, the Broad College’s M.S. in Accounting earned STEM designation and embraced a new curriculum focused on data science, machine learning and more.

What are the requirements for earning the STEM designation?

We have aligned our program with the five key areas needed for STEM:

  1. Data mining, warehousing, analysis and display
  2. Statistical theory, methods and analysis
  3. Design, testing and evaluation of computer systems and applications
  4. Modeling and forecasting market performance
  5. Optimization, operations analysis and decision making

How are STEM requirements infused throughout the M.S. curriculum?

First, all students take ACC 827: Accounting Analytics, which covers visualization principles and the use of Tableau, data extraction, transformation and loading, and Star Schema.

Within each concentration, additional skills are taught:

Public and Corporate Accounting concentration

  • Retrieve and use financial statement data to analyze firm performance, operational efficiency and credit risk.
  • Conduct linear and logistic regressions, mediated regressions and statistical methods for sample size determination.
  • Learn multiple firm valuation models for investment decisions.
  • Model financial instrument prices and fair values.
  • Conduct demand forecasting, estimate half-life and lifetime value and run balanced scorecard simulations.
  • Understand integer programming, queueing theory, NPV with incomplete data and theory of constraints.

Taxation concentration

  • Mine data from Google trends and other internet data sites.
  • Use statistical methods to identify and understand relationships among data.
  • Use statistical analysis to forecast future outcomes under different assumptions.

Information Systems concentration

  • Use procedural object-oriented languages (like Java) with specific languages (like SQL) to store, maintain and retrieve accounting information for decision making and financial reporting.
  • Conduct time series analysis, machine learning, supervised and unsupervised learning and association analysis.
  • Use semantic and syntactic modeling of enterprise economic phenomena, relational database technology and database implementations for business systems.
  • Design and evaluate IT general controls, cyber security, intrusion detection and encryption.
  • Use an integrated development environment (like Eclipse) and program with object-oriented language (like Java) to design accounting transaction systems.
  • Use SAP Business ByDesign ERP software.
  • Master methods for optimizing project resource allocation.

How does STEM designation benefit international students?

Prior to STEM designation, an international student who graduated from our M.S. in Accounting program was entitled to one “free” year of work for pay without sponsorship. At the end of that year, the student would need to obtain a work visa (which is difficult to do) or return home.

Now, with the M.S. in Accounting program’s STEM designation, a graduate is allowed three “free” years of work in the United States and can apply for a work visa in each of those years, doubling or tripling their chances of receiving one. This is a significant benefit for the graduate and the employer.