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Increase the Number and Quality of Students in Your MAcc Program



■ KRISHNA S. DHIR, Feature Editor, Campbell School of Business, Berry College

                                                     Increase the Number and Quality
                                                     of Students in Your MAcc Program
                                                     without Additional Funding:
                                                     A Case Study
                                                     by Marvin L. Bouillon, Iowa State University

                                                     I  n the late 1980s, a majority of the
                                                        American Institute of Certified Public
                                                     Accountants (AICPA) voted to require
                                                                                                       to the 150-hour requirement. Frecka and
                                                                                                       Nichols (2004) found that the number
                                                                                                       of graduate students in accounting had
                                                     150 hours of education for its membership         increased in recent years for both existing
                                                     after the year 2000. As of December 31,           and new programs added in response to
                                                     2000, there were six states or territories that   the 150-hour requirement. They deter-
                                                     did not enact the 150-hour requirement.           mined that the average enrollments for
                                                     Like many states, Iowa passed the law in          these programs were small when com-
                                                     1992 to be effective in the year 2000.            pared to existing MBA programs. Iowa
                                                          As states passed the new 150-hour            State University decided to start a master
                                                     requirement, universities and colleges            in accounting (MAcc) program.
                                                     were forced to look at their programs                   The purpose of this paper is to
                                                     to see how they would deal with this              provide an awareness of some issues
                                                     new education requirement. Renner                 faced by the new director of the MAcc
                                                     and Tanner (2001) surveyed members                program at Iowa State University and
                                                     of the AICPA, Institute of Management             share some of the viable solutions. We
                                                     Accountants (IMA) and recruiters of               provide statistics before (shaded area in
                                                     accounting graduates from a regional              tables) and after the change in directors.
                                                     Midwestern university and found that              We discuss a series of decisions that
                                                     some of the popular choices (not in order         were made by the new director and the
                                                     of preference) were: (a) BA with a double         overall changes that resulted from these
                                                     major in accounting and finance, (b) BA            decisions. As mentioned above, we feel
                                                     with a double major in accounting and             that these decisions are generalizable to
                   Marvin L. Bouillon                management information systems, (c)               other MAcc programs and will help them
                   is the Mark and Pam Fisher
                   Faculty Fellow in Accounting
                                                     BA in accounting/MBA, (d) BA in ac-               successfully increase the quality and
                   and the Chair of the Account-     counting/master in accounting, and (e)            number of students in their programs.
                   ing and Finance Departments       BA in accounting/master in taxation.              Imagine doing this without any addi-
                   at Iowa State University. He      At many schools, the first two options             tional funding!
                   earned his Ph.D. and MS in        were already available but were deemed                  In the next section we will give you
accounting from The University of Kansas and his
MBA and BA in accounting from the University
                                                     unacceptable for the better accounting            a quick overview of Iowa State Univer-
of Northern Iowa. He has published in numerous       undergraduate students. Option (c)                sity. We follow that with a brief discus-
journals, including Journal of Accounting and        may be a good one, but could require              sion of the MAcc program at Iowa State
Public Policy, Southern Economics Journal,           a student to stay in school for six years.        University before July 2004, along with
Journal of Applied Business Research, Jour-          Therefore, many schools looked at op-             its potential costs and available financial
nal of Education for Business, Industrial
Relations, Issues in Accounting Education,
                                                     tions (d) and (e) as being logical choices.       support. We then provide some statistics
Industrial and Labor Relations Review, and           These options are cost-effective ways             and trends before July 2004, followed by
numerous articles in several real estate journals.   for students to complete the 150-hour             a section discussing the issues faced by
Dr. Bouillon has received numerous teaching          requirement and leave a university with           the new director appointed in 2004. Next,
awards and is the current director of the MAcc       a masters’ degree!                                we discuss the new director’s decisions
program at Iowa State University.
                                                          Donelan and Reed (2000) examine              and present some updated information
                                                     the increase in graduate programs due             on the MAcc since July 2004. The paper

Decision Line, October 2008                                                                                                                    19
concludes with a brief summary of how        Master of Accounting (MAcc)                        Financial Support. At the onset
this may help directors of MAcc pro-                                                       of this program, the college provides
                                             Cyndie Jeffrey was the first director of the
grams at other institutions.                                                               financial assistance for three graduate
                                             MAcc program. She did an excellent job
                                                                                           students with one-quarter time research
                                             of moving the program over the required
Iowa State University                                                                      assistantships. Students who receive as-
                                             hurdles in order to get the program estab-
                                                                                           sistantships were automatically charged
Iowa State University is a land-grant        lished. The MAcc program began in the
                                                                                           resident tuition rates and their in-state tu-
institution that opened its doors in 1868    fall semester of 2000. It was designed to
                                                                                           ition is decreased by another 25 percent.
and is one of three state-supported insti-   meet the needs of accountants in public
                                                                                           These students also receive a monthly sti-
tutions of higher learning in the state of   or private accounting focusing on inter-
                                                                                           pend of $718 per month. When the MAcc
Iowa. Currently, Iowa State University is    preting and analyzing accounting infor-
                                                                                           program was started, the dean’s office
a Carnegie Doctoral/Research Extensive       mation for decision making. Graduates
                                                                                           support provided three one-fourth-time
University.                                  of this program comply with the Iowa
                                                                                           assistantships. In 2004-05, they decided
     The College of Business was cre-        Standards for Certification upon passing
                                                                                           to no longer promise this support on an
ated in April 1984 and received its ini-     the Uniform Certified Public Accounting
                                                                                           annual basis to the MAcc program.
tial accreditation from AACSB in April       examination.
1991. The accounting department was                In 2004, when the directors changed,
                                                                                           MAcc Program—Statistics and Trends
separately accredited in 2000 when the       the MAcc degree was a 32-credit-hour
                                                                                           from 2000 through 2004
College received its reaffirmation in        program designed to be completed in
March of that year. When the accounting      two and one-half semesters. It consisted      The college tracks recruitment, enroll-
department began exploring the pos-          of 15 credits-hours of graduate account-      ment, demographic, and employment
sibility of implementing a MAcc degree,      ing courses, a communications course,         information for the MAcc program. Table
the College already had a part-time and      an international course, and nine to          1 summarizes information regarding
full-time MBA program.                       12 credit-hours of electives as needed.       how many applications, admissions, and
     The College of Business is the third    There was also a two credit-hour creative     actual number of students that register
largest college at Iowa State University,    component requirement. Generally, the         for classes in the MAcc program. In
with a fall 2007 enrollment of 3,333 un-     creative component required the student       2001-2002, 20 out of 29 students (69%)
dergraduate and 294 graduate students.       to work on a real world or research proj-     eventually registered for classes. These
The College moved into the Gerdin Busi-      ect. Then they presented their results to     percentages dropped off to 53 percent
ness Building in December 2004. This         a three-member committee.                     and 43 percent in 2003-2004 and 2004-
111,000-square foot building is located                                                    2005, respectively.
centrally on campus and provides a           Costs and Financial Support for                    Table 2 provides enrollment trends
state-of-the-art high-tech home for the      MAcc Program                                  for the first five years of the program.
College. The Gerdin Business Building                                                      The enrollment numbers show a gradual
                                             Costs to Study. The 2006-2007 tuition
features wireless access and high-tech                                                     increase over the first four years, then a
                                             costs for resident (in-state) graduate
laboratories where our students and                                                        sharp decline of 27 percent in 2004-05.
                                             students were $330 per credit hour; with
faculty can replicate real-world situa-                                                    Table 3 indicates that there was a slight
                                             fees, semester tuition was $3,433.08.
tions in areas such as securities trading,                                                 increase in the number of students gradu-
                                             Non-resident tuition (including fees) was
management information systems, and                                                        ating over the first four years. Based on
                                             $8,640.08 per semester.
market research.

                           2006-07       2005-06        2004-05        2003-04       2002-03         2001-02        2000-01
                           # Yield       # Yield        # Yield        # Yield       # Yield         # Yield        # Yield

       Application        42            58             32             44             45             31             15
       Admission          34    81%     49      84%    28    88%      40    91%      36    80%      29    94%      15 100%
       Registration       29    85%     35      71%    12    43%      21    53%      24    67%      20    69%      15 100%

Table 1: MAcc program recruitment, 2000-2007.

20                                                                                                          Decision Line, October 2008
the number of students being enrolled               ter for the program. Based on Table 2        Predicting success using prior GPAs
and the number of students graduating,              the college was recruiting the wrong    make sense. Bouillon, Doran, and Smith
several students were taking more than              students.                               (1990) and Doran, Bouillon, and Smith
a year to graduate.                                                                         (1991) found that a student’s cumulative
                                               3. How to increase the number of un-
     Table 4 shows the profiles for MAcc                                                     GPA is a good predictor of success in both
                                                  dergraduate students to apply and
students over the first five years. The                                                       accounting principles classes, while the
                                                  register for the MAC program.
profiles of graduate students in the MAcc                                                    grade in accounting principles one is
appear to be fairly consistent from year       4. How to improve the number of poten-       also an excellent predictor of a student’s
to year. The average GPA and GMAT are             tial graduate assistants available for    performance in second accounting prin-
approximately 3.25 and 560, respectively.         the MAC students. This became even        ciples course. Meanwhile, Yang and Lu
Finally, Table 5 presents the employment          more important when the College of        (2001) determined that undergraduate
statistics for MAcc students from 2001-           Business decided it would withdraw        GPA is very useful in predicting aca-
02 through 2004-05. The employment                its support for the MAC program.          demic performance in an accredited MBA
opportunities for students from the U.S.                                                    program. Sulaiman and Mohezar (2006)
                                               5. How to improve the quality and make
have been consistently excellent, while                                                     also found that student’s undergraduate
                                                  the program more competitive with
the same opportunities for international                                                    grades are the best predictors of their
                                                  other schools.
students have been poor but improving                                                       MBA performance followed by the un-
over the first three years.                                                                  dergraduate discipline. They found that
                                               Addressing the Above Issues
                                                                                            age, ethnicity, gender, and years of work
What Issues Faced the Director?                When Cyndie Jeffrey stepped down as          experience had no bearing on academic
                                               the director in 2004, she recommended        performance.
In 2004, this MAC Program and its direc-
                                               that we drop the GMAT requirement                 There are mixed results pertain-
tor faced several significant issues:
                                               for undergraduate accounting majors at       ing to the GMAT score as a predictor.
1. How to recruit more students to the         Iowa State University with a cumulative      Wright and Bachrach (2003) discovered
   program without a recruiting budget.        GPA in excess of 3.25. This suggestion has   a potential bias against females when
                                               proven to be a great move in increasing      using GMAT scores for admissions
2. How to increase the percentage of
                                               the number and quality of students enter-    to MBA programs. Further, Hancock
   admitted students that actually regis-
                                               ing the program.

                               2007-08     2006-07     2005-06      2004-05     2003-04      2002-03     2001-02     2000-01

           enrolled              56           49          47           27          37          32           20             6
         % change              14.3%         4.4%       74.1%       (27.0%)      15.6%       60.0%        25.0%

Table 2: MAcc program enrollment, total students, 2000-2007, fall semester.

                                   2006-07          2005-06        2004-05         2003-04         2002-03         2001-02

        Degrees granted              28                26             14              16              10               8
        % change                    8.7%             85.7%         (-12.5%)         60.0%           25.0%

Table 3: MAcc degrees granted, 2001-2007.

Decision Line, October 2008                                                                                                        21
(1999) discovered that while women           communications with the undergradu-           increased the number of applications,
performed significantly lower on the         ate advising office, the undergraduate         admitted students registering percent-
GMAT, their overall MBA performance          career services office, the honors office,      age, enrollments in the program, and
was similar to that of the male students.    and with Beta Alpha Psi. We had very          the number of MAcc degrees offered. In
These results supported our decision         open discussions with these groups            2006-07 the admission percentage was
to eliminate GMAT scores for our best        pertaining to the MAcc degree. It was         down, but the overall registration of ad-
students at Iowa State University. We do     expressed to them that a student going        missions was 85 percent. The number of
expect our students to have a cumulative     after his or her CPA certification would       MAcc degrees granted in 2006-07 was 28,
undergraduate GPA of 3.25 at Iowa State      be better off if they completed the MAcc      which is twice the number granted just
University in order to avoid the GMAT        degree rather than do a double major.         two years prior. Currently, enrollment in
examination.                                 Additionally, these groups were asked to      the program is at record levels.
     Koys (2005) discovered that GMAT        identify students early and send them to          The new director’s quest to increase
scores were a valid predictor of academic    the director so they could plan to do this    the number of graduate assistantships
performance in an MBA program for            as efficiently as possible.                    available to MAcc students was achieved
international students. This provides             By eliminating the GMAT test score       by:
support for us to continue to use the        for the best students and promoting the
                                                                                           1. Making sure that his own graduate as-
GMAT score for all international student     MAcc internally, we were able to lower
                                                                                              sistant was a MAcc student. This was
and domestic student applications from       the barriers for our best students. Addi-
                                                                                              used to support two students since
other universities.                          tionally, the MAcc degree is now known
                                                                                              one of them was on an internship in
     A second step that was used to          as the “hot degree” among the good
                                                                                              the spring.
recruit Iowa State Students was open         accounting students. These two steps

                                            2006-07    2005-06    2004-05     2003-04       2002-03    2001-02       2000-01

         GPA                                 3.38        3.41       3.37         3.26         3.47       3.19          3.29
         GMAT                                580         568        575          574          550        562           553
         TOEFL                               252         250        267          243           ---        ---           ---
         Average age                          27          27         24           27           26         28            31
         % Female                            59%         34%        33%          29%          33%        50%           75%
         Yrs. work experience                 1.5         1.6        0.6          3.0          2.0        4.0           6.3
         % international                     47%         34%        25%          52%          38%        28%           25%
         # countries represented               6           6          3            6            7          3             2

Table 4: Profile of MAcc students, 2000-2007, fall semester.

                                    % employment at graduate and 3 months after graduation
                         2005-06         2004-05          2003-04           2002-03          2001-02
                       Grad   3 mos   Grad    3 mos    Grad    3 mos    Grad      3 mos    Grad   3 mos

     All Students      86%        90%         73%       82%       80%        80%          88%        100%       86%        100%
      US               100%       100%        86%       100%      100%       100%         100%       100%       86%        100%
      Int’l            57%        71%         50%       50%        0%        100%          0%        25%        NA          NA

Table 5: MAcc student employment, 2001-2007.

22                                                                                                          Decision Line, October 2008
2. Making sure that assistantships given      2007 began with seven students on full-         the MAcc program with several addition-
   to accounting faculty from the College     year one-fourth-time assistantships and         al graduate assistantship opportunities
   of Business were MAcc students. This       another six students receiving half-year        across campus. It makes sense to hire a
   supported four MAcc students. Two          assistantships. Another four half-year          MAcc student for accounting related po-
   for a full year and two for a half of      assistantships are available for the spring     sitions. Every struggling MAcc program
   year.                                      semester. At a minimum, there will be a         can implement these simple steps and
                                              30 percent increase. More realistically,        will potentially increase the quality and
3. Working with the Vice-President of
                                              we are expecting to see a 50 to 70 percent      quantity of students in its program!
   Finance and providing a MAcc stu-
                                              increase in students receiving partial or
   dent that would work with the hockey
                                              full assistantships in 2007-08.                 Endnotes
   team’s finances.
                                                   Finally, a shortcoming of the pro-
                                                                                              1. California, Delaware, New Hampshire,
4. Working with the athletic director and     gram was that it has a two credit-hour
                                                                                                 Vermont and the Virgin Islands had not
   providing a MAcc student/former            creative component requirement. After a
                                                                                                 enacted the 150-hour requirement as
   athlete an opportunity to work in the      thorough study of competing programs,
                                                                                                 of this date. See Boone and Coe (2002,
   athletic department.                       it was determined that the creative
                                                                                                 pages 256 and 257). Colorado did en-
                                              component was a deterrent for many
5. Working with the Accounting Advi-                                                             act the 150-hour requirement but later
                                              students to apply to the MAcc program.
   sory Board to increase unrestricted                                                           repealed it before the law became ef-
                                              In 2007, the creative component was of-
   funds to the accounting department.                                                           fective. See Colbert and Murray (2001,
                                              ficially eliminated as a requirement of
   Two MAcc students were provided                                                               page 189).
                                              the degree.
   a half of year of support from these                                                       2. Cyndie Jeffrey was the original director
   development funds.                                                                            of the MAcc program and provided
     The department helped 10 students                                                           the initiative to develop and imple-
                                              It is amazing what this MAcc program
in 2006-07! The director is continually                                                          ment the program. She stepped down
                                              and its directors have accomplished in
searching for new avenues to increase                                                            in 2004.
                                              this short period of time. While the 150-
funding. He continues to work with the        hour requirement appeared to create an          3. On July 1, 2004, Marv Bouillon took
Accounting Advisory Board to develop          obstacle, it has been able to make it a            over as the director.
additional funds for named graduate           positive situation for the students. It has     4. The creative component was a require-
scholarships and assistantships. In 2007-     developed a culture at this university that        ment for most new masters programs
08, there will be two students benefiting      makes the MAcc degree important. Its               at Iowa State University without the-
from a half-year assistantship provided       students are made aware of this program            ses. When the MAcc started in 2000, the
from John Deere funds. The director con-      the first day that they become an account-          MBA was the only masters program
tinues to work with the college to provide    ing major, or from the first day they take          without a creative component or a the-
graduate assistants to accounting faculty     an accounting class. They hear it from             sis. Since then, the College of Design
that have an accounting background.           faculty, undergraduate advisors, career            has added a master degree program
Therefore, we have been negotiating           services, and BAP members. If they are             without a creative component.
with the college for the four assistant-      going to be a CPA and meet the 150-hour         5. International students traditionally
ships that we received last year. Another     requirement, then the MAcc is the best            take longer.
student will work with the Vice President     way to go. Why should an accounting
of Finance Office and the finances of                                                         6. There were only three MAcc students
                                              student who is planning to go into public
the hockey team. There were additional                                                           that received graduate assistantships
                                              accounting do anything else?
contacts with other organizations on                                                             before July 1, 2004. These assistant-
                                                    Since this college’s good students
campus to provide additional assistant-                                                          ships are no longer guaranteed for
                                              are the best candidates for this program,
ships for MAcc students. These contacts                                                          MAcc students because the College of
                                              it has lowered the barriers for them to
were made with the offices of the athletic                                                        Business has removed its support for
                                              enter. All accounting majors at this uni-
director, the vice president of finance, the                                                      the MAcc program.
                                              versity with a GPA of 3.25 or greater will
controller and the university’s founda-       not have to take the GMAT examination.
tion. Two assistantships were secured                                                         References
                                              We have been very creative in developing
through this process along with a possi-      new graduate assistantship opportunities        Boone, Jeff P., & Coe, Teddy L. (2002). The
bility of two more next semester. Finally,    for our students. The creation of a new           150-hour requirement and changes in
a new database is being kept pertaining       database, and the process of contacting           the supply of accounting undergradu-
to MAcc graduate assistants obtained          the offices of the athletic director, the vice     ates: Evidence from a quasi-experi-
next year. This database will increase our    president of finance, the controller and
chances at keeping a MAcc student in          the university’s foundation, has provided       See DEANS’ PERSPECTIVE, page 28
each of these positions next year. The fall

Decision Line, October 2008                                                                                                           23
Strategy 2: Network at Conferences              spend a small amount of time and it is      nearly every university. As one senior
Students should not rely on faculty bring-      really appreciated.                         professor said, “Teaching is increasingly
ing visitors to their university as a means   • You should be saying “no” quite             important. It pays the bills. But it is a
to build a network; instead, they should        regularly or you’re taking on too           black box and can consume inordinate
make time to get to know other faculty          many responsibilities. Some of them         time. As long as students are not com-
and doctoral students from other schools        are worthwhile (e.g., being AE for          plaining to the dean….”
at conferences. Informal social connec-         MISQ). Some are not (writing chapters
tions are a good way of identifying job         for certain encyclopedias or reviewing      A Final Note: Prioritization is Key
and research opportunities.                     for conferences you don’t want to at-       Prioritizing one’s time is crucial, as many
                                                tend).                                      assistant professors estimate that they
Strategy 3: Choose Service                    • Don’t let flattery get you to say “yes.”     dedicate around 55 hours a week to their
Opportunities Wisely                            See previous bullet.                        job. Guidelines faculty should consider
Choose service that yields long term                                                        are: using their time carefully, paying
benefits. A senior scholar suggested that      Teaching Strategy: Managing Time              attention to their university’s values,
assistant professors use the following        Efficiently                                    setting priorities, and then planning out
heuristics:                                                                                 their life. As faculty approach tenure,
                                              Our colleagues offered only one teaching
                                                                                            they should keep in mind that balancing
• Service should not be neglected, but        strategy: faculty should manage their
                                                                                            the demands of their professional life
  don’t get carried away.                     time efficiently. Faculty differ in how
                                                                                            with their personal life is important, and
• Some service assignments are really         much time they invest in teaching—from
                                                                                            there are many different paths towards
  rewarding. Even if you don’t do a per-      six hours to 20 hours a week. Keep in
                                                                                            achieving this goal. ■
  fect job, if you put in a little time, it   mind that teaching excellence is neces-
  will look like gold. Very often you can     sary, but not sufficient, to earn tenure at

DEANS’ PERSPECTIVE, from page 23

     ment. Issues in Accounting Education,    Hancock, Terence M. (1999). The gender        Yang, Baiyin, & Lu, Diaopin Rosa. (2001).
     17(3), 253-268.                           difference: Validity of standardized           Predicting academic performance in
Bouillon, Marvin L., Doran, B. Michael,        admission tests in predicting MBA              management education: An empirical
  & Smith, Claire G. (1990). Factors that      performance. Journal of Education for          investigation of MBA success. Journal of
  predict success in principles of ac-         Business, 75(2), 91-93.                        Education for Business, 77(1), 15-20. ■
  counting classes. Journal of Education      Koys, Daniel J. (2005). The validity of the
  for Business, 65(1), 23-27.                  graduate management admissions test
Colbert, G., & Murray, D. (2001). Sunset       for non-U.S. students. Journal of Educa-
 review of public accountancy laws:            tion for Business, 80(4), 236-239.
 The Colorado experience. Accounting          Renner, Celia, & Tanner, Margaret. (2001).
 Horizons, 15(2), 183-192.                      Educating future accountants: Alterna-
Donelan, Joseph G., & Reed, Ronald O.           tives for meeting the 150-hour require-
                                                                                             Quality Management Journal seeks papers
 (2000). The 150-hour requirement and           ment. Journal of Education for Business,     that provide greater insights into healthcare
 the supply of graduate accounting pro-         76(3), 132-137.                              services, operations, quality management,
 grams. Journal of Education for Business,    Sulaiman, Ainin, & Mohezar, Suhana.            decision making, and performance
                                                                                             improvement for a special issue on “Research
 75(2), 93-97.                                  (2006). Student success factors: Identi-
                                                                                             in Healthcare Operations and Quality
Doran, B. Michael, Bouillon, Marvin L., &       fying key predictors. Journal of Educa-      Management.” This issue seeks conceptual
 Smith, Claire G. (1991). Determinants          tion for Business, vol. 81(6), 328-333.      or empirical papers that pursue either
 of student performance in accounting         Wright, Robert E., & Bachrach, Daniel G.       theory-building or theory-testing. Submit
                                                                                             manuscripts by September 30, 2009, to
 principles I and II. Issues in Accounting     (2003). Testing for bias against female and note that you
 Education, 6(1), 74-84.                       test takers of the graduate manage-           are submitting your paper for the special
Frecka, Thomas J., & Nichols, William D.       ment admissions test and potential            issue. Victor Prybutok (,
                                               impact on admissions to graduate pro-         University of North Texas, and Xiaoni Zhang,
  (2004). Characteristics of master’s in
                                               grams in business. Journal of Education       Northern Kentucky University, are serving
  accounting degree programs. Issues in                                                      as guest editors.
  Accounting Education, 19(2), 165-188.        for Business, 78(6), 324-328.

28                                                                                                            Decision Line, October 2008

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