Students sit on a Lehigh accounting class. Lehigh introduced a one year master's in accounting program for non-accounting majors to expand student opportunities. (Courtesy of Lehigh University)

Lehigh introduces one-year master’s in accounting program for non-accounting majors

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The first group of students will begin Lehigh’s new one-year, master’s of science in accounting (MSA) program for non-accounting majors this May. 

The program is geared toward individuals who haven’t completed an accounting degree, but have basic knowledge of introductory accounting and economics, according to the program website. 

Over the course of a year, admitted students will complete 36 credits and an eight-week paid internship in public accounting during the spring semester. 

The website states that students will gain enough knowledge to complete the CPA exam, as well as network with individuals and alumni in the accounting field. 

Bryan Cloyd, professor and chair of the accounting department, said the MSA program came about as Lehigh’s College of Business noticed a decline in demand for the fifth-year graduate program for accounting majors. 

Cloyd said about 10 percent of accounting undergraduate students stay at Lehigh to complete their master’s degree. 

“The reason why we’re doing this, really, is to try to use the resources we have to benefit a greater population, tapping into a population of students that we haven’t traditionally served,” Cloyd said. 

Admitted students will stay on campus throughout their summer and fall semesters, he said. Even though online MSA programs already exist, Cloyd said he believes that being on campus provides students with professional connections and integrated networks from Lehigh’s established recruitment relationships. 

However, students won’t always be on campus during their program studies. 

Cloyd said the MSA program will use Lehigh’s ClassroomLIVE tool throughout the spring semester to make the program more flexible. ClassroomLIVE is a resource that delivers programs in real-time from classrooms on Lehigh’s campus to students off campus.

For the first half of the spring semester, students will participate in internships and take one weekly evening class through ClassroomLIVE. After eight weeks, they can choose to return to Lehigh or stay off-campus and finish their studies online.

Dave Hinrichs, professor and director of the MSA program, said the program is a great opportunity for those who are looking to make an educational switch or leverage their backgrounds.

“The public accounting firms are looking for folks not just accounting majors they’re actually hiring in some other disciplines,” Hinrichs said. “So they appreciate that not everyone has to be a pure accountant.” 

Andrew Mallett, ‘20, is pursuing a B.S. in accounting, sitting for the CPA exam and was the former vice president of Lehigh’s Accounting Club. He said the MSA program will be a rewarding challenge. 

Since the MSA program prepares students for careers in the accounting profession in only a year, the academic expectations are high for admitted students, Mallett said. 

“Lehigh’s name goes pretty far in accounting outside of the school,” Mallett said. “We have some of the highest CPA passing rates, which is because of the rigor of the undergraduate program. It’s going to be really tough, but I believe if people step up to the plate, that’s only going to make the master’s more sought after.”

The application deadline for domestic students is April 15, and the deadline for international students is March 15. There will be a MSA virtual information session on March 2. 

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