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ETSU Accountancy Department adds controllership concentration to master’s program

Contributed • Dec 11, 2018 at 10:48 AM

New courses in the Master of Accountancy (M.Acc.) Program at East Tennessee State University are allowing students the flexibility to prepare for careers in the corporate sector.

The concentration in controllership began this fall and reflects the emerging role of accountants to aid in financial consultations and decision-making in the corporate workplace. It also provides an alternative to the traditional career paths of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in audit or tax.

“We are seeing that some students don’t want to work as public accountants, nor do they want to work 60-to-80 hour weeks during tax season,” said Dr. Michelle Freeman, associate professor of accountancy and coordinator for the M.Acc. program at ETSU.

For those who do not find the heavy workload during tax season particularly appealing and prefer a corporate accounting setting, the controllership concentration may be a good option. The 33-credit hour graduate program requires 21 hours of advanced courses taken by all accountancy graduate students, nine hours in the controllership concentration and a capstone course focused on gaining professional accounting experience. Controllership is one of four concentrations offered in the M.Acc. Audit, taxation and generalist concentrations are also available.

According to Freeman, “Controllership is a missing piece, a niche that combines some basic knowledge in both tax and audit and also focuses on the corporate environment and decisions corporate accountants face.”

This “missing piece” was exactly what Baylee Mann was searching for in a graduate program. She started the controllership concentration this fall after graduating from ETSU in May with a bachelor’s in accounting.

“I’ve had multiple internships in industry, not tax or audit. I just realized that I like working cross-functionally and I knew I wanted to work in an industry-related field. I thought the controllership concentration would be the best fit for me,” Mann said.

Freeman noted that some students who aspire to work in the corporate sector world forgo accountancy graduate programs and choose to complete a master’s in business administration (M.B.A.) instead because the traditional accountancy coursework does not fit their career goals. The new controllership concentration offers alternatives, as students are eligible to take the professional exams required to become a CPA and/or a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and by graduation will be qualified for jobs in management accountant roles. With work experience, graduates of the controllership concentration will be qualified to advance to chief financial officer in manufacturing firms, non-profits and service industries.

“I see near 100 percent job placement with our M.Acc. graduates,” Freeman said. “It’s technical training that with hard work pays off with a successful career.”

Freeman and faculty in ETSU’s Department of Accountancy completed extensive research before proposing the controllership concentration and found very few programs in existence, especially ones accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which is held by less than five percent of graduate-level accounting programs across the country.

“In the real-world, I won’t be working with just people in accounting, but will need to be prepared to work with a variety of people from different backgrounds,” Mann added. “This program is giving me a broader range of skills that will greatly benefit me in the future and hopefully result in leadership opportunities.”

For more information about controllership or other concentrations available in the Master of Accountancy Program, or to learn how to apply, visit www.etsu.edu/cbat/acct or contact ETSU’s Department of Accountancy at 423-439-4432 or Dr. Michelle Freeman at freemanms@etsu.edu.

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