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Accounting majors pack tough schedules

Kelly McDonnell | Friday, February 10, 2006

Notre Dame accounting majors might only be required 126 credit hours to graduate, but many business students are packing their schedules to meet the 150 hours necessary to attain CPA (Certified Public Accountant) test eligibility.

With bachelors and masters programs ranked third and fourth nationally – according to the 2004 Public Accounting Report – Notre Dame has one of the top accounting programs in the nation. It’s currently the sixth most popular major on campus. Undergrads seem aware of the benefits of a degree from such a prestigious department.

But while discerning options in business, underclassmen must keep in mind legislature requiring 150 hours of class time before attaining CPA test eligibility in most states. Seniors are especially concerned with squeezing in the class time to meet this tough requirement.

Kathleen Singer is one such student. Even after attaining 15 hours from Advanced Placement (AP) exams, Singer had to take 22 credits last fall. She even took a one-credit pass/fail medical ethics class to scrounge up an extra hour. But she feels the end result is well worth the extra effort.

“As of August, I’ll be making money instead of spending $40,000 more of it,” she said.

Amy Leonard also had to pack her schedule with extra hours. The typical business student may take only 15 hours, but most semesters she carried 16 or 17, with 18.5 this spring – a time when most other seniors are carrying their lightest load.

Other accounting majors were not forced to overload, because studying abroad for a summer or entering Notre Dame with more than 30 hours accounted for the credits.

Professor Jamie O’Brien, who advises accounting majors on the CPA exam and its requirements, said each year about a dozen Notre Dame seniors meet the 150-hour requirement. Since this minimum is not applicable in all states, some accounting majors do not have to complete the 150 hours.

Professor O’Brien said it is difficult – but not impossible – to complete the requirement in four years. Notre Dame grads are well prepared, he said, because of the challenging and comprehensive curriculum.

“The professors are top-notch and the students themselves are among the finest students in the country,” he said.

Students who chose to leave Notre Dame after four years seem to agree with O’Brien in his lauding of the department.

“The professors do a great job of making you see all aspects of accounting, from the minute calculations to the broad concepts,” senior Jordan Bongiovanni said. “I think we just take it for granted because it fits with the caliber of Notre Dame, but when you listen to accounting majors at other universities and their required courses and content, you can tell we get a great deal with our program.”

Some accounting majors who do not obtain 150 credits choose to stay at Notre Dame and enroll in the one-year MBA program. Those students both complete all 150 hours and enter the workforce with a master’s degree.

As for the option of a fifth year, O’Brien said another year of studies certainly helps prepare a student for a professional career, be it accountancy or any other discipline.

“An extra year of studies will expose the student to additional course work, new and different students, and at least at Notre Dame, one more year of college football,” he said.