What is accounting?
Accounting is often called the "language" of business. Accountants provide much of the data that is used in business decision making. The task of the accountant is to retrieve and report data gathered in many types of business and nonbusiness organizations. Accounting involves much more than simply gathering financial data; it involves the analysis and communication of the data in a usable format for various types of economic decisions by management, government, consumers, creditors, and stockholders.
Where is accounting used?
From the smallest one-person enterprise to the largest international companies, accountants provide data to analyze the operation of the organization. In addition, public sector organizations, such as the federal government, hospitals, charitable organizations, and colleges and universities, require accounting similar to private enterprises. While many of their operations differ, the decision-making process in both areas relies on accounting data. The accountant is responsible for much more within the organization than simply preparing the tax return.
What kinds of career choices can I expect?
Because of the breadth of our accounting program here at Shippensburg, the accounting graduate is prepared for a number of different career opportunities. One important career path is in the public accounting field. Our graduates are currently employed in all sizes of public accounting firms from the small single office to the large international accounting firms. After passing the CPA examination, many of our graduates have also opened their own firms. While the audit function is perhaps best known, income taxes and management advisory services are also major functions within the public accounting field.
A significant number of our graduates opt for working in the accounting department of companies. These jobs include cost accounting, tax accounting, internal auditing, and corporate accounting just to name a few. In some cases, the graduates join these firms at graduation. In others, they leave public accounting to join a client's company; and in many cases, these positions lead to executive-level positions within the firms.
The not-for-profit sector also offers many career opportunities for our graduates. The Internal Revenue Service and the General Accounting Office are just two of the many federal agencies which employ our graduates. Local organizations such as the Chambersburg Hospital, Capital Blue Cross, and Pennsylvania Blue Shield currently are staffed by Shippensburg accounting alumni. Other graduates have chosen to obtain graduate degrees and enter the field of college and university teaching. Starting salaries for accounting graduates are generally in the upper 25 percent of business school graduates. These salaries, of course, vary with the type of employer as well as the geographic location of the position.
What about accounting internship opportunities?
A large number of accounting internships are available through Shippensburg's internship program. These internship opportunities include private industry and public accounting positions as well as public sector positions. While most of the public accounting internships are scheduled in the spring semester, others are available throughout the year. These internships are designed to supplement the academic experience. Most students, upon completion of their internship, indicate the experience provided a significant educational experience in addition to giving them on-the-job experience. In many cases, the student is offered a position with the firm after graduation. If you are interested in obtaining an internship, you should meet with your academic advisor early in order to schedule around the internship semester. The internship coordinator regularly provides a listing of available positions along with employment requirements.
How should I prepare for the accounting major?
Accounting requires excellent analytical as well as communication skills. You should develop a strong foundation in these skills by taking courses in mathematics, science, and oral and written communications. Supporting courses in the arts and humanities broaden you as well as develop an under- standing of the complex world we live in. A foreign language would certainly be an asset given the internationalization of business we see today.
What kinds of courses will I take?
Accounting majors take the same core curriculum as other business majors. This core includes economics, finance, information systems, marketing, organization behavior, and business law as well as other business subjects. The student is also required to complete the university's general education program which provides a firm liberal arts foundation. The accounting major includes courses in financial accounting, income tax accounting, cost accounting, and auditing. In addition, a course in information systems is required. The courses required of the major provide the student with the academic background necessary to be a success in the accounting profession.
What role does the computer play?
The accounting department at Shippensburg was the first in the John L. Grove College of Business to integrate the computer into its entire upper-level accounting curriculum. Our majors use the computer extensively in all of their upper-level accounting courses since the computer is a useful tool in solving many problems. Thus, our graduates are well prepared to use the computer in a variety of applications.
Can students who are not majoring in accounting take these courses?
The accounting curriculum is available to all students in the John L. Grove College of Business. Since certain prerequisite courses must be completed before enrolling in the upper-level courses, a student should consult the catalog regarding these requirements. Students from outside the John L. Grove College of Business are also eligible to enroll in accounting courses once they have completed the required prerequisites.
Where can I get more information?
For specific program information, contact:
Department of Accounting
Dr. J. Jay Mackie
328 Grove Hall
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257-2299
John L. Grove College of Business
The John L. Grove College of Business is accredited by the AACSB International