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Johnson to offer master's degree in accounting in 2017

Jack Little

A new master’s degree in accounting will be unveiled at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management in fall 2017.

The College of Business’ first new degree, the one-year program is designed for maximum flexibility. Students can begin in either the spring or fall semesters. And the program will offer a wide range of upper-level accounting courses at the college’s three schools: Johnson, the School of Hotel Administration and the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

The degree will meet the needs of both students and employers, said John “Jack” Little, professor of practice at Dyson, who will direct the program.

“The demand for the program is clear,” said Little, who expects the first class to include 12 to 20 students, primarily recent Cornell graduates. “Frankly, I am tired of writing recommendation letters for my fantastic accounting students that send them off to get a master’s degree in accounting at other universities when we can meet that need right here.”

Undergraduates frequently graduate a semester or two early, and the program will provide them with the opportunity to attain a master’s degree while they prepare for exams to become a certified public accountant, certified management accountant or chartered financial analyst, Little said.

The program will emphasize professional advising. “We will help students from any area of study choose classes to meet their career objectives. We’re going to be laser-focused on career prep,” Little said.

The program also answers the needs of employers, who are increasingly hiring accounting graduates, Little said. “I can easily place 20 to 25 more qualified students with Big Four firms. Corporate employers and financial institutions want students with a strong focus on accounting as well,” he said.

Cornell has considered the idea of a Master of Professional Studies in Management, which is the degree’s official name, for many years. Jerry Goldman ’72, a supporter of accounting at Cornell, proposed the idea in 2005. Soumitra Dutta, now dean of the College of Business, championed the effort when he became dean of Johnson in 2012. Several committees and faculty votes later, Cornell and New York state approved the degree program in 2015.

Robert Libby, the David A. Thomas Professor of Management at Johnson, and Robert Bloomfield, the Nicholas H. Noyes Professor of Management at Johnson, are on the program’s planning committee and helping to oversee its development.

The newly formed College of Business made the degree much easier to institute, thanks to the ability to cross-list courses throughout the three partner schools, Little said. “We really wouldn’t be able to do this without combining the forces of Johnson with Dyson and the School of Hotel Administration. You can see this in the structure: a Johnson graduate program with a director from Dyson and classes across the entire college. The college can make these kinds of collaborations across schools much more feasible.”

Mark Nelson, the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean at Johnson, said Little is the right choice for the program’s first director: “He combines a successful career in accounting practice, a great knowledge of accounting education and a long history of helping Cornell undergraduate students find fulfilling professional careers.”

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Melissa Osgood