Learn about the Accounting Department’s Graduate Programs
Dr. Dawn W. Massey, CPA
Greetings from Fairfield! In this inaugural issue of our departmental newsletter, I’d like to provide a brief history and overview of our MSA program since its inception.
It’s hard for me to believe, but the MSA program became a twinkle in the eye of the accounting department just over a decade ago (i.e., in the 2002-03 academic year). At that time, Dr. Roselie McDevitt (then Chair, now an Emeritus Professor) championed creation of the program through a departmental Curriculum Committee. The departmental Curriculum Committee, which met weekly for about a year, included Dr. Bruce Bradford (then Chair of the Committee), Dr. Paul Caster, Dr. McDevitt, Dr. Milo Peck, and Dr. Joan Van Hise. After extensive vetting, the MSA program was devised and gained approvals from numerous groups within the University (e.g., from the Accounting Department; the DSB Graduate Curriculum Committee and faculty; and the university-wide Educational Planning Committee and Academic Council) and, ultimately, the State of Connecticut.
Dr. Caster, then Director, Graduate Accounting Programs, recruited the first MSA class (11 students), which entered in 2006 (and graduated in 2007). Early in 2006-07, Dr. Caster stepped down as Director and his duties were split between me (I was Chair of the Accounting Department at the time) and Dr. Dana Wilkie (former Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Programs in DSB). The administrative structure persisted for three years, during which time MSA enrollments held fairly steady.
After my initial term as Department Chair ended in 2009, I moved into my current role as Coordinator, Graduate Accounting Programs (and Dr. Van Hise then became Chair of the Accounting Department). Thereafter, MSA enrollments grew to a point where the number of graduates recognized at the May 2011 commencement ceremony (24) was double the year before! In May 2012, the number of graduates climbed again to 37 and in May 2013, the number was 42. By May 2014, we expect the number to be 49. A chart depicting these numbers appears below.
So, it seems, the sky is the limit! Well, no, not really. We are holding the line on MSA enrollments to ensure we maintain quality. Students in the Fairfield MSA program benefit from a caring and hands-on faculty that help them achieve each of the three “Es” necessary for CPA certification: Education, Exam, and Experience.
Of course we provide students with a top-notch Jesuit education, culminating in a Master’s degree. But what makes Fairfield’s MSA different is our focus on providing students with a solid background in both technical and “soft” skills. Further, our careful and strategic course scheduling facilitates students’ efforts at passing the Exam while in the MSA program. Many of our students are able to complete 2, 3 or even all 4 parts of the CPA Exam during their MSA year, freeing them of the burden of studying for those parts of the Exam while working full-time. And, together with Career Planning, we work closely with each MSA student to fine-tune his/her resume, prepare for interviews and connect with employers (mainly the Big 4) so that our students can land that first full-time accounting job. Since I began as Coordinator, I have worked tirelessly to place each student in a paying, busy-season internship or full-time position. Really. The students fill out index cards that I keep on my desk. Those index cards stare me in the face every single day until the last student gets a job. It’s my personal mission: “No student goes unplaced on my watch!” (Thankfully, our students are pretty great, so achieving my mission has been relatively painless.)
Well, there you have it: A brief review of our MSA program since its inception. As we look to the future, I hope to see the program continue to flourish. And, to help us, please feel free to drop a line to share your thoughts for improving the program or to just say “hi.” I always appreciate receiving emails from alumni and friends and look forward to hearing from you!