RIT Prepares Students for New State CPA Requirements




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It’s much more than an educated guess on the part of Rochester Institute of Technology that New York state’s new Certified Public Accountant requirements will have an effect on business students and local accounting firms—especially in the wake of recent and ongoing corporate scandals.

RIT’s College of Business has already phased in the five-year educational plan, which means that effective Aug. 1, 2009, only candidates meeting New York’s 150 semester hour requirements will be allowed to register for the CPA exam.

“Freshmen accounting students from 2004 will be the first to fulfill these requirements,” says Wayne Morse, senior associate dean and accounting and finance chair at RIT’s College of Business. “Our revised Master of Business Administration —Accounting (MBA-A) program is registered as meeting these new CPA regulations.”

As Morse explains, New York is following the lead of 47 other states in requiring five years of full-time study and a college degree to sit for the CPA exam.

“New York’s fifth year requirement is new but among the strictest in the nation,” says Morse. “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” he notes, explaining licensing difficulties encountered by CPA’s when they try to move from state to state.

The movement to change the licensing requirements started in the 1980s when the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) concluded that successful accountants needed a broader education emphasizing professional and interpersonal skills to prepare for leadership roles in top-level positions.

“The unique aspect of RIT’s MBA—Accounting degree,” says Morse, “is its emphasis on the understanding and application of cutting edge technologies, including relational database systems such as Oracle, enterprise resource planning systems such as SAP, and emerging ways of providing financial information to users such as with extendable Business Markup Language, XBRL.”

Or as Thomas Hopkins, RIT’s College of Business dean, explains, “What this means in the workplace is that our RIT graduates will be better equipped to handle compliance issues and the internal control provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley act, passed in the wake of the Enron-Arthur Andersen scandals.”

“Education means growth and this new CPA requirement will push 21st century accountants to meet the demands of an ever-changing and complex business environment,” Hopkins says. “CPA’s are our business watchdogs—invaluable to society.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The RIT MBA-Accounting degree is available to full-time and part-time students. Students with a recent undergraduate degree in accounting may be able to complete the degree in three quarters (nine months) of full-time study. For more information on New York state’s educational requirements for CPA licensing, visit www.cob.rit.edu/academics/accounting_memo2.html.