Pathways Discussion Page

engaging the broad accounting community

This is a public committee  publicRSS


  • Bruce K Behn
    Feedback From AAA Northeast Regional Meeting, October 15,...1
    discussion posted October 18, 2010 by Bruce K Behn 

    Following the presentation on the status of the Pathways Commission on Higher Education for the Accounting Profession, audience participants were asked to offer their comments and input.  The following is a summary of the comments received at that meeting:

    • We need to offer more accounting elective courses.
    • We need to broaden the types of other courses offered in accounting programs.
    • We need more forensic accounting courses at the university level.
    • University programs need to emphasize that accounting is more than just getting a CPA certificate, i.e., students should be exposed to other certificates like IMA and CMA.
    • We need to make accounting more fun in the classroom.
    • There should be more options as a path to obtaining a PhD in accounting.  All the programs are geared toward full-time and young people and there is no practical path for someone with experience and beyond their 20’s to be able to obtain a PhD.
    • Online programs need to be seriously considered as a path to PhD and to undergraduate degrees.
    • Require more accounting research focused courses in the curriculum.
    • Teach college and university teachers how to teach.  Obtaining a PhD is not an indication of a person’s ability to teach the subject.  We do more to teach elementary school teachers how to teach than college professors.
    • Get input from AICPA Leadership Academy and younger accountants.
    • We need to get input from students about to graduate.  Also, we should obtain input from students who graduated 2-3 years ago to learn how well prepared they believe they were to enter the profession.
    • We should include input on what is missing in accountants from other “users” of services such as the SEC, plaintiff’s attorneys and investment bankers.
    • We should study the cost of students obtaining the extra 30 hours in the 150 requirement and whether it is cost beneficial.
    • Teaching is too directed at obtaining a CPA and we need to teach for other alternative career paths as well.
    • We need students to have more reading, thinking and communication skills.  Expand accounting pedagogy to include other important skills and implement it earlier in the university experience.
    • We need to improve the image of becoming a CPA with a television program.
    • We need to better understand why the pass rate for the CPA exam is so much lower than doctors and lawyers.
    • Professors need to adapt to changing learning styles of the students.
    • Change introductory courses (high school and college) to start with a focus on financial statements or outcomes rather than current method of teaching inputs which means bookkeeping which is a turn-off.
    • We should have someone from a large not-for-profit on the Commission as well as representation from GAO and SEC.
    • Expand the use of internships, co-opts and other programs that blend in practical experience.
    • Need to incorporate more real-life examples, simulations and cases into the curriculum.  Add practical skills to the regular curriculum.

    Recent Comments (1 of 1)

  • Bruce K Behn
    Feedback from AAA Spring Council Meeting, 2011
    discussion posted April 5, 2011 by Bruce K Behn 

    1.  Which of the ideas and issues discussed do you believe are the most important to be included in the Pathways Commission’s recommendations?

    -       Accounting is fundamental to operating capital markets is key

    -       We need data

    -       Need to turn STEM into STEAM

    -       Need to optimize first course content

    -       Need signature pedagogy

    -       Competencies, do we need to review for future, technology

    -       Bringing the academic and practice community together is KEY to better research, teaching, and a better profession

    -       More emphasis needs to be put on PQ faculty, need more credit for practitioner articles

    -       Need to work on signature pedagogy for accounting

    -       Improving the rigor of the course and establishing better coordination with the accounting profession

    -       The accounting pathways need to be more dynamic

    -       Like the idea of including the complete supply chain

    -       We do need data to help us understand supply/demand, salary structure etc.

    -       Important to define and measure what accountants do

    -       Address how users learn about accounting

    -       Getting data on results of our education efforts & like salaries is very interesting

    -       Value proposition

    -       Gathering data

    -       The “Gathering Storm” is a good model

    -       Consider in Phase 2 looking at all of K-12 issues that impact college education

    -       Need to read new book on academic drift

    -       Students learn little firm two years in college, need to look at professors’ performance measurement

    -       Attracting the best and brightest

    -       Enhance image of accounting profession broadly defined

    -       We are so far behind in technology, we may make ourselves obsolete

    -       Should value proposition be defined by consumers given importance of starting salaries and how they reflect value

    -       Use COSO ERM approach

    -       Textbooks are the problem -  they are clones and foster uncreative thinking

    -       Attract top students

    -       Determine novel ways to present necessary knowledge content

    2.  Were there things discussed that you disagreed with or see differently?

    -       The entire high school/recruiting question is really 2 questions 1) avoiding negative/vocational perceptions of what accounting that come from student’s perceptions from “accounting “ classes in high school which really don’t effect what we do and 2) recruiting the best and brightest students into accounting.  AP/Dual credit is proposed as a strategy to both of these but maybe it solves that 2 questions

    -       Bookeeping in High School is the problem

    -       Too much focus on high school, need to fix our problems first

    -       Focus on AP test – Real question is what should be in the equivalent of a Junior level course

    -       Don’t see attracting students into the profession as a big issue, what do we do with them once we get them?, are we teaching them the right things, does the CPA exam test the right things?

    -       Don’t see why we need a value proposition

    -       Need to drop AP effort will never happen

    -       Don’t think we to answer Treasury’s department requests.  The accounting profession was not at fault for the financial crisis

    -       Do other business disciplines have the data (we) are seeking

    -       Do we have an accounting academy?

    -       Why do firms have to “train” new employees before the new employees start work?

    -       Much of the problem is that we are evaluated by the students, something must be done about current teaching evaluation system

    -       The burning platform maybe needs more work or better articulation.  The third bullet point is the best one right now

    -       Tension between grad only program vs high school

    -       I am not convinced that an accounting brand effort is going to make up for the limited perception accountants get out of tax/legal tumbles

    -       I still see way too much focus on auditing/CPAs.  Why is the AICPA even involved?

    -       What are firms paying an competitive salary for our accounting graduates?  We are part the problem, maybe we should limit supply

    3.  Are there additional issues/ideas you would recommend that the commission explore that were not discussed here?

    -       The may be really belong in Box 1, because it is reflective some, but I find the number of Ph.D. grads with not professional experience to be appalling.  There are many reasons for this, but two of them are the narrow range of what we consider “good’ and “rigorous” in the tenure review process and standards we use for evaluating the success of ph.d. programs.  I think this may also by a symptom of the the fact that we don’t have a dialogue with the profession.

    -       Some of what makes accounting interesting are the application of “higher order thinking skills.”  Some of the brain development that accompanies these skills occurs near the end of college.  This means that many students in K-14 are still developing the brain connections that enhance this (need to explore this more).

    -       I don’t think I heard anything about how to capitalize on the 150 hour inspired MAcc programs

    -       producers of financial information are important, but the value of accounting information will not be realized without education consumers

    -       While I think the accumulation of data that me do my job better.  I don’t think it is so important to spend time building up our brand or status

    -       Globalization and its impact on the commission

    -       Look at the system that Texas A&M is imposing on the evaluation of professors

    -       Has the profession ever considered fighting back on the stereotype of accountants, recently I lost a student to engineering because the engineering school said she had too much personality to be an accountant 

    -       Accounting as grad school only like law and medicine

    -       Need to incorporate information from the Jenkins report

    -       The role of ethics, sustainability, responsibility to the broader community are not being addressed.  Need to move further from the focus of CPAs.

    -       Need a television show that gives accountants a better image

    -       One burning platform issue is the concentration of public accounting firm consolidation.

    -       Need to emphasize the importance of accounting to entrepreneurship.

  • Julie Smith David
    Feedback from John M. Wachowicz2
    discussion posted August 20, 2010 by Julie Smith David 

    Given your interest and position in strengthening accounting education, I thought I would share one thought with you. That is, that understanding accounting entries can lead to a greater understanding of accounting.

    In Strategic Finance magazine recently there was an article that I found very interesting: See:

    Lehman’s Shell Game: Poor Risk Management  By Saurav K. Dutta, CMA; Dennis Caplan, CMA, CPA; and Raef Lawson, CMA,  CPA, CFA
Lehman’s precipitous fall that began in 2008 ended in bankruptcy.  The 2006 strategic shift from a low-risk brokerage model to a high-risk, capital-intensive banking model burdened the company with dangerous illiquid assets, and then the subprime crisis exploded. What followed was a sophisticated implementation of Repo 105 and 108 transactions to cloak the true condition of the company’s worth. The authors analyze the legality and ethics of the accounting practices during the fall.

    I e-mailed the authors to compliment them on their article and their judicious use of 4 sets of journal entries that made some of the author's points come to life for me. They all e-mailed me back and said "thanks" plus they were especially glad that I liked the use of journal entries. They had debated whether to include them or not -- knowing that professional articles nowadays generally do not include journal entries.  Ultimately they decided to include them anyway because they thought they would prove useful. And, to me they did.

    I know that accounting education today neglects journal entries -- for the most part. And, maybe that line of thought should be reconsidered.

    Ta ta 4  now!



    John M.  Wachowicz, Jr., Ph.D.,

Professor and Regions Bank Scholar

    The University of Tennessee

    Department of Finance – 438 SMC
916 Volunteer Blvd.

    Knoxville, TN 37996-0540

    Recent Comments (2 of 2)

  • Bruce K Behn
    Feedback From Tennessee Society of Accounting Educators...
    discussion posted October 12, 2010 by Bruce K Behn 

    Below are comments made from participants at the TSAE conference:

    - Accountants image needs to be more exciting (Law & Order for accountants).

    - Come up with an automated online auditing system for tax returns to reduce labor costs.

    - Need para - professional designations.

    - Stagnant faculty salaries.

    - Declining math competencies.

    - Complexity overloads (tax, FASB, etc.).

    - Need to increase cooperation between academics and practice.

    - Commission top-heavy with CPAs and academcis, what about others?

    - Need rules simplication.

    - Lack of experience updating opportunities.

    - Big disconnect between academics and standard setting/regulatory community.

    - Empirical research is regularly rewarded over quality educational delivery.

    - Better integration of technology.

    - Need to more attract high caliber students into accounting from high schools.

    - Need to attract more people into accounting Ph.D. programs.

    - Students need more critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and ethics.

    - Need more awareness that small businesses need accounting skills sets (appears that these are not valued now).

    - Need more specialization in accounting, following medical model.

    - Corporate responsibility and financial integrity need more emphasis in accounting education.

    - Need to get people on board with IFRS.

    - Students need better foundational skills (e.g., math and technology).

    - Compeitition for talent is now global, and our students need a better awareness of this.

    - Need more integration of financial and managerial accounting in educational systems.

  • Brenda Hubbard
    Feedback from the Florida Institute of CPAs Relations with...
    discussion posted January 6, 2011 by Brenda Hubbard 

    What is the value proposition for a broadly defined accounting profession?

    The profession of accounting was seen as the watchdog of corporate responsibility for many years.  We were known and relied upon for acting not on behalf of our clients but also for third party users of financial information.  This pivotal role of the accountant has been abused over the recent years by auditors in such cases as Enron. Thus, the profession, in the eyes of the public, has lost integrity.  We need to reclaim that trust and continue to be the watchdogs of financial information.

    Who/what are our current/future markets for accounting information and professionals?

    The traditional markets for accounting information will continue to exist.  All businesses have a need for proper recording of accounting information and the presentation of financial information in a consistent format.  The new markets will grow out of the application of the International Financial Reporting Standards to the United States, continued globalization of markets, and the expansion of the online world.  Last, the growth in forensic accounting should continue as users of financial information expect more reliable information.

    What are the skills that future accounting professionals will require?

    The basic skills of a successful accountant have not changed much since the inception of the profession.  All accountants should excel at:

    • Quantitative skills
    • Critical thinking skills
    • Attention to detail

    Over the years, additional skills have been included as the profession has evolved, they including:

    • Communication skills – oral and written
    • Knowledge of technology
    • Multi-cultural awareness through knowledge of world history, geography, and culture
    • Team building skills
    • Research skills
    • Knowledge of other languages

    The most important skill is a strong ethical basis.  This must be taught in the curriculum but more importantly must be inherent in the person.

    How do we attract adequate numbers of high potential, diverse students/talent into the accounting profession and retain these students throughout their educational and professional pathways?

    The potential for quality students must start with a strong, hard look at the K-12 education system.  The profession must work within that system to improve student skills prior to their arrival in college.  Students must graduate high school with strong quantitative and communication skills along with a background in history, science, and geography.  In today’s global market, failure to understand the dynamics of a culture and its history could cause misunderstandings to accountant and his/her employers.  High school graduates entering college with these skills can concentrate on the second level of skills needed to succeed in the profession.

    In many high schools, accounting is seen as a technical skill and not an academic profession.  Therefore, many good students are told not to take accounting but to concentrate on the general education courses and liberal arts programs.  We need to change that mentality within the K-12 teachers and counselors. 

    The profession needs to provide information to students about the profession as early as high school.  Students who excel in math should be made aware of the opportunities in the accounting profession and what courses are recommended throughout their high school years.  Information on the profession should not only focus on career pathways but also social responsibility within the profession.

    The issue of diversity is important as the global nature of business increases.  Unfortunately, many of these students fail to have access to funds for a college education.  These high potential minority students need not only funding for the costs of tuition and related college expenses and also for living expenses.  We need to find ways to provide this funding for all four years of college.  The profession’s investment in these students will provide a new market for the next generation of accountants. 

    What should be the accounting educational pathways?

    The first step in the development of the educational pathways is to create more communication between the accounting faculty and the profession.  Not with just a select few that are constantly asked to participate but a broader audience.  On the profession’s side, this would include accounting firms (small, medium, and large), corporate accountants, tax accountants, and governmental accountants allowing all employers equal representation.  The faculty side should reflect college and university faculty from across the country.

    The profession of accounting should be divided into several pathways.  The first track would be for individuals interested in studying basic accounting skills for employment as what is termed a “bookkeeper”.  Those individuals would not need to have the highest skill levels of the profession.  The second track is for those students interested in a college degree in accounting but not planning to earn the CPA license.  These students would be interested in working in corporations and would concentrate on managerial accounting applications such as internal accounting information, cost accounting systems, managerial accounting information, management skills, and reporting functions so they would not be giving an opinion on financial information.  The last track would be for those students interested in attaining the CPA licenses.  This track would require more rigorous coursework for the students leading them to successfully pass the examination.

    How do we eliminate structural impediments or better align existing systems to enhance effective accounting education?

    The major impediment to enhancing effective accounting education is funding.  Many students majoring in accounting attend state funded institutions which are limited on the number of courses that students may take throughout their tenure for a degree.  These legislative impediments force many students to end their degrees lacking coursework that could make them more successful in their field.  The accounting professors are thereby forced to limit the courses that students are required to take or recommended to take to graduate. Many courses that would be of value to students in the accounting field are not offered at all.

  • Susan V Crosson
    Feedback from the Mississippi Society of CPAs Accounting...1
    discussion posted November 14, 2010 by Susan V Crosson 

    Below are comments made by participants at the MSCPAs conference October 29, 2010:

    -Need effective presentations and resources for teaching accounting, i.e., topical videos for advanced tax topics

    -Need better pedagogy i.e., a practice set to create a not-for-profit so in class can review disparate answers.

    -Need more authentic assignments i.e., Management accounting business memo.  Students need to be able to filter for relevant info, formulate key questions, present alternative solutions, and support recommendations.

    -Need to change the perceptions of high school guidance counselors, i.e., Career preference tests are based on 1950s DOL profiles which are no longer relevant about what accountants do!

    -Need to recognize what accounting is being outsourced to the third world and what our value proposition is.

    -What should be done about high school students that are not top notch that want to do accounting?

    -Current accounting students are not prepared to do accounting in practice—need more internship experience!

    -Accounting grads should be work ready!

    -Look at accounting:business curriculum….should it be 50:50?

    -Students need step by step experience in how to conduct an audit so can learn to think beyond checking off the step on the audit checklist.

    -What can be done about the international regulatory barriers?

    -What can be done about the barriers to obtaining international experience?

    -What responsibilities does the accounting profession have for regulation?  Are we thought leaders in new regulations and laws?

    -K-12 GenEd should include business and accounting, why doesn’t it?  What can be done?

    -PhD shortage-are there enough faculty to teach?  Are enrollments rising?  Is ADS working?  What else can be done?

    -Current faculty should promote the academy as a profession choice.

    -Current Accreditation [credentialing] of faculty is NOT what the profession needs

    -Curriculum should allow for different professional pathways: public, private, academic….one size or emphasis does not fit all!

    -Can we afford to provide different pathways? 

    -How to teach emerging topics, i.e., reconciling book to tax income becoming more difficult due to fair value accounting.

    -There should be one accounting license for US—broad credential.  Granted at national level not state level.

    There should be other credentials for SEC versus non SEC work skills…

    Recent Comments (1 of 1)

  • Molly Wash
    Feedback from the Virginia Society of CPAs Educators...
    discussion posted February 25, 2011 by Molly Wash 

    What is the value proposition for a broadly defined accounting profession?
    The profession should look at the public’s view of the role accountants play in society. The general public still equates CPAs primarily with doing taxes and audits. A broadly defined accounting profession would advertise and utilize the profession's skills more fully.

    Who/what are our current/future markets for accounting information and professionals? What are the skills that future accounting professionals will require?
    The profession will retain its traditional markets of auditing, tax and consulting. In addition, the adoption of IFRS will open international markets. The profession will also play a vital role in sustainability issues. Future accounting professionals will need to be knowledgeable in IFRS, have significant computer, communication, quantitative, team building and critical thinking skills.

    How do we attract adequate numbers of high potential, diverse students/talent into the accounting profession and retain these students throughout their educational and professional pathways?
    The profession must target and provide more information about the profession to high school students. There is still a stigma attached to the profession. 

    What should be the accounting educational pathways?
    The CPA certification is not for every student. Some students will successfully pursue the CPA, while others will find successful careers in government and corporations without being a CPA. We need to make sure that their education allows them to be successful in public, private or governmental accounting.

    How do we eliminate structural impediments or better align existing systems to enhance effective accounting education?
    Funding is the most important issue. Many smaller schools cannot afford salaried Ph.D. faculty or offer a variety of accounting courses.


  • Julie Smith David
    I am excited to learn more about the Commission!2
    discussion posted August 3, 2010 by Julie Smith David 

    Having reviewed the overheads, it seems like this is an exciting idea and has a lot of potential!  I can't wait to learn more about it!

    Recent Comments (2 of 2)

  • Larry E Rittenberg
    Pathways Commission3
    discussion posted August 4, 2010 by Larry E Rittenberg 

    I have read your project paper and viewed your presentation from yesterday.  Although stated very broadly, the presentation still focuses on 'money", rather than "transforming data into information" (which has also been suggested as a definition of accounting).  While the documents talk about what accountants do, the value proposition for accounting still seems very narrow (to me, at least)  by focusing on money (and similar measures).  As you progress, I urge your commission to keep in mind the broad areas that COSO has covered in the past few years (governance, enterprise risk management, controls, fraud prevention and detection) as an integral part of accounting.  I personally believe it will continue to be a growing part of what will be happening in our organizations, and either we endorse it or lose it.  I know that you have Paul Sobel on one of your supplier groups. He is excellent and can bring the internal audit, control, and risk management perspective to the discussion.

    Good luck on the project.  It is important and I wish you well.  If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.

    Recent Comments (3 of 3)

  • AAA HQ
    Pathways Second Year Update
    discussion posted October 12, 2015 by AAA HQ, tagged update 


    Two years have now passed since the issuance of the Pathways Commission report: Charting a National Strategy for the Next Generation of Accountants. In its second year of implementation, The Pathways Commission continues to be focused on the overall goal of enhancing the quality and integrity of the educational process for future accountants, making sure that the pipeline of future accountants is robust and building a learned profession through greater connectivity between the academic and practice elements of the profession.

    During this second year of implementation we have begun to realize the fruits of many hours of concentrated effort by so many outstanding volunteers.  Through the work of the Recommendation Leaders and their task forces, specific and actionable changes for accounting education and the practice community have been introduced and are being adopted by increasing numbers of faculty and other stakeholders with a vested interest in enhancing accounting higher education. 

    Implementation activity occurred in every recommendation area during this second year of concentrated effort.  Several major papers which dig deeper into the opportunities and impediements to accounting education change are being published and can be reviewed in detail by clicking on  individual Recommendation pages.  A major survey of accounting department chairs is currently underway and will be published soon.  As anticipated at the beginning of the implementation process, the original recommendations and the additional insights from initial implementation efforts are leading to exciting new ideas and perhaps provocative additional recommendations.  Our focus this year has two major components—tangible results from existing recommendations and establishing a sustainable process for educational change into the future.

    While significant implementation progress was made on many recommendations, here are a few key highlights for the second year of activity: