Have you ever read the Mission, Vision, and Core Values of the Providence College School of Business? For good reason, it strongly emphasizes our holistic, integrated, and collaborative approach to learning.
These priorities, of course, raise an important question: how should we structure our graduate program in accounting? Should we continue to immerse our Accountancy students within the framework of a general Masters of Business Administration program? Or, perhaps, should we place them in a separate Masters of Science in Accounting (or Taxation) program instead?
Prior to this year, we chose the first option, and thus achieved our integration objectives. Nevertheless, our very success in designing a unified MBA program made it relatively challenging to introduce our students to advanced accounting-specific applications.
So this year, we are implementing a novel approach. Instead of opting for a unified MBA structure or an MSA / MST structure, we are dividing our incoming MBA students into a quartet of Cohort groups. In addition to a full-time student group, a part-time student group, and a “4+1” undergraduate business degree group, Accountancy students can now choose to cluster in their own collective group.
Of course, because we are maintaining our emphasis on holistic learning, all of our MBA students are continuing to engage in collaborative educational activities with broadly defined objectives. Meanwhile, for activities that are specific to the profession of Accountancy, our Department is now engaging two dozen graduate students as a focused Cohort.
What do our executives and faculty members think of our plans? According to Jacqueline Elcik, the Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, Assessment & Student Engagement:
“The PC MBA program is very excited about the start of the MBA Accounting Cohort. The MBA Program has been working with all of the academic disciplines in the PCSB to deliver a high-quality program, focused on the specific needs of young 4+1 professionals who are focused on certification and careers in public accounting. We think that the unique combination of MBA courses and accounting electives will help prepare students for the CPA exam and for the future workplace.”
Professor Michael Kraten, who will design and teach the new Accountancy Cohort capstone course in Summer 2018, is likewise enthused about the opportunity to explore advanced Accounting content. “Although we’ve always presented an Accountancy capstone course in our undergraduate program, we’ve never been able to cover the advanced Accounting capstone applications that are ideally addressed in a graduate course. Finally, now we can … and indeed, now we will!”
The ultimate impact of the new Cohort approach will reveal itself over the course of the upcoming year. And during this time, our PCSB will continue its track record of innovation and continuous improvement.