As a lifelong musician, Jack Adams ’21, ’22 MPAc, discovered the importance of accounting when he decided to start his own band.
“I quickly learned that even in a field that runs on feelings and creativity, people’s lives can quickly become affected if accounting and legal obligations are not set up correctly from the beginning,” he said. “I learned that entrepreneurship is about more than just having good ideas that resonate with people.”
Today, Adams is an audit associate at KPMG U.S., and he credits his success to the preparation he received through the Master of Professional Accountancy program in UCR’s A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management.
Graduates from the MPAc program gain entry to a career with wide-open possibilities. They are positioned to explore every type of industry and business model. And their skills are in high demand amid an ongoing CPA shortage: With 1.5 million jobs for accountants and auditors in the United States in 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an additional 126,500 openings every year through 2032.
Although Adams took a traditional route to his master’s degree – starting with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business management — one of the qualities that set UCR’s program apart is that it is open to students with undergraduate degrees in other fields.
The program has two tracks. Track One is for applicants with a degree or major in accounting and can be completed in nine months. Track Two is for applicants without an accounting background and can be completed in 15 months.
“As a result, when it comes to the class discussions, the makeup of the class introduces diversity both in thought and background,” said Naman K. Desai, MPAc academic director and assistant professor of teaching in accounting.
“Because we have a diverse student body, the overall experience and the perspective that the students get from our classes tends to be a little bit more enriching than classes where you have everyone from the accounting background.”
Supportive staff and students
The diversity of the program is one of the factors that appealed to international student Chenlu Yan ’22 MPAc, who arrived at UCR following a decade-long sales-focused career in China. The MPAc program’s acceptance of undergraduates with degrees outside accounting allowed her to explore a career shift.
Today, she is working as a tax consultant for Deloitte and preparing to take the CPA exam.
“It was not easy for me at first to return to the coursework and adjust to sitting in a classroom,” she said. “But the advisors at UCR helped me a lot. I also quickly found that I enjoyed studying with my classmates. The program was a good fit for me in many ways. Without having a background in accounting, the curriculum’s design enabled me to quickly get up to speed with the foundational courses.”
Another benefit of the MPAc for international students like Yan is that it is STEM-designated. This allows international students to apply for 36 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) to work in the United States in their field of study after graduation.
The MPAc program is equally appealing for those with a lifelong interest in the field, like Rajvinder (Robin) Singh ’22, ’23 MPAc.
“I have always had an interest in the financial sector,” Singh said. “In my free time, I would often read about the economy and the market.”
He fed that passion at UCR, earning his Bachelor of Business Administration degree and landing a couple of internships, including at BDO USA. After earning his master’s in accounting, he put his interest and skills into practice at BDO as a tax associate.
“My professors were not only highly qualified, but they were inspiring,” he said. “Having exceptional professors was an integral part of my academic journey.”
Desai said that’s an important aspect of the program design at UCR: Yes, students will come to understand all the practical functions of accounting, and they will be well-prepared to sit for the CPA exam. But the knowledge they gain in the program goes beyond “the nuts and bolts” of accounting, he said.
Recognizing the value of accounting
“It’s important to understand how accounting adds value to the organization, how these aspects of accounting will help the business reach its objectives,” Desai said. “We’re preparing students to succeed not just as a CPA, but I’ve seen a lot of CPAs eventually take up managerial positions.”
Just as UCR’s program is open to a wide range of perspectives, it also opens the door to a wide range of opportunities, Desai said.
“As an auditor, you get to take a peek into all these business models and get an understanding of how the business works,” he said. “I don’t think any other business field provides that. No other education line is going to give you this kind of opportunity.” Singh said his own experience confirms that.
“Having more options and the ability to perform in a range of settings brings a lot of reassurance and opportunities,” he said. “I know that with my MPAc degree I am more marketable, knowledgeable, and well-positioned to advance my career.”