After 20 years as a stay at home dad, Brad Asher needed a new career to reinvent himself and get a good job. He realized he would need some re-education to embark on his new career, and he chose Spalding’s FLEX program to get a Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Accounting.
“I already had a Bachelor’s and other graduate degrees in history earned many years ago, but I had been out of the work force for a really long time,” said Asher. “I was looking for a degree to earn that was practical. Spalding was geared more towards non-traditional learners and a flexible time schedule. It was six-week cycles of one night a week, and they offered a mix of online and in person. I’m a better-in-person learner but there were times when the online class made more sense from a scheduling standpoint. That flexibility was really the best thing about it,” said Asher.
Asher said he had also known several others who had gone to Spalding for the adult education route. “They had good experiences and that reassured me it was going to work out for me, too,” he said.
With no background in accounting, Asher liked that the program was comprised of all undergraduate courses needed for a bachelor’s degree in accounting without all the basic requirements because he already had a BA.
Accounting field in demand
Michelle Reiss, Chair of the School of Business, said the program is ideal for students like Asher who are looking for a career change because they can enter with a bachelor’s degree from any discipline. “We also have people who already have MBAs come into the program because they feel like they still need that additional accounting background. Accounting is an in-demand field,” said Reiss.
In fact, a study conducted by The Lane Report in February 2018 did state that “Kentucky CPA firms expect 2018 to be a year of positive change and growth in demand for their services.” The article specifically mentioned service demand at the state level in Frankfort, which became a career path for Brad Asher. After he completed his Post-Bachelor Certificate in Accounting from Spalding in June 2016, he spent six months preparing for the CPA exam and was hired a month later by the state of Kentucky as an auditor at the department of revenue.
Spalding offers additional innovative and flexible options for those interested in advancing their careers in accounting, said Reiss. Besides the program Asher completed, the Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Accounting, there is a Second Degree in Accounting program, and the Master of Business Communication (MSBC) with an Accounting Concentration. The latter is a program designed for students with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting in preparation for the CPA exam.
Review for the CPA exam
Robin Hinkle, Director of the MS in Business Communication Program, and Assistant Professor, said Spalding offers a unique opportunity for students in this program because they can review for each part of the CPA exam and earn college credits while they do it. “The college credits are master’s level, so if they complete the whole program, they can sit for all parts of CPA exam and have a master’s degree when they’re finished,” she said.
Hinkle also said the program partners with Becker Professional Education to prepare students for the exam. Some universities offer a discount on Becker, but Hinkle said that Spalding has embedded the Becker content into their classes. “No one else is doing that.”
According to Hinkle, some students are taking undergrad classes and the CPA exam, but don’t get the master’s degree. “Having the CPA trumps having the master’s, but if you can get both at the same time, why not do it?” she said. “If you ever want to move into a leadership position supervising people, having that master’s could be helpful.”
Instructors in the field
Hinkle said students appreciate that many of the instructors are outside academia. “The accounting classes they are taking are pretty intensely focused on what’s going to be on the CPA exam, but the core classes they take are business focused such as marketing, strategic planning. Accounting is constantly changing – everything has to be up to date. It’s about the real-world work in the here and now,” said Hinkle.
The Masters in Business Communication – Accounting Concentration is a program Spalding began to offer four years ago because students graduated with degrees in accounting from Spalding but then went elsewhere for their master’s degree. “Why not keep them here and continue in their supportive environment they are used to as an undergrad?” said Hinkle. “That’s our competitive advantage. We care about each and every one of our students, their well-being, their success. That’s what sets us apart.”
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