According to a new report from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, there are major gaps in college accounting education today, with less than half of all programs teaching emerging topics, such as IT governance and cybersecurity. (NASBA).
Accounting Program Gap Analysis Report found mixed results for coverage of emerging and technology topics. While more than 60% of college accounting programs teach topics such as data analytics and IT auditing, fewer programs cover cybersecurity, predictive analytics, or system and organizational controls (SOC ). Each of these topics may be covered in greater depth on the CPA exam in 2024, pending the results of the current analysis of exam practices.
“The accounting profession is increasingly dependent on the use of emerging technologies, information systems and data analytics. Companies are increasingly seeking technology-related services and advice and it is important that newly certified CPAs master their knowledge, use and skills,” said Sue Coffey, CPA, CGMA, CEO – Public Accounting, AICPA. “Accounting programs have a responsibility to ensure that their programs and course offerings prepare students for success in the profession.”
The report, which includes responses from more than 300 college accounting programs, aimed to get an overview of how accounting programs have integrated new technologies and other critical skills into their current curricula, particularly as the AICPA and NASBA CPA Evolution initiative progresses. The AICPA Board of Trustees and the NASBA Board of Trustees have voted in favor of CPA Evolution, which aims to transform the CPA certification model to better recognize rapidly changing skills , skills and technological knowledge required of CPAs. These competencies will be reflected in the new Uniform CPA Examination in 2024.
“Gap analysis also has implications for state boards of accountancy,” Dan Dustin, CPA, vice president, state board relations, told NASBA. “This is an opportunity for boards to review their current education rules and update them to align them with the future of the CPA profession and the types of skills and tools that new licensees will use at the start of their career.
Dustin noted that several state boards are already reviewing their credentialing standards and the material that should be taught in an accounting concentration.
“What I hear really well is that boards, crown corporations and the business community are working together to address these changes in the profession,” he said.
There are gaps in technology topics
Although many schools include tech subjects in their curriculum, few offer in-depth training on every subject, with smaller programs even less likely to cover them.
The report found that few programs offer extensive coverage of topics such as predictive or SOC analytics or skills such as digital acumen or understanding information security processes. Instead, they often cover them in one or two class sessions in their accounting information systems class, raising the possibility that students aren’t getting in-depth instruction on these critical topics.
The report also found substantial disparities by program size. Accounting programs with 50 or fewer majors address basic accounting knowledge and skills, including auditing and taxation, but often don’t provide much of the technology-focused material that the profession demands. Only 15% of these institutions incorporate digital insight into their curricula, while just over 30% teach topics related to cybersecurity and predictive analytics.
The report comes after the AICPA 2019 Trends in Supply of Accounting Graduates and Demand for Public Accounting Recruits found that companies are increasingly hiring non-accounting majors to meet the demand for advanced technology skills.
Opportunities for Accounting Faculty
The AICPA has developed resources to help college accounting programs improve their curricula as the profession evolves under the new CPA Evolution licensure model. The Academic Resource Center offers case studies, assignments, readings, and webinars to help accounting educators ensure students are prepared to meet market needs.
the Faculty time The webcast series will provide updates on the evolution of CPA and discussions on how to integrate data analytics, as well as systems and technology topics into accounting programs.
In June 2021, the AICPA and NASBA, with support from the American Accounting Association, will unveil a model curriculum to guide faculty in managing accounting courses needed by those seeking licensure under the new CPA Evolution model.