Accounting Program Earns Top National Rankings
This year, the Public Accounting Report released its 35th Annual Professor’s Survey and named every University of Mississippi Accounting program– undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral– in the top ten in the nation. Both the undergraduate and doctoral programs were ranked seventh, and the master’s ranked eighth. When the top twenty-five schools were subdivided by region, the University of Mississippi was ranked first in all three programs.
Schools are ranked based on the success of their graduates. Graduate Program Coordinator Dale Flesher cites a number of factors contributing to student success, which in turn contributed to the high rankings: the 100% job placement rate, the growth in enrollment, and the university’s accounting library.
The University of Mississippi is home to the largest accounting library in the world– three times bigger than the second largest library. It’s known as the National Library of the Accounting Profession, and according to Dr. Flesher, “even if you don’t know anything else about Ole Miss, you know about the library.”
The university is also home to the Tax History Research Center, established in 1987. Academics and accountants from around the world have come to Oxford to use the library, and the center has its own grants available to researchers. Combined with the Accounting History Library, the Information Technology Auditing Center, and even more campus resources, accounting students have an unparalleled number of resources at their disposal.
The number of students, too, is unparalleled: the accounting program has increased its enrollment for eleven consecutive years. The Accounting program is a dual undergraduate-master’s curriculum over the course of five years, and per Dr. Flesher, it’s not uncommon for students to come to the University of Mississippi from schools that don’t offer an equivalent program to finish their fifth year.
Here, said Flesher, “virtually everybody stays for their master’s. To be a Certified Public Accountant, you have to have a master’s equivalent.”
Five years can add up for many students; fortunately, yet another resource Accounting students have is a plethora of funding. The School of Accounting has the highest percentage of alumni giving of any department on campus, and there are plenty of scholarships available as a result. One reason for the department’s generous alumni, Flesher said, is likely their own success, due in part to the support and resources they were given in school. “Our people go into public accounting,” he said, “and they’re just very successful.”
Graduates of the Accounting program have a 100% job placement rate prior to graduation, even by as much as a year and a half. The main employers of graduates are the “big four” accounting firms: Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and KPMG.
“We’re a target school for a lot of those programs,” said Flesher, and this is no small accomplishment. These firms only recruit directly from thirty to forty schools in the nation, putting the University of Mississippi in elite ranks. Additionally, as a result of this interest from the big four firms, UM graduates are in high demand from other firms as well. Flesher said that smaller regional firms compete to get UM students, because “once you hear that the big four hires ours, well, everyone else wants to hire ours too!”
Sarah Stevens, a fifth-year master’s student, can attest to the job placement rate, both as a draw for students and a very real benefit for graduates. About her own application to the university, she said, “I didn’t know exactly what we were ranked, I just knew the reputation, and how highly people were placed in jobs.” Even though Stevens still has the better part of year left in her program, she already has a full-time job at Deloitte in Atlanta for when she graduates. For this, she gives “one hundred percent credit to program. The interview and the job recruiting were held through the school. I never had to go search for a job on my own, and that’s totally because this school gave us the resources to go find it.”
Author: Katelyn Miller