Applied Bachelor's Degree in Management Accounting

Institution: 
Stark State College
Approval Status: 
Pending Comments
Comment Period: 
Tue, 08/07/2018 - 12:15pm to Tue, 08/21/2018 - 12:15pm

Comments

Comment: 
At Tiffin University and more than likely several of the other 4 year, independent colleges in Ohio, this degree seems to be extremely similar to our BBA in accounting. Most of our majors have a professional/applied focus as part of the curriculum and managerial/management accounting is a very popular degree within a typical School of Business, including ours. I do not see this degree as specific or unique enough to be offered through a 2-year college. This program will compete with ours.

Comment: 
I am not only a full-time faculty member in the Accounting and Finance Department at Stark State for the last 18 years (Associate Professor), but a proud alumni of the program having received my Associate Degree in Applied Business in Accounting in 1984. At that time, as now, there were very few options for transferring to a Bachelor’s program at a four-year school. Choices then and now consisted of a private college (which was out of the question for me financially) or a state university that would require me re-taking most of my accounting classes. Neither was a good choice so I had to get a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Education. That made it harder for me to get employment since my Bachelor’s degree was not in accounting. Our graduates today have the exact same challenge. Most are working part or full-time while attending school, many have children and homes, and can’t afford to possibly attend a private college and can’t repeat accounting. If they ever have the opportunity to go back to school for their Bachelor’s, it’s usually later because of the cost of private schools. This proposed Bachelor’s degree will satisfy an enormous need in our community for a cost-effective option for our students to get their Bachelor’s degree at a reasonable price that they can afford in a timely manner. And it will get the graduates into the workforce for Ohio needs much faster. This profession is growing and is in high-demand and we are hearing there are more jobs than trained professionals to fill them. As I worked in the real world for over 15 years after college, I was told by many supervisors how my skills were more hands-on that most accounting graduates. I always explained that our approach at Stark State was not just concepts being read from books by professors, but applied concepts being taught and shown by accounting professionals who were our professors. That is still the case today as every one of our faculty members have worked and/or are still working on the accounting and finance profession. Some have worked in public accounting, but nearly all of us have worked in the management accounting field. Other colleagues in the professional world have told me that they could always tell the Stark State graduates because they had a much more hands-on, applied understanding, more practical skills than most four-year graduates. This degree would provide hands-on application to the students. When they graduate with their Bachelor’s degree, they not only have a the knowledge they need for our profession, but they leave having done hands-on applications and projects in most every area of accounting, including payroll projects, actual tax returns and analysis, financial statements prepared from start to finish for both industry and not-for-profit entities, analysis and reporting of financial statements, financial statement consolidations, audit concepts applied and demonstrated by real auditors, real cost analysis and budgeting, and using Excel and other software to apply the concepts as well. We are not a school who talks about accounting from what we read in textbooks, we are a college who demonstrates and applies the concepts. In the vast majority of our classes, students are applying the concepts they are learning in a very real hands-on approach. They are much more ready for the workforce when they leave our school given the applied-approach that we use to teach. I highly recommend this degree and believe it will enable many more students to be able to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in a timely and cost-effective manner and contribute to the workforce much more quickly as they can afford to finish their degree and get to work for Ohio! They will enter the workforce with hands-on knowledge and be able to contribute much more than typical four-year graduates. We have the skilled and experienced faculty, we have most of the courses ready, we are ready to further educate more accounting and finance professionals!

Comment: 
I do not support Stark State College's proposal. Community colleges were intended to aid students in their technical and initial academic work, and if community colleges receive BA/BS program approval they will switch to focusing on BA & not AA/technical training, thereby ignoring their mandate and original purpose. Then – who will serve those students? In addition, providing additional competition in Ohio in the BA/BS lane endangers both state and private institutions during a period in which both high school and adult program populations are in decline and possibly wastes community college resources should these programs flounder; resources that should be better used to help students in their current community college programs.

Comment: 
I have reviewed the proposed Applied Bachelor's Degree in Management Accounting and have received reviews, as well, from Mount Union's vice president for academic affairs and our accounting faculty. We believe the proposed program overlaps significantly with the accounting program offered by our Department of Economics, Accounting, and Business Administration. No doubt, it also duplicates offerings in accounting at the two other private universities in Stark County - Malone University and Walsh University - with which Mount Union currently competes in the realm of accounting education, internship placement, and employment of graduates. Per our accounting faculty, graduates of our accounting program are well-prepared to sit for the CMA examination.

Comment: 
A rose by any other name is still a rose. Stark State's degree's name might be a bit different but it is not different from UG degree in accounting offered at many area private schools including Ashland University. Ashland University's bachelor's degree in accounting always has been applied where students are prepared for careers with varied enterprises (profit & non-profit) as well as public accounting. Ashland University has offered courses in CMA review, forensic accounting, human resources management and accounting internships for decades. Ashland University students are prepared for both CMA and CPA examinations. There are a significant number of Ashland University accounting students who choose to pursue careers in financial institutions and business enterprises - not CPA firms and Ashland's curricula prepares them for these careers. I strongly recommend the decision makers to take a close look at Ashland University (& probably many other area schools) accounting & business degrees to notice that Stark State's proposed applied accounting degree, despite a different name, is not unique after all. Thanks.

Comment: 
This proposal includes a statement that this Applied Bachelor's in Management Accounting program will fulfill a specific niche that is not being addressed by current Accounting programs. Also, it appears that the curriculum would be comprised of current Accounting courses with the addition of two new courses. Given the menu of courses that are being offered at Stark State College (SSC), it is quite evident that they are similar to those offered at other Ohio state or private universities and community colleges where students would have the opportunity to enroll in a similar or exact course as being offered at SSC. The proposal is silent regarding the schools that offer an Accounting curriculum. According to NOCHE (Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education), there are more than 30 four-year colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio, the majority of which offer Accounting programs. Within a 60-mile radius of SSC, this includes four (4) state universities (Cleveland State University, Kent State University, University of Akron, and Youngstown State University) and many private schools (including Case Western Reserve, John Carroll, Hiram College, Malone College, Mount Union College, and Walsh University) that offer the same Accounting curriculum. Beyond that radius, schools such as Ohio University, University of Toledo and, of course, Ohio State University, all have successful and viable Accounting programs. In addition, there are many schools in Pennsylvania, close to the Ohio border, that offer Bachelor's degrees in Accounting. Therefore, there are many options for students to choose from if they wish to pursue a 4­year Bachelor's degree in Accounting. Unfortunately, the SSC proposed program is not unique or significantly different from these other programs in order to justify an additional program in Northeast Ohio. Industry Partnership: It would appear that the SSC program has support from their local professional community. Institutional Capacity and Program Information: Based on the information provided in this proposal, it would appear that there should be great concern regarding the academic quality of the proposed program. "The majority of the courses included within this proposal already exist. Only two new courses will need to be developed." This statement is quite unsettling in that the existing courses are being offered in an Associate Degree Program, indicating that they currently require only high school preparation. Accounting courses offered in Bachelor's programs at other state universities are taught at a higher level, requiring college-level prerequisites that deliver a more in­-depth, comprehensive coverage of the material. Simply renumbering the courses offered at a community college cannot increase the rigor and academic quality of a Bachelor's degree in Accounting. In the most recent (August 2018) edition of Strategic Finance, the publication of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), an article entitled "Building Better Accounting Curricula" uses Bloom's Taxonomy to discuss the need for graduates entering the Accounting profession to possess higher level skills than they currently do. These skills include the ability to analyze, evaluate, and create new or original work, which can only be developed through the enhancement of critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, the SSC proposed program uses traditional courses and pedagogy and would not meet the recommendations of the organization that licenses Certified Management Accountants (CMA). Lastly, another point of evaluation is whether the SSC proposed program is "distinctively different" from other undergraduate degree programs. Section 4 of this proposal lists Program Learning Objectives and provides a list of courses that would be offered in this program that SSC proposes are different from other schools. And in response to the two new courses that SSC would develop as part of this new program, these courses could easily be added to their current course offerings as part of the Associate Degree Programs already offered. Conclusion: Given the large number of existing Bachelor's degree programs in Accounting in the region, it is very difficult to support the addition of another one in Northeast Ohio. Furthermore, since the SSC curriculum is not unique and not significantly different from the existing Accounting programs, there is nothing to set itself apart from these other programs. As noted, only two new courses would be added, which, if they are considered unique, they could be added to the current SSC program. In conclusion, a mere repackaging of existing Associate’s degree level courses does not constitute a unique and, more importantly, valid Bachelor's degree program. Hence, based on this review, this proposal is not supported.

Comment: 
The Chancellor’s original directive (Directive 2017-098, November 7, 2017) stated that an institution would be required to demonstrate the “absence of a bachelor’s degree program that meets the workforce need…that is offered by a state university or private college or university….” Walsh University offers an accounting program which meets workforce need. Walsh graduates are prepared for either the CMA or CPA exam. Walsh also has an articulation agreement with Stark State which easily facilitates transfer to Walsh University. And, while the letters of support all refer to a “dramatically different” curriculum, we find at least 17 classes (53-54 credit hours) are in courses likely to be a direct equate with Walsh University course. This count only includes business/accounting classes – considering the electives and general education courses needed to complete the Stark State program, the overlap would be even higher. It does not seem that this program meets the standard established for uniqueness as stated in the directive.

Comment: 
The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO) writes to provide comments on the Ohio Department of Education’s (OHDE) review of five applications for creating bachelor’s degree programs at community, state community, and technical colleges. AICUO and its members have serious concerns about the duplicative nature of the proposed Applied Bachelor's Degree in Management Accounting being proposed from Stark State College. According to the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA) and the current version of its CMA Handbook, the education qualifications for the CMA certificate is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institute of higher education or a professional certification, some of which only require an associate degree. Although a business degree is not a required qualification for the certificate, such degrees could provide an advantage to any candidate seeing to apply. In Ohio, there are literally dozens of institutions that offer suitable business degrees. Given the geographic and institutional diversity of higher education institutions in the state, both traditional and online, to claim that this degree is unique or meets an unmet demand is inaccurate. In the Canton region, Walsh University, the University of Mount Union and Malone University all offer finance, business, and accounting degrees that ensure students are eligible to take the CMA exam. Creating a new business degree program would be duplicative of these and the dozens of other programs that are available to serve employers in the area. Further, even assuming that there is unmet demand for CMA’s in the Canton area, Stark State’s proposal is the most costly option available to the state. As a certificate program, Stark state is fully able today, without starting a degree program, to offer courses assisting students with the preparation for such a certificate program. Creating a certificate preparation program would not require Stark State to incur the substantial institutional costs associated with a new bachelor’s degree program. The precedent for such a new degree program would also encourage the creation of other degree programs for professional certificates that do not require a specific degree. For example, the General Securities Representative Exam from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, colloquially known as the Series 7 exam, is often taken by newly minted graduates. Certified Financial Planner, Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager, and ICMA’s Certificate in Strategy and Competitive Analysis are all available to graduates and in some cases non-graduates, in a manner that would not require a new baccalaureate degree program. Starting a new bachelor’s degree program for these and other certificates would be a duplicative waste of state resources when existing programs and new certificate training programs at community colleges could easily meet the need. If the goal of these new programs is to provide Ohioans with a service that is currently not available, this proposed program does not even meet the most basic threshold for creating a new baccalaureate program at a community college. I strongly urge you to encourage better collaboration with institutions that are already offering these programs, potentially with a certificate training supplement at a community college, rather than expending time, effort, and resources on something the market does not require.

Comment: 
The University of Akron (UA) strongly opposes the proposal for an Applied Bachelor’s Degree in Management Accounting submitted to the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) by Stark State College (SSC). Overall, we found the proposal (1) Duplicates already existing higher education offerings in the Northeast Ohio region, (2) Does not provide an accurate market assessment of managerial accounting, and (3) Lacks the necessary academic rigor and appreciation of the accepted body of knowledge of accounting to make a significant contribution for students as well as employers in the region. Specific criticisms are detailed below. Duplication of existing programs ODHE Criterion #2 states that proposals must detail the workforce gap not being met by existing bachelor’s degrees at public and private universities, with any similar degrees identified and explaining how they do not meet current workforce needs. The SSC proposal does not acknowledge the number of higher education institutions already offering accounting degrees. There are eleven programs in Northeast Ohio that already offer accounting degrees (University of Akron, Youngstown State University, Kent State University, Mount Union, Walsh, Malone, Ashland University, Cleveland State University, Case Western University, John Carroll, and Baldwin Wallace College). This is a saturated market. The SSC proposal goes against the principles of the Northeast Ohio Regional Education Compact. A key goal of the compact, signed by nine Northeast Ohio public college and university leaders (including those from UA and SSC), is to reduce unnecessary duplication of academic programming within the consortium. In that spirit, the University of Akron, as part of a university wide academic program review process, recently announced that it is phasing out degree offerings in fashion merchandising and interior design, due, in part, to the existence of other, stronger degree offerings from other universities in the region. The same principle holds true for some associate degrees that are to be phased out that are offered by area community colleges, including Stark State College. The SSC proposal for an Applied Bachelor’s Degree in Management Accounting flies against that non-duplication agreement. Inaccurate market assessment The proposal claims that other bachelor’s degrees in accounting within the region differ from the proposed degree significantly because existing programs are focused on public accounting and students who want to become Certified Public Accountants (CPA). There is no evidence provided in support of the claim. In fact, it is typical for less than 50% of students who complete a four-year degree in accounting to be employed by a public accounting firm and to sit for the CPA exam. The majority of graduates are employed by non-accounting firms in virtually every functional area of business. According to recent University of Akron College of Business Administration placement data, 58% of accounting graduates were placed in non-accounting firms. These firms included National Interstate Insurance, A. Schulman, Key Bank, Luk Schaeffler, Progressive Insurance, Sherwin Williams, Bank of America, Famous Enterprises, JM Smucker Co. and Tremco, Inc. To obtain a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) certification (which SSC points to as an option for graduates of their proposed degree offering), students need only a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution or a professional certification. A specific degree in accounting is not required to satisfy the educational qualification. Nonetheless, the CMA exam tests on content in eleven competencies including financial reporting, planning, performance and control as well as financial decision-making topics such as corporate finance, investment decisions, ethics, and financial statement analysis. These are common courses taught in all accredited accounting programs. SSC has failed to justify how the existing programs are not currently meeting the management accounting needs of the region. Academic Rigor and Body of Knowledge in the Accounting Discipline Ultimately, any academic program is judged by the quality of its curriculum. While this can be a subjective exercise, validating and verifying academic quality in business is based on accreditation. With very few exceptions, the business schools that are highest ranked across the globe (by Bloomberg Businessweek and U.S. News & World Report) are schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). AACSB is the international gold standard for business and accounting program accreditation. The accreditation fosters quality through faculty credentials, instructional assessment and requiring program engagement with the business community through a continuous improvement model. In Northeast Ohio, six programs are AACSB accredited with five (i.e., UA, CSU, CWRU, JCU, KSU) achieving the highest recognition of dual accreditation in both business and accounting. The proposed SSC program lacks the academic rigor as judged by recognized standards, and students and employers are already better served by existing accredited programs. Of equal concern is an apparent lack of appreciation of the academic body of knowledge of accounting. It is not a common practice to suggest that there is a separate body of knowledge for public accounting and non-public/management accounting. The body of knowledge included in degrees required for the CPA certification match that required for the CMA certification. It also is not common practice to suggest there is a separate body of knowledge for accounting principles and practices in specific industry sectors such as supply chain, logistics etc. as presented in the cover letter attached to the SSC proposal. This appears to be an artificial distinction. It could be criticized as “slicing things too thin” and will lead to a proliferation of degree programs that are not needed in the market place. Further, there is nothing in the proposed curriculum that goes any further in any of these areas than is found in existing AACSB business programs in the region. The University of Akron College of Business Administration Integrated Core Curriculum requires all business majors to take a course in supply chain and operations management and courses in all the functional areas of business and general management. There is not a void, as suggested in the cover letter, that is not met by other accounting degrees. Experience in an industry sector or specialized graduate education are the appropriate means of building expertise in specific sectors, not undergraduate coursework. The main differences in the requirements for CPA certification and CMA certification lie in the type of work experience required for each certification. It is important to note that the proposed payroll courses planned by SSC are outside the scope of what is required for management accountants and the content is considered “operational/non-managerial” level content. This would be appropriate for an associate’s degree, not a bachelors degree. Graduates from such a degree would primarily be employed in payroll bookkeeping positions and would not even satisfy the experience qualification requirement of the CMA certification. Summary In closing, after a thorough review of SSC’s proposal, we fail to see the value or unique contribution the degree will provide within an already saturated market comprised of higher quality programs in accounting. Adding the degree to Northeast Ohio is a disservice to those students seeking a career in accounting and will only create uncertainty and confuse employers seeking graduates.