New Accounting Electives Now Being Offered

The field of accounting includes many specialized areas of interest to undergraduate and master’s students. The Whitman School curriculum allows students to customize their degree by including electives from which they can choose. Three electives became available this past academic year, including Financial Statement Analysis, being taught by Craig Nichols, Accounting Analytics, being taught by Karen Kukla, and Taxation of Business Entities, being taught by Ginger Wagner

Financial Statement Analysis is an undergraduate-level course that examines the role of financial information in assessing a firm’s performance, prospects and value. Financial analysis, equity valuation, competitive analysis, merger and acquisition analysis and international financial statement analysis are covered in the class, which is three credit hours and is offered once a year.

Taxation of Business Entities, which has been offered in the past and was recently brought back, is an undergraduate and master’s advanced level course that covers Federal taxation of the formation, operation, liquidation and reorganization of partnerships, subchapter C, subchapter S, and limited liability corporations. It also reviews Federal taxation of partners and shareholders. 

Ginger Wagner, professor of accounting practice, designed the course to cover 30 to 40 percent of the CPA exam on taxation. She says her students have shared that her class is “way harder than the exam.”

“I have also had students come back from their internships and tell me that what they learned in my class was so helpful for their internships, especially my focus on the pass-through entities” says Wagner. “I have the students prepare a corporate tax return as well.”

Originally created to support the M.S. in business analytics, Accounting Analytics 

“Students took part in hands-on activities during the week,” says Kofi Appiah Okyere. “Each student built four robots to automate certain accounting processes in the accounts receivable and partnership tax preparation areas. They also developed dashboards for a random publicly traded corporation.”

He adds that executives’ use of such dashboards in monitoring clients’ financial performance is becoming more prevalent and a common engagement for CPA firms. What’s more, as businesses innovate and incorporate more digitization in processes, new tools are emerging. Students who can utilize these systems have a competitive advantage.

“The second part of the class taught us how to design the exact computer systems the CPA firms are using, to take the manual mindless work out of accounting, skipping to getting results you can actually analyze and work with,” says Tyler Coelho ’21, an accounting major. 

Tyler Kelly ’20, accounting and finance major, says he appreciated the access to the alumni 

is now offered every semester to both graduate and undergraduate students. A popular elective for master’s students in both accounting and applied data science, the course introduces the analysis of data as it pertains to accounting professionals. Students learn to recognize how data is created, collected, stored and shared by technology to help solve accounting and business problems. In addition, working class sessions help develop skills with select software tools, including Excel, Tableau and CaseWare IDEA. 

“There is a heavy emphasis on analysis,” says Adjunct Professor of Accounting Karen Kukla. “Most students have good technical skills with respect to data mining,” she explains. “This course takes them to the next level – interpretation and reflective analysis of what the numbers mean.”