When looking at institutions, Derek Hertges knew he wanted an accounting program that would prepare him for the real world. 

Thanks to the Masters of Accounting program, a growing venture from the UNI College of Business Administration, he was given the tools to thrive in his professional career. The program seeks to get students into the workforce faster and more prepared than peers at other institutions by allowing them to take classes that cover undergraduate and graduate requirements simultaneously. 

“I think the program made me better able to handle situations where I didn't know what to do,” said Hertges, ‘16. “I knew how to go out and find answers on my own rather than having to ask questions constantly.”

The program gave Hertges exposure to numerous accounting firms when they came into his classes to recruit. After leveraging those opportunities into internships with John Deere and PwC as a student, Hertges went on to work at Principal Financial before opening his own financial advising practice. 

Success stories like Hertges’ have started to spread and the program, which allows students to complete an undergraduate and masters degree in accounting simultaneously, has doubled enrollment during the 2021-22 school year, going from 13 students to 25. Students complete the program in an average of five years, and it allows them to take the examination required to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state of Iowa immediately upon graduation.

For MAcc program head Amy Igou, the growth is a combination of conversations with students about the program and the reputation of excellence that the program has garnered amongst employers and educators. 

“By talking to students earlier, they’re able to start thinking it over and don’t have to make a decision at the last minute,” Igou said. “I’ve been able to have conversations with sophomores and even a few freshmen about the program.”

Prior to becoming a professor of accounting, Igou worked at John Deere in several positions in financial systems. With this experience, she understood the importance of incorporating real-world applications into the classroom. Students get the opportunity to do an in-depth analysis of real businesses and apply their skills, allowing for the development of higher-order thinking skills. 

The real-world application opportunities have certainly paid off for students when it comes time to take the CPA. UNI boasts a pass rate of over 90% for students taking the test for the first time. The national pass average for first-time takers is between 45% and 50%, putting UNI at a nearly 50% higher success rate. 

The CPA pass rate hasn’t gone unnoticed by prospective students, and it was the reason that senior and current Masters of Accounting program student Faisal Yasin chose UNI. 

“The MAcc program offered me the chance to increase the depth of my accounting knowledge and become better prepared for the CPA,” Yasin said. “I feel like I am well prepared to enter the field when I graduate because a lot of our classwork involves solving cases and problems through our research just like we will do in the field.”

A member of the class of 2021, Yasin will graduate from UNI in May with his master’s degree in accounting.

The Masters of Accounting program came to life at UNI when the CPA examination began requiring 150 credit hours of completed coursework before taking the test. Students in UNI’s undergraduate accounting program were already taking 120 credit hours, and by adding several graduate-level courses, they would meet the required 150 while simultaneously earning a master’s degree.