Mastering accounting

Derek Hertges knew he wanted an accounting program that would prepare him for the real world. 

Thanks to the UNI College of Business Administration’s growing Masters of Accounting program, he was given the tools to thrive in his professional career. The program seeks to get students ready to become the accounting profession’s future leaders by emphasizing real-world problems, communication and technology.  

“The program made me better able to handle situations where the answers were not right in front of me,” said Hertges, ‘16. “Through it, I learned techniques to more efficiently problem solve, research and find answers on my own before reaching out for help.”

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 in  Moline, Illinois, and Raleigh, North Carolina, and PwC in Minneapolis as a student, Hertges went on to work full time with PwC in San Francisco and then Des Moines. He then opened his financial advising practice under the Principal Financial Group broker-dealer in West Des Moines.

Success stories like Hertges’ have started to spread, and the program has doubled in enrollment since the 2019-20 school year. Students typically complete the Masters of Accounting program in one year, and most students take UNI’s unique, faculty-led CPA Review courses that help students prepare and succeed on the notoriously difficult Certified Public Accounting exam.   

For MAcc program coordinator Amy Igou, the growth is due to a combination of conversations with students about the program and the reputation of excellence that the accounting degree 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 knowledge, 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 exam. UNI was recently ranked third in the nation for CPA exam success in an article published by Accounting Today. On average, almost 90% of UNI students that take the CPA exam successfully pass it within 18 months, nearly double the national average. For Masters of accounting students, the rate is almost 100%.  

The CPA pass rate hasn’t gone unnoticed by prospective students, and it was one 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 and will be working at Deloitte in Minneapolis. Yasin was also selected into Deloitte’s prestigious Premier Student Program and was a member of UNI’s winning tax competition team that competed in the Deloitte FanTAXtic Competition. 

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.