With the rising number of job openings for accountants, colleges have more students majoring in the discipline of accounting. This naturally creates a demand for more faculty members to help in launching individuals on the path of CPA preparation. In fact, much of the faculty hiring is not tenure-track professors, but rather accounting professionals who lack a Ph.D. A culmination of factors are contributing to these circumstances, including a wave of anticipated faculty losses due to retirement, the costs for obtaining a Ph.D., and fewer openings in accounting doctoral programs.
The so-called professionally qualified faculty draws on accounting experience rather than academic preparation. Current accounting students often receive classroom instruction from professionally qualified college teaching staff. In many cases, these accounting instructors are highly valued by students for advice about CPA work environments and the challenges of CPA exam study.
The Commission on Higher Education – also known as the Pathways Commission – is calling for the accounting profession to develop more candidates for professionally qualified faculty posts. The commission also advocates more appreciation of professionally qualified faculty by giving them a greater significance in accounting education programs. Consequently, colleges may expect a large number future faculty additions from the ranks of practicing accountants. The steppingstone for this career direction is having an eye toward academia while gaining experience after a CPA review course and passing examination scores.
Colleges are finding that CPAs with relevant professional experience enrich teaching environments. The Pathways Commission wants to assure that any CPA contributing to academics is rewarded. Therefore, the first objective of the commission’s report is integrating professionally oriented faculty into significant aspects of accounting “education, programs, and research.”
Specific proposals of the commission are identification, attraction, and development by the accounting industry of practitioners for faculty positions. Colleges are advised to value these individuals as permanent faculty members with full participation in academic programs, such as development and modification of curricula. Accounting professionals with experience and teaching aptitude are therefore envisioned as vital contributors for preparing students to tackle study for CPA exam success.
Faculty members with professional qualifications are recognized as important educational resources because they expose students to current business practices. Each school establishes standards for this type of educator that are distinctive from the academically qualified hires. Additional guidelines assure that the professionally qualified maintain their up-to-date professional status via ongoing activities, such as consulting work.
Creating opportunities for accountants to serve as educators is a major agenda item of the Pathways Commission report. Traditional academic qualification is not the only avenue for prospective college instructors. Accountants seeking to train the next generation of students in courses for CPA preparation face little risk and educational hurdles when leveraging their experience to join accounting faculties. College accreditation agencies typically permit half of all undergraduate instruction from professionally qualified educators. Therefore, many colleges are likely to replace retiring accounting faculty with individuals meeting professional qualifications.
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