October 28, 2019 • By Sydney Charles
The Paul Merage School of Business accounting programs have been ranked among the top 25 master’s and undergraduate programs in the nation by the Public Accounting Report’s (PAR) 38th Annual Professors Survey. The report, conducted each spring, is based on the “opinions of the nation’s accounting professors.” The Merage School took the 16th spot for master’s programs at schools with 16 or fewer accounting faculty.
This is the second year UCI has placed top 25 in multiple categories in the PAR rankings. Patricia Wellmeyer, MPAc Faculty Director, expressed pride at the recent rankings.
“I am extremely proud of the high quality MPAc program we’ve built here at Merage. We have worked tremendously hard to develop a curricular and co-curricular experience for our students that is unique, highly relevant, and focused not only on getting students ready technically, but also professionally so that once they leave our program they have both the professional and technical capabilities to succeed in the increasingly complex and changing data-driven accounting environment,” she said.
Burt Slusher, director of recruitment and admissions for specialty master’s programs, explained how the recent rankings reflected positively on the fairly new accounting program.
“It makes us feel good to be ranked in a publication that has some prestige in the accounting field,” he said. “The Public Accounting Report has done these rankings for many years. We’re now recruiting for our eighth class, and to see that the reputation of our program is still carrying forward and is now being recognized from outside entities makes us feel very proud.”
When the program was created, it focused on creating a powerful foundation for leadership qualities that students could utilize in multiple ways even after getting their degrees.
Slusher stated, “When we built the program, we really wanted to help accounting students to not only get jobs in their field, but to become executives in the profession. It was not just to say: ‘Here are the accounting skill sets, it meets the CPA requirements.’ We do all of that through our program, but our larger purpose is to produce leaders in the digital space with the field of accounting changing all the time.”
Since its inception, the MPAc program has boasted a 90% or higher employment rate for students six months post-graduation. Students are not only getting jobs; they’re excelling in the positions they’re in. Slusher has watched students start as associates and gradually progress to managerial and executive positions in their place of employment.
“Seeing students go from an associate all the way to a manager was the vision we had with the program. We see all these students gaining success in the market which validates that we are teaching them the right skills,” he said.
Slusher explained how diversity—the class currently has students from 7 countries and over 9% of domestic students from underrepresented groups—is a pride point for the program. When looking to hire, firms have a “diverse and talented pool” of individuals to select from when looking at the Merage School.
These multifaceted layers of diversity, leadership, and success are what sets the School’s undergraduate and graduate programs apart from others.
“If they think of talent, diversity, smart, and students with potential, they think of our program first,” Slusher said.