NIU’s accountancy program continues to stake its claim as one of the best programs in the country, checking in at No. 16 on the Public Accounting Report’s annual ranking of best accounting programs.
The program has been a mainstay on the list since the publication began ranking programs 32 years ago. The annual asks accountancy professors across the country what 10 programs they would recommend to students interested in entering the field.
This year, NIU placed 16th on both the undergraduate (up four spots from last year) and graduate school (up seven spots) rankings.
“It is very gratifying to know that, year in and year out, the top people in our field around the country recognize the quality of education that takes place in the NIU Accountancy Department,” said Denise Schoenbachler, dean of the NIU College of Business. “The faculty of that program is not only keenly aware of the long history of excellence, but is always striving to take the program to new heights.”
One of the keys to the programs history of consistent excellence has been a willingness to evolve with the field of accountancy.
In recent years it has added or expanded several programs – the Master’s of Accounting Science program has tripled in size; a Master’s of Science in Taxation was added; and, in addition to the highly respected CPA Review, the college offers programs to help individuals prepare for the CIA (Certified Internal Auditor). The college also has earned recognition for its efforts to improve the communication skills of students who graduate from the program.
“These rankings reflect the outstanding faculty, staff and students that we have at NIU,” said Department Chair Jim Young. “We are honored to carry on the tradition of excellence established by our colleagues over the past 40 years.”
The Public Accounting Report ranking is among many accolades earned by the college:
- A 2013 FSA Graduate Teaching Innovation Award from AICPA/MarkChain/FSA given to professors Jen Ellis, Mark Riley and Rebecca Shortridge for their efforts to incorporate soft skills into the graduate accounting curriculum.
- Faculty frequently earn top teaching awards from state and national organizations. Most recently, Don Tidrick earned the Distinguished Achievement in Accounting Education Award from the American Institute of CPAs, while Young became the seventh member of the department faculty to receive the Educator of the Year Award from the Illinois CPA Society.
- The program’s pass rate on the CPA examination consistently outperforms the state and national averages. For the past three years, they have placed in, or near, the top 25 in the nation.
Graduates of the program can be found in high-level positions at top accounting firms across the country, including many in leadership roles at Big Four accounting firms. Those alumni are also strong supporters of the program, with a group of supporters stepping up last year to create the Donald E. Kieso Endowed Chair, the first endowed chair in the 50-year history of the NIU College of Business.
The NIU Department of Accountancy graduates approximately 200 undergraduates a year and 150 master’s students.
Topping the list of top undergraduate accountancy programs was the University of Texas, which has had a virtual lock on the top spot for several years. Texas was followed by the University of Illinois and Brigham Young. In all, the top 25 list was filled with universities from the Midwest including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan State and Indiana.
The only other school from the Mid-American Conference to make the list was Miami of Ohio, which was ranked 19th.