Program Structure

An overview of the program structure of the Master of Accounting Program

This 33-credit master’s program, offered in a traditional face-to-face classroom setting with dedicated course sections on Penn State’s University Park campus, begins in the fall semester and concludes in August of the following year. Each semester builds upon the required semester before it, creating a laddered educational experience that helps every student succeed, regardless of background or experience.

Courses covered in the program are designed with the near-term goal of passing the CPA Exam and the long-term goal of preparing for a rewarding career as an accounting professional. Faculty work with students to ensure they understand the major issues confronting the accounting profession today and have the technical competence to pass the CPA Exam.

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Required Prerequisites

The following Penn State courses (or their equivalents at another institution) are prerequisites for the Penn State Smeal MAcc Program:

  • ACCTG 211 - Intro to Financial and Managerial Accounting
  • ACCTG 403w - Auditing
  • ACCTG 404 - Managerial Accounting
  • ACCTG 405 - Principles of Taxation
  • ACCTG 471 - Intermediate Financial Accounting I
  • ACCTG 472 - Intermediate Financial Accounting II
  • MIS 301 - Business Analytics

If you do not have the required prerequisites for the program, contact us today to learn how you can graduate with a Smeal MAcc degree in as little as 15 months by enrolling in Smeal's Accounting Foundations graduate certificate.

Fall Semester

Duration: 16 weeks | Professor: Suzanne Wright

Focus on the actual production of accounting data. The purpose of the course is to learn how accountants collect relevant data and transform them into reports appropriate for managers and external readers. Procedural details will focus first on the traditional accounting cycle and the journal entries for business transactions and events. Students will then examine the principle accounting cycles: sales cycle, cash receipts cycle, purchases cycle, cash disbursements cycle, payroll cycle, facilities cycle, general ledger cycle, and production cycle.
Duration: 16 weeks | Professor: Ed Ketz, Ph.D.

The study of investigative accounting, consulting, and litigation support activities undertaken in forensic accounting engagements.
Duration: 16 weeks | Professor: Nancy Mahon, Ph.D. / Andy Gustafson, Ph.D.

One of the most important skills MBAs develop in business school is the ability to demonstrate the value of their experiences. This course provides students with targeted opportunities to develop this skill as they clearly, forcefully, and professionally represent ideas, opinions, and solutions. Students will participate in various oral, written, and graphic projects during the course.
Duration: 16 weeks | Professor: Mike Tyworth, Ph.D.

Use various database designs to acquire the information needed to make effective business decisions. Successful students will be able to design, create, and implement a relational database and be able to write SQL statements to obtain information from a database. In addition, students will investigate the next generation approaches for storing, manipulating, and managing web data in unstructured formats.
Duration: 16 weeks | Professor: Ian Ho, Ph.D.

Business intelligence encompasses the IT tools for exploring, analyzing, integrating, and reporting business data for fact-based, intelligent decision making. This course primarily investigates methods and tools for exploring and analyzing large amounts of business data, also called "Big Data." Students will be exposed to a variety of methods for analyzing both structured and unstructured data and will work with business data sets to understand the value that can be extracted from large data sets. They will also learn how to classify and associate data to discover business rules that can be used to support decision making.

Spring Semester

Duration: 16 weeks | Professor: Scott Collins, Ph.D.

An essential part of the program curriculum is the required spring semester internship. The internship must be accounting-related in order to qualify. The Director of the One-Year MAcc Program, Scott Collins, will assist you as you explore options for placement and encourage you to make the most of your campus recruiting events. An internship is not guaranteed and is not provided by the program.

Summer Semester

Duration: 6 weeks | Professor: Ed Jenkins

Effects of tax regimes on decision-making, tax planning, and market outcomes.
Duration: 6 weeks | Professor: Scott Collins, Ph.D.

Examine the accounting for complex business transactions with an emphasis on understanding the "why," rather than exclusively the "how." There is a focus on the economic substance of transactions and developing a deep understanding of the Financial Accounting Standards Board Conceptual Framework.
Duration: 5 weeks | Professor: Henock Louis, Ph.D.

The objective of this course is to explore conventional and advanced analytical methods of analyzing financial statements. Expanding on the material covered in the principles of accounting and principles of finance courses, and using actual financial statements, students will: review and apply the traditional methods for analyzing financial statements, such as ratio analysis, trend analysis, and common-size analysis, apply advanced tools for analyzing financial statements, such as financial distress prediction models and earning manipulation prediction models, and evaluate accounting policies and disclosures and their impact on the financial statements through the assessment of earnings quality.
Duration: 5 weeks | Professor: David Haushalter, Ph.D.

An intensive examination of techniques available to aid the financial manager in decision making.
Duration: 13 weeks | Professor: Eric Smith

Designed to: (1) provide the student with a systematic study of the laws governing sales transactions, the instruments for financing those transactions and rights and liabilities of debtors and creditors (the Uniform Commercial Code governs these issues); (2) to explore current trends in the law affecting commercial transactions; (3) to develop further the student's legal reasoning processes; (4) to enhance the student's ability to identify legal issues from the business decision makers and financial auditor's perspectives.