Curriculum

The Penn State Smeal Master of Accounting (MAcc) program offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to prepare students for success in the accounting profession. This 33-credit program follows a laddered educational approach, building upon the knowledge gained in each semester. Taught in a face-to-face classroom setting on Penn State's University Park campus, the program focuses on both short-term goals, such as passing the CPA Exam, and long-term goals of establishing a rewarding career in accounting. Faculty members work closely with students, ensuring they understand the key challenges facing the accounting field and develop the technical competence required for the CPA Exam. To enroll in the program, specific prerequisites must be met, including courses in financial and managerial accounting, auditing, taxation, and intermediate financial accounting. For those lacking the prerequisites, the Penn State Smeal Accounting Foundations graduate certificate offers a pathway to complete the MAcc degree in as little as 15 months.

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 preparing you for the CPA Exam and the long-term goal of attaining 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 sit confidently for the CPA Exam.

Interactive Map: View Penn State’s professional licensure/certification disclosures by state to understand how state licensing board requirements may impact your career.

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.

Required Courses (21 Credits)

Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | 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.
Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professors: Nancy Mahon, Ph.D. / Andy Gustafson, Ph.D.

One of the most important skills students 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 | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

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 | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

The course will give students an overview of basic programming tools and techniques that can scale to larger data sets, specifically related to financial information and reporting systems, and decision making by both entities and individuals. The course will include an overview of the Python programming language, with a focus on Python modules that are relevant for basic data analytics. The course will also provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the Extract-Transform-Load process, including processes related to obtaining data, cleaning data, visualizing data, and analyzing data. The course will also include an overview of blockchain technology as it relates to the Accounting profession. An introduction to the ethical use of data will also be provided during the course.
Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

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: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

Students will build upon prior work with the Python programming language and acquire more advanced syntax and building blocks for use in Python. They will also build upon prior work with the Extract-Transform-Load process and learn how to acquire, import, modify, join, summarize, visualize, and analyze datasets in order to better understand the relationships between accounting information and capital markets such as how stock prices respond to earnings information, what financial statement information best predicts accounting irregularities, and how eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) can be harnessed to make more uniform comparisons across companies.
Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

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.

Elective Courses (Select 12 credits)

Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

Examine the use of descriptive analytics tools and techniques throughout a wide range of business scenarios and problems, focusing on the question, "What happened?"
Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

Explore the use of prescriptive analytics methods in a variety of business contexts. In the early part of the course, the focus is on the tools and methods of prescriptive analytics. As the course progresses, the emphasis shifts to the effective integration and implementation of prescriptive analytics in supply-side decision-making processes such as supply chain management, service management, operations, logistics, and transportation. The application areas within business will reflect the interests of the instructor and will evolve as new areas of theory and practice develop.
Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

Designed for recent graduates with little to no professional experience. This course expands upon the data visualization concepts covered in BAN 830 by exploring a variety of advanced data visualization techniques focused on "big data" sets derived from marketing, finance, accounting, supply chain management, and other business-related scenarios. Using the latest data visualization software applications, students will focus on the development of dashboards and scorecards useful for translating structured and unstructured business performance data into decision-ready knowledge.
Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

Explore the use of predictive analytics tools and techniques throughout a wide range of business scenarios and problems. Initially focusing on the application of traditional predictive analytics techniques to answer the question, "What will happen in the future?," the course provides opportunities for students to apply regression and forecasting techniques to data from various business contexts to inform business decisions.
Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

This course prepares students with the fundamental skills to successfully leverage marketing data in business decision making and strategy. Students will learn how to map data to marketing challenges, apply basic statistics to marketing analyses, report results in meaningful ways, and support organizations in effectively leveraging marketing data. Special emphasis is given to translating data into meaningful and actionable business insights.
Duration: 16 weeks | Credits: 3 | Professor: TBD

The course provides students with working knowledge of some of the widely used quantitative methods and their applications in business, as well as using statistical analysis software to apply such methods for business analyses and decision-making. By the end of the course, students will understand the purposes of these methods and how to use them to solve real estate, financial, marketing, and risk management problems.