Graduate Accounting Major Ranks NO. 1 in the Northwest

Among the various distinguished majors offered by Seattle University’s Albers School of Business and Economics, its accounting department—though not as popular as its sibling finance or management degrees—has plenty to boast about this new year.

The 2016 U.S. News and World Report ranked the Albers graduate program with an accounting specialization as No. 1 in the Northwest, and the undergraduate accounting program was tied for 13th in the nation. This recently released ranking is yet another achievement to tack on to the continuous list of accolades the business program has racked up over the years.

Appointed chair of the accounting department this past summer, Niranjan ‘Chips’ Chipalkatti attributes the success of the department to the sheer determination and support from everyone in the major.

“Rankings are great. I’ll give you a whole list of things that we’re proud of, but I want to always underline the fact that it is not ultimately about the rankings—it is about the people,” Chipalkatti said. “It’s about the program. That’s what we care about most.”

The close-knit group of 200 undergraduate students, 100 graduate students, faculty and mentors work together to make sure students have great opportunities after graduation. Connections the university has maintained with accounting alumni and the highly ranked Albers Placement Center help build outstanding career paths for those pursuing a future in the field.

“There aren’t [that many] professors, but they give you great advice,” junior accounting major Ashley Hampton said. “You really get close with the people you take classes with. I think the family feel is nice.”

This community of mentorship together with the service of the placement center in seeking prospective internships has created valuable opportunities for business students in professional accounting firms. The various resources available have given the program one of the highest pass rates on the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) examination in the nation.

Chipalkatti admitted that maintaining this unique community is his toughest job.

“We are all very passionate about accounting, being current and innovative in our curriculum and listening,” Chipalkatti said. “Our conversations are often about our classes and how we need to improve.”

Although the degree cannot guarantee its international students as many careers in the United States as hoped—due to legal immigration issues, according to Chipalkatti—students have access to plenty of hands-on training.

Another opportunity that aids the students in meeting their future goals is the Beta Alpha Psi Chapter. The international honor organization has been at Seattle U for over twenty years, and has a chapter in most major universities in the nation.

Mostly geared toward accounting, finance and information systems students, its members join and network with professionals, learning more about skills that they will need and the ethics of choices made in the business world. Currently, about 80 accounting majors are members of
the organization.

Many major accounting firms also sponsor the chapters, and the regional conference allows for more exposure for students to various recruiters. Different chapters give presentations at the annual conference, encouraging students from other universities to learn from each other.

For senior accounting major Brian Lok, becoming the vice president of finance and membership for the chapter has given him many rewarding and beneficial experiences.

“One of the reasons I came to this school for my accounting program is because [I was] highly recommended to,” Lok said. “The quality here is guaranteed to be good.”

As the year progresses, the accounting program is excitedly seeking to improve various parts of its department. These goals include the integration of more data analytics as well as possibly revamping the entire learning goals for the accounting program and the graduate curriculum.

Chipalkatti said that the department might consider striving for a center for excellence status. The program can anticipate many exciting new changes comings its way.

“These are all things that we are trying to strive for,” Chipalkatti said. “We are who we are because of good students and dedication on the part of everyone here. We’re proud of who we are.”

Vikki Avancena is a junior biology major. She plays guitar and rants about silly, obscure things when words for essays and articles and life fail her. She loves awkward situations and smiles.


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