How Well Does the Typical Accounting Bachelor's Degree Prepare Students For a Career in the Accounting Department of the United States Government?
Scholarship of Discovery; Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
This study investigates the effectiveness of the typical Accounting Bachelor’s Degree in preparing graduates to enter the Accounting Department of the United States Government. My experiences as a student at Olivet Nazarene University and as an intern with the Department of Defense have revealed a gap in accounting curriculum. Governmental accounting is rarely required by universities, presenting unnecessary challenges to entry-level government accountants. A survey conducted by the Government Accountants Journal, in 2000, revealed that only 33% of universities require governmental accounting. (Campbell, 2000) Our further analysis indicates that these numbers have not improved. To investigate this issue, we conducted a study within a Department of Defense organization to determine whether government accountants are adequately prepared by their college education. We issued a survey to roughly 100 government financial employees who work closely with the accounting system. The survey was composed of four sections including personal demographics, training experiences, statements of agreement, and short answer responses. Forty-eight individuals responded to the survey, which provided the basis for our conclusion that governmental accounting should be required in undergraduate programs.
The survey indicated that over 60% of people surveyed did not take any classes in governmental accounting. In addition, one-third of respondents admitted that they do not fully understand how the accounting system works. These shortcomings were accompanied by the respondents’ collective response to whether governmental accounting should be required in an accounting undergraduate degree. Two-thirds of respondents agreed, including 23% who strongly agreed with this statement. Our hypothesis was further supported by the fact that roughly 80% of respondents who did not have governmental accounting admitted to not understanding the governmental accounting system. This collective evidence indicates that undergraduate programs are not adequately preparing individuals for a career with the United States Government. That said, there were a few limitations of our survey that could cause hesitation before reconfiguring a university’s curriculum. A high risk of error exists in drawing conclusions because the survey only reached 48 respondents who represent over 110,000 people. In addition, some of the respondents indicated that their work does not involve the accounting system as we had expected. These limitations make it necessary for further study to be conducted before drastic changes are made to a university’s curriculum.
Tuttle, Michael J., "How Well Does the Typical Accounting Bachelor's Degree Prepare Students For a Career in the Accounting Department of the United States Government?" (2011). Honors Program Projects. 5.
Honors Capstone Project completed in 2011 for Olivet Nazarene University.