By Grace Hutcherson (M.S. in Accounting ’23)
There are so many factors to consider when thinking about where you will get your master’s degree. If you’re anything like my cousin, you will rank the schools based on school colors, mascots, and dining hall food and choose the most appealing. While orange and blue are fantastic colors, and the Cavalier is a fierce mascot, there are many other reasons to receive your master’s education from McIntire.
1. M.S. in Accounting Program Structure
When comparing potential master’s programs for myself, I first looked at program structure. As a non-Accounting student preparing to switch to an accounting career path, I wanted a program that would allow me to pursue accounting without interfering with completing my bachelor’s degree. The M.S. in Accounting Program (MSA) at McIntire requires only four prerequisites before beginning the semester. While I was worried that four classes wouldn’t fully prepare me for an Accounting program full of Accounting undergrads, the program director assured me that the four would adequately prepare me for the transition to this program, which I can now confirm. Additionally, I wanted a program that lasted for less than a year. I wanted to be out and working and earning an income as soon as possible, and McIntire’s program fits this description.
2. Strong Academic and Professional Performance
When applying to programs, I knew I wanted to learn as much as possible and graduate with a job lined up. As someone who loves numbers, statistics, and data, I began googling as many statistics as possible: percent employed after graduation, average starting salary, and CPA exam pass rates. McIntire’s program had some of the highest employment rates and average starting salaries. McIntire provides a variety of audit and tax courses, and the professors are friendly, intelligent, and helpful. When making your decision, check some of the classes offered at McIntire (Financial Reporting and Assurance, and Tax Consulting). Here are a few blog posts reviewing classes offered:
3. Opportunities Beyond the Big Four
As cliché as it sounds, another reason I chose McIntire’s MSA program was for the opportunities. When thinking about my future, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to end up, tax versus audit versus consulting, Big Four or corporate, or something different. I wanted a program that would let me explore my opportunities. The MSA program at McIntire would allow me to do this. I could explore the different tracks through classes during the fall semester while also exploring job opportunities. Coming into McIntire, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join a Big Four accounting firm. While many students in the program pursue positions in the Big Four, many do not. I needed a school where I could explore my options, and the MSA program not only allowed this but encouraged it.
Something I didn’t realize coming in was the job search opportunities at McIntire. If you are entering the program without a job lined up after graduation, there are many services that McIntire and UVA offer to help with the job search. A meeting with Commerce Career Services can help you stay on track and give you ideas about where to look for positions. UVA uses Handshake to connect students and employers and make the job application process as manageable as possible. Furthermore, McIntire has events throughout the first few months where you can introduce yourself to employers and hear more about companies. UVA has some large career fairs to do the same. I attended the Finance Career Fair this year and met with over 20 companies.
4. UVA and McIntire Communities
In the end, the final reason I chose UVA was that it felt like home. Despite the campus being empty when I visited during Thanksgiving my senior year, I could tell there was a strong sense of community at UVA. Additionally, although the University of Virginia is a large school (much larger than my undergrad institution with a student population of about 2,800 students), the campus and this program don’t feel like a large school. With a program size of 60 people, the M.S. in Accounting Program feels like a tight-knit community. If given a chance, visit to see if you can envision yourself here too!