Gaining work experience before pursuing an accounting graduate degree can be a good way for young professionals to get a taste of their industry before dedicating more time toward education in that field. In fact, industry experience could set one applicant apart from another who has little knowledge of the workplace or how an accounting education can be applied to real-life situations.
However, when a person decides to return to the academic world and begin working toward a master’s degree in accounting, it’s important to understand how their time out of school may affect their eligibility for admission. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the 5-year rule describes the cut-off point for whether prior education can be considered for an applicant.
Why have the 5-year rule?
Though accounting is an ancient practice, it’s always evolving in today’s economic climate. As technologies advance and expectations change, best practices need to be adjusted. Additionally, it’s common for accounting standards to change and new ones to be added. In 2017 alone, the Financial Accounting Standards Board reported 15 standards updates pertaining to not-for-profit entities, retirement benefits, stock compensation, and more.
Because the accounting industry is always in flux, it’s important for professionals to keep up with the changes. People who earned their degrees within the past five years are more likely to have studied some of the major developments in the field.
What should I do if the 5-year rule applies to me?
If you earned your Bachelor of Science in Accounting more than five years ago, you can still apply for entrance into the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s master’s degree in accounting program. Before you begin your core classes, though, you’ll need to either complete the bridge program or appeal to have this requirement waived.
There are eight bridge courses included in the program:
AC 200: Principles of Accounting I
This course is pretty straightforward, focusing on basic concepts that affect financial statements like external financial reports, long-term liabilities and assets, and stockholders’ equity.
AC 201: Principles of Accounting II
Review the basics of internal reporting in this course, which focuses on concepts like budgeting, product costing, cost behavior, and responsibility accounting.
AC 300: Financial Accounting I
The first of three financial accounting courses, this one looks into accounting cycles, financial statements, the time value of money, and more.
AC 304: Accounting Information Systems
Emerging information technology is changing the way accountants manage financial data. This course explores the development and control of information systems and other related concepts.
AC 310: Financial Accounting II
The second financial accounting course reviews inventories, long-term debt, plant assets and intangible assets, liabilities, and similar concepts.
AC 401: Cost Accounting
Review the theories and procedures that apply to cost determination, analysis, and control, including the application of overhead, process and byproduct costing, quantitative techniques, and more.
AC 402: Income Taxation I
This course covers the basics of income taxation with an emphasis on individual federal income tax.
AC 430: Financial Accounting III
The third financial accounting course recounts concepts like dilutive securities, investments, accounting changes and error analysis, retirement benefits, accounting for income taxes, and more.
These eight courses give a broad overview of today’s accounting environment and prepare students to take on the coursework required for earning a Master of Accounting from the Collat School of Business.
How do I enroll in the bridge program?
If you know that you’ll need to go through the bridge program before you begin your core studies, you’ll still apply to the master’s in accounting program using the basic online application. To indicate that you’re applying to take the bridge program, answer “yes” to question 10, which asks, “Are you pursuing the Bachelor’s to Master’s Bridge Program?” in the application.
Can I waive the bridge course requirements?
Most students whose prior education is five or more years old (as well as those who earned their bachelor’s degree in a field other than accounting) will have to take the bridge program. However, some students might consider waiving this requirement, which begins by appealing to the Accounting Department.
The department will review requests to waive the program on a case-by-case basis. It might allow an applicant to waive all eight courses, take some of the courses, or deny the appeal and require the entire bridge program.
What else will be reviewed in my application?
While having a recent accounting education is an influential component of the application process, this isn’t the only information that the admissions committee will consider. Prospective students are also required to submit their current resume, GMAT score (which should also be no more than five years old), official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions they attended, and two letters of recommendation.
Earning a Master of Accounting at the University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham prides itself on its high-quality accounting curriculum. The 5-year rule isn’t meant to discourage potential applicants but rather to ensure they are up to speed on the most recent accounting industry information. The bridge program is designed to prepare students for their courses in the Master of Accounting curriculum and to help prepare them for success. To learn more about the Collat School of Business’ Master of Accounting program or the bridge courses, reach out to an enrollment advisor today.