Researching the Future: MAcc Program Academic Emphasis

Rebecca Outten’s interest in teaching was the initial spark that brought her to William & Mary.

“When I started to look into accounting professor positions, I learned that research is a big part of any teaching position,” said Outten, MAcc ’18. “I chose William & Mary’s Master of Accounting (MAcc) program because it was one of the only programs in the country to offer an academic research emphasis in a one-year degree in preparation for earning a Ph.D.”

Like most undergraduates with accounting degrees, Outten had no prior accounting research experience.

“The MAcc program’s Academic Emphasis offers a completely different twist on accounting,” said Outten who is originally from Cape Charles, VA, and graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015. “Concurrent classes focused on research theory, data analysis and current research studies all tie together to offer a big picture view of accounting research. It gives students a perspective outside the typical accounting arena.”

Academic Emphasis StudentsAs a result, Outten feels prepared for a doctoral program well beyond what she would transitioning directly from working in the industry.

“What happens is people dive into a Ph.D. program and get overwhelmed,” said Outten. “This program offers a solid foundation that has set me apart from my peers. Not only do I have great skills - I can find, clean, manipulate and analyze data – but I am also much more prepared for what to expect in a Ph.D. program. Several admissions officers have told me I’m more competitive from an applicant perspective.”

Launched in 2015, the Academic Emphasis is the newest of the five focus areas offered as part of the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program. The nine-credit specialized emphasis enables students to build on the accounting-centric core classes with intense immersion in research.

“We saw an opportunity to offer students a desirable research experience while gaining a leg up in applying for Ph.D. programs,” said Professor Kimberly Smith who has helped to spearhead the Academic Emphasis development. “William & Mary is the perfect choice for this program because it has remarkable students, top-ranking faculty, a strong commitment to research and we don’t offer a Ph.D. program. As a result, we have developed the ideal experience to prepare students to earn their Ph.D.”

Outten agrees.

“I would absolutely recommend this program. I was exposed to an area of research and computation that I could not have gotten anywhere else,” said Outten. “It is the perfect stepping stone between working in the industry and a Ph.D. program. It has given me the focus and confidence to pursue my doctoral degree. I am very excited for the future.”