MAcc Accounting Analytics emphasis designated STEM OPT

The William & Mary Raymond A. Mason School of Business recently earned the STEM OPT certification for the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program’s new accounting analytics emphasis.

OPT or “optional practical training” is a 24-month extension for international students who complete a program of study in an approved field related to science, technology, engineering, and math.

“The Graduate Career Management Center is very excited to hear about the new certification,” said Patrice Lincoln, Director of Career Advising & Education at the Mason School. “Global students here on an F-1 visa will be able to utilize up to 36 months of OPT before they will require sponsorship via H1B or green card process.”

According to current U.S. Department of Homeland Security guidelines, all international students with F-1 visa status are eligible to apply for up to 12 months of work authorization in the United States after graduating from their academic program. However, graduates of a STEM-designated program have the opportunity to apply for up to 24 additional months with the OPT certification.

The accounting analytics emphasis is new to the MAcc program. It was introduced during the 2019-2020 academic year in response to a market demand that accountants have robust technical skills to better serve their industries.

“Analytics skills are critical for today’s accountant,” said Dr. Denise Jones, Professor & Accounting Department Chair. “Every class in the MAcc Program prepares students to think analytically. Students getting an Accounting Analytics emphasis go above and beyond this basic knowledge and acquire the advanced data analytics skills that will set them apart from their peers.”

Jackie Ferree, the Associate Dean of Finance and Administration, said that the Mason School applied for the STEM OPT certification as a way to validate the accounting analytics curriculum.

“The designation emphasizes to prospective students the analytic and quantitative nature of the specialization content,” she said.

While international students are the primary beneficiaries of the STEM OPT certification, it does bring value to both domestic students as well as employers who partner with the Mason School to hire graduates with the accounting analytics emphasis.

“It’s always an advantage for domestic students to say they were able to earn a degree that’s STEM certified because of the academic rigor and technical acumen that designation indicates,” said Mike Ryan, Director of Corporate Relations & Employer Engagement.

“And employers see the STEM OPT certification as a great differentiator to give them another option when hiring or thinking about talent,” he explained. “When traditionally they may have said no to international students, it’s made them think twice about giving a student the opportunity to work with them, see if it’s a good fit for both sides, and then walk down the sponsorship processes later.”

For more information about the MAcc program and the accounting analytics emphasis, prospective students should contact the Master of Accounting Admissions Team.