Thursday, January 27, 2011 myBiz Blog
Wisconsin BBA Major Spotlight: Accounting by Kelly Cuene

The Accounting major focuses on the development and use of a system for recording and analyzing the financial transactions and financial status of a business or other organization. Accountants track revenue and expenses, execute payroll, balance the books, and compile financial data needed to issue a company’s financial statements in accordance with government regulations. Accountants understand a company’s complex financial situation and therefore are often called upon to offer advice regarding business decisions. 

Required courses for major:

Information about the IMAcc program (Five-year Master of Accountancy program): 

Possible Career Paths: 

Public Accounting

  • Work with an engagement team to review or prepare financial documents (audit) or prepare/review tax returns, conduct research, and assist with tax planning (tax). Public accountants often make recommendations to clients regarding business decisions and company finances. Focus areas include: audit/assurance, tax, technology, risk, transaction services, etc. Must be CPA eligible after graduation.
 Corporate Accounting (Private/Industry Accounting)
  • Manage company financials and contribute to business decision-making process. May work with receivables, payroll, payables, general ledger and financial statements. Typical roles include staff accountant, internal audit, financial/budget analysis, tax, cost/management accounting. CPA eligibility is encouraged, but not always required.
 Non-Profit & Government Accounting
  • Roles similar to public and corporate accounting however guidelines and regulations may differ for financial records and procedures at governmental and non-profit agencies. Work environment may be focused on a cause or public service in addition to organization’s financial goals.
 Other Career Options
  • Accounting is a strong base for any business career. Some other options include forensic accounting, entrepreneurship, consulting, corporate finance, investment banking, and education.
CPA Exam

Students who wish to sit for the CPA exam need to obtain 150 credit hours of college coursework (instead of the normal 120 credits needed to graduate from UW-Madison with a bachelor degree). While the CPA exam itself is uniform across states, the educational requirements needed in order to sit for the exam in a particular state may vary. Be sure to check with the state in which you plan to work for specific information. More information about the CPA exam: American Institute of CPAs Wisconsin Institute of CPAs National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA)

Accounting Student Organizations Beta Alpha Psi Institute of Management Accountants

Business Student Testimonials

“I realized I wanted to major in accounting after my freshman year, when I took Accounting 100.  At first, I was drawn to accounting for the established order it brought to a company's financial transactions.  After all, accounting provides a language to record and report financial performance.  Eventually, however, I began to appreciate that accounting is more than just black and white; there are many gray areas - complex transactions, emerging issues - that require significant judgment.   

Another benefit to an accounting major is that it is very practical and can lead to a variety of career paths. 

The IMAcc program provides an established track to obtain the necessary credits to sit for the CPA exam and to gain valuable internship experience during accounting's "busy season."  

Jill Dearing BBA Accounting, May 2010 Master of Accountancy, May 2011 

“I chose Accounting as a major because it’s a set of skills needed to run any successful business. It also allows me to go into different sectors of business because the entire financial world uses accounting as a foundation.” 

Asher Siboni BBA Accounting, May 2011 

“Having a preference for the numerical way of looking at things, AIS has proven to be a very fitting major for me. With its complexities and rigorous rules, I find the AIS field to be an extremely interesting and challenging field. The AIS UW-Madison curriculum is very extensive across all of the many areas that the AIS field encompasses. Through the resources of the BCC, I had the opportunity to put my passion for AIS in the classroom to use in the real world with a year-long Financial Accounting internship at a bank holding company in the Madison Community. Additionally, my AIS education provided me with the knowledge and skills to perform the role of Financial Vice President in my sorority successfully. With the ever-changing rules and regulations of the AIS field, life is definitely never a bore!” 

Terin Robertson BBA Accounting, May 2011

“Accounting combined my interest in mathematics and business in a way that required a lot of problem solving. While taking introductory courses, it became clear that accounting has widespread applications that could open a variety of career opportunities to me. I like that accounting is really the “language” of business. I could see the implications of accounting in all of my course work – marketing, finance, operations/manufacturing, etc. – and how accounting is used to make all of these functions work together and communicate. Getting a general understanding of the topic was interesting, but using the knowledge to face challenges in the business world makes it exciting for me… [My advice for students considering a major in accounting is] network as much as you can. If you find something that sounds like it could be interesting, reach out and get more information. The school provides a lot of access to people who can answer questions or get you to people who know the answers. Between advisors, professors, TAs, recruiters, and alumni there are plenty of ways to find out more about industries and career paths to make sure you can make the right decision for you.” 

Kara Biasca BBA Accounting, May 2010 Master of Accountancy, May 2011 

Want to learn more?

View the Accounting Academic and Career Essentials PowerPoint presentation (pdf). 

Accounting students: Share with us!

  • Why did you choose your major?
  • What interests you most about Accounting?
  • What questions do you have about Accounting?
This post is part of a series of myBiz posts highlighting the different business majors to help pre-business and business students learn about their academic and career options. Next week we will spotlight the Real Estate and Risk Management & Insurance majors. Stay tuned!