Practicing Accountants' Views of the Content of Accounting Ethics Courses

32 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2009 Last revised: 17 Aug 2009

See all articles by Mohammad J. Abdolmohammadi

Mohammad J. Abdolmohammadi

Bentley University - Department of Accountancy

Alan Reinstein

Wayne State University

Date Written: January 11, 2009


The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy's most recent proposal (NASBA 2007) requires all students sitting for the Uniform CPA examination to have completed a curriculum that includes a three-semester-hour (SCH) ethics course or one that integrates the study of ethics into all accounting courses at the equivalent of the three SCH minimum. If passed, the implied curriculum modification suggests that accounting instructors can benefit from guidance on ethics content to include in their courses. Because much of the debate of how to cover ethics in the curriculum focuses on the requirements to become a CPA, experienced practicing accountants' views can be helpful in determining the content of ethics courses in accounting. We compare our results with Hurtt & Thomas (2008) who asked academicians similar questions. Specifically, we surveyed 215 highly experienced practicing accountants (the vast majority of whom were CPAs). Among the top choices of content are current ethical issues, professional codes of conduct, ethical judgment and decision making process/models, corporate codes of ethics, whistleblower protection, record retention, philosophical theories of ethics and theories of ethics. The subjects agreed-moderately -- that ethics courses can influence attitudes and behavior, but they were neutral on whether ethics courses can reduce instances of Enron-like fraud. We also discuss some implications for the future of accounting education.

Keywords: Ethics education, accounting, course content

JEL Classification: M49, M41, M14, L84, L50

Suggested Citation

Abdolmohammadi, Mohammad J. and Reinstein, Alan, Practicing Accountants' Views of the Content of Accounting Ethics Courses (January 11, 2009). CAAA Annual Conference 2009 Paper. Available at SSRN: or

Mohammad J. Abdolmohammadi (Contact Author)

Bentley University - Department of Accountancy ( email )

175 Forest Street
279 Adamian Academic Center
Waltham, MA 02452
United States
781-891-2976 (Phone)

Alan Reinstein

Wayne State University ( email )

School of Business
Detroit, MI 48202
United States
248-357-2400 (Phone)
313-577-4530 (Fax)

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