Focusing Accounting Curricula on Students’ Long-Run Careers: Recommendations for an Integrated Competency-Based Framework for Accounting Education
53 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2013 Last revised: 5 May 2014
Date Written: October 18, 2013
Professional accounting organizations, accrediting bodies, and accounting educators have invested substantial effort defining entry-level accounting and broad management competencies for accounting students, particularly those interested in a career in public accounting. Much less attention has been given to explicitly defining the competencies accounting students — all accounting students — need for their long-run careers, clearly distinguishing these competencies from the determinants of entry-level demands, and helping to develop these long-run competencies within the formal accounting curriculum. In 2010 the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the Management Accounting Section (MAS) of the American Accounting Association (AAA) formed a Task Force to address these competency issues and to make curriculum-related recommendations for all accounting majors.
This paper contains the initial completed report of the Task Force and is responsive to the recent call to “connect the accounting body of knowledge to a map of competencies…” and to create “…curricular models for the future” (Pathways Commission 2012, 37, 75). The paper provides a comprehensive review of the academic and professional literatures in three areas: (1) the scope or focus of accounting education; (2) the value proposition for accounting (i.e., specification as to how accountants today, working in a variety of settings, add organizational value); and (3) the importance of competency integration to the value proposition of accounting. These reviews lead to four recommendations regarding accounting curricula. First, accounting education should be reoriented to include a greater focus on a curriculum oriented toward long-term career demands. Second, the breadth of accounting education should be broadened to include a wide array of organizational settings including, but not limited to, public accounting/auditing. Third, the educational objectives of accounting curricula today should reflect how accountants add organizational value. Fourth, these objectives (represented as knowledge, skills and abilities) should emerge and be developed as integrated competencies. These recommendations lead operationally to the competency-based educational Framework presented in this paper.
This Framework is general in the sense that it is meant to apply to a wide variety of career paths and options, including but not limited to public accounting. The paper concludes with a call to accountants in all functional areas to provide additional inputs and refinements of the general competency Framework espoused in this paper and with an appeal for an assessment of the proposed educational Framework. In two follow-up papers, the Task Force offers (1) specific curricular recommendations regarding the role of management accounting (MA) in implementing the Framework, and (2) guidance for the development of student cognitive skills in the MA portion of the accounting curriculum (IMA-MAS Curriculum Task Force 2013a, 2013b).
Keywords: professional competencies, curriculum recommendations, framework for accounting education, accounting curricula, long-term career requirements, Pathways Commission
JEL Classification: A20
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation