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Valuable Assets

Master of accountancy prepares graduates for critical problem-solving roles

Stephanie Brigham and Barbara Scofield

From The Ichabod - Fall 2020

The Washburn University School of Business master of accountancy program doesn’t just produce number crunchers. The program takes the rules-based knowledge learned in an undergraduate accounting program and furthers it by making the students ask ‘why?’ The resulting degree makes alumni especially valuable to their company or clients.

“You get to the graduate program and yeah, you need to know the rules, but also, why do we do that? Does that make sense?” said Stephanie Brigham, bba ’13, MAcc ’14. “You get pushed to the next level of thinking to be more critical of the profession and to really think if there is a better way a process can be done. This is what helps auditors – particularly internal auditors – bring value to the organization and act as change agents.”

Brigham is a manager in the internal audit department at Security Benefit in Topeka. She started full-time after earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting at Washburn and enrolling in 2013 as one of the first students in the new master’s program. The master of accountancy degree better trains students as they earn the required 150 college credit hours to sit for the certified public accountant exam.

“We were not offering students a full plate of accounting courses, and they were ending up with an undergraduate degree with 150 hours. Students are better off having both a bachelor's and a master's degree,” said Barbara Scofield, professor and director of Washburn’s master of accountancy program. “Offering a master’s degree opened additional time to provide courses in theory and research so our students have a higher level or more in-depth view of accounting.”

Brigham’s educational path set her up for the high-demand work she does at Security Benefit. She also shares her knowledge and experiences as an adjunct professor in the School of Business.

“I could talk about audit all day, every day. I love my job and I really think I bring a fresh perspective teaching students about opportunities they maybe hadn't considered before,” she said.

Scofield said all accounting students benefit from business headquarters in Topeka like BNSF Railway, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Advisors Excel, Evergy and Security Benefit. The proximity to Kansas City and its array of national accounting firms also offers an advantage. Internships often lead to job offers before graduation. The master of accountancy program prepares students to sit for the CPA exam as well as the certified management accountant and certified internal auditor exams.

According to Scofield, graduates and interns have been especially critical helping companies and clients manage federal, state and local assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the restaurants had to downsize, their accountants were still working at getting them funding, getting them grants, working through the tax implication process – this money has to be very carefully tracked,” Scofield said. “I think the businesses they work for very much consider them essential workers during these times.”

The Ichabod Winter 2021 issue

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2021 winter edition online and look for it in mailboxes in January.

View past editions


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