Frequently Asked Questions
What is accounting?
Ask a friend to respond to "accounting" and she'll probably answer "bookkeeping." Push a little harder and you'll probably hear "debits and credits," and maybe that accountants work with numbers, not people. This is only a half-truth. Accountants do work with numbers, but they deal mainly with people. From the numbers, they analyze financial information for others, and advise and consult with decision-makers. That is why our accounting majors not only have to master the fundamentals of accounting and auditing, but they must also take courses in areas such as history, English, psychology, foreign languages, economics, and fine arts. Because our students receive a solid education in liberal arts as well as in accounting, they enter their field well prepared to become leaders and effective communicators.
I've heard about some accounting examinations.
Our curriculum prepares you to sit for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Examination upon graduation. Faculty are able to help you design a four-year plan that will enable you to take the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Examination. Our students score particularly well on the CPA Examination because our accounting and liberal arts curriculum prepares them well.
What other skills are useful?
Of course, accountants must know how to handle mathematics and computers. You will practice these skills in your accounting, finance and supporting courses. The Accounting Information Systems class will provide you the opportunity to use your computer skills in an accounting environment. Of equal importance, accountants must be able to communicate. Our graduates tell us that their jobs demand the ability to write and speak effectively. Effective writing and speaking, and mathematics and computer skills are exactly what our curriculum, both accounting and liberal arts, emphasizes.
What kind of job can I get after I graduate?
Graduates of CSB and SJU work at all levels of industrial, public accounting, and governmental organizations. Many of our graduates are partners in the largest international CPA firms. In addition, our graduates provide many partners in other national, regional, and local accounting firms, as well as presidents, vice-presidents, and controllers of a variety of industrial and commercial companies. This is a remarkable achievement for a relatively small college accounting and finance program.
About 40 percent of our graduates go into public accounting and work in the audit, tax, or consulting department of a CPA firm. About one-third go into private accounting and work for large corporations as internal auditors or in accounting departments. Others work in governmental accounting, or attend law school and MBA programs.
How do I go about getting a job for after graduation?
Interviewers from regional, national, and international companies and public accounting firms recruit at our campuses because they recognize the quality of out students. You can interview on campus for an entry-level position with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and national and regional public accounting firms, as well as with companies such as Cargill.
Can I obtain hands-on experience while I'm going to school?
What about an internship?
While completing your major, you will be eligible for an internship in a business. Our accounting students have interned at major public accounting firms across the country, as well as at corporations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area and in St. Cloud, MN. Faculty members encourage participation and will be happy to work with you if you are interested in an internship.
What about the faculty?
The members of the accounting and finance faculty are interested in your future and in how best to help you prepare for an accounting career. They are also thoroughly trained in current accounting practices. They are eager to discuss ways in which accounting and finance electives can enhance the career possibilities of non-majors. Teaching does not stop when class is over, and professors are happy to meet with students informally to discuss problems or explain concepts. All faculty members have experience in some area of accounting or finance work outside of teaching. Their professional experience represents a cross-section of the opportunities available in accounting: some have worked as auditors in public accounting firms, other as tax specialists or consultants, and as accountants in private industry.
OK, let's get down to the nitty-gritty: What classes will I have to take?
To get an accounting and finance major you need to complete the following: a two-semester introductory accounting course; cost, tax, intermediate 1 & 2, financial accounting theory, and advanced accounting; auditing or accounting information systems; and supporting courses in computer science, mathematics, and economics. For a minor in accounting and finance, you only need to complete the two-semester introductory accounting course and three additional accounting courses. See Academic Programs for more information.
Is there anything else I should know?
Besides college-sponsored activities, many majors are active in the Accounting Club. The club sponsors guest speakers and visits to accounting firms and companies, and hosts informal get-togethers.
Computers: Accounting and finance students find it important to have access to computers, and at CSB and SJU, computers are readily available on both campuses. There are more than 400 networked computers located in academic building labs, residence hall labs, and other computer access areas. The CSB and SJU campuses have a wireless network in all of the residence hall rooms and most of the buildings, enabling student with their own PCs free access to the Internet, email and network software, including Microsoft Office Suite. See IT Services for more information.
Major strengths of the department: These include accessible and committed faculty members, an excellent CPA exam pass rate, and a high job placement rate.