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Master's in Accounting Program Adds Up

Emphasis on Ethical Leadership and Innovative Course Structure Give Sy Syms’ Accounting Masters Global Appeal

At Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business, a thriving master’s in accounting program is helping new graduates enter the workforce with state-of-the-art technical skills and management insight from top industry leaders.

Professor Leonard Fuld teaches the Federal Income Taxation I course in the master's program. Professor Leonard Fuld teaches the Federal Income Taxation I course in the master's program.

Now in its fifth year, the master’s program has more than doubled its enrollment since its inception. However, the program’s intimate atmosphere ensures each student receives plenty of mentorship and creates opportunities for interaction with faculty—one of many elements that have made the master’s in accounting program so appealing to students all over the world.

“We have students from China, Columbia, Argentina, France, students from universities across the United States with great accounting programs, like Georgetown University and Ohio State University, in addition to students from our undergraduate schools,” said Professor Joseph Kerstein, the program’s director. “In addition to offering cutting-edge accounting courses and rare in-depth analysis of specialty areas such as hedge fund management and forensic accounting, we are known for our ethics component, taught by our own renowned expert, Dean Moses Pava. Especially with all the corruption in the world of business accounting over the last several years, we feel the unique focus on both ethics and leadership that we offer is important.”

He added, “Our program also benefits from belonging to Sy Syms, which has received Association to Advance Collegiate Business Schools Accreditation—the top accreditation body in the United States for business education—and its location in the heart of New York City opens up many opportunities to our students. Everything combines to make our master’s an internationally-competitive program.”

“We’re not only providing students with advanced technical skills, but also helping them think about broader managerial issues,” said Sy Syms Dean Moses Pava.

The program, which can be completed on either a full-time or part-time schedule to accommodate students’ busy professional lives, offers classes two nights a week at YU’s Israel Henry Beren Campus in midtown Manhattan in areas that range from advanced accounting and taxation to business leadership. For those who come to the program with a non-accounting background, additional courses are available over the summer to quickly bring students up to speed.

Ultimately, the master’s in accounting program prepares all students for the New York State CPA exam and the next step in their careers, with graduates employed in companies like Citrin Cooperman, Deloitte, Duff & Phelps, Grant Thornton, Loeb & Troper, Marks Paneth, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and WeiserMazars.

Chaoyi Liang, right - one of many international students the master's program attracts - chose to earn his degree at Sy Syms because of the program's reputation and unique structure. Chaoyi Liang, right - one of many international students the master's program attracts - chose to earn his degree at Sy Syms because of the program's reputation and unique structure.

“What makes these classes unique is the mixture of both academic analysis and research with real-life practitioner experience,” said Francine Mellors-Rothenstein, a vice president and director at Ernst & Young, who co-teaches a course on business ethics with Pava. Sample topics in the class include how economic theories affect corporate behavior, the need for more stakeholder involvement, the implementation of the American Institute of CPAs Code of Professional Ethics in large audit firms, fraud prevention and detection, and the future role of the auditor as a result of various regulatory reforms in the United States and Europe. When possible, Mellors-Rothenstein draws on real experiences from her work at Ernst & Young to illustrate class discussion: “I try to bridge the distance between the academic and practitioner viewpoints.”

Henry Huang, associate professor of accounting at Sy Syms, teaches Contemporary Topics in Accounting, which introduces students to empirical studies as well as areas such as earnings management, the Sarbanes Oxley Act and corporate governance. This helps students appreciate the role that accounting numbers and managerial incentives can play in manipulating earnings, among other things. “My class provides students with the latest knowledge in accounting rules, enables them to conduct professional accounting research, and equips them with institutional knowledge about the accounting environment,” said Huang.

Chaoyi Liang, a Chinese student who earned his undergraduate degree at Pennsylvania State University, valued the balance of research and professional experience the program offers. “The master’s in accounting program provides me with the best professors who have sophisticated experience within the accounting field,” he said. “The real world experience is very helpful and practical to help me build my future career.” The program’s reputation and network has helped Liang already—he found his current internship as a hedge fund research analyst through a career fair on campus.

For Brett Bar-Eli, a recent Sy Syms graduate, enrolled in the master’s program, the course on hedge funds has been particularly insightful. “Half of each class is designated for the guest speakers, who are respected and seasoned professionals in the industry, to present on the hedge fund strategy that is their area of expertise,” he said. “During the rest of the class, the professors, who also work together at a hedge fund, teach the technical foundation upon which the various strategies are based, and since the class sizes are kept small, students are afforded the opportunity to engage the guest speakers and professors in active discussion throughout.”

Bar-Eli chose to pursue his master’s at Syms partly because of the program’s flexibility—many other master’s programs hold classes four nights a week, rather than two, which can be difficult to juggle while working in the field—but also to continue the quality education he felt he received as an undergraduate. “Throughout my college years I had the opportunity to experience YU's culture in the classroom, with small classes, engaging discussions and professors who took the time to learn the students’ names,” said Bar-Eli, who will begin a full-time position as a transactions and restructuring advisory associate at KPMG this August.

Tamar Hochbaum applied to the master’s program immediately after graduating from Sy Syms last year, where she served as co-president of the Accounting Society. She has interned at Aon and PriceWaterhouseCoopers and plans to begin a full-time position at Ernst & Young this fall in their tax department. “The best part of my experience so far has been the opportunity to learn from fantastic professors who have provided me with both the practical skills and relevant knowledge to enter the workforce with more excitement and a greater understanding of the accounting/business world,” said Hochbaum.

To learn more about the master's in accounting program or apply, click here.