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A new graduate degree designed to prepare students to move into authority positions in manufacturing, government, not-for-profit entities, public accounting firms and other organizations marks the latest expansion of East Central University's School of Business.

The master of science in accounting (MSA) degree program is now underway and applications are being accepted for classes that begin this fall.

"The need for accountants will grow significantly over the next 10 years," said Dr. Micheal Thompson, dean of ECU's School of Business. "ECU has an excellent reputation in the industry. Our MSA is the next step in the evolution of the School of Business."

The combination of human skills, knowledge and technology embedded in the MSA curriculum is designed to prepare graduates to address issues they may confront in a rapidly changing and culturally diverse society. The 30-hour program also specifically prepares students to sit for the Certified Public Accountant exam.

"Accountants have to complete 150 credit hours to take the CPA exam. Now, with this new program, instead of just taking 30 additional hours of undergraduate work, students will be able to complete a master's degree at ECU before taking the CPA exam," said Dr. Duane Anderson, ECU provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Students also will qualify to sit for the Certified Management Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor exams.

"This master's degree will place ECU in a unique role, as only the two major universities and one private university in Oklahoma offer a similar degree," said Dr. Carlos Johnson, a senior investment banker with BOSC Inc. and a 1964 ECU graduate. "Students residing in the southeast quadrant of the state will have an opportunity to pursue a degree leading to a profession recognized internationally."

Dr. Sarah Holmes, professor and chair of the Accounting Department, said classes have been scheduled with professionals in mind.

"Convenient, flexible class times have been implemented so students with full-time jobs can complete their degrees without unnecessarily disrupting work," she said. "Hopefully, employers will be able to offer flex-time schedules that will enable students to take one or two graduate classes each semester and still work a 40-hour week."

ECU's School of Business faculty members bring educational diversity to the program, Thompson said. They are graduates of universities across the country and in China. Three hold law degrees and two graduated from prestigious graduate tax programs at New York University and the University of Denver.

The Accounting Program has a long history at ECU. Eight of the past 15 presidents of the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants are ECU accounting graduates. Alums headed both the OSCPA and the State Board of Public Accountancy in 2007.

For information on the new master of accounting degree, contact Holmes at 580-559-5527. ECU also offers master's degrees in education, human resources and psychological services.

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