CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois College of Business will launch an online-only master’s degree in accountancy, and will begin accepting applications April 14.
The program, called the iMSA, will be offered in partnership with Coursera, the Silicon Valley educational technology company that already offers the iMBA, an online MBA degree from the U. of I. through its platform of massive open online courses, more commonly known as MOOCs.
The courses will be taught by some of the best accountancy faculty in the world, said Jeffrey R. Brown, the Josef and Margot Lakonishok Professor in Business and dean of the College of Business.
“Our accountancy program is consistently ranked among the top schools in the U.S., and our faculty is rated No. 1 in research impact,” he said. “The lineup of faculty in the iMSA program is top-notch, meaning students will graduate with a cutting-edge master’s degree that is greatly valued in the field.”
“The iMSA will provide students the opportunity to develop competencies in accounting fundamentals and data analytics, and to learn how to communicate effectively about these topics,” said W. Brooke Elliott, the EY Distinguished Professor in Accounting.
W. Brooke Elliott, the EY Distinguished Professor in Accounting
Photo by College of Business
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According to Elliott, the program builds expertise in three core areas of accounting: financial reporting, audit and control, and U.S. federal taxation.
“It will be highly interactive, with live global classrooms, team projects and personal contact with professors,” Elliott said. “The accounting profession is evolving to incorporate new technologies, and if you want to be a leader in the accounting profession, you need a program that is focused on innovation and continuous improvement.”
The iMSA is open to students of all academic backgrounds. It is suited both for people already working in the accounting field and for those who intend to use the degree to enter the field.
The iMSA will follow the iMBA format by offering all core material in an on-demand video format – serving as an interactive “textbook” – in combination with a live, global classroom for advanced material and hands-on applications. The live sessions will be followed by discussion and working sessions, connecting students with faculty, industry practitioners and peers.
“Students will work on real-world accounting problems, not just take notes,” said Gary Hecht, a professor of accountancy and a PricewaterhouseCoopers Faculty Fellow. “They will be involved in give-and-take discussions with faculty, and rather than just watch lectures, they will share their ideas and reflect and comment on the ideas of others in a live-class environment.”
Between classes, students will work with classmates on team-based projects.
“These projects allow students to delve deeply and apply the material, and afford them the opportunity to get to know and network with their classmates,” Hecht said. “There are even more opportunities to interact via extra professional development seminars and a speaker series. But ultimately, the iMSA offers the opportunity to work and network with your peers, to learn from and work with University of Illinois senior faculty and high-level practitioners, and to learn by doing.
“In addition, we have close relationships with each of the Big Four accounting firms and with practitioners ranging from small firms to the C-suite of major corporations. Our corporate partners will join us in delivering an innovative learning experience.”
“The business landscape continues to transform, and companies need highly skilled accounting professionals who have the capacity to adapt and the financial competencies to stay on top,” said Nikhil Sinha, the chief business officer at Coursera. “The iMSA, delivered entirely online, will put an accounting career from an elite academic program within the reach of anyone, anywhere.”
Tuition is expected to be $850 per credit hour, or $27,200 for the degree.
The inaugural classes begin in August.