In honor of the tenth anniversary of the Fox School’s Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program, we recently reconnected with students from the first cohort. Daniel Fox, Albert Merkin and Stephanie Smith reflect on their time at Temple and how the Fox MAcc program set them up for success.
The Master of Accountancy program was established in response to the changes in the educational requirements for CPA licensure. To meet the demands of the marketplace, the Department of Accounting designed the program to help students achieve the new 150 credit hour requirement and to study for and sit for the CPA exam in a one-year program.
Under the direction of Professor Sheri Risler, CPA, the MAcc program began in the fall of 2011 with 22 students, many of them graduates of the Fox School. Over the years, the program has grown in size and adapted to changing needs of the profession. The 47 students in the current, and tenth, cohort are learning about data analytics and innovations in accounting technology. Students work with current tools and techniques for use in big data, data visualization, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.
For Daniel Fox, BBA ’11, MAcc ’12, choosing the new Master of Accountancy program was easy. He already knew and loved the Fox School and the Department of Accounting. “It was an easy choice for me,” he said.
Fox started at RSM (McGladrey) in risk advisory services upon graduation for three years. He then moved to internal audit roles for two private corporations, before joining Centri Business Consulting as senior manager in January 2019. “I was ready to get back into consulting and advisory,” he shared.
What is your favorite memory from your time in the program? Making personal friends and professional connections that I still remain in touch with to this day.
How did the Fox MAcc set you up for success? The exposure to practicing CPAs, finance professionals, and members of the business community gave me an insight into what really mattered when I graduated. The program’s focus on practical elements of the accounting profession prepared me to hit the ground running.
What advice do you have for current MAcc students? Take advantage of the built-in CPA exam preparation courses!
Albert Merkin, MAcc ‘12, received his undergraduate degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Houston. Looking to transition into public accounting, Merkin chose the Fox MAcc because it combined a robust curriculum with CPA exam preparation. “Not only was taking exam sections included in the semester timeline,” Merkin recalled, “but there were CPA review courses and the classes aligned with the exam sections taken each semester.”
Merkin joined Deloitte’s Philadelphia office after graduating, and nearly ten years later is a senior manager in their audit and assurance practice primarily servicing mortgage banks. He credits the program for preparing him for his career. “The MAcc curriculum was a good blend of technical accounting, soft skills and real life applications,” said Merkin.
What was your favorite assignment? Professor Marco Malandra’s case studies. Each week we were assigned a scenario to use the codification to come up with an appropriate accounting solution. This has been very applicable to my current role.
What was one of the most important lessons you learned in the program? The business writing class provided many tricks for writing business emails and memos. Knowing ways to keep writing succinct and easy to read is key.
What advice do you have for current MAcc students? Make sure you use this time to pass the CPA exam. You will be a step ahead of many of your peers, and it is much harder to study when working in public accounting full time.
Like Merkin, Stephanie Smith entered the MAcc program without a business degree. The MAcc curriculum helped her gain a business foundation for her new career. Smith said, “Coming in with a background in the social sciences, the MAcc program gave me exposure to a lot of business concepts that I did not see in my undergraduate education.”
She was also interested in how the program might help her find a job. “I was drawn to the strong relationships between the school and public accounting firms in the city,” she said. “The MAcc program provided ample opportunity to connect with campus recruiters and local professionals.”
Smith received an offer from KPMG while in the MAcc program and has been with the firm ever since. “I’ve worked with a lot of great people in several areas of tax, and currently focus primarily on regulated investment companies,” said Smith.
What is your favorite class in the program? I really enjoyed the business writing and public speaking courses. They were both an opportunity to learn more about my classmates, as well as improve our communication skills together.
What was one of the most important lessons you learned in the program? Your professors and your classmates are in your corner, and your co-workers and mentors at work will be as well. Work hard, learn from the experiences of those around you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help navigating difficult situations.
What advice do you have for current MAcc students? Time in the program goes by quickly, so take advantage of every opportunity available to you. Get to know your professors. Meet with recruiters and professionals whenever they host events. Build relationships with your peers. You will learn so much from each of them, and you never know when you are making lifelong connections.