Factors Influencing Choice Of Accounting As A Major
Kathleen A. Simons, Bryant College
Dana R. Lowe, Bryant College
David E. Stout, Youngstown State University
Previous empirical studies have attempted to identify factors related to the choice of accounting as a major. Declining enrollments in accounting programs and uncertainties regarding the 150-hour certification suggest the need to re-examine and update these previous studies. New research in the area may provide clues as to the cause(s) of the decline in accounting as a major and whether factors found previously to be important predictors of accounting as a choice of major continue to be important. This paper provides a comprehensive summary of the published research, principally from accounting, regarding the choice-of-major decision. The paper concludes with a presentation of suggested research opportunities.
The AICPA reports that between 1995/96 and 1998/99 the number of students enrolling in accounting programs decreased by 23%;1 more recent reports suggest that this observed decline may not be an anomaly. For example, in November 1991, 7,800 persons sat for the
Uniform CPA Exam in Texas; in May 2000 that number fell to 3,300.2 The experience in Texas may generalize to other states in the U.S.
Recently, the AICPA sponsored a “Student and Academic Research Study” (Taylor,
2000) to look at the factors associated with the downturn in accounting majors and to make recommendations for addressing this problem. The Taylor study examines the perceptions of the
CPA among both high school and college students, ways to encourage students to want to become CPAs, and the decision-making process of students as they make choices of majors/careers. The study concludes (p. 10) that while high school students view CPAs as
“professional” and “intelligent,” they are generally ignorant of what CPAs do, have misinformation about the profession,
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