Why Illinois

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tradition of excellence in graduate accountancy education began with the awarding of the department’s first master’s degree in 1922 and its first Ph.D. in 1939.  One of the largest suppliers of leaders of the accountancy profession, Illinois boasts more partners in the Big-Four CPA firms and more CFOs in Fortune 500 corporations than any other academic institution.

The Key Differentiator

All highly rated accountancy programs tout their rankings, AACSB accreditation, faculty, outstanding curriculum, CPA exam pass rates and high placement statistics.  These factors by themselves are not enough to distinguish between good programs and the world’s best.

We believe that the best educational experiences are differentiated by the quality of the ‘student experience’.  At Illinois, the student experience just doesn’t happen by chance.  We make it happen.  It is intentional.  It is an integral part of our vision and our mission.  At Illinois we devote as much attention to the quality of our students’ experience as we do to the quality of their world-class graduate accounting education. That’s what makes our MSA program distinctive.

That’s also why we hired our MSA program director from business, Tim Reierson. Tim is a former PwC audit partner, a practitioner with a deep client service background.  He understands the value of delivering an outstanding client experience.  He brings that same philosophy to our MSA program. See Student Experience for more insights on what we are doing at Illinois.

Twelve More Compelling Reasons

There are twelve more compelling reasons why the Illinois Master of Science in Accountancy program should be your top choice:

  1. A top graduate accountancy program consistently ranked as one of the best MSA programs in the United StatesPublic Accounting Report (#2) and Accounting Degree Review (#2) have rated Illinois’ graduate accounting programs among the best in the United States (ranking in parentheses).  Public Accounting Report uses accounting professors’ rankings of the nation’s best accounting programs.  Accounting Degree Review uses different independent rankings, including the U.S. News and World Report and Public Accounting Report to develop a comprehensive meta-ranking of accounting graduate schools.
  1. Top accounting faculty based on research contributionsBYU’s Accounting Faculty Research Rankings and UT Dallas Top Business Schools based on Research Contributions Rankings have both rated Illinois’ accounting faculty #1.
  1. Average CPA exam pass rates that exceed national averages – with the support of an on-line CPA exam preparation course combined with dedicated faculty accessibility, our students have experienced a consistent track record of exceptional CPA exam performance.
  1. An MSA program that balances high academic excellence with a keen focus on improving an individual’s non-technical business soft skills – our vision, mission and motto emphasize a balanced approach to business skills development that provide our students with an opportunity to actively engage in a multi-faceted personal and professional development experience.  The goal is to foster technical and non-technical business skills development and to help our students become a more complete accounting professional. See our Admissions Blog, Should You Be Focused on Improving Your “Soft Skills” Now? for more information on the importance of developing your non-technical business soft skills while at Illinois.
  1. An MSA program that offers tremendous value for the price – compared to other highly ranked master accounting programs, our tuition costs are more reasonable and we offer a superb student experience that significantly enhances the value you receive from your education.
  1. A diverse university student population – According to Fortune magazine, Illinois is one of the most popular destinations for international students, ranking #2 overall and the highest-ranked public university. This benefits all students by providing a variety of well-established university-wide communities and international support services to help our students acclimate while providing exceptional opportunities to develop the skills that are highly sought after by recruiters in today’s global business world – i.e. the ability to work productively with a diverse team, exercise cultural dexterity and possess and leverage a global mindset.
  1. A top-rated Business Career Services office – our Business Career Services office was ranked by a Businessweek student survey as the #1 career services office in the US. They are very active in providing outstanding recruiting and job search preparation services throughout the year, whether a student is pursuing employment opportunities in the U.S. or abroad.
  1. Access to the largest alumni network – ILLINOIS has the largest alumni network in the country, and there are 58,000+ living business alumni worldwide. Wherever you are in the world, you’re never far from a fellow Illini.
  1. Ability to apply for early admission to the Master of Science in Information Management (MS/IM) program– to meet the increasing demand for a larger and better prepared information management workforce, which requires enhanced data science and analytics skills, MSA students have the opportunity to apply to the School of Information Sciences for early admission into the MS/IM program in the following year.
  1. A college location with a vibrant metropolitan feel in a small town atmosphere – the twin cities of Urbana-Champaign offer the beauty of Midwestern seasons, a richly diverse population, a robust arts, cultural and entertainment scene, a world class university, a dependable public transportation system, affordable living and other desirable attributes like no other city of its size. In the U.S., it is harder to get the “traditional” American college experience where the university is the main attraction in a smaller town if you go to school in a big city. If you really have a desire to spend some time in a big city, it’s a very easy commute via train or car to Chicago.
  1. Outstanding domestic student U.S. job placement – our job placement results for domestic students are at the highest levels (e.g. last year, we placed 100% of our domestic students). This is the direct result of the recognized value that our program delivers: academic excellence, a balanced approach to business skill development, and outstanding recruiting and job placement services. For those international students who seek to obtain a job in the U.S., you must be able to display outstanding non-technical business soft skills. See our Admissions Blog, Do You Want to Seriously Compete for a Job in the U.S.? for more information on the importance of developing your non-technical business soft skills while at Illinois.
  1. Access to our state-of-the-art facilities – the Business Instructional Facility (BIF), the Margolis Information Lab (MIL) and the Illinois MakerLab are three examples. The BIF earned the world’s highest honor for sustainable, environmentally friendly construction and design. The MIL is equipped with state-of-the-art electronic sources of financial and business data and software products used globally by industry firms. The Illinois MakerLab is the world’s first 3D printing lab in a business school.

At Illinois, your academic success and student experience are our key priorities.