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.

Nine More Compelling Reasons

There are nine more compelling reasons why the Illinois Masters 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. An MSA program that balances high academic excellence with a keen focus on improving an individual’s personal brand – our mission and motto emphasize a balanced approach to skill development which allows our students to actively engage in a multi-faceted personal enrichment experience.   The goal is to foster business leadership development and to help our students become complete accounting professionals.
  5. An MSA program that offers tremendous value for the price – as compared to other highly ranked master accounting programs, not only are our tuition costs more reasonable, but we also offer an enrichment experience that significantly enhances the value you receive from your education.
  6. 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 the ability to possess and leverage a global mindset.
  7. A top-rated Business Career Services office – our Business Career Services office was recently 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.
  8. Outstanding domestic student job placement – our job placement results for domestic students is at the highest levels. This is the direct result of the recognized value that our program delivers: academic excellence, a balanced approach to skill development, and outstanding recruiting and job placement services.
  9. Access to our state-of-the-art facilities – the Business Instructional Facility (BIF) and the Margolis Information Lab (MIL) are two 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.

Key Differentiator

Highly rated MSA programs, including ILLINOIS, all tout their high rankings, AACSB accreditation, top faculty, outstanding academic curriculum, excellent CPA exam pass rates and high placement statistics.  These factors by themselves may not be enough to distinguish highly ranked programs. We believe that the key differentiator should be the quality of the ‘student experience’.  The student experience should be an important part of the value proposition that every student carefully evaluates as part of his or her own due diligence.  That is why at Illinois we devote as much time to the quality of our students’ experience as we do to the quality of their world-class graduate accounting education.

That’s also why we hired our MSA program director from business.  Tim Reierson is a former PwC audit partner, a practitioner, who has a deep client service background.  He understands the value of delivering an outstanding client experience.  He is bringing that same philosophy to our MSA program.

At Illinois, our student experience focuses on substance, not form. It is built around four key characteristics that influence the enrichment experience activities that we plan and execute.  These four characteristics include:

  • Personal attentionevery student should feel that they can get the personalized attention he or she deserves. Access to our MSA team, faculty, and our supporting service partners is paramount.  Our goal is to create a trusting environment where every student can get the help that they need, when they need it.  We strive to get to know each of our students.
  • Tailored approachthere is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to delivering the student experience. It must be tailored to the needs and interest of each individual student.  That is why at Illinois we offer a full menu of enrichment experience activities throughout the academic year that any student can choose.  Nothing is mandatory.  Everything is optional.  Thus, every student builds his or her own experience within the welcoming and trusting environment at Illinois.
  • Focus on individual growthone of the key outcomes of any student experience should be the growth of that individual, either professionally or personally. Our enrichment experience activities are developed with the purposeful intent of helping students improve important leadership and professional skills – those soft skills that are critical to business success. We want every student to improve his or her personal brand and became a better professional version of themselves.
  • Active learning – we believe that applying what one has learned is a critical stage of development. Practicing skills is an important component of learning.  At Illinois, we create experiential opportunities for our students to practice key leadership and professional skills.  The self-discovery that results from active learning opportunities is invaluable and helps to accelerate personal development.

Our mission and motto capture our vision.  At Illinois, your academic success and student experience are our key priorities.