AICPA Releases Report on Accounting Enrollments

U.S.-based undergraduate accounting programs report record-high enrollments, but still struggle to attract minorities.

Accounting for UndergradsUndergraduate and graduate accounting programs in the U.S. are still attracting high enrollments, according to the latest trends report from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA). Accounting programs reported more than 250,000 total enrollments for 2015–2016. Even as enrollments surge, however, minority representation in accounting remains low.

This demand for accounting education was largely driven by record-high undergraduate enrollments. Master’s-level enrollments, however, have slipped. After increases over the last two years, 2015–2016 saw them return to pre-2014 levels. Previous spikes in enrollments could be attributed to the economic climate after the 2008 recession, which sent many people back to school to seek new careers, says Yvonne Hinson, senior director of the AICPA’s academic and student engagement division.

“At the same time,” she adds, “we saw many students pursuing their master’s directly after they earned their undergraduate degree to bolster their academic credentials, raising the overall numbers during that period.”

The survey also finds that African Americans and Hispanics make up only 7 percent and 9 percent, respectively, of accounting graduates at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. These numbers lag significantly behind the representation of these groups in the U.S. population, which stands at approximately 13 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Minority representation in accounting slips further as graduates advance in the pipeline. Of accounting graduates hired by U.S. CPA firms, only 4 percent are African American and 7 percent are Hispanic/Latino. African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos make up only 1 percent and 3 percent, respectively, of certified public accountants.

Read the “2017 Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits.”