As Saint Joseph’s College celebrates its Centennial this year, the first graduates of its online Master of Accountancy program will walk across the graduation stage this May.
Online business programs director Nancy Kristiansen says the program, launched in August 2010, was conceived in response to new requirements that have been established nationally for Certified Public Accountant (CPA) state licensure.
“We knew that aspiring CPAs would have to meet new state licensure requirements,” says Kristiansen. “We wanted to help students accomplish that, plus we already had an online Master of Business Administration degree. It was a good fit.”
Kristiansen’s plan was to offer a program catered to accountants and accountants-to-be, including those who had already passed the CPA exam and those who hadn’t. With courses devoted to taxation, audits, and financial reporting, that’s exactly what she did.
“The program’s designed to prepare students to work as accountants, primarily CPAs,” says Kristiansen.
Yet she distinguishes the Saint Joseph’s MAcc as more than a “test prep program.” Though focused and technical, dialogue-intensive courses in leadership and management integrate foundational business practices into the curriculum, too.
“Students aren’t working in isolation,” explains Kristiansen. “They need to know how to communicate. They need to think critically, they need to process diverse perspectives, and they need to apply this combination of skills to their work.”
Joshua Wiseman serves as a good example of Kristiansen’s ideal student. A member of the first graduating class, Wiseman said that a Veterans Affairs educational advisor recommended him to Saint Joseph’s College. He enrolled in the first term offered and completed the program within 18 months. Since then, he’s used his degree for more than accounting; he now owns his own business in southern Maine.
“I’ve expanded my services and consultation business, Crux Business Solutions.” says Wiseman.
He credits his education at Saint Joseph’s College in part for his professional success – particularly his faculty and advisors.
“One day I was frustrated with some new material, so I called the professor, Douglas Abbott. He happened to live close by. We met for dinner, and I left laughing and feeling as though I had a usable knowledge of the formulas,” Wiseman says.
When asked about his advisor, Sandy Leblanc, Wiseman describes her as “a friend with answers.” Loretta Austin Burleson, another MAcc graduate, shares his opinion of Leblanc.
“I loved her,” says Burleson. “She was the best advisor. She was so understanding and supportive… She was very helpful with any concerns I had.”
Burleson, a student from North Carolina, juggled being a full-time accountant, wife, and mother while earning her master’s degree. Still, she loaded up on classes and worked to graduate in as short a time as possible, which she did. After first hearing of her plans, however, one of her professors feared she might be pushing too hard.
“If the professor thinks there’s any problem, they’ll contact the advisor,” says Burleson. “Everyone’s on the same page: the student, the advisor and the teacher. That’s a good thing.”
Having earned her undergraduate degree through distance education, Burleson knows online learning, and she knows Saint Joseph’s support system is unique.
“Saint Joseph’s College has very caring and supportive advisors and faculty members that are attentive to the students’ performance and understanding … it’s something I’ve never experienced before,” she says.
Saint Joseph’s College offers more than 30 online graduate and undergraduate programs in business, criminal justice, education, health administration, nursing, and theology. Online courses are open 24/7, providing the flexibility of attending class and participating in discussion at times convenient to each student’s personal schedule.
At the start of each program, we connect students with a personal academic advisor who acts as a coach and mentor, guiding them through their program of study to help them achieve their goals. For more information, call 800-752-4723 or 207-893-7841 or log onto http://www.sjcme.edu/gps.