Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA's Gerald W. Schlief School of Accountancy expanding with students, academic opportunities

April 18, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Stephen F. Austin State University senior accounting majors Anthony Wiley and Savanah Skelton interview members of SFA's physical plant during a mock internal audit. SFA's Gerald W. Schlief School of Accountancy offers students a variety of experiential-learning opportunities as well as internships and scholarships.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Numbers don't lie, and Stephen F. Austin State University's Gerald W. Schlief School of Accountancy continues to grow with more than 400 students enrolled in the bachelor's and master's degree programs combined and the largest graduate class in the program's history.

Dr. Treba Marsh, interim director of SFA's School of Accountancy, said the school established its graduate program more than 15 years ago, and it is "growing by leaps and bounds" with almost 100 students exclusively enrolled in that program.

"We are an outstanding school where student success is our most important mission," Marsh said. "We are very close-knit, and we produce high-quality graduates."

The Gerald W. Schlief School of Accountancy, which is part of SFA's Nelson Rusche College of Business, offers a bachelor's degree in business administration with a major in accounting and two options for acquiring a master's degree. SFA students can attain a master's degree in professional accountancy in a stand-alone program or through a five-year, integrated program where students graduate and receive both bachelor's and master's degrees simultaneously.

More than 90 percent of SFA's School of Accountancy graduates are employed immediately after receiving their degrees.

"After our students graduate with an accounting degree, their options are wide open," said Dr. Nikki Shoemaker, assistant professor of accounting at SFA. "Most of our students pursue public accounting or work for private industries."

The school's formula for success includes dedicated faculty members, experiential learning, scholarships and paid internships.

The majority of the school's faculty and staff members are SFA alumni who have returned to the college to give students the same support and experiences they had, according to Dr. Kelly Noe, assistant professor of accounting at SFA. In fact, Noe and Shoemaker, a 2007 and 2008 graduate, continually pursue experiential-learning opportunities for their students. For example, their internal controls and accounting information systems classes are collaborating and conducting mock internal audits across campus.

"We try really hard to give students experience in multiple areas," Shoemaker said. "If we discuss a topic in class, we are going to try and get the students actively involved."

Such collaborative projects help students move beyond their comfort zones, learn interpersonal skills and prepare for the professional world, Noe said. On average, 40 to 50 percent of Noe and Shoemaker's class time is devoted to hands-on, experiential learning. Students also work with software applications industry professionals use.

"We are constantly working to make sure our students are top notch. We take the time at career fairs to ask employers if there is anything they need from our students that they are not seeing," Shoemaker said. "We constantly hear our students are great, and their work ethic and knowledge are excellent."

SFA's School of Accountancy offers approximately $250,000 in scholarships specifically for accounting students. Also, about 30 students acquire paid internships each spring semester at the local, regional and international levels.

"Students do real work at these internships. They are meeting with clients, and the internships usually end in job offers," Noe said.

Each year, the school hosts an Accounting Career Fair and an awards banquet, which gives students the opportunity to interact with professionals.

For more information, contact SFA's Gerald W. Schlief School of Accountancy at (936) 468-3105.