FHSU News

Fort Hays State general accounting program to be offered online this fall

07/29/16 kb
HAYS, Kan. -- Starting this fall, students who want to begin earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in general accounting can start their course work through the Fort Hays State University Virtual College.

Fort Hays State will be one of the few state universities to offer a full accounting program online, and one of the first in Kansas.

Nine core business courses and the general education courses for the 124-hour general accounting program are already online, as are three courses in the 18-hour accounting core, said Dr. Dosse Toulaboe (pronounced DOE-say TWO-lah-boh), chair of the Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting.

The remaining core accounting courses and selected accounting electives will be developed for online delivery during the upcoming academic year, said Toulaboe. In the fall of 2017, the coursework in accounting will be available online.

“We want the content and rigor to be the same on campus and online,” he said.

"Our on-campus accounting programs have earned a reputation for quality with accounting firms and other employers in Kansas and across the nation,” said Dr. Mark Bannister, dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship at FHSU. “Our intent is to offer distance learning students a similarly high-quality educational experience.”

Dr. Cole Engel, assistant professor of accounting, said that developing a curriculum for distance learners is challenged by the fact that accounting courses are highly sequential.

“Before you take Intermediate Accounting II, you have to take Intermediate Accounting I, but before intermediate I you have to take Principles of Accounting II,” he said. “And before you take Principles II you have to take Principles I.”

Every course in the accounting core and most courses in the accounting electives have prerequisite courses. “Prerequisites are rigidly enforced,” he said.

The sequence also means that any given course is offered in some semesters and not in others, which is another challenging factor for offering an accounting program online. It also means, Engel said, that “good advising is going to be critical and will require extra training in advising.”

“Accounting is not a program frequently offered online because it is such a challenging program to develop and manage,” he said.

The primary motivation to develop the online accounting program is that, despite the difficulty and complexity of online accounting coursework, demand for accountants is high and will continue to be high for some years to come, said Engel, citing studies by professional accounting organizations.

“There is a huge, documented demand for talented and experienced accounting professionals,” said Engel.

The education in general accounting is for people who are “re-tooling” for career advancement. General accountancy is for people who work for corporations or business and industry groups. Career paths include accounts payable supervisor; bookkeeper; cost accountant; governmental accountant; internal auditor; plant accountant; and staff accountant.

Engel and Toulaboe emphasized that the general accounting program is not for people seeking to be Certified Public Accountants. That is an entirely different track not generally offered online. Engel said CPAs are licensed by the states, and each state has separate educational requirements in addition to the national exam.

Some states, such as Texas, severely limit the amount of online coursework on the transcript of a candidate for CPA licensure. Students seeking licensure are encouraged to contact their state board of accountancy for information on education requirements in their states.

Demand, however, is also high for business and industry accountants, and that is the focus of the general accounting degree program.

For more information, contact Fort Hays State’s Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting at 785-628-5805 or email efa@fhsu.edu.

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