Online Program Launches for one of Florida’s Most in Demand Degrees

25 students make up the initial class for the new online program of accounting at USFSP.

25 students make up the initial class for the new online program of accounting at USFSP.

(Sept. 28, 2018) – A new online program is giving students the flexibility to complete a bachelor’s degree on their schedule for one of the most in demand majors in Florida.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the accounting business sector in Florida and around the country is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations in the coming years. The online program in accounting launched this semester in the Kate Tiedemann College of Business seeks to address the growing demand for skilled accounting graduates. USF St. Petersburg was charged with developing and offering the program on behalf of the USF System, and the initial response from students shows it’s a welcome addition.

“Since this is the first year, we were hoping to get 15 entering students this Fall, but we ended up with 25,” said Dr. Teresa Conover, Professor and Director of the Program of Accountancy. “We are beyond excited that we met and exceeded our goal.”

The program is geared for juniors, students who have received an associate’s degree or students seeking to earn a second degree. Full-time students can complete all online courses and earn a Bachelor of Science in accounting in two years.

“We are now able to offer an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accredited accounting program to students who seek the flexibility offered by online programs,” said Sridhar Sundaram, Dean of the Kate Tiedemann College of Business. “For many students, it helps them enhance their accounting career and for others it helps reset their career.”

Students hit the ground running with intermediate accounting and continue to take classes where they better learn the language of business, using technical knowledge to support the business community with decision making on financial activities. Along the way, they receive the same support and resources as if they were going to face-to-face classes, having access to expert faculty, advising and financial aid.

“Knowing many students have work and family obligations on top of education, we individualize the online course offerings to best match their personal schedules to ensure they complete their studies on their timeline,” said Jill Brown, academic advisor for students in the online program.

As online courses require students to take greater charge in utilizing time management and balancing work with life demands, self-pacing is strongly encouraged, said Dr. Conover.

“Maybe it will take two years for some, but three or four years for those who want to do the program part-time,” she added. “The online program serves Florida residents who want the accounting degree, but it has to be self-paced.”

All the courses in the online accounting program are undergoing Quality Matters (QM) certification to ensure the online education for students is as rigorous as a traditional course. A faculty-centered, peer-review certification process ensures the quality of an online course design and methods, guaranteeing each incorporates online teaching best practices. All USF System online courses are scheduled to be QM certified by 2025.

The program is also dedicating more tutoring resources for students, as accounting is one of the most demanding of subjects. And though students are completing coursework remotely, the program puts on both a kickoff ceremony so students feel welcome and meet their faculty and fellow colleagues in the program in person, as well as a graduation ceremony.

In the initial cohort of 25 students, eight already have bachelor degrees in a variety of fields, eight were transfer students and nine were previously enrolled at USF St. Petersburg. The majority reside within the Tampa Bay area, but eight are from other corners of the state, as far south as Miami and as far north as Ocala.

Students who earn the USFSP Bachelor of Science in Accounting – whether online or in a traditional classroom setting – are qualified to go into many different areas in the field, from internal auditors to personal financial advisors to management accountants, or to continue their studies into graduate school and eventually earning a CPA.

“Accounting is the largest undergraduate program in the Kate Tiedemann College of Business and accountants are always in demand,” said Dr. Conover. “This program now provides us another option to meet the growing demand of our students as well as businesses in the state.”