Regional accounting firm collaborating with local college
DUDLEY — It’s one of the first of its kind in the nation: Nichols College Graduate & Professional Studies has partnered with the regional accounting firm Wolf & Company, P.C., to tailor a graduate degree for its employees so that what they learn prepares them to work in the dynamic accounting industry of today.
The Nichols/Wolf custom MSA’s benefits are twofold: For Wolf & Company employees, they earn the 30 additional credits required to become a CPA, while avoiding courses they may have already taken during their undergraduate years; and they’re gaining technology and “people” skills—all at no cost to them and paid for by Wolf. Meanwhile, Wolf will benefit from employing talented accountants and auditors who have the cutting-edge skills needed to succeed in the workplace of today and tomorrow.
“Wolf & Company could not pass up the opportunity to have an enthusiastic partner in Nichols College to collaborate with us on the content of the curriculum and flexibility of the delivery method,” said Mark A. O’Connell, CPA, president and CEO of Wolf & Company, P.C. “With offices in Boston and Springfield, Mass., and Livingston, N.J., and clients throughout the Northeast, remote classes utilizing the newest technology made the most sense to us. Nichols College has a strong reputation to be an innovative higher education institution, and we are happy to provide our employees with this unique opportunity.”
Kerry Calnan, executive director of Nichols College Graduate & Professional Studies, said that the College’s exciting and unique partnership with Wolf is only one example of how Nichols is innovating higher education.
“With this powerful opportunity to design and deliver a customized Master of Science in Accounting degree for Wolf & Company — a well-respected accounting firm in the Northeast — Nichols College yet again demonstrates how we’re making a proactive, thoughtful impact on industry by specifically meeting the strategic objectives of hiring managers,” said Calnan. “We’ve developed an education plan that translates into practical business results. It’s a win-win-win for the employer and employee as well as for Nichols. Wolf employees will walk away with an accounting graduate degree that provides them tremendous value and skills that they can apply to their jobs at Wolf. Meanwhile, this tailored Master’s degree program gives Wolf an amazing return on their professional development dollars. As for Nichols College, we’re extremely proud to be a higher education leader in training the workplace of today and tomorrow.”
Through the customized two-year MSA program, Wolf employees will not only gain technology-and-soft skills but also find that the curriculum reflects an increased focus on work/life balance and reduced stress. Employees will take only one class during each seven-week cycle. The weekly synchronous session is 90-minutes long and is offered remotely via videoconference technology, which provides students and instructor with face-to-face interaction. There is a seven-week break provided during the “busy season” peak work period from January to February.
“Busy working professionals won’t have to change their lifestyle in order to succeed,” said Calnan.
Classes, which start in September, are taught by a dedicated Nichols MSA faculty who are subject matter experts, experienced leaders and top executives — and Wolf employees are already registering. They’ll have a slate of courses in which to enroll: management internal control systems, critical thinking for accountants, auditing through information systems, professional accounting research and policy, negotiation and conflict resolution, data visualization and business intelligence, current trends in accounting, the future of data and analytics, employee engagement, and problem solving and analysis (capstone).
In other words, these students won’t see on their schedule any classes they already took for their bachelor’s degree. As such, they’ll become more knowledgeable, prepared, and competitive Wolf employees.
“The Nichols/Wolf co-designed MSA is the most forward-thinking and innovative employer-educator collaboration I have ever seen,” said Anna Howard, CPA, MBA, CMA, director of the Nichols MSA Program, and a 20-year accounting industry veteran.
Of course, Wolf employees have the option to pursue graduate education wherever they want. However, according to Wolf and Company Director of Human Resources and Operations Gary Lafond, Wolf “believes there is no greater value in the graduate school marketplace [than the Nichols College MSA program]. The ‘right’ content, at the ‘right’ time, with no more debt.”
Nichols College, which offers four graduate degrees (Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, Master of Science in Counterterrorism, and the MSA) launched the MSA program in 2015. All Nichols graduate programs are designed for career-focused professionals who are ready to take the next step toward leadership, to take on a new challenge, and to expand their career options.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that between 2012 and 2022, the fields of accounting and finance will increase by 167,000 jobs. Experts in the accounting field agree that earning a CPA and an MSA will improve accountants’ job prospects and typically leads to increased responsibilities, career opportunities, and financial rewards. There are many career opportunities in the fields of accounting and finance. MSA graduates take management positions in accounting, auditing, or budgeting; launch their own accounting firm, continue with their education; or become a chief financial officer, controller, internal or government auditor, or work in accounting information technology.