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Yale Philosophy Graduate Says Alma Mater Needs an Accounting Major

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Dec 9, 2022

Yale University offers one course in accounting. The university should offer a major in the field, argues a member of the class of 2005 who is now an in-house senior counsel and director at Grant Thornton.

“Yale undergraduates would benefit from the education and opportunities to serve as leaders in society offered through the serious study of accounting,” wrote Alexandra Newman, a philosophy major who subsequently attended law school at Northwestern University, in the Yale Daily News.

“The accounting field has changed since the 1960s," she wrote. "Accountants today are not number crunchers relegated to the back office. Instead, professionals trained in accounting are called to lead in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Yale could help to enhance and ensure integrity in the global business community by rigorously training undergraduates in accounting.”

Contrasting accounting with finance and economics—and calling the trio the three languages of business—Newman wrote that “[a]ccounting focuses on historical information as presented on financial statements … to measure, process and share information about businesses and individuals.” Finance “is a broad term for the management of assets and liabilities and the planning of future growth” and “economics focuses on the impacts of external forces on the distribution of resources.”

“Professionals trained in accounting develop critical-thinking skills that are essential to running a business, ensuring statutory compliance, establishing a company’s internal controls … and providing investors, managers and governments with quantitative financial information that is necessary to make impactful and ethical decisions,” she wrote. She gave three reasons why Yale should offer this option of study to undergraduates: The modern study of accounting is consistent with a liberal arts education; accounting is a truth-seeking endeavor that can serve the public interest; and a major in accounting will complement the major in economics and provide career opportunities.

An accounting major at Yale could provide opportunities in professional services and other fields, she wrote. Noting the “dwindling supply of accountants,” she concluded that an accounting major “could also usher more women, minority and first-generation students into business careers where they still remain underrepresented.”