Report Finds Accounting Student Enrollment Remains at All-Time High

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Oct 4, 2017

Total number of enrollments in accounting programs at the Bachelor's and Master's level has remained at record-highs, while most firms expect they will hire the same number or more recent accounting graduates in 2017, according to the AICPA's newest Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and Demand for Public Accounting Recruits report. 

The total number of accounting undergrads increased from 207,071 in the 2014-2015 study to 216,482 in the most recent one, but this was offset by a reduction in the number of people in Master's programs from 39,641 to 29,429. This resulted in a fairly stable population over the years, with a total net loss of only 34 accounting enrollments.

The study also found, though, that hiring of new graduates slowed down in 2016, dropping 19 percent: 43,252 new hires in 2014 to 34,889 in 2016. Of those new hires, 45 percent went into auditing and 36 percent went into tax. New graduate hires going forward are expected to remain level or slightly grow, with 45 percent of firms saying they expect to hire the same number of new graduates as before, and 14 percent saying they expect to hire more. However 24 percent remain unsure, and 18 percent said they will be lowering their new graduate hires. 

The number of new CPA Examination candidates grew 13 percent between 2015 and 2016, and the number of candidates who passed their 4th section increased 7 percent in the same time period. 

In terms of demographics, accounting graduates remain mostly white (59 percent at undergrad level, 63 percent at graduate level), with new hires even moreso, at 70 percent. Professional staff is reported to be 78 percent white, CPAs are reported to be 88 percent white, and partners are reported to be 92 percent white. In terms of gender, 48 percent of Bachelor's and Masters accounting program enrollments were women and 52 percent were men. 

Click here to see more of the latest news from the NYSSCPA.