The 2015 edition of Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits is a publication of the results of a long-standing American Institute of CPAs survey. A full version of the report can be found here.
The survey, published since 1971, identifies key trends in accounting enrollment, as well as graduation and hiring. This report, covering the 2013–14 academic year, provides estimated information and forecasting regarding the supply of and demand for new accounting graduates within the public accounting sector to various stakeholders and interested parties.
In the 2013–14 academic year, enrollment in accounting programs reached an all-time high after a year of rapid growth—a 19% increase for master’s degree enrollments and a 3% increase in bachelor’s degree enrollments. Master of Accounting programs of both public and private universities saw major growth in enrollment—with 23% and 50% increases in enrollments this period, respectively—while there was a smaller increase (12%) of enrollments in Bachelor of Accounting programs at private universities and a 22% decrease in bachelor’s degree enrollments at public universities.
Total bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting awarded in the 2013–14 academic year remained steady with a less than 1% decline after reaching an all-time high in the 2011–12 academic year. Master’s degrees awarded increased by 31%, while bachelor’s degrees awarded decreased by 11%.
Hiring also reached record levels after 7% growth in all new hires. Master’s degree hires saw the largest growth, with an 11% increase since 2012. Over the same time period, bachelor’s degree hires increased 5%. As a percentage of total hires in 2014, however, new hires with bachelor’s degrees increased 3 percentage points, new hires with master’s degrees decreased 6 percentage points, and total non-accounting hires increased 2 percentage points since the previous reporting period. As a percentage of new hires, those assigned to accounting/auditing decreased 4 percentage points while assignment to taxation increased by the same amount.
Universities and firms are both optimistic about the growth of the profession—97% of bachelor’s programs and 70% of master’s programs expect their enrollment to be the same or higher than the previous year. Additionally, 91% of firms expect their hiring of new accounting graduates to be higher than or the same as the previous year. Larger firms are especially optimistic about future hiring with all large firms employing over 200 CPAs forecasting the same or more new hires in every area next year.
The gender distribution of professional staff at all firms is now 52% male and 48% female. The reported race/ethnicity distribution changed with the White race/ethnicity category increasing 10 percentage points, the Asian/Pacific Islander race/ethnicity category decreasing 9 percentage points, and the Black/African-American race/ethnicity category decreasing 2 percentage points. The gender distribution of partners also showed a significant shift, with a 5 percentage point increase in female partners between 2012 and 2014.
The AICPA is very appreciative of the universities and firms who took the time to participate in this year’s survey. Please contact [email protected] with any questions or feedback.