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2018-2019 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Master of Science in Accounting


The Master of Science in accounting degree is intended for students pursuing careers in public, corporate, and not-for-profit accounting, including those with limited undergraduate accounting education. The M.S.A. degree meets current educational requirements for public accounting certification (CPA) in the State of Michigan.

Admission to the Master of Science in Accounting Program

Admission to the M.S.A. program is based on an evaluation of the candidate's application and other submitted documentation. An undergraduate degree in accounting is not required, but those with limited undergraduate business education are required to complete business and accounting courses that provide a foundation for advanced study in accounting.

Applicants must submit official documentation of all previous college coursework, including a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent international credential). Additionally, applicants must submit:

  • GMAT score (unless waived)
  • Personal statement
  • TOEFL score (if English is not the applicant's first language)

Admission requirements are provided in detail in the Seidman College of Business section of this catalog, including conditions that qualify applicants for a GMAT waiver.

The Graduate Accounting Committee bases admission decisions on previous undergraduate and graduate academic performance, performance on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and evidence of other competencies related to program and workplace success. Academic performance in intermediate accounting courses is a particularly strong predictor of academic success in the M.S.A. program; consequently the committee looks for an earned grade of B or better in all intermediate courses. A TOEFL score of at least 80 (IBT) is required of applicants whose first language is not English. Work experience is not required but may be used in the admission decision.

The Graduate Admissions Committee considers a scholastic index (SI) for M.S.A. applicants computed as follows:

SI = (GPA for last 60 semester hours of undergraduate coursework x 200) + GMAT score.

Applicants with a scholastic index of at least 1100, a GMAT score not less than 500, a cumulative GPA of not less than 3.0, and satisfactory evidence in their other credentials are considered qualified for full admission.

Conditional Admission

Students admitted under this status must meet specific requirements detailed in their letter of admission to be fully admitted to the program.

If an otherwise qualified applicant has not completed prerequisite or foundational courses including intermediate accounting (or received a grade below a B in any intermediate accounting course), it is likely that the applicant will be offered conditional admission. Full admission to the M.S.A. program will be granted upon meeting specified conditions. The conditional admission status is described in detail in the Graduate Admissions section of the catalog.

Individuals not yet admitted to the M.S.A. program may enroll in 500-level Foundation courses with permission from the Seidman Graduate Programs Office. Candidates who have not completed Intermediate Accounting I (ACC 310 or equivalent) with a grade of B or higher may only enroll in Foundation or undergraduate Accounting Exposure courses until ACC 310 is completed with a grade of B or higher. Accordingly, the student is advised to take ACC 310 as soon as its prerequisites are met. Undergraduate courses and Foundation courses do not count toward the 33 graduate-credit minimum for the M.S.A. degree. Candidates who have not completed Intermediate Accounting II (ACC 311 or equivalent) with a grade of B or better should take this course in the first semester of attendance after the ACC 310 prerequisite has been met.

Early Enrollment

Enrollment in dual-listed 500-level courses or 600-level courses is generally restricted to students admitted to the respective program who have also completed the appropriate prerequisite courses. The exception to this policy is Seidman College accounting students with senior standing who meet all other admissions criteria. Such students will have: 1) completed ACC 310, ACC 311, and ACC 340 with a grade of B or better; 2) no more than 35 credits left to complete their undergraduate degree requirements; 3) a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0; and 4) a GMAT score of at least 500 (or qualify for a GMAT waiver). With permission of the Seidman Graduate Programs Office, such students may enroll for as many as four graduate-level accounting courses that may be applied toward the M.S.A. degree once they are admitted.

GMAT Waiver

The following categories of applicants may request a waiver of the GMAT examination requirement:

  • GVSU undergraduate accounting students who have no more than 35 credits left to complete their undergraduate degree requirements with a minimum 3.3 cumulative GPA in their last sixty hours of coursework and with a 3.3 GPA (with no grade lower than a B) in ACC 310, ACC 311, ACC 321, and ACC 317 or ACC 318.
  • Applicants who have earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from an AACSB-accredited business school with a minimum 3.3 cumulative GPA in their last sixty hours of coursework and with a 3.3 GPA (with no grade lower than a B) in the following courses or their equivalents:
  • Applicants who have earned a master's degree from an AACSB-accredited business school.
  • Applicants who have completed a US Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • A certified public accountant registered or licensed in any US jurisdiction.

Applicants seeking a GMAT waiver should contact the Seidman Graduate programs Office for details. A GMAT waiver does not result in guaranteed admission; the admissions decision will be based on the applicant's application materials.

Transfer Credit

A maximum of nine semester hours of transfer credit will be given for appropriate graduate courses completed with a grade of B or better from another AACSB-accredited college. These credits may be substituted for required or elective courses as determined by the Seidman Graduate Programs Office. University policy on transfer of credit also governs such courses.

Academic Review
A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher is required in all graduate-level courses. Additionally, a cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required in all 600-level courses that fulfill graduation requirements for the M.S.A. A grade of C or better must be earned in all graduate courses that fulfill graduation requirements for the M.S.A.

Program Location

The M.S.A. program is offered at the Pew Campus in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Most courses are located in the L. William Seidman Center, home of the Seidman College of Business.

Graduate Outcomes/Time to Program Completion

The School of Accounting faculty has identified the following learning objectives for M.S.A. students, and objectives are assessed regularly to ensure that they are being achieved.

M.S.A. graduates will be

  • technically competent;
  • effective accounting researchers;
  • effective communicators;
  • internationally literate; and
  • prepared to recognize and respond to ethical questions encountered in the practice of accounting.

Students with an undergraduate degree in accounting or business can generally complete the program in one calendar year. Students with no or limited accounting coursework can complete the program in two calendar years.

Requirements for the M.S.A. in Accounting

All M.S.A. students must complete a minimum of 33 graduate credits that include at least:

  • 24 credits of 600-level courses
  • 18 credits of graduate accounting courses


Foundation requirements may be met by completion of either the 500-level accelerated courses or the undergraduate courses as indicated as follows.

Area Course
Legal Environment for Business

ACC 310 and ACC 340 have a prerequisite of ACC 240, Financial Accounting Applications. This prerequisite may be waived for a graduate student based on employment experience or a satisfactory demonstration of competency in the application of financial accounting concepts. Please contact the Seidman Graduate Programs Office for information on specific requirements for a waiver. ACC 340 also has a prerequisite of MGT 268 that is waived for admitted M.S.A. students.

Students who have completed the preceding GVSU undergraduate courses listed or the equivalent courses at another university may not enroll in the content-equivalent graduate-level course unless required as a condition of admission, or are granted permission by the Seidman Graduate Programs Office.

M.S.A. Core

All M.S.A. students must complete a minimum of 18 credits in graduate accounting courses (excluding ACC 511) and including the following courses:

ACC 620 is the Capstone course and may not be taken until other core courses have been completed; however, concurrent enrollments may be granted with permission from the Seidman Graduate Programs Office.

M.S.A. Electives

Courses to fulfill the elective credits are selected with guidance from the Seidman Graduate Programs Office and the faculty advisor. Graduate courses both within and outside of accounting can be selected if deemed appropriate and aligned with the student's career goals. Some of the more common electives include:

Accounting Exposure

Accounting exposure courses may be taken at either the undergraduate level prior to or while enrolled in the M.S.A. program. Their purpose is to ensure that all M.S.A. graduates have basic competencies in each major area of accounting. For the exposure requirement, all students are required to complete, with a grade of C or better, at least one three credit course in cost or managerial accounting, corporate taxation, external auditing, and advanced accounting. All non GVSU courses used to meet this requirement must be evaluated by GVSU accounting faculty as equivalent to the appropriate GVSU course.

At the discretion of the faculty advisor, a combination of courses may be used to satisfy the requirement for a course in advanced accounting. Students who have completed accounting exposure courses at the undergraduate level or equivalent courses at another university may not enroll in content equivalent graduate level courses unless required as a condition of admission, or are granted permission by the Seidman Graduate Programs Office. An accounting exposure course taken at the undergraduate level is not counted toward the 33 graduate credit requirement.

Individualized Plan of Study/Time to Program Completion

All admitted students must meet with a faculty advisor prior to or during their first semester of graduate coursework to obtain an individualized plan of study (IPS) specifying the coursework required for the M.S.A. degree and any emphases elected by the student. The individualized plan of study (IPS) will be developed by the student's advisor based upon review of the student's previous coursework, program requirements, and the student's interests. Any subsequent changes to the IPS must be approved by the faculty advisor.

Students generally fall into one of the following categories:

Undergraduate degree in accounting

  • Students entering the M.S.A. program with an undergraduate degree in accounting may generally expect to complete a 33 credit program. These students must take the accounting core and 18 credits of approved 500- and 600-level electives selected from among Seidman graduate offerings or, with permission of the student's faculty advisor, from graduate program offerings outside the Seidman College of Business courses.

Nonaccounting business degree

  • Students entering the program with an undergraduate degree in business, but with six or fewer hours in accounting may expect an IPS listing all accounting core and exposure courses with a program length of 33 to 42 credits.

Nonbusiness degree

  • Students entering the program with a non-business undergraduate degree and no prior coursework in business or accounting will receive a standard IPS totaling approximately 62 semester hours.


A student may elect to complete the M.S.A. degree with an emphasis in taxation or finance. These emphases are intended for students who desire advanced knowledge and skills in taxation or finance. The emphasis will be listed on the student's transcript. The student electing the taxation emphasis must complete the following courses:

The student electing the finance emphasis must complete the following courses:

  • FIN 624 - Investment and Portfolio Management (3 credits)
  • FIN 626 - Advanced Managerial Finance (3 credits)
  • FIN 627 - Derivative Assets and Markets (3 credits)
  • FIN 629 - International Finance (3 credits)
  • At least three of the courses in an emphasis must be completed at GVSU. These courses may be used to either fulfill required electives in the program or extend the number of hours required for the degree, depending on the student's individual circumstances. For students with undergraduate accounting degrees, it may be possible to complete the degree with an emphasis in 36 credits. Other students desiring an emphasis should expect to complete additional credits beyond what is required for the degree. With the approval of the student's faculty advisor, a different 600-level course in taxation or finance may be substituted for one of the preceding courses. To elect the emphasis, the student must request that their faculty advisor add the emphasis to the student's individualized plan of study.

Combined B.B.A./M.S. in Accounting


Qualified undergraduate accounting students may be admitted to an accelerated bachelor's/master's program and obtain both a B.B.A. and an M.S. in accounting within an accelerated time frame. Students admitted to this program may take graduate courses after completing 90 undergraduate credits, and up to 12 credits of graduate work may be used in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the undergraduate degree (in alignment with university policy, a maximum of 12 credit hours of graduate work will count toward both the graduate and undergraduate degrees). During their fourth year students can select up to four courses from the following graduate accounting courses:


GVSU Graduate Course

Intermediate Accounting II

Individual Income Taxation & Research

Entity Taxation - Theory and Practice

ACC 615

Financial Accounting Systems

ACC 616

If students earn at least a grade of B in each of these classes, they are granted advanced standing in the master's program and must then complete an additional 21 credits to receive the master's degree. All other master's degree requirements must be met. After completing 120 credits and all requirements for the bachelor's degree, students are awarded a bachelor's degree. A minimum of 21 graduate credits must be completed after the 120 credits for the bachelor's degree are completed (the M.S. program requires 33 hours).

Undergraduate accounting majors with an overall GPA of at least 3.25 may apply to the combined bachelor's/master's program after

  • Completion of the following business core requirements with a grade B or higher in each: ECO 210 and ECO 211, BUS 201, and MGT 268;
  • Completion of the following undergraduate accounting requirements with a grade B or higher in each: ACC 212, ACC 213, ACC 240, ACC 310, and ACC 321; and
  • 75 hours of academic credit, with at least 30 credits at GVSU, have been completed or are in progress.

Admission Procedure

Students will normally apply for the combined B.B.A./M.S. in Accounting degree program during their third academic year (for a complete list of application requirements and to apply, see

Admissions are competitive and between 15 and 25 of the top applicants will be admitted in a single semester. Acceptance recommendations will be made by the School of Accounting's admissions committee after evaluation of the application and the completion of all application requirements.

Requirements During Undergraduate Studies

An undergraduate student enrolled in the combined degree program is required to successfully complete, as defined below, a minimum of 12 credits each regular semester until all undergraduate courses required for the degree have been completed (except when completing an internship or other extenuating circumstances).

  • Students will maintain a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.25, earning a C or higher in each undergraduate course attempted; and
  • Students will earn a B or higher in each graduate course attempted.

All university requirements, including general education courses, must be completed before the final (graduate) year of the combined B.B.A./M.S. in Accounting program. In the final undergraduate year, students will take 12 credits of graduate-level courses. If any courses are dual-listed, students in the combined B.B.A./M.S. in Accounting program must complete all assignments expected of graduate students and they will be evaluated in the same way as graduate students.

Graduation Without Completion of the Combined Program

If a student decides at some point to pursue only the undergraduate portion of the combined degree, the School of Accounting will still recognize the graduate courses taken in lieu of undergraduate courses. Credit from the undergraduate degree cannot be used toward a graduate degree at a later date.

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