Jonathan Jared, BS’19, MSA’22, loves business. Specifically, he loves finance and accounting. He’s known this ever since his first undergraduate accounting course at the Kelley School of Business on the IUPUI campus.
“Accounting is about understanding how to financially measure a company. The better you are at accounting, the better you are at understanding the financial position of companies and providing deeper insights into its operations or the company’s valuation,” he says. “These skill helps you identify weaknesses and opportunities for the business to improve or act on.”
Jonathan knew he wanted to pursue a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification, which requires 150 credit hours of college coursework. He decided the best option to prepare for the exam and gain enough credits was to pursue a Master of Science in Accounting (MSA) at the Kelley School — which he could do by adding just one more year to his undergraduate studies.
“I didn’t want to just stack credits by taking a bunch of undergraduate classes, even if some are related to accounting. I wanted to earn a degree that would truly further my education and career,” says Jonathan. “The MSA is a very strong program that prepares you for the CPA exam because the advanced courses really help you understand auditing, financial accounting and taxation on a whole new level. Plus, if you’re competing with equal candidates for the same job, having the MSA can help you stand out.”
Because he started the MSA during his undergraduate studies in the MSA +1 option, Jonathan was able to take graduate-level courses at an undergraduate tuition rate while also having flexibility to choose which accounting topics to pursue. “I have more flexibly to make the curriculum my own,” he says.
Another advantage of the Kelley MSA at IUPUI is its location. Students like Jonathan can work at companies just a few blocks away in downtown Indianapolis. In fact, Jonathan’s internship at Salesforce led to a full-time offer as a staff accountant, where he applies the lessons he’s learning in the MSA Program in real time.
“My office is only a few blocks away from campus, so it’s pretty easy to get off work and walk over to class,” he says. “While I earn my degree, I’ve been able to apply some course concepts directly to my job — providing different insights and allowing me to approach a problem in a different way or examine a concept more deeply than I would’ve been able to if I hadn’t had this experience.”
Jonathan is finishing up the last half of his MSA and will graduate in May 2022. (He took a semester off to get married after completing some summer coursework.) He says one of the greatest returns on his investment in the MSA Program has been learning content that is directly relatable to the real world of accounting.
“One of my favorite classes so far has been Financial Statement Analysis & Valuation. My role doesn’t handle valuation, but from a financial statement analysis perspective, I provide quarterly property reviews, which include operational and financial analysis for our chief accounting officer,” he says. “That course helped me develop skills to evaluate properties, profitability and business outlook so that the financials I’ve prepared help him better understand what’s happening in the business.”
Jonathan says the breadth and depth of coursework in the MSA Program have helped widen the scope of his understanding of the field of accounting.
“In the Advanced Business Law class, we covered bankruptcy and insurance, which are important parts of protecting your business,” he says. “The curriculum helps broaden your perspective and open your mind to all aspects of your business.”
The curriculum helps broaden your perspective and open your mind to all aspects of your business.”
As he looks toward the future, Jonathan feels he has a variety of options because of the graduate degree he’s earning at Kelley. As an undergraduate tutor, he enjoyed providing review sessions for accounting courses and is pleased to know the graduate degree may allow him to teach someday. When considering why he chose the MSA +1 path, Jonathan suggests other students look at job descriptions for careers they may want to have someday.
“At one point I looked at job postings for chief accounting officers and accounting directors to see what the requirements were, and then, I tailored my education based upon those requirements,” he says. “At the end of the day, you need to understand your goals and what will make you successful in the future. The MSA will help me do that.”
At the end of the day, you need to understand your goals and what will make you successful in the future. The MSA will help me do that.”
Jonathan recognizes that his career goals may someday change. But he feels the MSA Program has prepared him for whatever awaits him down the road.
“You want to choose an education that will help you either shift or transition in your career,” he says. “I love accounting, but I don’t know if I’ll always be in that field. But I know for a fact that I can transition into finance or run a startup. Once you understand accounting, you understand the language of business, which will provide deeper insights into anything you do in business. Kelley helps you get there.”