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Big 4 Firms Bring Data Analytics to the Classroom

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Aug 30th 2016
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In a nod to the growing focus on data analytics in auditing and accounting, KPMG and PwC have launched educational programs that emphasize its importance.

KPMG is partnering with Ohio State University’s Max M. Fisher College of Business and the Villanova University School of Business to develop a master’s degree program in data analytics for accounting.

The firm will pay full tuition, room, and board for 50 students – 25 at each school – entering the two schools’ graduate programs for the 2017 fall semester. The students will work as paid audit interns for 16 weeks at KPMG during the 2018 spring semester.

According to Max Carrier, partner-in-charge of eAudIT, Global Delivery Center, and audit data and analytics for KPMG US, students must meet eligibility requirements for admission into the schools’ Master of Accounting programs, and be eligible for a CPA license in their state of employment when they complete the program.

After their expected graduation in summer 2018, students will be contractually required to work for three years at KPMG.

KPMG declined to say how much individual student funding will cost, but it expects the ongoing program to be an annual multimillion-dollar investment.

“We believe that this program will become a staple in the delivery of accounting master and undergraduate degrees across universities for generations to come,” Carrier said in an email.

The firm intends to advance the education of accounting with data and analytics, and both schools have existing graduate programs in those areas. Other universities’ programs and classes will be evaluated for consideration.

“We are discussing, and will continue to discuss, how we can assist other schools in creating data and analytics curriculum for accounting students in the data age,” KPMG Partner Roger O’Donnell, US and global leader of data and analytics, audit, said in an email. No endowment or other funding was offered to the schools, he added.

To be included in the first class for this program beginning in fall 2017, applications must be submitted to KPMG by Sept. 5. Applications received after that will be considered every two weeks until the positions are filled. If accepted, applicants then must apply to each school.

At PwC, the firm created a five-course program for a specialization certificate in data analytics offered through Coursera, an online learning platform.

The “Data Analysis and Presentation Skills” course is open to anyone, and no prior knowledge of data and analytics is required. Classes can be taken individually. For the full five-course certificate, classes should be taken in order and completion is estimated to take five to six months.

“Our collaboration with Coursera is about more than creating courses; it’s about helping people become more confident as they face the future,” Agnes Hussherr, PwC’s global human capital leader, said in a prepared statement. “We hope that we’ll play a part in building a generation of confident leaders who can inspire trust in others and be ready to solve the important problems faced by the businesses they lead.”

The classes are:

  • Data-driven Decision Making
  • Problem-Solving with Excel
  • Data Visualization with Advanced Excel
  • Effective Business Presentations with PowerPoint
  • PwC Capstone Project

In the Capstone Project class, students apply what they’ve learned in the earlier classes by working with a mock client business problem. They’ll analyze data, visualize their findings, and record a video to present their recommendations to the client.

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