Joined: 15 Dec 2010
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I apply to a bunch of MS Accounting programs and interviewed at three of them, UNC, Wake Forest, and William and Mary. Here are some of my opinions for each of these schools. I hope people who have interviews with some other schools such as BC, USC, UTA, Vandy can add their perspectives to this thread.
William and Mary - The main questions seem to be what is your short and long term career goals, why William and Mary, and what other schools are you applying to. The admissions people are extremely welcoming and friendly. You can ask to sit in a class or have lunch with other students. It is relatively inexpensive compare to other programs, in state cost of attendance is about $40,000 and out of state $50,000 and they do offer some scholarship. Williamsburg is cheap to live in and looks very nice and has lot of history to it. It is not very diverse and most students tend to be on the older side. However, students are well represented from various schools. The program length is 9 months for those with accounting background and 10/11 months for those without. Its recruiting program feeds into DC and Northern Virginia so those who want to work here, this is the school to go to.
Wake Forest - The main questions asked are you career goals and other schools you are applying to. Wake has this vibe that it must be your top choice and you must show absolute interest in the school. The pros is that the program consists of a internship period where you gain hand on experience and potentially get an offer coming out but doing the internship will push the program from 12 months to 18 months. There is not help for this. The cons is that the town of Winston Salem is a very southern, very suffocating town, where most people are rich, white, protestant southerners. You want to see the south? Come to Wake Forest. Needless to say, there is no diversity of any kind here. I visited on a school day and there is barely any activity in the school, not students lounging outside or rushing to class, etc... Most students, 60% of the class, come from Wake Forest itself so you might feel kind of behind. The classes focus on the CPA exam, that could be a good thing or bad thing depending on where you stand. The cost of attendance is $60,000. The school feeds into Charlotte and other areas in North Carolina.
UNC - More in depth interviews than the other two programs. Basically go over your resume, career goals, life goals, etc... Again, this is a southern school. You know what to expect, no diversity of any kind, sleepy town, and very suffocating, and somewhat standoffish. You might think it's a big school but the program is so small that you'll see the same people often. This could be a good thing and bad thing, depending on who you are. The good thing about the program is that it is a twelve month program beginning from May and ending in June, which give you time for an internship during the summer and job search if you did not get any offer during the year. It is also the best ranked school in the region. Cost of attendance including summer program seems to be around $50,000 for instate and 65,000 for out of state. The school places well, around 3/4 of its classes, and mainly in Charlotte, Raleigh, and other areas of North Carolina.
Let me conclude this with some caveats: MS accounting is very region-based. If you want to practice in DC and Virginia, go to W&M or UVA, North Carolina, UNC or Wake, New York, Baruch, Texas, UTA or Texas A&M. Do not go to USC thinking that you will be working and living in New York once you graduated. Do not go to UNC and wonder why you cannot find anything in Texas. Decide where you want to live and go there. Finally, some of these schools are very expensive for a one year program. They might or might not be worth it. Most CPA start out around 45-50k and some of these program costs are very high. If you can, find the cheapest school with the best option in your desired practice area to go to.
I am taking questions and comments and further perspectives.