The Vanderbilt Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program partners with liberal arts colleges and universities to offer undergraduates interested in business an opportunity to launch a career in public accounting with only 12 additional months of education.
In this spotlight, we talk with Eric Muth and Luke Hart, who both graduated from Centre College in 2017 with degrees in economics and finance. They discuss how they discovered the Vanderbilt MAcc program and why it made sense to come to Vanderbilt from Centre.
The institution: Centre is private, top-50 liberal arts college located in Danville, Kentucky.
How they came to find MAcc: After completing Centre’s liberal arts core curriculum requirements, Muth and Hart were drawn to finance and economics. “Centre is more of a liberal arts education, so I took a broad array of classes, and ended up majoring in economics and finance, which led me towards accounting,” Hart explained.
Both Muth and Hart took accounting classes as part of their degrees, and one day MAcc Director of Admissions Emily O’Dell came to speak to the class about the Master of Accountancy program at Vanderbilt. While neither of them were certain if they wanted to go to graduate school yet, Muth and Hart kept the possibility in mind.
The two did try searching for jobs during their senior year, but didn’t find much traction. They began thinking seriously about the MAcc program, since they didn’t have enough accounting classes to jump straight into working in the field. Muth and Hart both applied to the Vanderbilt Master of Accountancy, and prepared to make the short move from Kentucky to Tennessee.
“The liberal arts degree was valuable, because I got a wide range of knowledge and I learned how to communicate better, but in terms of hard skills it was a little lacking,” Muth said. “I think that’s where a Master of Accounting and being at a school like Owen was attractive: It gave me some actual credentials that could help me get a job.”
The Centre + Vanderbilt experience: Centre College is a small school with only about 1,400 undergraduates total. This small student body creates a warm atmosphere, where students know each other and professors really well. Coming from this undergrad experience, the small size of the Vanderbilt MAcc program appealed to both Hart and Muth. “The classes are still 20 to 30 people in size, exactly how it is at Centre,” Muth said.
“That was something that was definitely appealing at the graduate level as well,” Hart seconded, speaking of the close-knit community.
Getting a MAcc degree also opened up geographic opportunities, something that both of them were looking to get out of a master’s program. “Comparing searching for jobs then versus searching for jobs now, the brand of Vanderbilt has been really valuable, particularly being from North Carolina,” Hart said.
“It was kind of hard to make connections with employers outside Louisville, just with an undergrad degree,” Muth agreed. “A degree from Vanderbilt alone carries a lot of weight…It gives you opportunities nationally, and even internationally, if you want to.”
The next chapter: Both of them ended up accepting jobs at PwC; Hart is going to the Charlotte, NC office, while Muth is moving to Denver, CO. “(Louisville) is one of my favorite places, but I wanted to broaden my horizons and expand my opportunities,” Muth says of making such a long-distance move.
“A year ago, I could have started at a spot that wouldn’t really have been too great of an opportunity for me, and now, just one year later, I’ll be working at a Big 4 accounting firm, and I think I have a lot more growth potential there,” Hart said.
Advice for Centre students: Both Hart and Muth recommend that Centre College students consider the Vanderbilt MAcc program, especially if they are majoring in economics and finance, or if they want to find jobs further afield.
“Actual employers don’t really know what Centre College is, outside of that region,” Muth said. “If you’re looking for a more tangible or useful set of skills…and you’re looking for a wide range geographically, Vanderbilt is definitely a good idea.”
“I don’t think I’d be able to have that opportunity (to work at PwC) without spending this year at Vanderbilt,” Hart affirmed.