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Financial Reporting & Assurance

Curriculum

Curriculum for this track includes five Financial Reporting & Assurance courses over the year, in addition to one course from the Tax Consulting Track and four additional electives. This structure allows you to focus on assurance and reporting as a specialty, but also provides the flexibility to study other areas of interest to you.

Fall Semester

During the fall semester, you will take 4 required courses (indicated with an asterisk), and 2 elective courses.

Accounting Policy*

This course covers the theory and practice of corporate financial reporting. It highlights the development of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and accounting policy choices from two perspectives. First, the course examines accounting policy making at the macro (standard setter) level as well as examines the past, present, and future role of standard setters in formulating accounting policy. As part of the course, students examine the interactions among corporations, the accounting profession, and users of financial statements in accounting policymaking. Another critical part of the course will be to evaluate current developments in financial reporting (e.g., FASB’s proposed Accounting Standards Updates). Second, from the micro or company level, cases are used to evaluate accounting conventions, particularly with regard to how those decisions reflect economic reality and the quality of earnings. Fall term. Required for all students.

Data Management and Analytics for Accountants*

Using an applied, problem-based approach to learning and including hands-on assignments and a term project, this course provides an introduction to management and use of data in business. The course provides a basic understanding of developments and trends in business intelligence/analytics, with implications for accountants, as well as emphasizes understanding the fundamentals of relational database systems design and querying using SQL.

Leading for Success in the Accounting Profession*

This course is designed to expose you to career management and “people” skills that are critical for your success in a professional services firm or organization. More specifically, the course focuses on topics related to effective teaming, managing up, giving and receiving feedback, having difficult conversations, and the importance of social connections. Fall term. Required for all students

Communicating Effectively as Accounting Professionals*

This course centers on the vital role communication skills play in the professional success of accountants, who communicate with colleagues and clients about complex issues. The course examines the impact of audience and occasion on speaking strategy; develops oral presentation skills; helps increase public speaking confidence; develops the ability to create high-impact visuals; and develops skill in group presenting and responding to questions.

Judgment and Decision Making in Accounting

This course will help you understand how behavior, psychology, and biases influence the preparation, interpretation, and auditing of accounting information. We will explore theories and research on judgment and decision making and how those theories apply to aspects of financial reporting and auditing. Students will develop an understanding of the way we think and how that can influence the financial reporting and auditing processes.

Financial Statement Analysis and Valuation

This course introduces students to theory concepts, tools of financial statement analysis and practical valuation issues. The course will equip students with skills in using financial statement data for business valuation and other economic decisions. Students will take the perspectives of equity analysts, creditors, investment bankers, managers, and auditors when applying the course skills in various decision-making contexts, such as equity investment analysis, credit analysis, distress prediction, mergers, and acquisitions. Fall term.

Taxation of Partnerships and Flow-through Entities

A number of businesses utilize "pass-through" entities for a variety of reasons, including financing, investing and tax planning. Partnerships are a very powerful business tool, as they have some flexibility regarding how they allocate income and distribute cash among the partners. They are used in all industries and are used extensively by international businesses; in fact, over 70% of corporations in the United States have investments in "pass-through entities." In addition to in-depth coverage of the tax rules regarding the operations of a flow-through entity, the course will also spend time reviewing partnership agreements, including some examples of provisions that have unintended consequences. While the focus of the class is on federal income tax law, many planning concepts will be discussed, including in-depth analysis of the economics behind these transactions. Fall term. Required for all Tax Consulting Track students.

Note: This course will benefit any student who plans to work on large corporate audits. Many large (and especially multinational) corporations use flow-through entities extensively in their organization structure. This is largely driven by tax considerations.  Understanding the taxation of flow-through entities will enable you to better understand the benefits and limitations of including these types of entities within corporate structures.

Introduction to Cybersecurity

This course provides a manager’s view of cybersecurity and privacy and includes an emphasis on applying analytics to understand cybersecurity threats. In addition, it touches on the importance of management and administration, the place information security holds in overall business risk, risk presented by the rise of the IoT, social issues such as individual privacy, and the role of public policy. Graduate students will be embedded in COMM 4520 courses, so there will be upper-level undergraduates in the same class. Fall term. Space is limited.

Advanced Financial Accounting

This course covers advanced financial accounting topics. The primary objective of this course is to provide an in-depth understanding of financial reporting issues related to business combinations, intercorporate investments, consolidated financial statements, corporate restructurings, and international transactions and operations. These transactions often have a major impact on the financial statements, and understanding the economic substance of the transactions and the way(s) they are reflected in corporate financial statements is critically important for professional accountants and financial analysts. Fall term. Combined undergraduate/graduate course.

Note: We recommend all accounting students to have had a course that focuses on accounting issues related to business combinations. Tax students who plan to work on corporations sometime in their career should strongly consider taking this course. Preparing consolidated returns requires an understanding of the complex rules detailed in the consolidated return regulations.  Fortunately, these regulations closely follow the logic of preparing consolidated financial statements, which is one of the topics covered in this course.

Strategic Cost Management

This course is designed to help students actively learn how accounting information is prepared and used by managers to make critical management, marketing, and finance decisions to plan and control the operations of organizations. This course is designed to provide soon-to-be accounting professionals with the tools they will use to help managers in their decision making and to help non-accounting professionals understand the importance of using accounting when making business decisions. Fall term.

Financial Trading

This course examines the nature and influence of trading on financial market prices. Particular attention is directed to the role of noise in financial markets, the psychology of participants in financial markets, the identification of potential profitable trading opportunities, back office processing of trades, the management of the trading function, and artificial neural networks and AI expert trading systems. Mock pit trading sessions are held to give firsthand experience in simulated pit trading environments and illustrate some of the skills necessary for successful trading. Fall term.

Spring Semester

During the spring semester, you will take 3 required courses (indicated with an asterisk), and additional electives.

Corporate Financial Reporting*

This course has been designed to expose students to the various statutory, administrative, and judicial sources of the tax law. Case studies are used throughout the course to assist students in developing and refining their proficiency in identifying issues, locating and interpreting pertinent authority, and effectively and professionally communicating their conclusions.  Students will learn to use the electronic tax data base RIA checkpoint. Spring term. Required for all Tax Consulting track students.

Note: This course will benefit any student who wants to become stronger at research and writing. Though this course will focus on tax research, the practice of considering which issues are primary vs. secondary, which authority is relevant, and how to synthesize results into a memo will apply to researching financial reporting issues as well.

Forensic Accounting*

This course enhance students’ understanding of the field of forensic accounting and the tools and related techniques currently utilized to prevent, detect, and respond to fraud and misconduct. Throughout the course, students examine various types of accounting fraud as well as current trends in other “white collar” crimes such as cybercrime, money laundering, bribery, and corruption. While learning from prior occurrences of high-profile fraud and misconduct through participation in various case studies, students will be required to read and learn from current events and relevant developments in the accounting profession. The course focuses on the types of services performed by forensic accountants, the drivers of demand for such services, current and relevant legal and regulatory environments, and the technology skills required of forensic accountants. Spring term. Required for all Financial Reporting & Assurance Track students.

Taxes and Business Strategy*

Tax rules are pervasive in their effect on the decisions of businesses. This course uses the economics-based framework of “all parties, all taxes, all costs” to consider how both tax and non-tax factors affect business activities. Specific decision settings examined include mergers and acquisitions, compensation, and multi-jurisdictional tax planning. How firms report these tax effects in their financial statements will also be covered. Spring term. Required for all students.

Legal Liability and the Regulation

Today’s CPA must have a working familiarity with a number of areas of business law to properly advise clients and to protect their own interests as a practitioner. This course is designed to meet both objectives. The course is broken into six main parts: (1) business entities; (2) civil liability and unfair competition in business; (3) intellectual property; (4) employment law; (5) contracts; and (6) bankruptcy law for businesses. Spring term.

Government and Non-Profit Accounting

This course introduces financial reporting, budgeting, and auditing in not-for-profit entities; government-wide and fund financial statements for state and local governments; and generally accepted government auditing standards. This course will help prepare you to take the portion of the CPA exam related to government and not-for-profit issues and will provide a foundation for auditing, working with, and/or serving on GNP boards.

Accounting for Derivatives

This course develops a framework for understanding the nature, uses, and financial reporting of derivatives. The overriding theme used to deliver these concepts will be the accounting and financial reporting for financial institutions. Thus, the course will first focus on the operating and financial reporting issues in the banking system. It will then focus simultaneously on two major issues relating to derivatives using a series of cases. The first will be a discussion of contract specifications, business uses and valuation of the three main classes of derivatives: futures & forwards, swaps, and options. The second will be a discussion of the accounting for these types of derivatives, with emphasis on fair-value and cash-flow hedges. The course will highlight industry-specific use of derivatives from two perspectives: managing risks relevant to that industry and speculation. Spring term.

Tax Research

This course has been designed to expose students to the various statutory, administrative, and judicial sources of the tax law. Case studies are used throughout the course to assist students in developing and refining their proficiency in identifying issues, locating and interpreting pertinent authority, and effectively and professionally communicating their conclusions.  Students will learn to use the electronic tax data base RIA checkpoint. Spring term. Required for all Tax Consulting Track students.

Note: This course will benefit any student who wants to become stronger at research and writing. Though this course will focus on tax research, the practice of considering which issues are primary vs. secondary, which authority is relevant, and how to synthesize results into a memo will apply to researching financial reporting issues as well.

Taxation of Corporations and their Shareholders' Transactions

The course addresses the various business, tax, and accounting issues arising in connection with the formation, operation, and termination of domestic corporations and their shareholders. It provides in-depth coverage of the technical rules of Subchapter C, and places special emphasis on the identification and implementation of tax planning strategies available to corporations and their shareholders. Spring term. Required for all Tax Consulting Track students.

Advanced Auditing and Applied Data Analytics

Intensive study of advanced auditing topics, including how auditors are using data analytics to respond to new challenges facing the profession. Topics will be covered primarily through (a) professional and academic readings and (b) a case-based approach that will allow for a hands-on experience with data analytics tools and techniques. Prerequisite: Auditing.

Managing Sustainable Development: Business Solutions to Global Challenges

This course will focus on global environmental and social sustainability. Although many of the case examples we use are in emerging economies, many lessons are also drawn from American corporations and non-governmental organizations. We will study successful leadership strategies within corporations and by social entrepreneurs in effecting societal changes.

Information Technology in Finance

The rapid evolution of information technology poses new and exciting challenges to the accounting professional, who is increasingly required to deal with information that resides in large information systems, is stored in digital form, and is accessed via the Internet or unprecedentedly fast networks. While it can be argued that hands-on knowledge of IT is critical to do your job well, many young professionals do not feel sufficiently comfortable working with IT. This class fills this knowledge gap and provides you with a deep understanding and hands-on experience with information technology in business settings (e.g., advanced Excel features, macros, pivot tables, SQL, databases). By the end of the class, you will be able to tell recruiters an exciting story about how you and your team developed and tested a financial system to trade securities. You will be able to discuss how you used IT to manage a $50 mil portfolio in turbulent financial markets, the financial strategies that you chose to hedge your risks, and the challenges and victories of managing a complex project from an integrative accounting/finance/IT perspective. Spring term.

Connect With Us

We look forward to connecting with you about your interest in our Graduate Programs and encourage you to be in touch with any questions you may have.

Contact Information
msaccounting@virginia.edu
+1 434-243-1179