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Tech Pulse

Big data is in big demand, which means more opportunities for CPAs and accounting grads. Winter 2016/17


In response to the need for individuals who can analyze large sets of data to drive decision-making, Illinois universities and colleges are aiming to enhance their accounting programs with more data.

Notably, the University of Illinois is currently piloting a new Data Analytics in Accountancy Concentration with Master of Accounting Science students. Susan Thomas, Department of Accountancy Director of Administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says the concentration is designed to develop leaders who understand how to apply data analytics in a variety of accounting and business contexts, and critically solve business problems using data-intensive business and accounting information.

Northern Illinois University (NIU) also is developing a Big Data/Data Analytics concentration track for its accounting students, and it could launch as soon as the next fall term. Kelsey Johnson, MAS Leadership Advisor at NIU, notes that data analytics will continue to grow in importance, especially since accounting firm KPMG is partnering with universities around the state to help them put together accounting programs with greater data focus.

While it’s a slow process for academic institutions to develop, approve and roll out official programs, current accounting students may soon have the option of choosing Big Data as their Master’s degree concentration.

But what if you’re already out of school? Accounting grads and working professionals can still gain recognition in a data analytics field through various dual degree and online Master’s and professional certificates programs. The University of Chicago, for example, offers an online Business Analytics certificate, where participants learn how to process and visualize data, and how to solve real-life business problems through data analysis.

For those seeking a second degree or Master’s in Data Science, Elmhurst College offers an online-only, part-time, two-year program. Elmhurst also offers a Certificate in Data Science for students who aren’t interested in completing a full Master’s program.  

Find more information on programs throughout the state. And read more about technology developments over the next year in Five Business Trends to Watch.