Graduate Program Director Report

May 16, 2023
Outside image of HSB building during the daytime

By Tim Thomasson

As I write this year’s update, I remember the optimism I felt at the end of last year’s report. Optimism that our academic experience was returning to normal after unprecedented challenges. And optimism that our accounting graduate programs would continue to be an excellent beginning to our students’ professional careers. I am both thankful and relieved that this optimism was not just wishful thinking.

I begin with our second COVID summer. More than 40 graduate students took advantage of significant summer discounts offered by Baylor. We were able to accommodate the demand while maintaining reasonable class sizes. We also focused on reconnecting with our students through a return of our face-to-face Bible study program, weekly lunches, and events at locations such as Top Golf and The Escape Room. We also took more than 30 students to a baseball game between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros in Arlington. It was certainly nice to be spending time together again. While the positive trend we saw in the summer temporarily paused as two variants made their way across the country, we ended the summer in an environment more normal than the spring. We also congratulated three graduates who received their degrees in August.

We entered the fall 2021 semester with 99 graduate students, which represented 71 percent of the previous year’s enrollment in the third semester of the accounting core. This was our second highest percentage. Our department offered 16 face-to-face graduate sections with full classrooms. In addition to a return to full classrooms in a face-to-face environment, we also took 33 students on a professional trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. It was a bittersweet commencement ceremony as we celebrated with 29 students who graduated in December.

As we moved into the spring 2022 semester, we welcomed our second largest group for spring starts. 81 of our students participated in full-time internships. As always, we are very appreciative of the firms, companies and other organizations that value our students. And in May, we said goodbye to 62 students who earned their degree. These students spent their entire time in graduate school under the cloud of COVID-19. We are thankful for their perseverance, grace and maturity.

I would like to mention some other highlights. We had 94 students graduate during the last academic year. All graduates seeking employment have secured jobs. In addition, 100 percent of our graduate students received scholarships. We expect both trends to continue. As mentioned in our last report, we added a Certificate in Accounting Data and Analytics concentration to our accounting graduate degrees two years ago. During the past academic year, 25 students completed this concentration. Finally, a survey of graduates for the year provides insight into how students feel about the accounting graduate programs. 93 percent of our graduates indicated they would recommend our programs to others, while 97 percent stated they received adequate job advice. 96 percent of our students felt they had a good relationship with the faculty, while 80 percent developed a deeper understanding of faith. Finally, our retention percentage was 97 percent, compared to the University average of 71 percent. We have incredible students!

When you read next year’s report, you will continue to hear how we challenge our students academically. But you will also learn of our record enrollment, an expanded graduate trip, and multiple opportunities for an international experience. We are excited about the future of our accounting graduate programs.

I am thankful of our wonderful faculty and students, and for your support.