When considering if you should get your accounting degree online, it’s helpful to know how previous students feel about the program you are interested in and what they are doing after graduation. Today, we have the dynamic married duo, Rachel and Tyler Pittman, who both earned both their undergraduate Accounting BSBA and their Master’s of Professional Accountancy (MPA) Degree at Southern Miss!
Both Rachel and Tyler were able to complete their CPA exams while earning their degree. They are now employed in Nashville, Tennessee where Tyler works for a Big 4 (KPMG) firm doing IT audits, and Rachel works for a mid-regional public firm (LBMC) doing business tax.
We can’t wait for you to read their story!
Q. Out of all the schools that you could have chosen for your field of study, what made you choose Southern Miss?
A. We chose Southern Miss because of their exceptional business school and esteemed accounting program. At the time of applying to colleges, we heard from USM accounting students and through the College of Business promotions that the School of Accountancy had a thorough program with caring and respectable professors. Even though the accounting program is not as large as other colleges, we saw it as an opportunity to be closer with the professors and become more involved with the business school. We carried forward this same reasoning when we chose USM to continue our graduate education in the Master’s of Professional Accountancy (MPA) program, and it was helpful to already know the professors from undergraduate school. Choosing USM was one of the best decisions we have ever made!
Q. How did online classes play a role in earning your degree?
A. During our time at college, we had the opportunity to take online courses both inside and outside of the business school. Both of us worked part-time jobs while taking classes, so we loved the flexibility that came with online courses. Because of the liberty of taking some online courses, we were able to work part-time at a local accounting firm year-round, and we probably would not have been able to get that experience if we had to be in class every day. That work experience was invaluable to our success!
Q. Do you feel like earning your degree at Southern Miss helped advance yourself in your career?
A. Yes, we firmly believe that earning our degrees at Southern Miss has helped us in securing our careers and will continue to advance us! Ultimately, this proved to be true because we landed internships with the Big 4 accounting firms, passed all 4 sections of the CPA exam while still in school, and received job offers from phenomenal public accounting firms. The piece that will be most helpful in our career advancement was having the time and support to take and pass the CPA exam while in grad school.
Already having the CPA exams completed before we started work has allowed us to devote our energies to work (especially during our busy seasons) and enjoy our personal lives so much more in our new city, Nashville, Tennessee. Specifically for Tyler, having his CPA will set him apart in his Tech Assurance team because to advance beyond a certain position, you must have your CPA license or CISA certification and those are more rare to have on the tech assurance team.
“Choosing USM was one of the best decisions we have ever made!”
Q. What do you feel makes the accounting program unique?
A. The accounting program at USM is unique because of the support it offers through its closeness. The faculty truly cares about the students’ well-being and success. Whether you want to go to a Big 4 firm, a local firm, or into other lines of industry, the program provides all the tools to help you achieve your goal. The closeness was also advantageous to becoming close with our classmates. We have created some long-lasting friendships through the accounting program and in the business school.
It is also important to note how the MPA program views the CPA exam is unique. USM’s MPA program heavily focuses on the CPA exam, and the format is designed to group certain classes in the semesters in order to best help with taking the CPA exam. Additionally, much of the content is taught with relevance to the CPA exam and the program offers credit for studying for the exams, which we have learned is not a common thing among other graduate programs at different schools.
Q. What do you feel were the strengths of your program?
A. The accounting program recognizes the importance of work experience and internships and highly encourages its students to complete internships. The undergraduate accounting degree is designed to earn credit through working an internship in the spring of your senior year. This was unique because other well-known schools do not allow time during the school year to do internships so students there must take off the entire semester just to get relevant work experience.
Q. What was one of your favorite aspects of the program?
A. Our favorite aspects were the relationships we formed with the faculty and our fellow classmates. One of the fondest memories we will carry with us is getting to share our CPA progress with everyone, seeing their reactions, and experiencing their excitement when we passed our final CPA exam! It was so encouraging to know that we had a large support system through the School of Accountancy, and we are so thankful that we got to share this monumental time of our lives with them. After the return from the COVID era and at the end of our undergraduate studies, we fostered some friendships in the classroom that grew through our involvement in Beta Alpha Psi and solidified during our time together in the MPA program. They are some of the most genuine people we know, and we are so grateful to have met them through Southern Miss!
Q. What is a fun fact about yourself?
A. A fun fact about us is that we are high school sweethearts. We met and started dating in our early high school years, got married in college, and studied and passed the CPA exams together!
We hope this interview has helped you decide if earning an accounting degree online is right for you! If you want to learn more about our online Accounting BSBA, please fill out the form below and we will email you more information.