ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of various educational degree paths on promotion probabilities in public accounting in the Big 4 firms. We analyze survey responses from 860 accounting professionals in the United States who work at the Big 4 accounting firms to examine six distinct degree paths. Survival analyses indicate that Master's and M.B.A. degrees positively impact promotion probability relative to 120-hour or 150-hour undergraduate degrees. In general, technical degrees (Master's of Tax or Master's of Accountancy) offer a higher promotion probability for senior to manager, and M.B.A. degrees offer a higher promotion probability for senior manager to partner. This suggests that an M.B.A. with a concentration in tax or accountancy might be the best degree path for success in the accounting profession. Our results should be of interest to all accounting stakeholders, including accounting program advisors and their student advisees, accounting firms, state boards of accountancy in the United States, as well as the Federation of Schools of Accountancy.

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