This blog has addressed a broad range of seemingly disjointed topics during the last couple of weeks. If we have only met within the the AX [After Xero], you may have concluded that I am a an accountant that has decent technology skills.. The reality is that I am a “tax guy”. I made the decision to get an MS in Taxation a month before I was going to sit for the CPA exam based upon two reasons:
- I finally understood what auditors did and that CPA was an acronym for cut, paste, and assemble.
- Bob Jamison, one of my tax professors explained what the University of Texas at Austin’s Graduate Tax [MPA] program was all about, acclaimed as best in the US, similar to the University of Illinois – Urbana undergraduate accountancy program was regarded.
- The UT-MPA program had a stellar faculty at that time Dr. Ray Sommerfeld, Dr. Sally Jones and Dr. Anna Fowler were extraordinary. I got a bonus my second semester when Dr. Charles Zlatkovitch took ill, and my twenty two year old butt got tossed in front of 600 students in a lecture hall to teach the CPA Exam Review, six months older than most of the students. When Dr. Z was challenged about why they were willing to put it in my hands, his comment was “that young man won the National Silver Elijah Watt Sells Award last May, you might want to listen to him.
- The UT-MPA was comprised of 4 courses at that time [the courses I picked]
- Core – Financial Accounting Theory, Operations Research and Advanced Statistics Elective
- Tax Core – Tax Research, Tax Accounting Periods and Methods, Tax Policy
- Estate & Gift,
- Business Entities – Corporate Tax I, Corporate Tax II, S Corporations, Reorganizations, Partnership Tax I
- Advanced Electives – Partnership Tax II, Real Estate Taxation, International Taxation and a Thesis [I choose the brand new IRC Sec. 704(b) regulations which was the single decision that shaped the next 20 years of my career.
- Total of Forty Two Credits, thirty three in tax courses
The UT MPA was the gold standard for graduate business school tax degrees. There was a similar gold standard for LLM Programs which was New York University Law School. The programs at Georgetown in Washington DC and Golden Gate in San Francisco were viewed as a close second tier.
Just to provide a frame of reference, I went and pulled some current program rankings and degree requirements for a number of current programs.
The current top rated graduate business tax program is…University of Illinois at Chicago MST. The runner up is UT-Austin so nothing has substantially changed in thirty five years. You can view the rankings here.
- The rankings for LLM programs are here. A sample of the top tier programs is:
- Examples of top tier graduate tax programs as ranked here.
- The Eh and the Ugly
It is important to keep in mind that there are some high quality MS Accounting programs that don’t really have a large enough tax course component to count as an MST but are none the less high quality such as Brigham Young.
Finally, a special mention goes to the National Association of Enrolled Agent’s National Tax Practice Institute, NPTI for producing an very high quality program that deals with examinations, appeals and collections which are practical topics which are not covered elsewhere
The next post will pull together an analysis of what all of this means. However, it does provide a very clear contrast in what an MST should be and increasingly isn’t.