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The campaign for accounting as STEM 

October 17, 2023

Getting accounting recognized as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field will elevate its exposure and increase awareness of the profession. The VSCPA supports legislative initiatives toward this end and the STEM initiative is part of the Society’s top-line goal to address the CPA pipeline crisis. 

National advocacy on the STEM issue isn’t new; in 2021, we urged Virginia’s federal representatives to support the Accounting STEM Pursuit Act. We anticipate more bills to be introduced allowing STEM K–12 grant funding to be used for accounting awareness and education. 

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) advocates that CPAs’ day-to-day technological duties more than qualify accounting as a STEM field.  CPAs manage and analyze big data and data security — which now require expertise in IT, artificial intelligence, blockchain, analytics, predictive and forensic accounting, and more. 

Part of recognizing accounting as STEM involves urging colleges and universities to change their Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes to obtain STEM recognition. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has jurisdiction over the STEM CIP codes and produces the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List (STEM List).  

Currently, two Virginia universities have STEM-designated accounting programs: William & Mary and the University of Virginia. We have plans this year to encourage other Virginia schools to change their CIP codes; we’ll connect with accounting department leaders and other faculty at all Virginia accounting programs to encourage the change and discuss the benefits. 

As accounting enrollments decline, demonstrating to students that accounting is STEM under the technology umbrella will encourage enrollment. Additionally, updating CIP codes will also directly benefit international students considering post-graduate work in the United States. 

Interested in learning more about our STEM advocacy efforts? Reach out to VSCPA Vice President, Advocacy Emily Walker, CAE, at [email protected]

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