Ethics in the Accounting Curriculum

The number of corporate debacles in recent history has been a great concern to the financial community. From Enron to Bear Stearns, the events have highlighted that greed, incompetence, and deception exist systemically. After these and other similar events, the importance of professional ethics intensified. Has this concern compelled academic institutions to provide greater emphasis on ethics in accounting degree programs?

The purpose of this paper is to document the extent to which ethics is included in undergraduate and graduate accounting curricula of private and public colleges and universities in the United States. Such documentation is needed to assess the adequacy of ethics education among accounting students..

The paper makes three significant assumptions. First, the highest ranked private and public schools in each state are representative of other schools that offer degrees in accounting. Second, the use of the word “ethics” in the course title or in the course description from online school catalogs is evidence of a standalone ethics course or of ethics being integrated into one or more courses throughout the accounting curriculum. Courses that have “ethics” in the title are assumed to represent standalone ethics courses and are assumed to provide more extensive coverage of ethics than courses that integrate ethics into course content. Finally, the study assumes that all standalone ethics courses are comparable and courses that integrate ethics are comparable.

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(Author: James H. Thompson

Published by Macrothink Institute)