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Three years ago, the School of Accounting and Taxation in the John B. Goddard School of Business and Economics announced a new master’s program — the Master of Taxation degree. Created by professor Ryan Pace, Weber State University’s Master of Taxation is unique in the state.
“It’s a relatively unique program, one of the few Masters of Tax in the Intermountain West,” said David Malone, the department chair and professor of accounting. “The University of Denver and Arizona State have (degrees in taxation).”
A specialist in taxation, Pace saw the opportunity to create a “niche for this kind of program in Utah. There’s no other major university in Utah that has one. Weber State could (create the program) and help itself out.”
For students interested in accounting, taxation is a close cousin.
“(Taxation) is related to accounting,” Pace said. “Tax is involved in every transaction in life . . . A person with a master’s degree in taxation becomes a specialist in tax law and can advise businesses and individuals on their transactions and . . . help make their financial situation better.”
A tax specialist can help businesses, government organizations or individuals spend their money more wisely by helping the purchaser understand tax laws and liabilities. This is the prime reason businesses and state and national government organizations are looking for college graduates with degrees in taxation. Recent graduates of the program have gotten jobs with such groups as the IRS, the Utah State Tax Commission and public accounting firms up and down the Wasatch Front.
A degree in taxation “offers the opportunity (for you to) hold yourself out as someone who has skills and knowledge in a particular area, allowing the student to immediately contribute value to the employer,” Pace said.
The program has a 100 percent placement rate, meaning every student who graduates from the program is placed in a job.
Theresa Jensen, a recent graduate from the program, has been working as a tax specialist for 15 years.
“I really like (the program),” Jensen said. “I felt like the curriculum was very helpful. I didn’t think I’d learn that much because I’ve been doing taxes for 15 years, but I’ve learned a lot.”
Jensen also said earning a master’s degree is helpful when looking for a job. While her firm isn’t looking to hire right now, she said jobs are much better with a master’s degree.
“The accounting world is very competitive. Having a master’s degree is very helpful,” Jensen said. “If we were in the business where we were (hiring), we definitely would (hire WSU graduates).”
Jensen said the classes were good for her as well.
“I liked the schedule. It was kind of difficult to get all the classes in because they only offered once a year, but they were pretty good about providing a variety of electives to choose from. The teachers were great.”
While the program has increased the number of applicants to the John B. Goddard School of Business and Economics, class sizes have not increased.
“There has been an increase in student applications, but the classes have remained relatively constant,” Malone said. “As a result, we have better applicants. Our average Graduate Management Admission Test (score) is higher than the University of Utah’s.”
For students interested in a master’s degree in taxation, there are a few important dates to remember. The deadline for summer entrance into the program for the coming fall semester is April 1.
Scholarships are available through the School of Accounting and Taxation of the Goddard School for students interested in becoming tax specialists. The priority deadline for scholarships is the same as entrance to the program for fall semester, April 1. More information about scholarships and application requirements is available at www.weber.edu/MTax.