Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2024

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Accounting and Finance

Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Linda Ragland


The accounting industry in the United States faces a persistent supply shortage, exacerbated by declining undergraduate interest. The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) has reported a decline in accounting bachelor’s and master’s degrees over the last five years, with the largest drop in 2021-2022 (AICPA 2023). Misconceptions about the profession, high barriers to entry, and generational values are factors in this decline. Mass retirements of Baby Boomers and exits of young-to-midcareer professionals put further strain on the shortage. This study aims to better understand the perceptions of accounting professionals at large accounting firms regarding the decline in accounting graduates and its impact on the industry supply shortage.

The research survey found that 83 percent of the 18 participants were concerned with the accounting graduate decline and shortage. Their main concerns included lack of quality talent, declining work quality, and increasing workloads. Thus, the firms represented in the survey are outsourcing and investing in artificial intelligence (AI). While some perceive the shortage as cyclical, others highlight generational trends. Generational values, high barriers to entry, and the profession’s poor image factor into the decline of accounting graduates. The 17 percent of respondents who were unconcerned about the decline or shortage highlighted job security and positive trends in technology. However, they recognized reliance on technology could devalue education and increased sanctions on Certified Public Accounts (CPAs) could dissuade staff from pursuing higher-level positions. Industry-wide efforts are needed to reshape the image of accounting to reclaim its status as a coveted profession.

Included in

Accounting Commons