Not-for-Profit Accounting Goes to School

NYU's School of Continuing & Professional Studies sees unmet need reflecting a swelling job market in NFP work and governmental reporting.

The key to success for universities in offering finance courses is to specialize in areas of demand — especially regional demand. In its latest course offerings, New York University’s School of Continuing & Professional Studies has identified not-for-profit accounting and governmental reporting as such an area.

For its spring semester, starting Feb. 6 and running through April 2 on a once-a-week basis, the sister school to NYU’s Stern School of Business has added a professional certificate in the NFP and governmental specialty.

The first course, an introduction for which tuition of $575 is being charged, will be followed by four courses designed to be taken serially. Those courses are NFP accounting fundamentals; followed by two advanced NFP accounting courses that cover rules governing contributions, investments, and preparing financial statements; and then governmental and donor reporting and return preparation.

“This type of program is desperately needed,” and is geared for a range of NFPs, “from the small local trade association to the large, national public charity,” according to John Gamino, chair and clinical assistant professor, accounting, taxation and legal programs at NYU-SCPS.

He tells CFO.com that the spring catalog of the NYU Stern School, for all its extensive coverage of accounting issues, “reflects no accounting courses at all geared toward not-for-profit entities.”

The Continuing & Professional Studies school, however, notes that in all but four states NFP employment has outpaced overall employment growth. New York alone has 100,000 registered not-for-profits.

The school has has noted that today’s acute shortage of accountants overall is even more extreme in NFP businesses. Companies are searching for indications of expertise in the area, and that’s why a certification program is expected to attract students, the school believes.

“It is our belief that, once known, not-for-profit organizations, as well as accounting and other professional service firms, will place a significant value on an existing or prospective employee having the training that the courses in this certificate program will provide,” Prof. Gamino tells CFO.com. However, because the NYU program is so new, and because such certification training is not duplicated elsewhere, “there is no current data or benchmark” to show the appeal of the certification.

NYU-SCPS has been developing finance-related courses for years to meet the special market that New York City and its outlying areas provide. It offers an accounting certificate, along with specialization certification programs in auditing, forensic accounting, and ethics and corporate governance. Also, it offers taxation and other courses for continuing professional education (CPE credit).

If all five NFP courses are taken in sequence, the series can be completed in the spring of 2009, although the fourth and fifth courses may be taken concurrently, Prof. Gamino says.

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