UM Accountancy Programs Maintain Top 10 Standing

Undergraduate, master's and doctoral degree programs continue string of elite rankings

Conner Hall is home to the competitively ranked Patterson School of Accountancy at UM. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications.

OXFORD, Miss. – All three degree programs at the University of Mississippi’s Patterson School of Accountancy are among the top 10 in the 2017 annual national rankings of accounting programs published by the journal Public Accounting Report.

The undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs are No. 8. The master’s program leads the Southeastern Conference in the rankings and the undergraduate program is second in the SEC. One or more Ole Miss programs have led the SEC in each of the past seven years.

The Patterson School has become a mainstay on the national scene, with its programs ranked in the top 10 nationally for seven consecutive years, and among the top 20 in the nation for 10 straight years. The PAR has been ranking accounting programs for 36 years.

“These rankings are very meaningful for us,” Dean Mark Wilder said. “They enhance our visibility nationally and validate that we are experiencing success in pursuing our vision, which is to be one of the leading accounting programs in the nation.”

The rankings are based on a survey of accounting professors in the United States. Other undergraduate SEC programs ranked in the top 25 are Alabama, at No. 7; Texas A&M, 9; Florida, 10; Georgia, 11; and Missouri, 13.

Among the highly ranked master’s programs are Alabama, at No. 9; Texas A&M, 10; Florida, 11; Georgia, 13; and Missouri, 15. The doctoral rankings include Alabama at No. 7; Texas A&M, 9; Georgia, 13; Florida, 16; and Missouri, 20.

Ranking by region, UM’s master’s program placed No. 1 for the second consecutive year.

“We are proud of the academic programs and the research conducted by our Patterson School of Accountancy faculty and staff,” said Noel Wilkin, the university’s provost. “They are dedicated to the success of our students and their ability to be successful in the field of accountancy. Additionally, the research of our faculty is helping to improve the field.

“The true beneficiaries of this are the students, and the accountancy firms who employ them.”

More than 1,000 schools in the United States offer accounting programs, and around 500 of those, including UM, are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business as being among the best accountancy and business programs in the world, said Dale Flesher, associate dean and holder of the Burns Chair of Accountancy. PAR voters who determine the rankings are influenced by several other factors that set UM apart.

“Our rankings success provides enhanced opportunities for our graduates and also helps us in recruiting students and faculty to the University of Mississippi,” Wilder said. “While we are enjoying many successes in the Patterson School, we are constantly looking for ways to improve and expand our school.

“Toward this end, we are currently planning two new graduate degrees in data and analytics, with a goal of offering these new masters degrees beginning fall 2018.”

UM also has hosted a number of faculty from other schools in recent years, whether to present their research to Ole Miss faculty and doctoral students or to visit the National Library of the Accounting Profession, housed at the J.D. Williams Library, Wilder said.

“For example, these faculty come from places like the universities of Texas, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio State, Duke and Penn State,” he said. “Invariably, they all leave impressed with the quality of our faculty, students and program. They are also impressed with the collegiality of our faculty and the beauty of our campus.”

Wilder credits the school’s faculty, students and alumni for having a positive impact on its reputation.

“We have an outstanding faculty of top teachers and researchers from a top-tier group of highly skilled staff members,” he said. “Our faculty and staff are very much focused on serving and mentoring students. In short, our faculty all work together toward our common goal of having one of the top accounting programs in the nation.

“The Patterson School is also fortunate to have outstanding students who go on to have phenomenal careers. The academic profile of our accountancy student body gets stronger every year, a fact that is certainly being recognized in the marketplace.”

Master’s students Rachel May, of Collinsville, and Allison Assel, of Houston, Texas, both said the program’s rankings, curriculum and instruction were major factors in their decision to apply for admission to the program.

“I had another major for about a year before I chose accountancy,” May said. “The school’s record of successful graduates who find employment most definitely influenced my decision. I’ve had many opportunities since then.”

“I actually began as a marketing major,” said Assel, who also earned her bachelor’s degree in accountancy from UM. “After about a year-and-a-half into that program, I discovered how great the Patterson School of Accountancy was. Two accountancy faculty members I had classes with encouraged me to switch majors. I’m so glad that I did.”

Wilder also noted the importance of private support in the school’s successful equation.

“The successes we are enjoying are directly attributable to the loyalty and generosity of our alumni and friends,” he said. “Their support helps us to offer scholarships to attract outstanding students, to reward our faculty and to strengthen our program.

“We are grateful for their loyalty and willingness to give back to the school. It is absolutely a difference-maker for us and allows our successes to be built upon and perpetuated.”

For more information about the Patterson School of Accountancy, visit