Diminishing Numbers of Accounting Majors: Suggested Causes

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As accounting professors and college and university admissions personnel will surely attest, the number of college students electing accounting majors has experienced a sharp decline for the last 10 to 15 years. While this reduction in the numbers of accounting majors has been well documented, the establishment of an effective rationale to explain this phenomenon is needed to curtail negative perceptions of the profession and stem the exodus of accounting majors (and would-be accounting majors) to other academic departments.


For example, in 1985, 6.5% of entering freshmen selected accounting as their college major (Dey, Astin, & Korn, 1991). This number had dropped to 2.3% by the fall of 2000, a decline of almost 65% (Kellogg, 2001).
Some scholars have suggested other causes for the diminishing numbers of accounting majors. Albrecht & Sack (2000) cited several reasons for the decline in accounting majors, including: lower starting salaries than other business majors; more attractive career alternatives available to students than in the past; a lack of information and misinformation about what accounting is and what accountants do; and the increased opportunity and actual costs associated with 150-hour accounting programs.
While these factors may offer partial explanations for the decline in numbers of accounting majors, recent studies have focused on the relationship between students' perceptions of the accounting profession and their decisions to select college majors outside the profession.
A study conducted by Stice, Swain, and Worsham (1997) examined the impact of performance in the first accounting course on students' decisions to major in accounting. ...
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