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Texas Tech to Launch Rare Accounting Program

Texas Tech's virtual tour of the Rawls School of Business, starting at the entrance

Courtesy of Texas Tech University Rawls School of Business

Texas Tech's virtual tour of the Rawls School of Business, starting at the entrance

(Corrects headline, first paragraph, and third paragraph to reflect that Texas Tech University's was the second school of accounting to be launched in Texas. Stephen F. Austin State University established its School of Accounting in 2008)

Texas Tech’s Rawls College of Business will become only the second school in Texas to have its own accounting school.

The accounting program includes nearly 500 graduate and undergraduate students, most of them enrolled in a five-year program leading to an M.S. degree. On Aug. 15, it will become the School of Accounting, one of only about 40 such schools in the nation—and the first in Texas—with separate accreditation in accounting from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), says Robert Ricketts, the school’s director.

The main benefit, aside from bragging rights, will likely be an elevated academic profile for the program. As only the second accounting school in the state, the program is expected to attract students and recruiters from outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Ricketts says. The program boasts 100 percent placement for graduates for the last 10 years, with about 85 percent landing jobs at Big Four accounting firms, but relatively few end up outside Texas, he added.

“The real benefit is a branding benefit: We’re signaling to our students and other students that this is a professional school that prepares you for one of the best jobs available to a business school grad,” Ricketts says. “We’re at that stage in our evolution where we need to expand our footprint nationally and internationally.”

Another hoped-for benefit from the change: a chance to tap a well-heeled alumnus who might be interested in having his or her name slapped on the new school. Rawls is in the process of searching for just such a person now, Ricketts says. And what might the naming rights be worth? Jerry Rawls, a co-founder of the fiber-optic company Finisar (FNSR) and a graduate of the Texas Tech engineering school, gave $25 million to the business school that now bears his name. At the time, the business school had five programs. Ricketts says $5 million seems about right for the naming rights to the new accounting school.

Texas legislators have been reluctant to approve a new accounting school for many years, in part because of the possibility of added payroll and administrative costs for new positions, such as a dean. But Ricketts says the new accounting school will not increase costs, and that all administrative tasks will be handled by the program’s 20 faculty members.

Join the discussion on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business School Forum, visit us on Facebook, and follow @BWbschools on Twitter.

Lavelle is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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