Five Questions With: Jaclyn Boichat

Jaclyn Boichat is an associate professor for Johnson & Wales University’s accounting department. A certified public accountant, she has bachelor’s degrees in accountancy and economics from Villanova University and a master’s degree in professional accountancy from Bryant University. She spoke with PBN about the decline in accounting students and its implications for the local industry.

PBN: How has JWU seen interest in/demand for its accounting programs among students change? When did that decline begin?

BOICHAT: While the country saw a decline in enrollment starting in 2012, we did not feel the effects until 2016. Although the quality of the program has increased, the declining interest in the profession has caused a decrease in the enrollment.


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PBN: Nationwide, it seems there are fewer students/newly graduated workers going in to accounting professions. To what do you attribute that decline?

BOICHAT: A recent article with NPR [National Public Radio] stated that enrollment has been declining since 2012 nationwide. Some of this is due to the population decline in the college-aged group and a change in the general opinion of the necessity for a college degree. This dilemma does not just affect the accounting profession but many other careers as well, such as teaching and nursing.

PBN: What does the declining number of accounting workers across schools in Rhode Island mean for local firms and the industry’s ability to grow into the future?

BOICHAT: Many firms in the state, and I would assume nationwide, are concerned about the decline in accounting graduates, especially given the expected increase in retirements of older CPAs [certified public accountants]. I believe this makes a CPA more valuable and sought-after in the job market.

PBN: How is JWU trying to increase enrollment or attract more students to its accounting programs?

BOICHAT: JWU has a solid accounting program with many internship and job opportunities available to our students. Since our campus is located in the heart of the city’s business district, our students have the opportunity to participate in internships before and after classes each day. This is a unique feature for JWU.

We also provide many opportunities for students such as participating in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program where they prepare tax returns for members of the community, study-abroad opportunities, and directed experiential educational classes.

Also, we are partnering with local high schools to promote the profession to students who are participating in pathway programs, as well as introducing the industry to students that have no knowledge of the career opportunities in accounting.

PBN: What more could be done, at an educational, certification or industry level, to help increase the numbers of young workers going into this profession? For example, should certification standards for a CPA license be eased? Other ideas?

BOICHAT: The CPA exam is changing to provide CPAs with designations starting in 2024.  Johnson & Wales has already started to think about this change and the effect it will have on our students and curriculum.

In my opinion, the standards for the license should not be lessened, as that would only reduce the public’s perception of the professionalism of a CPA. There are specific certifications available out there for those interested in the profession but not inclined to become a CPA such as becoming an enrolled agent, QuickBooksPro adviser, certified management accountant and certified fraud examiner, for instance.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at