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STEM Initiative

The Latest on the STEM Initiative

New legislation has the potential to bring Accounting under the umbrella of STEM.

Accounting is Technology

Over the past decade, advances in technology have kept CPAs and accounting professionals on their toes as artificial intelligence, robotics, data analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain, IT auditing and governance, and other technologies permeate the services they deliver – and there is no sign of them slowing down. To maintain their status as leaders and trusted business advisers, accountants must master many of these technology-specific hard skills along with ever-relevant skills to communicate crucial insights to their employers and clients and to be digitally agile. Educators are now faced with the challenge of meeting this growing need and consider how to best prepare our graduates of higher education accounting programs. This page has been created to provide you with resources as you consider how STEM legislation in the K-12 arena and the potential for having your accounting program designated as a STEM program will impact you.

STEM in K-12 Accounting Programs

Introduced in the House of Representatives in May 18, 2023 by Representatives Haley Stevens (D) and Victoria Spartz (R), H.R. 3541: To amend the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program to promote career awareness in accounting as part of a well-rounded STEM educational experience proposes the amendment of the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program to also promote awareness of accounting as a part of STEM in K-12 education.

Additionally, on May 18, 2023, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced S.1705 - A bill to amend the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program to promote career awareness in accounting as part of a well-rounded STEM educational experience. This bill would also, if passed, amend the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program to promote career awareness in accounting as part of a well-rounded STEM educational experience.

Support these Legislative Efforts

In April 2023, the AICPA-sponsored an article on POLITICO: 7 Reasons Why Accounting Should Join Other Tech Professions as a STEM Field. POLITICO also created a PDF version, which can easily be shared with students, deans, department chairs, state and federal policymakers and key stakeholders. We encourage you to reach out to your legislators and other key constituents and share this information.


STEM in Higher Education Accounting Programs

Many accounting departments have changed the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code for their accounting programs to one that is on the Department of Homeland Security’s list of approved “STEM” CIP codes.

What Is the CIP?

The Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) provides a taxonomic scheme that supports the accurate tracking and reporting of fields of study and program completions activity. CIP was originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in 1980, with revisions occurring periodically since then.

What is a "STEM" CIP?

The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved (by the Department of Homeland Security) STEM field. Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT (often for 12 months) have the option to apply for a STEM OPT extension. For more information about STEM OPT, visit the STEM OPT Hub.

Watch the archive of our October 2021 Faculty Hour for more information and hear about two programs that have successfully changed their CIP codes to ones on the DHS approved list. Register and watch the archived recording here.

For those that are interested in information about changing the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code for your accounting program, the following resources are available:

State Society Toolkit to Help Universities use a DHS approved STEM CIP code for Accounting Program(s)

To accounting program faculty and administrators: Has your accounting curriculum changed over the years? Do your accounting and other required courses incorporate technology to prepare students to meet the needs of American businesses? If so, your accounting curriculum may qualify for STEM designation.

AICPA created a toolkit for state CPA societies and others to work with schools to change their Classification of Instruction Programs (CIP) code to obtain STEM recognition. These resources are being made available to schools, too, and we encourage colleges and universities to connect with their state CPA society to share resources and ideas.

Click here to access these resources.

CIP Codes most commonly used by accounting programs:

  • 27.0305, Financial Mathematics
  • 52.1301, Management Science, General
  • 52.1399, Management Science and Quantitative Methods

Other CIP Codes to investigate for possible use by accounting programs:
  • 11.0101 Computer and Information Sciences, General
  • 11.0103 Information Technology
  • 11.0401 Information Science / Studies
  • 11.1003 Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance
  • 30.7101 Data Analytics
  • 30.7102 Business Analytics
  • 30.7103 Data Visualization
  • 30.7104 Financial Analytics
  • 30.7199 Data Analytics, Other
  • 43.0106 Forensic Science and Technology
  • 45.0603 Econometrics and Quantitative Economics

More information about CIP Codes can be found through the National Center for Education Statistics.

Success Stories

From successful accounting program reclassification to general information that can apply to any discipline, learn how other programs successfully received STEM classification.

STEM designations given to accounting majors
The University of Illinois successfully received STEM designation for their Master of Accounting Science, Master of Science in Accountancy and Ph.D. in Accountancy in March, 2018. Article in the Daily Illini, Author: Jiejie Wang

Getting information systems programs classified as STEM: A US-based perspective from an AIS task force study and panel discussion.
While not specific to accounting programs, this article provides information that could be used by any discipline. Featured in Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 44(23), 408-420, Authors: Jones, Srite, Chandrasekaran, Iyer, and Kayworth

For your students

Learn more about the STEM impact on optional practical training (OPT) extension for F-1 students. (Hint: These international students can get a 3-year work visa instead of a 1-year).

More information for your students can be found under Accounting is Tech.

Learn more about the Accounting STEM initiative

Bill would make accounting part of STEM education
Featured in AccountingToday, June 11, 2021, Author: Michael Cohen

Multi-organizational Letter of Support
Released June 11, 2021, this letter demonstrates support of the STEM initiative from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), Center for Audit Quality (CAQ), Diverse Organization of Firms, National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), Inc and NAF

AICPA Supports Accounting STEM Pursuit Act, Which Creates Important Link Between Accounting and STEM
Hear from the AICPA in this press release regarding the multi-organizational letter of support

The 6 Biggest Technology Trends In Accounting And Finance
Featured in Forbes, July 27, 2020, Author: Bernard Marr

Journal of Accountancy articles providing support for accounting is STEM

The articles below are just a few articles that highlight the technology aspects of the accounting profession and can be used to indicate the need for/provide support for updated curricula in schools as well as the need to view accounting as part of STEM.

COSO provides guidance on application of ERM to cloud computing
New guidance from the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO), provides a detailed road map for incorporating cloud computing into an organization's enterprise risk management.

Why CPA firms need to know about restricted top-level web domains
New top-level web domains, such as .cpa, are one way for firms to modernize their digital front door. Here's what you need to know about these top-level domains (TLDs) and why you may want to consider using them.

For firms, advanced tech is no longer optional
Firms that place well-thought-out tech solutions at the forefront of their strategy will be best positioned to gain the most in the future.

AICPA & CIMA issue new nonauthoritative guidance for auditing digital assets
AICPA & CIMA released additional nonauthoritative guidance addressing issues related to the auditing of digital assets such as bitcoin and ether. The material covers topics such as risk assessment; processes and controls; laws and regulations; and related parties.

AI presents opportunities for cost optimization in manufacturing
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can drive more efficient operations and more effective growth for manufacturers. Here's how the technology is being used to monitor for defects, schedule preventive maintenance and improve forecasting accuracy.