Internal audit course certified at Duquesne, first in PA

Hannah Boucher | staff writer

After two long years full of proposal paperwork, board approvals and curriculum changes Duquesne University becomes one of 30 colleges in the nation to receive accreditation from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). This achievement increases the credibility of the Master of Accounting program, along with improving job placement and student recruitment. At the head of this massive “multi-step” accomplishment was the Director of Accounting Honors Institute, Professor Valerie Williams.

“Before you even [would] consider having an external, like the institute, evaluate the program and the outcomes, you have to have the right classes…From an Institute of Internal Auditors perspective, they’d like to see certain classes. But of course, we’re going to design our master’s program the way we think it should be,” Williams said.

Prior to Wiliams’s decision to apply for an IIA certification, Duquesne already had a master accounting program. The original curriculum has been around since 2005, the only issue was not all of the classes met IIA standards.

“When the institute says you have to have a certain curriculum for them to even consider [certification], when I first reviewed this, we didn’t even have an internal audit class…I’ve run it now for two years. I developed the course probably in 2017. I had to design it, develop it and take it through the various approval channels. Once that big heavy lift was done, I felt comfortable going to the IIA.” Williams began to teach the first round of students in the new internal audit class in the spring semester of 2018.

After establishing a curriculum within the master’s program that would meet the criteria of the IIA, Williams then had to go through a three-tier approval process. In February of 2019, she took her application to Local Pittsburgh Internal Audit Educational Partnership (IEAP).

A committee comprised of companies from throughout Pittsburgh reviewed William’s proposal and provided feedback. Williams was then given the green-light to proceed.

Following this, she then took the application to the Board of Directors in April of 2019. After they approved it, she was finally able to send her proposal to the IIA, that same month. The reviewal process took about four months, but the news of the certification finally came in August.

Even though the recent students that went through this program are unable to claim this certification on their resume, the effects of taking the internal audit class has proven to help the graduates in their professional endeavors.

“I really enjoyed the [internal] audit class. The class involved learning different audit techniques and procedures. This benefits all the students that go out into the accounting profession, not just the ones that take an audit path,” said Kasimir Reeves, a 2018 graduate from the program. “There are a lot of people in the professional world that do not understand the role of internal audit. They think that internal audit is out there to find mistakes and tell everyone what they did wrong. By Duquesne’s [Master of Science in Accountancy] students having studied internal audit, they can help change the culture.”

Another recent graduate, Brandon Lohr, said “I think what I liked most about the class were the case studies that were assigned throughout the semester. These cases were real-life cases that added a tremendous perspective on the importance of the internal auditing role for a firm.”

Both of these graduates have gone onto having professional careers in the world of accounting, using their auditing skills to help further their successes.

“I have people say to me that went through our program four years ago say they wish they went through this internal audit class,” Williams said.

The course is only offered to graduate students pursuing a career in the accounting profession. As of this year there are currently 24 students enrolled.