KPMG Partners with University in One-of-a-Kind Master’s Program



Lexi Nahl

Financial services company, KPMG recently announced a new pilot program that will allow aspiring accountants to earn a fully funded master’s degree from Villanova School of Business before starting full-time work at the firm.

The Big Four accounting firm partnered with both Villanova and Ohio State University to launch this program — the first of its kind. Recent graduates accepted to the program will have the opportunity to earn a master’s in accounting with a special emphasis on skills in data and analytics.

Throughout the 16-week program, students will participate in an internship to gain work experience before signing on with the firm as an associate.

After the August 4 announcement, former KPMG intern and Villanova Business student Andrew Fortunato told The Villanovan he is unsurprised that the company is taking formal steps to fund graduate education through VSB.

“There are a lot of cross-cultural similarities,” Fortunato said. “People from both places are really proud of where they come from, and there are actually a lot of ‘Nova grads working there who love to tell you where they went to school. Basically, KPMG is a family just like Nova.”

Fortunato is just one aspiring accountant who is facing an increasingly competitive application process as the industry digests major technological advances in data and analytics.

According to a brochure published by KPMG, audit procedures are increasingly data and analytics driven, and prospective hires and industry professionals alike need to adapt to evolving software tools and data sets.  

The purpose of the program is therefore to equip students with the knowledge to be successful in the company from the earliest stages. The promise of a free master’s and employment upon completion only sweetens the deal, according to Bob Wade, KPMG’s Executive Director of Communications.

“This is a very comprehensive offer for students,” Wade told The Villanovan. “Being able to work through or summer and winter sessions and have a full time employment offer if you do well is a nice way to tap the program.”

The company will launch the program with a test-class of 50 students who will have the opportunity to attend either Villanova or Ohio State during the Fall of 2017 and will graduate in the Spring of 2018.

Though KPMG has long maintained strong connections with Villanova in particular through alumni relations and active recruitment initiatives, the new program solidifies the firm’s commitment to educating and employing University students.

“Villanova is a well regarded business school, and students who come from the school are highly sought after,” Roger O’Donnell, KPMG’s Global Head of Data & Analytics told The Villanovan.

O’Donnell, a Villanova alumnus, acted as a key visionary behind the program. O’Donnell sees the need for continued education in accounting as new data and technology advances the field and calls for more specialized knowledge.

“Technology is changing the way that businesses operate from both a services and manufacturing perspective…there is now a level of sophistication from a technological standpoint that we’ve never seen before,” O’Donell said.

Though KPMG currently considers candidates with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting, O’Donnell believes this program could change the landscape of recruiting across firms as the competition heats up and secondary education becomes standard for new hires.

“This program is changing the paradigm of how we’re looking at recruiting,” O’Donnell said.  

Want your application for the program to get noticed? Current seniors in accounting have until September 5 to apply for the program, but KPMG urges younger undergraduates interested in the program to get a jumpstart on the recruitment process and start applications as early as possible.

“Certainly we would love to see some [Villanova undergraduates] apply,” O’Donnell said.