USC’s Master of Accounting program at the Leventhal School was recently ranked one of the top-10 most popular programs for Chinese citizens applying to graduate business schools — the only non-MBA program to make the cut.
According to the Geographic Trend Report for Graduate Management Admission Test Examinees, USC Leventhal’s Master of Accounting program was ranked 10th among the programs to which Chinese citizens sent their GMAT score reports in 2009.
Shirley Maxey, a director of the Leventhal masters program, said the ranking is significant for Leventhal.
“It means a lot for the program,” Maxey said. “It means we’re going to continue to have a rising number of applications, and that’s great for the school.”
Harvard, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford topped the list of the most popular schools among Chinese applicants.
“The top ten are all great universities,” Maxey said. “It’s just amazing we’re on that list.”
Cindy Wu, a student in the program who is originally from the Guangdong Province in China, said she made her decision based on the rankings she found online.
“USC was right at the top of the list,” Wu said. “And it was one of only two schools that offered a Master of Accounting program.”
The school received about 475 applications for the 2010-2011 school year, according to Cathy Cowan, a director of the program. Two years ago, the program received less than half this number.
USC has increased its acceptance of international students over the past five years, Maxey said, noting that other programs across the nation were reducing their numbers because of the difficulty of placing international students in career positions in the United States.
In China and many other Asian countries, the reputation of a university can be a big factor in the decision to attend, Maxey said.
Yifeng Song, a student in the program, heard about it while she was majoring in international business at Guangzhou University in China.
“I wanted to pursue accounting here because it’s highly ranked among these kinds of programs,” Song said. “USC has a really good reputation in China.”
Maxey noted that many applicants have told her USC is their dream school.
“[USC] was my top choice,” Song said. “It’s a highly recognized program throughout China, so it will help if I go back to China to work.”
The Master of Accounting program has started receiving so many applications from China that it now sends interviewers from Leventhal overseas to conduct interviews with the applicants.
The program has also made great efforts to reach out to prospective students. Two of USC’s accounting faculty members, Thomas Lin and Shiing-Wu Wang, have both traveled to China at least once per year for more than a decade to speak at conferences and establish ties with academics in Shanghai and Beijing, Maxey said.
Maxey said part of the reason for Leventhal’s increasing popularity could be the recent economic growth in China, which has resulted in higher demand for trained accounting professionals throughout the country.
The program also makes a point to put international and domestic students together in the same classrooms, Maxey said. She said both groups benefit from the experience of working and learning together in the classroom setting.
Students said the atmosphere of Southern California was also a factor in the decision to come to USC.
“The faculty are excellent, and it’s in a good location,” Song said. “I love it here. That’s how I can adapt to the new life, the new language and the new learning methods.”
Song said she also appreciated the strong network of USC alumni throughout the world and that an education in the United States has broadened her horizons.
“Pursuing study is also about experiencing a new culture and a new life, especially for international students,” she said.