When Tom Blaze (MST ’08) decided to earn his Master of Science in Taxation, he benefited from a partnership between McGladrey and DePaul. “McGladrey had a program where DePaul instructors would actually come to our seminar room, which made it very, very convenient. It was almost like it would be foolish not to do it,” says Blaze, a partner in McGladrey’s State and Local Tax group, who earned his degree in 2008.
The partnership program began in 2005, and at first, DePaul faculty would go to McGladrey’s main office and teach classes that were broadcast online through the company’s technology. Two years ago, DePaul took over the technology, and now classes are taught and broadcast from DePaul’s Loop Campus. Students can either come to class on campus or log on remotely to view the lectures. While most of the students are located in Chicagoland and the Midwest, the program also draws McGladrey employees based as far away as California, New York and Washington, D.C.
The partnership between McGladrey and DePaul came about in part because an advanced degree is a necessity in the tax field. “The MST brings the knowledge you need in order to function as a tax professional. It takes a lot longer to get this knowledge if you’re just getting it doing client work. You’ve got to have both—you need that real-world experience as well as this knowledge,” says DePaul Instructor Diane Kuhlmann.
Kuhlmann offers an interesting perspective on the program. “For 10 years, I was the director of training for tax professionals at McGladrey. I was involved with the MST program when working there, and now I’m at DePaul working on the other side,” she explains. “What we’ve worked really hard to do is to make sure this online program is equivalent to DePaul’s regular program. Students who are attending the McGladrey program are not getting an ‘MST light.’”
Blaze also has seen the program from both sides, first as a student and now as an instructor. “While I was in the MST program, I developed a lot of respect for the DePaul instructors. They all had practical experience, and they brought examples of what they were doing in their day-to-day jobs,” says Blaze, who now teaches ACCT 570: State and Local Tax at DePaul.
After 10 years, the program is still evolving. The format used to be synchronous, meaning it was designed so all students were watching together at the same time, no matter where they were located. Now, Kuhlmann says, DePaul is moving to an asynchronous platform with prerecorded lectures. The class also includes a weekly webcast. Students can choose to attend the webcast and interact with the instructor in real time or access the recording whenever is convenient for them. “As time goes on and as technology and platforms change, we’re continuing to upgrade the program.”
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