Withum, Seton Hall announce CPA Pathway pilot program

Program will allow Seton Hall students to work at Withum while earning additional year of classroom hours required to get CPA

Becoming a Certified Public Accountant entails more than just passing the challenging test — you need an additional year of schooling, too. Withum and Seton Hall University are working together to make that easier on accounting students.

Under the CPA Pathway Apprenticeship pilot program being announced Wednesday, Seton Hall University and Withum are presenting a way to ease the burden of fulfilling the 150 credit hours requirement for accounting students to get a CPA.

Five Seton Hall students were selected to participate in the program, which will begin in September.

The students will be full-time apprentice-level team members at Withum, with an opportunity to work in all service lines and industries while earning credits for their curriculum-driven experience alongside university coursework to fulfill the remaining credits needed to reach the credit hours requirement to hold a CPA license.

The students may also sit for the CPA exam during the program, affording them the opportunity to become licensed CPAs by the time they start their accounting career as full-time, entry-level Staff I team members at the firm.

Put another way, students will get full-time experience at one of the top firms in the region while earning money and gaining experience in the field.

Mary Kate Naatus, assistant provost and dean of continuing education and professional studies at Seton Hall, called the program a win-win.

“We truly value Withum’s partnership and investment in this innovative apprenticeship model and the Seton Hall accounting talent pipeline,” she said. “The combination of a strong curriculum with excellent faculty members with the real world ‘work for credit’ experience on-site at Withum is an exemplary model that mutually benefits the students, industry partner and the broader accounting field.”

During a time when the war on talent remains at an all-time high in the accounting industry, the CPA Pathway Apprenticeship is an innovative solution to expose emerging talent to the day-to-day life of an accounting professional at Withum. This one-year pilot program aligns with the American Institute of CPAs’ Pipeline Acceleration Plan, which focuses on addressing the talent shortage through a variety of changes, including a paramount focus on partnering with educational institutions to expand the talent pool.

“The CPA Pathway Apprenticeship Program is an exciting new venture that will benefit both the firm and the students,” Withum Chief Talent Officer Theresa Richardson said.

“By getting real-life experience as a team member at Withum, students will be that much further ahead of their peers as they approach the job market. And, by exposing new talent to our unique benefits and culture, we can jump-start long-lasting careers right here.”

A.J. Johnson, CEO of the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, is equally excited about this endeavor.

“The NJCPA applauds Seton Hall University for collaborating with Withum, one of New Jersey’s most forward-thinking advisory and accounting firms, to create an innovative path forward for aspiring accounting professionals and the industry as a whole,” she said. “The CPA license is critical to upholding the quality and value of the profession, and earning it can open the door to many different career opportunities. This program will support students, proactively expand avenues to entry and help students build the fundamental skills needed to become a CPA.”

As a firm headquartered in New Jersey for the past 50 years and a 167-year-old university, Withum and Seton Hall already had common ground on which to build the program together.

“Withum has a longstanding relationship with Seton Hall, and is a well-respected, nationally recognized firm with a reputation around campus for being a fun and innovative place to work,” Withum CEO and Managing Partner Pat Walsh said.

“We have a mutual desire to fuel the talent pipeline and support the longevity of accounting as a sustainable career. Our goal is to use this experiential learning program to help break accounting stereotypes, enable students to get a taste of what the profession truly is about and highlight the value of this profession as an exciting career.”

Walsh, a Seton Hall alum, knows the talent level at the school.

Joyce Strawser, dean of Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University, said she is eager to continue to the pipeline.

“We are proud to partner with Withum on a groundbreaking initiative that empowers aspiring accounting students with invaluable real-life experience while they pursue their academic goals,” she said. “As we join hands with Withum to address the talent shortage in the accounting industry, the CPA Pathway Apprenticeship program embodies our shared commitment to fostering a diverse, skilled and vibrant accounting profession. Together, we are paving the way for an exciting and rewarding career path for our students.”