Two Degrees in Four Years, Student Able to Accelerate Professional Goals

Haley Francois

Master’s in Professional Accounting

  • Full-Time

I knew I didn’t want to double major, so when I went to my advisor, she said, ‘Why don’t you stay for a master’s degree?’

Though she is only in her third year at Syracuse University, Haley Francois ’22 will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting this spring. However, she will return next fall – but this time as a graduate student to pursue a master’s degree in professional accounting. This is a result of an accelerated 3+1 program that has allowed Francois to earn two degrees in four years, as well as make her CPA-eligible by the time her second graduation comes around. 

“I want to go into public accounting and get my CPA license, which in New York state requires 150 credit hours of school, and a typical undergraduate degree is only 120,” she explains. “I knew I didn’t want to double major, so when I went to my advisor, she said, ‘Why don’t you stay for a master’s degree?’” Francois’ advisor explained that the 38-credit program would be just enough to reach the requirement. 

Even before deciding on this path for her Whitman experience, Francois knew that accounting was the career she wanted. The interest first started in her junior year of high school, when she enrolled in an introductory accounting course that was offered through SU Project Advance, a program the University runs in partnerships with high schools.  

“I took a lot of business classes in high school, and I had a good relationship with that teacher. He told me that I needed to take the accounting class, even though I had no idea what accounting was,” she explains. “And I fell in love. I know that seems dramatic, but I said to myself, ‘I could do this for a career. I love this class. I love accounting.’”

After that, Francois began to shape her college search around schools that offered reputable accounting programs. Being from Scotia, a small town in Upstate New York, she had always known about Syracuse University. “Syracuse was always a big deal, and a good school to go to,” Francois explains. She decided to apply and was offered a scholarship from the Whitman School of Management. 

Now in her third year at Whitman, Francois pursues her passion both inside and outside of the classroom. She was recently elected president of Beta Alpha Psi (BAP), a professional honor society for accounting and finance students, and is committed to Big Four accounting firm PwC for a summer 2022 internship. She credits BAP for accelerating her professional development, as one of the organization’s primary functions is to connect students with firms and help them make connections. In fact, it was during a BAP event that she first became connected with PwC associates who helped her learn more about careers in accounting.

“The first thing that piqued my interest with PwC was during a BAP meeting with a senior associate who described what the firm does and that some of the clients they audit are NFL and NBA teams,” Francois, who has always had a passion for both playing and watching sports, explains. 

Though she has a few more months before beginning her internship, Francois says she already feels connected with PwC and aligned with its values. “Through every meeting I’ve had with somebody from PwC, they’ve made me feel connected with the firm and made me feel important, so I really liked that about them. Over the summer and fall, I was able to go to some conference calls and even a meeting that they had with Olympian Simone Biles. I really like their values and the culture they seem to have. I just felt like it was the best fit for me.” 

By Mallory Carlson ’23 (WSM/NEW)

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