Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Capital Development


Interdisciplinary Studies and Professional Development

Committee Chair

Dale Lunsford

Committee Chair Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 2

Cyndi Gaudet

Committee Member 2 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 3

Heather Annulis

Committee Member 3 Department

Human Capital Development

Committee Member 4

Quincy Brown

Committee Member 4 Department

Human Capital Development


Employers report recent college graduates are not prepared for the workforce and a skills gap exists (O’Bannon, 2016). Research indicates accounting graduates do not have the skills needed when entering the workforce (Altarawneh, 2016). The skills gap is costing companies money (Nanduri, 2017). Employers report extended job vacancies cost U.S. companies close to one million dollars annually (Nanduri, 2017). Also, the skills gap costs the U.S. economy an estimated $160 billion per year (Fisher, 2014).

This research determined the knowledge, technical skills, and employability skills required of accounting graduates in the workforce as perceived by Mississippi CPAs and determined if recent accounting graduates possessed the knowledge and skills deemed important as perceived by CPA hiring managers. Also, this study determined the relationship between skills CPA hiring managers’ perceived importance and accounting graduate acquisition of knowledge, technical skills, and employability skills.

This non-experimental, cross-sectional, explanatory study finds that Mississippi CPAs perceived that many of the knowledge and skill variables were important. Those skills deemed very important are critical thinking, analytical and problem solving, decision making, self-motivation/self-direction, and listening attentiveness. Employers indicate that accounting graduates only moderately possess most knowledge and skills. The skills possessed by accounting graduates were professional attitude/professional demeanor, teamwork/group interaction, and computer skills/information technology skills. The relationship between perceived importance and perceived graduation acquisition indicates that 16 of the 25 knowledge items had significant, positive correlations, and two of the 16 skills items had significant, positive correlations. However, coefficients ranged from .211 to .411 which are considered small to medium effect (Field, 2013). Future research considerations include larger samples and other states.

Sandifer_Dissertation.docx (3213 kB)
Revised 02042017