Student Profile: Data Researcher Aspires to a Corporate Career

A student profile about Patty Buerkle, a data researcher who was interested in pursuing graduate-level instruction in accounting, and found the Penn State Smeal Corporate Accounting Foundations program.

Portrait of Patti Buerkle.After earning an associate’s degree in computer information systems and a bachelor’s in business management, Patty Buerkle was interested in pursuing graduate-level instruction in accounting. That search, she thought, had led her to a dead end.

Then Buerkle, who works remotely as a data researcher for the University of Pittsburgh and aspires to a corporate career in the future, learned about the online Graduate Certificate in Accounting Foundations from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. 

The new program offered exactly what she was looking for and nothing that she wasn’t 

“It was four classes, it was online, and I could have a certificate in a year,” said Buerkle, who enrolled in fall 2017. “It will give me the skills I need to get into the field I want. I haven’t come across another accounting program that isn’t geared toward CPAs.” 

The 12-credit Accounting Foundations Program begins in the fall semester with Financial Accounting, the prerequisite for the other three courses. Taxation and Auditing are offered each spring and Managerial Accounting in the summer. 

“This certificate is ideal for those who are in a position of responsibility for cost control, budgets, account management, or capital project decision-making,” said Barbara Yener, the director of the program who also teaches the Financial Accounting course. “It’s also suited for people who have aspirations of assuming a leadership role in a company, but would need more accounting acumen to be considered. A good foundation in accounting is essential for understanding how financial information drives decisions in a corporate environment.”

The credits earned via the courses in the Graduate Certificate in Accounting Foundations can also be applied to several other online professional master’s programs offered by Smeal and Penn State World Campus. 

Buerkle said she intends to leverage that flexibility and interconnectivity to work toward a Masters of Professional Studies in Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, part of an expanding portfolio of new professional graduate offerings from the college. 

“Another thing that appealed to me was that not only would I have the knowledge I gained in earning the certificate, I could also build off what I learned as an investment toward another degree,” she said. 

Applications for the Graduate Certificate in Accounting Foundations are now being accepted for fall 2018 semester. The application deadline is July 1.