Syms to Launch New Master’s in Taxation this Fall
Sy Syms’ new Master’s of Science in Taxation program, led by longtime Syms accounting professor Leonard Fuld, will welcome its first cohort of students in the Fall of 2017. In an interview with The Commentator, Professor Fuld touched on many aspects of the new program, including some of the program’s basic details, YU’s clear need for the program, and his involvement in it.
While Syms has traditionally offered a Master’s in Accounting, over the last few years Professor Fuld has been hearing from students that they would be interested in a Master’s in Taxation program as well. He noted that it makes more sense for students who are interested in a career in tax who already majored in accounting for their undergraduate degree to spend the additional time getting a Master’s in Taxation rather than Accounting, since honing their knowledge in taxation will make them that much more skilled and valued in their specific area of expertise. Professor Fuld also mentioned that major accounting firms are said to give employees a bonus for getting a master’s degree, and will give a bigger bonus for people who get that master’s in taxation. Lastly, not enough people who studied accounting also know tax as a subject. Professor Fuld taught a course on contemporary tax issues at Baruch’s graduate business school and it went from 29 students to 98 in 3 years, and he optimistically envisions Syms’ program gaining popularity with YU students in a similar way.
In terms of the some of the basic details of the program, it will be a year-long program with classes taking place on the Beren campus at night. This will allow students to be employed full-time or to study for the CPA test while enrolled in the program. Professor Fuld has been working diligently for the past year, primarily on his own time, organizing the various aspects of the program. He has spent that time putting together syllabi for all of the classes, a budget and business plan, and, most importantly, gaining approval from senior YU administrators as well as from the New York State Education Department to run the program with the proper accreditation. Professor Fuld is hoping to have 15 students in the Fall 2017 cohort, but will be happy with a class of only 10 students. He hopes that around half of the students in the program will come from YU, with the other half having matriculated at other colleges for their undergraduate degree.
When asked how he’s going to approach hiring new professors for the program, Professor Fuld responded that initially they will need 3-4 adjunct hires, all of whom will need to be experienced in their fields. Rather than hire university scholars, Syms is looking for professionals with 25-30 years of experience in tax practice. Already, he’s met with potential faculty members including an IRS agent with 30 years, a VP of taxes with 40 years of experience, and a compensation tax expert.
In the longer-term, as director of the program, Professor Fuld hopes to start a tax clinic where students in the Master’s program will consult and advise local Washington Heights businesses, helping them out and gaining practical experience in the process. Additionally, he mentioned that he’s exploring ways to partner with big accounting firms to leverage their employees to come speak to students in the program, and hopefully work with them to hire students for internships and full time jobs.
Professor Fuld expects that the low tuition of $23,000, which is significantly less than most similar one year Masters of Science programs, will encourage students to choose Syms’ tax program instead of similar ones at Baruch and other schools where those graduating Syms with a BA in Accounting might otherwise have gone. In terms of recruiting students for the program, Professor Fuld realizes that it’s already late in the year and that it’ll be a challenge to market and advertise the program as fully as it could have been if the approval process had taken less time. That being said, Syms has provided a marketing budget, which he’s excited to use to recruit for this Fall, and expects the program to benefit the students and YU for many years to come.