Recognizing Accounting as STEM Education

By Aiysha (AJ) Johnson, MA, IOM, NJCPA CEO and Executive Director – March 20, 2024
Recognizing Accounting as STEM Education

The NJCPA is actively supporting and advocating for initiatives that recognize accounting as a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subject and that allow STEM K-12 grant funding to be used for accounting awareness and education.

Why STEM at the National and Local Levels?

Bills making their way through Congress would greatly increase awareness of accounting to the K-12 communities and enhance underprivileged communities’ access to the accounting field. Last May, Representative Haley Stevens (D-MI) introduced H.R. 3541, which amends a federal supplemental funding program to promote career awareness in accounting as part of a well-rounded STEM educational experience. As of the middle of January 2024, it had more than 45 cosponsors. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced a similar bill in the Senate (S.1705) that would also focus on educating K-12 students about accounting as part of the STEM initiative.

At the NJCPA, we have long believed the STEM designation would open up the accounting profession to a wider net of candidates who could consider becoming CPAs. The federal funding helps support awareness of accounting careers to students who may not have had any connection to the field in the past through relatives and/or their communities.

To help move this initiative forward, the NJCPA has formed a Pipeline Advocacy Work Group comprised of New Jersey high school and university accounting educators. The group’s objectives consist of the following:

  • Identify existing state programs that accounting students may be able to take advantage of under the STEM umbrella.
  • Identify where and how New Jersey designates STEM subjects and then advocate to get accounting included.
  • Help accounting departments in New Jersey higher education institutions to acquire status as a STEM program.
  • Lobby the New Jersey congressional delegation to support federal legislation written by the AICPA that would designate accounting as STEM on a federal level.

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), NJCPA and 53 other CPA societies sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last August requesting that accounting and five other accounting-related subjects be considered STEM education by the DHS for degree programs in college and at the graduate level. This is an important stipulation since they would then have STEM Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes. Previous efforts were denied this designation in 2022, and new work is underway to show how technology is developed in accounting courses other than just being used in accounting.

Insights from AICPA

Jan Taylor, CPA, CGMA, Ph.D., academic in residence and senior director of academic and student engagement at AICPA and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), said on a recent webinar, “As STEM programs have changed, evolved or moved, the focus has gone more and more towards helping students to prepare for careers in areas where there is a lot of data and a lot of technology.”

She added that, at the AICPA, they are encouraging people to rethink accounting within all components of STEM. This, she said, means to think about sustainability and everything from basic technology and programming to artificial intelligence. With math implications, it’s important that “it’s moving from those basic mathematical skills to data analysis and risk assessment — things that our profession has a leg up on.”

Looking Forward

While the DHS designation is being considered, the AICPA has developed a toolkit to reach out to colleges and univer­sities to expand their accounting curricula to include additional technology-focused courses as well as to consider changing CIP codes to ones that are currently on the DHS list. The AICPA also has a template available for accounting professionals and educators to write to their local representa­tives in Congress. More information can be found at

You can follow the NJCPA's efforts at And we invite comments on our Open Forum at

Aiysha  Johnson

Aiysha Johnson

Aiysha (AJ) Johnson, MA, IOM, is the CEO and executive director of the New Jersey Society of CPAs. She previously was the executive director of BKR International’s Americas Region where she was responsible for overseeing the implementation of all strategic efforts for BKR accounting and business advisory member firms in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. She has more than 20 years of wide-ranging global experience working for nonprofits and professional and trade associations.

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