Explore Orfalea College Of Business Graduate Programs

Links & Resources

OCOB Building

Graduate Programs: FAQs

Answers To Some Frequently Asked Questions


General MBA FAQs

What type of financial aid is available?
Graduate program resources for financial aid are limited, therefore, most non-scholarship aid is derived from the U.S. federal government. Federal financial aid is available only to US citizens and U.S. permanent residents.

What opportunity exists for me to work in order to finance my Cal Poly MBA education?
Due to the nature of the curriculum, students pursuing the one year MBA accelerated option are strongly discouraged from working during their program and studies. For students pursuing the standard MBA program, part-time work may be a possibility depending on their schedule. Employment opportunities on campus and positions in the local community are typically posted on the Cal Poly Career Services Mustang Jobs web site which is accessible via the my.calpoly portal.

What is the best way for me to learn about the Graduate Programs offered by the Orfalea College of Business?
Besides looking carefully over the web site, we recommend visiting the Cal Poly University campus and our program. We invite you to email mba@calpoly.edu to schedule an on campus meeting with our Graduate Programs staff. In addition, for those applicants unfamiliar with Cal Poly, volunteer led campus tours are available. Although these on-campus tours are primarily geared toward undergraduate applicants, these tours are nevertheless an informative way of getting to know and developing a feel for the Cal Poly campus. Why should I pursue an MBA?
It's simple. Today's marketplace is competitive and regardless of your chosen profession, business is the glue that holds it all together and makes it work. In this environment learning essential graduate level business skills and competencies in areas such as finance, accounting, marketing, law, economics, management, etc. will allow you to work more effectively with your colleagues, clients and external constituents. In fact, the ability to advance in your career will depend on your mastery of these business skills. Do not think for a minute that those in the industry trenches and those in management stay in their own little worlds and the magic of the firm or business then happens for the customer: It's the exact opposite. The key is integration between business and your chosen field that adds value to your professional portfolio (a sum greater than the parts). Obtaining a Cal Poly MBA degree will move you forward in this regard.

What are the guiding principles, goals and philosophy of the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business MBA program?
The MBA program at Cal Poly's Orfalea College of Business prepares students for positions of high responsibility in all phases of business. The program is broad in nature, requiring advanced study and research during the program in the foundational business disciplines. To ensure a productive and competitive future for our students in a rapidly changing world, we teach the concepts and principles of management which make rapid adjustment to new conditions possible. The primary goals of the program are to provide potential managers with:
  • An integrated understanding of the principles of various business disciplines. The successful manager must have an ability to integrate and apply information from a variety of disciplines in an ethical and socially responsible manner. Our approach to MBA education is aimed at fostering this integrated and applied understanding.
  • An expertise in assembling and analyzing relevant facts as a basis for significant business decisions. Students learn analytical, planning and forecasting skills to provide a basis for making effective decisions in a changing managerial environment.
  • The ability to work with other people and various stakeholders of the firm through an understanding of human values, motivations, behavior and organizational structures. We believe in the case method, lectures and seminars, field study, simulations, group work and individual hard work and initiative. Faculty members choose among teaching methodologies to present courses in the manner most appropriate to the material and the professor's individual style.

When are courses offered and is part-time completion possible?
The program primarily consists of full-time students, and generally offers classes Monday through Thursday with the vast majority of classes offered during the daytime hours. Completion of the program on a part-time basis is possible. However, courses are offered only once per year and generally during daytime hours on Monday through Thursday. Careful considerations should be made to determine if your work schedule has the necessary flexibility.

What makes the Cal Poly MBA Program unique?
  • No undergraduate business degree is required. Further, there are no prerequisite business course requirements to enter the program.
  • It is possible for a full-time student devoting 100% attention to his/her studies, and who follows a prescribed course of study to complete their MBA in less than a year (Accelerated Option).
  • Relevant, current, challenging, and intellectually stimulating courses from top to bottom.
  • Two short intensive summer sessions to facilitate the completion of the MBA program or to follow the accelerated option requirements.
  • The opportunity to work with outstanding faculty in a friendly and professional academic atmosphere.
  • The opportunity to live and study on California's Central Coast - one of the most beautiful locales in the world and located midway between the urban areas of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • Affordability - our MBA program is extremely affordable, especially compared to programs offered by other schools. In summary, this is an exciting, innovative, current and affordably priced MBA program offered in an unparalleled location.

What is the size of your entering class?
Because our methods of instruction require extensive interaction between students and faculty, we limit the number of students in order to foster a sense of community. Thus, roughly 40 to 50 students each year are admitted and enroll in the MBA program. Among those, approximately 30% will be pursuing some type of a dual degree simultaneously.

What type of applicant is likely to be successful in gaining admission into the Cal Poly MBA program?
We welcome applicants from all backgrounds. No specific undergraduate majors are preferred for admission to the program and previous study in business-related topic is not required. However, an applicant for admission to the MBA program must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. An applicant's academic potential and promise for a productive career in management are central concerns when making our admission decisions. Therefore, the applicant's involvement in activities that demonstrate development of strong leadership skills and the information an applicant provides regarding the way an MBA will contribute to his/her professional growth are carefully considered. Persons whose intellectual abilities and personal characteristics are suited for careers in management are selected.

Who will my classmates be?
Overall, you can expect that a large percentage of the MBA class will be comprised of students with an undergraduate education in one of the engineering or science disciplines. Another significant group is usually students from an architectural discipline with a smattering of other undergraduate degrees usually represented. The Cal Poly MBA program attracts students from all disciplines because of its unique design and philosophy of enhancing, not replacing career paths. Thus you will have a wonderfully broad group of classmates. In fact, Orfalea College of Business graduate students are alike in only one way: they all want an outstanding education.

May I opt out/waive out of required courses in a program if I already possess a strong background (academic or work-experience) in the subject?
No. Given the intense coursework design and overall structure of the program, students are not permitted to waive any of the required courses.

Can independent study and/or internship courses count toward my MBA?
Internships and independent study courses can be, and often are, valuable supplements to enhance the learning experience. However, given the intense coursework design of the program such experiences, although encouraged, will not be counted toward the coursework requirement unless required by the specialization/program or through special agreement with the Orfalea College Of Business Graduate Programs Director.

Are there any prerequisite courses required for admission into the MBA program, since I possess no business background?
No. One of the unique attributes of our program is that we do not require applicants to take prerequisite courses before they are admitted into the program. Instead, the program has been carefully designed to provide students, without a business education, all the business skills, knowledge and competencies needed to be successful business leaders.

Can/should I apply to the MBA program if I am a very recent Cal Poly graduate who majored in business?
We will consider such applications and do admit a select and limited number of such applicants each year. But in general we encourage such applicants to first gain full-time work experience and then apply.

If I have already completed MBA classes at another university may I waive some of the classes or transfer credit?
Given that our MBA program is 60 units, we rarely transfer MBA credit from other universities, so in general any work that you had completed at other institutions would not count toward a degree at Cal Poly. To the extent it would be allowed it would be one course, two at the very most.

Jump Back To Top


MBA International Students FAQs

If I'm an international student, but I received a bachelor's degree from a university in the U.S., do I still need to take the TOEFL or IELTS?
International students, unless from an exempt country, must submit a TOEFL or IELTS score. However, the TOEFL requirement is waived if an international student earned their undergraduate degree from a U.S. university.

What percentage of the Orfalea College Of Business Graduate Program is comprised of international students and what countries are represented?
In general, the Orfalea College Of Business graduate student population is comprised of less than 10% international. No one country is preferred. Each year varies but in general we primarily have students from a variety of Asian and European countries.

Why, as an international applicant, do I receive letters and information requests from two different offices?
It should be noted that you are requested to provide information by two different Cal Poly offices - the University Admission office and the Orfalea College of Business Graduate Programs office. The University Admission office will contact you regarding the submission of documents that are required by the University to comply with their regulations or those established by the U.S. government for international student admissions. You can also expect to hear from, and submit documents directly to, the Orfalea College of Business Graduate Programs office. That office will make the ultimate decision as to your admission into the program and as such has separate requirements to aid in that decision. Carefully review the admissions section of the web site to insure that you have satisfied all requirements and submitted documents to the proper offices.

Jump Back To Top


Application and Admission FAQs

When should I start applying for the program?
The sooner the better. The Orfalea College Of Business Graduate Programs office makes admissions decisions on a rolling basis and as a result there is no guarantee that there will be space remaining by the deadline. Therefore, we strongly encourage applicants to submit their completed application materials well in advance of the applicable deadline. This includes the CSU Mentor application, transcripts, entrance exam scores, a resume, supplemental application, and (1) or (3) required letters of recommendation (depending on the program).

What are the factors used in determining if I get into the program?
Applicants are evaluated on the basis of achieving AACSB recommended standards for admission primarily based on GPA and Entrance Exam Scores. Some candidates who receive lower than average GPA and/or exam scores may be evaluated based on additional factors such as work experience. Candidates for the the MBA - Architectural Management track and the MBA - Landscape Architecture Management track are also evaluated on the basis of the number and type of courses that remain to be completed in their undergraduate program.

Is either the GRE or the GMAT preferred?
No. We accept either exam.

How do I sign up for the required entrance exam?
The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is administered by Pearson VUE. The test dates, times, and location can be found and you may schedule an appointment at www.mba.com/mba. The ETS is responsible for the GRE examination. The test dates, times and locations can be found at www.ets.org/gre

When is the latest I can take the required entrance exam and why is when I take the exam so important?
Since these exams can only be taken once a calendar month, it is advisable not to wait too late in the application cycle to take the required exam. To optimize your chances for admission you may want to allow for the possibility that the exam may need to be taken more than once to score a competitive score. Careful planning, to allow for sufficient time to retaken the exam should it become necessary, is advised.

I have just completed my undergraduate program and do not have full-time work experience - is admission possible?
While we prefer applicants with solid full-time work experience, it is not a necessity. One of the unique attributes of our program is that we allow recent and in some cases new graduates from technical fields such as engineering, computer science, the sciences, architecture, etc. to enter the program to gain the foundational business knowledge they need to advance and succeed in their future chosen technical field.

Do I get special consideration if I was a Cal Poly undergrad?
All applicants to the various graduate programs offered by the Orfalea College Of Business are held to the same requirements. Previous Cal Poly attendance does not provide an advantage for admission.

I'd like to apply to the MBA program but I cannot submit all materials required at this time. Can I submit items separately or must everything come in at once?
All admission materials that we require through Interfolio must be completed before the applicant is considered for admission. You do not need to submit all items to Interfolio at once, but these materials are not reviewed until they are all successfully submitted. It is not uncommon for students to submit all elements as soon as they are completed, and then email us to let us know when any remaining element(s) can be expected. In that way, frankly, we are on notice of your interest to apply to the program and also know when to expect the remaining elements we need to make the admission decision.

Jump Back To Top


MBA Completion of Degree FAQs

How long does it take to finish the program?
The MBA program has two options for completion. For a full-time student, the one year (accelerated) option can be completed in less than 12 months if you follow the exact program outlined. A more traditional program is also available for those not following the accelerated option and by following that option you can complete the program in four, five or six regular academic quarters depending on how a student structures and schedules his/her coursework.

What is the Formal Plan of Study, what classes can I include in it, when do I need to fill it out and why is this important?
A Formal Plan of Study is an agreement between the student and the college on the specific coursework to be completed in order to fulfill the requirements for the master's degree. Each student in an Orfalea College Of Business Graduate Program at Cal Poly must, within one quarter of starting their program, develop and receive approval for their individual plan. The courses that may be included vary depending on the program of study being pursued and therefore students must meet with the advisor to individually develop their plan. In general, a Formal Plan of Study should be comprised of all required courses in the degree program along with all selected and approved elective courses that are included to complete the program. The Formal Plan of Study is very important for graduate students as it is the roadmap by which the Evaluations office determines if you have satisfied all degree requirements.

How many 400-level courses can I take that will be counted towards my Formal Plan of Study?
In the vast majority of cases the answer is none. The graduate programs offered by the Orfalea College of Business requires that a student's program consist of the intense graduate level coursework designed specifically for their program. Inclusion of a 400-level course in a Formal Plan of Study is not encouraged; however it may be permitted under certain rare and very limited circumstances.

Do the graduate classes fill quickly? If so, are graduate students given preference?
The Orfalea College of Business graduate business programs are selective programs and therefore the number of students admitted is small. Classes are small for the benefit of the students and students rarely have a problem getting into classes.

Can I take any of my classes for Credit/Non-Credit?
Only those letter-graded courses in which an A, B, or C is earned count towards satisfying the total unit requirement for the degree. For a letter grade course anything below a C does not/would not count. Further, courses which are offered only on a credit/no credit basis will also satisfy the unit requirement if a credit grade is earned (the equivalent of an A or a B is required to earn credit in such courses). Graduate students may elect to take courses which are not part of their Formal Plan of Study on a credit/no credit basis, but said courses will not count toward satisfying the total unit requirement for the degree.

What is the maximum number of units I may take in a given quarter?
Students are limited to a maximum of 16 units per academic quarter. Students that attempt more units that the maximum, without specific approval to do so by the Orfalea College Of Business Graduate Programs Director, will be precluded from including or counting the additional course(s) in their program of study.

What GPA must I have to graduate and if it's below that requirement what can I do?
Satisfaction of the GPA requirement for the conferring of the master's degree requires a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or more in the courses taken in the Formal Plan of Study. If you don't have a cumulative 3.0 GPA, you cannot graduate.

Jump Back To Top


MBA - Graphic Communication Document Systems Management FAQs

What is the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business MBA Graphic Communication Document Systems Management Specialization?
The MBA - Graphic Communication (GrC) Document Systems Management Specialization is designed for those interested in graphic communication related management careers. The program, focused on document systems management, contains a strong research component. This specialization is offered by the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business in conjunction with the Graphic Communications Department in the Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts. The Orfalea College Of Business is accredited by the AACSB and the Cal Poly Graphic Communication Department is accredited by the ACCGC.

Do I need prerequisite business and or graphic communication courses, undergraduate degree or work experience to apply to this program or in order to be successful in the program?
Not necessarily. The Cal Poly MBA - Graphic Communication Specialization is specifically designed to provide the necessary business skills and develop the ability to make data-supported, ethical decisions. Some students may be required to take, as a part of their program, additional Graphic Communication related prerequisite courses to support success. These decisions are on a case-by-case basis and will require a review of each student's academic and professional accomplishments.

What makes this program unique?
It combines the strengths of the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business with those of the Cal Poly Graphic Communications Department to provide a unique interdisciplinary experience which focuses on skills for managing within the document systems field.

This specialization requires a summer internship; will I still be able to participate in the optional/elective summer short special session courses offered by the Orfalea College of Business?
Yes! The two elective/optional summer short special sessions will run the first few weeks before the beginning of the regular Fall quarter, and, roughly 2 and a half weeks after the June graduation. Thus, there will still be more than ample time for you to pursue an internship during the summer.

Jump Back To Top


MBA - Agribusiness FAQs

NOTICE: PROGRAM IS CURRENTLY NOT ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS.
What is the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business MBA - Agribusiness Specialization and how does it differ from the General Management Specialization?
The MBA - Agribusiness Specialization, offered by the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business in conjunction with the Agribusiness Department in the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, is designed for those interested in agribusiness management careers. Graduates will be prepared for careers in large farm and ranch management as well as for positions in supporting agribusiness industries such as commodity marketing, banking and appraisal, food processing, agricultural chemicals, and international trade. An integral part of this specialization is an internship. The type and scope of the internship experience is influenced by the student's employment background and objectives. In most cases the student spends one quarter, usually the summer quarter, working closely with a selected agribusiness firm. This experience provides a foundation for growth in management responsibilities and is an excellent credential for job placement. Agribusiness specialization courses emphasize the development of a wide range of managerial skills directly applicable to agribusiness enterprises.

What makes this program unique?
Designed as a joint program, it combines the strengths of the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business with those of the Cal Poly College of Agriculture to provide a unique interdisciplinary experience which addresses those managerial issues and applications unique to the agribusiness firm and industry.

Do I need prerequisite business and/or agribusiness courses, undergraduate degree or work experience to apply in order to be successful in the program?
Not necessarily. The Cal Poly MBA - Agribusiness Specialization is specifically designed to provide the necessary business skills and develop the ability to make data-supported, ethical decisions. Some students may be required to take, as a part of their program, additional agribusiness prerequisite courses to support success. These decisions are on a case-by-case basis and will require a review of each student's academic and professional accomplishments.

This specialization requires a summer internship; will I still be able to participate in the optional/elective summer short special session courses offered by the Orfalea College of Business?
Yes! The two elective/optional summer short special sessions will run the first few weeks before the beginning of the regular Fall quarter, and, roughly 2.5 weeks after the June graduation. Thus, there will still be more than ample time for you to pursue an internship during the summer.

Jump Back To Top


MBA - Architectural Track and/or Landscape Architecture Track FAQs

What is the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business MBA - Architectural Management Track and Landscape Architecture Management Track?
This program is available only to those students who are enrolled in Cal Poly's Bachelor of Architecture program or Landscape Architecture program. During their fifth/final year of their architecture or landscape architecture programs, students having only their design work left to complete often have time slots in their schedules which would allow them to take significant coursework outside their program, and they can seek permission to informally enroll and start taking MBA courses in the Orfalea College Of Business. Their request to do so, along with all supporting application documents, must be submitted to the Orfalea College Of Business Graduate Programs Office well in advance of taking any such MBA courses (i.e., by June 1 before the beginning of their fifth/final year of undergraduate study). Permission to participate in these MBA courses is competitive and based upon the student's previous academic performance, GMAT or GRE results and personal characteristics which demonstrate suitability for careers in management. Upon the completion of their BArch or BLA degree, students become formally eligible to apply and officially be admitted into the MBA program.

Why should I start to pursue an MBA during my fifth/final year in architecture?
Aside from the efficient use of time factor during the fifth/final year of studies noted above, it's simple - today's marketplace is competitive and regardless of what type of architectural services you provide to clients, business is the glue that holds it all together and makes it work. Successfully providing architectural services, and career advancement within the architecture profession, requires business skills and knowledge in such areas as finance, accounting, marketing, law, economics, management, etc. This fusion between business and architecture is critical.

What makes this program unique?
Participation in this graduate program is permitted prior to the completion of the undergraduate architecture degree.

Do I need to be a current Cal Poly Architecture or Landscape Architecture student to apply to this program?
Yes. Applicants who have already completed their Architecture or Landscape Architecture degree, either from Cal Poly or from another university, are not eligible for this program; however, applicants who have already completed their Architecture or Landscape Architecture degree would be eligible to apply to the Cal Poly MBA - General Management Specialization.

Are there unique application and admission requirements associated with this early permission program?
Yes. During the fifth/final year in their Architecture or Landscape Architecture programs, students informally apply to the Cal Poly Orfalea College Of Business MBA program. They do this by completing the paper application form available on the CSUMENTOR system and submitting it, along with an acceptable GMAT or GRE score, transcripts which reflect an acceptable GPA, a resume, and a comprehensive list of all remaining undergraduate courses directly to the Orfalea College of Business Graduate Programs office. This complete file of materials must be submitted by June 1 of the beginning of the fifth/final year of their undergraduate program. Provided all the necessary informal application materials are complete and the student has satisfied the requisite standards, the Orfalea College Of Business Graduate Programs Office can elect to allow the student to participate in MBA courses. Then, during their fifth year, students must formally apply to the MBA program using the CSUMENTOR system's online application form. Although students will have already submitted all other necessary materials, they will be required to complete the online application and pay the application fee.

What is the difference between the Cal Poly Architectural Management or Landscape Architectural Management tracks and the MBA - General Management Specialization?
These specially approved track options provide a mechanism for certain Cal Poly students to begin taking MBA courses before the completion of their undergraduate degree.

Jump Back To Top


MBA Dual Degrees FAQs

What are Dual Degrees?
Dual degrees link the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business MBA with an MS or MA from another Cal Poly college. Successful participants will be awarded both an MBA and MS degree.

Why should I pursue a Dual Degree option?
From the perspective of the business school, it's simple - today's marketplace is competitive and regardless of your chosen profession, business is the glue that holds it all together and makes it work. In this environment learning graduate level business skills and competencies and integrating that knowledge into skills learned in your other graduate degree program will allow you to work more effectively with your colleagues, clients and external constituents. In fact, the ability to advance in your chosen career/field will depend on your mastery of these business skills. As recently highlighted by a former CEO of Raytheon, "Technology requires management for successful production. We need technologist who [possess business skills and] can actually manage. That fusion is what's so important. Do not think that engineers and management stay in their own little worlds and then the magic happens: It's the exact opposite." The key is integration between business and the skills learned in your other graduate degree program that adds value to your professional portfolio (a sum greater than the parts). Completing dual degrees will move you forward in this regard. A second reason for pursuing two graduate degrees simultaneously, through a dual degree option, is to take advantage of the potentially time-saving ability to have some courses used to satisfy both degree requirements. Although not always possible, many students pursuing this option are able to reduce their combined program study time by as much as one quarter over pursuing the programs separately.

Do I need prerequisite business courses to be successful in the MBA portion of this option?
No. This unique and informal program is specifically designed to provide students from a technical background with the necessary business skills to develop their ability to make data-supported ethical decisions.

What makes this option unique?
This option allows a student to combine the strengths of the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business with those of another Cal Poly college's graduate program to provide an interdisciplinary experience that meets the unique needs of each student. This informal integration of business with another discipline, allows participants the possibility to gain two graduate level degrees in two years.

What is the Cal Poly EMP (Engineering Management Program)?
The EMP program is a cutting edge interdisciplinary dual degree program linking the Cal Poly MBA and MS in Engineering degree programs. It is a cooperative effort and program between the Orfalea College of Business and the Cal Poly College of Engineering (Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department). Successful participants will be awarded both an MBA and MS, both with an emphasis in Engineering Management. The Orfalea College Of Business is accredited by AACSB and the College of Engineering is accredited by ABET.

How does the MBA/MS Engineering Management Program differ from the other Dual Degree Option?
The EMP program is a formal dual degree option which is designed to develop graduates who can effectively integrate broad technical/engineering issues with business management issues. The program is clearly defined and the requirements for gaining the MBA and MS Engineering Management degrees are clearly established. The various informal dual degree options are designed to deepen your technical/engineering knowledge through the pursuit of the selected MA or MS degree while adding career enhancing business skills. Stated differently, the EMP focuses on integration (breadth) while the other dual degree option tends to focus more on depth in the technical area.

Under a Dual Degree Option would I take my MBA courses one year and other program courses the next, or, would I take a mix of both each year? And, how many units should I take each quarter?
It depends on what you want, your schedule, and, the schedule of course offerings. The Orfalea College Of Business often recommends that you mix your business and other graduate program courses, and as a practical matter course offerings and availability require most students to do so. For most dual degree combinations, to finish in two years, a mix of courses totaling approximately 16 units each quarter is needed. (Note the Orfalea College Of Business will not allow you to take more than 16 units of courses per quarter). Upon admission we strongly recommend that you come in, meet with us, and plan your specific schedule.

Jump Back To Top


MS Accounting FAQs

For Tax and Financial Accounting Specializations

How do I apply for admission to the Master of Science in Accounting—Taxation or Financial Accounting programs?
You must complete and submit an application for admission and otherwise fulfill the requirements for the program. The admission information is available online at http://www.mba.calpoly.edu/ms_accounting_apply.html. The application is completed and submitted via the CSU Mentor's website.

When is my application due?
Your application for admission and all other requirements necessary for an admissions decision are due no later than April 1. We encourage you to submit your application materials as soon as possible.

What are the admission requirements?
Admission requirements can be found at http://www.mba.calpoly.edu/ms_accounting_apply.html.

Do I need a bachelor's degree in Accounting to be admitted into the program?
No. You do need to have a bachelor's degree but it does not have to be in accounting, specifically. However, you MUST have a sufficient number of credits in taxation, accounting, or accounting-related courses with no less than a grade of "B" in each course, to ensure your success in the Program. This means that applicants must: have successfully completed a minimum of (i) one (1) course in federal taxation in undergraduate school; plus (ii) either a minimum of eight (8) quarter units in accounting (in addition to the course in federal taxation) or two (2) years of full-time work experience in accounting.

When will I be notified whether I am admitted into the specialization?
Your file will NOT be reviewed until it is COMPLETE. Many applicants submit their materials as they complete them and not together as a complete packet. A letter of acceptance or rejection is promptly mailed to the applicant following a decision by the admissions committee.

Will international students be accepted into the Program?
At the present time we are not accepting international students into the MS Accounting Program.

What are the tuition and related Program expenses? And how and when do I pay my tuition? And what is the refund policy?
Please check and closely read the cost information contained on the Orfalea College of Business Graduate programs web site. You will pay your tuition to Cal Poly Extended Education in three installment payments. Students who do not meet the deadlines will not be allowed into or to continue the program. The refund policy should be carefully reviewed before beginning the program as exceptions are not permitted.

What financial aid is available?
Please check Cal Poly's financial aid web site for your options in this regard. Generally, because this program is run exclusively through the Cal Poly Extended Education office, we are advised that if/when you meet the criteria, federal financial aid in the form of loans should be available to those who qualify (possibly some federal grants) and possibly some state loans (but no state grants). Industry Support is also available. The following firms provide significant financial support for their employees that attend the MS-Accounting Taxation Program: PwC, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte.

How does the Special Session and its courses work?
The program requires two (2) intensive courses during a three week special session that begins in mid-August and ends normally one week before the start of the fall quarter. Note: These courses are intense, graduate school courses condensed into three weeks. The pace is fast and the intensity and expectations of performance are high. They are not courses where a student does half the work of a regular graduate school course and only does it over the course of three weeks. Thus, please prepare and be ready to perform accordingly. During weekends of the 3-week special session, you should plan on working on your studies in these courses for the succeeding week.

Is there a specific order in which I must take classes?
Yes. Because the MS Accounting programs are one-year programs, the courses are scheduled in a specific order.

Are the MSA programs part-time programs?
No. The MSA programs, both Financial Accounting and Taxation, are both full-time programs.

For Tax Specialization Only:

What type of applicant is likely to be admitted into the MS Accounting - Tax Specialization?
Admission into the specialization is competitive. As a general rule you should hold an undergraduate degree in accounting to apply to the Program. However, applicants who hold a degree in academic disciplines other than accounting are encouraged to apply but only if they possess a fundamental interest and understanding of taxation and accounting to ensure the likelihood of success in the Program. Such applicants MUST have a sufficient number of credits in taxation and accounting courses to ensure their success.

Why should I pursue the MS Accounting - Tax Specialization at Cal Poly?
Cal Poly accounting graduates enjoy an excellent reputation in the accounting profession, industry and governmental service based on their performance following graduation. Additionally, the need of both the American economy and accounting profession for graduates with expertise in taxation is outpacing the available supply, thereby providing the Program's graduates with attractive employment opportunities. Finally, the Specialization's 9-quarter unit internship requirement offers students an excellent opportunity to "learn by doing" in a professional working environment while receiving compensation for doing so.

What are the guiding principles and goals of the MS Accounting - Tax Specialization?
The Specialization seeks to prepare its graduates for entry into a professional tax practice in either the public or private sectors. The Specialization will provide successful graduates with an understanding of multiple aspects of multi-state and federal taxation, and facilitate the graduate's transition to a professional tax practice. The Specialization also seeks to enhance a graduate's oral and written communication skills. Because of Cal Poly's philosophy of "learn by doing", each graduate must complete a 9-quarter unit tax internship during the winter quarter of the academic year.

I did not take BUS 417 at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, but took a similar course elsewhere. Can I be exempted from taking Taxation of Corporations & Partnerships?
No. If you have not taken BUS 417 for credit at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (with a Grade of C or higher), then you MUST take GSA 540 at Cal Poly.

How does the mandatory internship work?
The internship provides students with a clinical tax experience, thereby enabling them to apply skills and competencies to an employment opportunity in a professional environment. Students will serve in a full-time supervised work experience at either: (i) a public accounting firm; (ii) an accounting or internal audit department of a private enterprise; or (iii) local, state, or federal government agency. Generally, the intern will receive compensation from the firm or agency that employs the intern. The internship will conclude on a date that will permit students to resume their studies at Cal Poly during the spring quarter.

Will I be able to choose the location of my internship?
The location of your internship is dependent upon the firm(s) that you apply with during the fall recruiting season at Cal Poly.

Jump Back To Top