Featured: Central College Expands Majors and Minors

PELLA — Central College began offering a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting in addition to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Central also added two more minors — data science and social justice studies.

“Central has developed and expanded the options to engage students in fields that are relevant to their interests and the needs of the future workforce,” says Mary E.M. Strey, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty.

Maggie Fisher Schlerman, associate professor of accounting and a 2002 graduate of Central, explains that the B.S. in accounting curriculum focuses on preparing students for the certified public accounting exam and meeting the CPA licensure requirements in Iowa. The new B.S. in accounting encompasses theoretical and applied financial accounting topics. It also includes courses in auditing and taxes, needed for public accounting.

“Both the B.S. and B.A. degrees meet the educational requirements in terms of accounting coursework,” Schlerman says. “The students seeking a B.S. take additional coursework that’s targeted toward the CPA exam.”

“For years, about a third of our accounting students have been taking 150 credits to fulfill the requirements for the CPA exam,” Schlerman says. “Historically, Central has been preparing the CPA-focused students with the credit requirements and this new B.S. option provides a structured pathway for students.”

“Our accounting job placement rate is high,” Schlerman admits. “Our seniors have jobs lined up before they graduate. In fact, some of our juniors and even sophomores already have job commitments. We have an excellent reputation and network for students who have internships that lead to job placement.”

New Minors

Beginning in the fall of 2023, Central students were also able to pursue new minors in data science and social justice studies.

The data science minor will prepare students to extract, explore and examine data to solve problems and support a variety of industries, from government and healthcare organizations to Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profit organizations.

“The data science minor is a valuable way for students to learn a variety of concepts, tools and modern technologies connected to data analysis,” says Russ Goodman, professor of mathematics. “This minor pairs well with a variety of existing major fields of study including economics, geography, political science, sociology and many more.”

The faculty are also committed to developing an emerging portfolio of experiential opportunities in data science such as Central’s Career Kickstarter program and other experiences like performing analyses for nonprofit partners and Central’s athletics teams.

The new minor in social justice studies seeks to prepare students to apply knowledge and develop skills to make positive changes for minoritized groups. The coursework will build skills to make effective leaders and advocates.

Central launched this minor in the summer of 2023 with Shelley Bradfield, associate professor of communication studies, teaching the course Social Justice in the City. Students attended class and served with local nonprofits in Des Moines, Iowa, that are addressing social issues and working to create positive social change.

“The social justice studies minor is timely in the U.S. with ongoing immigration and increasingly diverse populations,” Bradfield says. “We are also seeing expanding inequities, particularly for minoritized populations. Social justice education responds to these realities by making visible social oppression and advocating for equitable access to resources and opportunities.”


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