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MAC Study Abroad in Prague: A Blend of Coursework, Exploring Europe

Skyline of the city of Prague, Czech Republic
Skyline of the city of Prague, Czech Republic

Josh Plafker says that his biggest regret from his undergraduate years at NC State was not studying abroad. He made up for that – and completed a course toward his master’s degree – while participating in the Jenkins Master of Accounting (MAC) study abroad program in Prague during the summer of 2017.

The MAC program’s Accounting and Tax Research course, taught by Scott Showalter, NC State Poole College of Management accounting professor, gives students the opportunity to take a required course and apply their learning in a global setting.

“The program was a good mix of learning accounting and exploring Europe,” Plafker said. “We worked pretty hard Monday through Thursday and then were able to travel to other cities on the weekends and explore Prague after class.”

During the nearly month-long program, Showalter and the 11 students visited two accounting firms – KPMG in Berlin and EY in Prague. “It was interested to see their different needs and focus,” Plafker said. “In Germany, with its more established economy, their needs are similar to the United States while the Czech Republic has more of an emerging economy, with lots of rapid growth.”

Eisaku Sato, who expects to graduate from the MAC program in May 2018, said that visiting two of the Big Four firms helped him “understand how international accounting firms conduct their research within their own laws and how they worked with the different regulations as part of the EU.”

Sato had traveled overseas before but hadn’t studied abroad prior to this trip. He said that being in Prague expanded his global awareness and increased his respect for the different cultures that exist throughout the world. “This cultural understanding will help us in the accounting profession because we will be interacting with many different people and companies with international branches,” he said.

Showalter said that, in addition to giving the students a leg up in the program by completing a course, the study abroad option also allows students to immerse themselves in a local culture. “This is one of the few MAC graduate programs with a study abroad component,” he said. “In addition to teaching students about tax and accounting research, our program gives students a chance to experience a graduate class while in a global setting.”

Program participants live in a university dormitory in Prague and receive transit passes to allow unlimited use of the excellent public transportation that serves the metropolitan area. Classes are held at the NC State Prague Institute, an outstanding facility located in the historic Old Town district of Prague that features classroom space, a small computer lab, several kitchens, and a student lounge. 

As a group, the students and professor visited historical, cultural, and recreational sites, including the opera and Prague Castle, and enjoyed two dinners together. In addition, they spent three days in Berlin. On their own, students took weekend trips to places both within and beyond the borders of the Czech Republic. Sato and three classmates traveled to Poland to visit Auschwitz while Plafker enjoyed the medieval Czech town of Kutná Hora. Showalter said other students have used their weekends during the program to visit Rome, London, Budapest, and Vienna.

“I would recommend this study abroad program because it gives you a chance to see a different culture, learn more and expand your horizons,” Sato said. “It’s a global economy so you’re going to want to know the different social structures and how other cultures interact with each other.”

Editor’s Note: The Prague Institute, which has been home base for the NC State MAC program’s summer course in Prague for the past 11 years, is moving to a new location next year—the NC State European Center in Prague, offering more teaching and research opportunities for university faculty. Read more.

Author: Michele Lynn for the Jenkins Master of Accounting Program, NC State Poole College of Management