Understanding Students' Choice of Academic Majors: A Longitudinal Analysis

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This study extends Tan and Laswad's 2006a study by surveying the same students at the beginning and end of their degree programme at a New Zealand university regarding their major choices, beliefs and attitudes towards majoring in accounting or a non-accounting discipline. Using the theory of planned behaviour, the objectives are to compare intentions with behaviour in relation to majoring in accounting and other business disciplines and to examine changes in attitudes and beliefs between the beginning and end of university study. The results indicate many students choose majors that are consistent with their intentions at the beginning of their university study but some students also change their intentions and major in other areas. Some attitudes and beliefs change over time but the major choice tends to remain relatively stable. The results suggest that a higher proportion of accounting students than other business students decide on their major prior to university study. This may suggest that promoting accounting as a career may need to focus on pre-university students.

Keywords: Accounting major; accounting career; accounting education; theory of planned behaviour

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09639280802009108

Affiliations: Massey University, New Zealand

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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