Leveling Up with Mason's Master's in Accounting


The George Mason University School of Business prides itself in being a place for lifelong learning, a place where professionals of all experience levels can continue to grow and rise in their respective fields. It’s a place where already successful businesspeople eagerly come to learn from their peers in the classroom and expert faculty alike. Karen Crosswhite had already served in international corporate tax roles with three of the four leading accounting firms before starting her own. She decided to enroll at Mason to take her career to the next level and be the best possible accountant for her clients.

Karen Crosswhite
Karen Crosswhite

Since opening her own firm, BAS Certified Public Accountant Firm, Karen Crosswhite has been successfully supporting clients within the United States and abroad. “Our firm primarily works with U.S. based multinational businesses and international businesses with subsidiaries in the United States,” she says. “The firm also assists nonprofit organizations and individuals with tax filings, accounting, financial reporting, and other compliance needs. It’s rewarding to help clients solve their problems and be a valued resource to a broad and diverse community of businesses and individuals.” The experience of running her own firm also opened her eyes to a few areas where she wanted to expand the expertise she could offer to her clients. Therefore, she decided it was time to go back to school, but it had to be somewhere that was also convenient, given her busy career. Thankfully, Mason was just down the road from her firm based in Lansdowne, Virginia.

Encouraged by the opportunity to be taught by true experts in accounting, Crosswhite enrolled in Mason’s master's in accounting program and graduate certificate program in forensic accounting. According to Crosswhite, some of her favorite courses were Fraud Examination, Advance Topics in Fraud, and Fraud and the Law. She went on to say, “The courses were instructed by retired FBI instructors, who infused the programs’ curricula with real world experience.” She credits the programs with equipping her with the tools and knowledge to perform fraud consultancy services in a day and age when it’s more in demand than ever before.

The takeaway from the accounting programs was so much more than just what Crosswhite learned in the classroom. “Participating in classes is just the tip of the iceberg,” she says. Her advice to prospective students is to engage with other students and faculty outside of the classroom. In addition to being on campus, she participated in the master’s in accountancy global residency program in Ireland led by Bret Johnson, assistant professor of accounting. The trip led her to authoring a paper on Ireland’s erosion and profit-sharing program. While pursuing knowledge is a lifelong process, it also is done in many avenues, and Crosswhite was eager to seize every opportunity Mason had to offer.

Going back to school for Karen Crosswhite was not about getting a piece of paper so she could be promoted. It was about learning from the best so she could be at the top of her game. Graduation from the MSA program will be not the end of her education either. Whether it be online, in-person, formal or informal, she’s eager to soak up all the knowledge and experience she can get her hands on so that she’s able to stay ahead of the curve in a dynamic world.