Where we have been can tell us a great deal about where we are going. If we wish to direct the future, then understanding the past can help us see how much we actually influence that direction. Ignorance of the past, on the other hand, allows unrealistic expectations and creates unnecessary frustration. The history of accounting higher education in the United States is most informative for anyone who wants to influence the future direction of our profession. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief overview of the history of accounting higher education in the U.S., from its beginnings to its settled position in the university. This historical overview informs us that the profession of public accounting had everything to do with establishing and growing accounting education. Around the time of the Second World War, however, forces were set in motion that would try to pull accounting education from the grasp of public accounting. The belittling of public accounting, first in the name of the new management accounting and then by the Foundation Reports, combined with public accounting leaders' ongoing desire for a five‐year education requirement above all other educational reforms, resulted in accounting higher education's inability to single‐mindedly identify its goals and work toward them.

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