As one of the first students in Kelley Indianapolis’ graduate accounting program in early 2000, Michael Clarke called his decision to enroll a “no brainer,” considering the business school’s high rankings and reputation. Clarke had moved to Indiana from California the year before. A brief foray into the world of California real estate development proved too slow for Clarke, who realized his place was in one of the nation’s large public accounting firms.

“When I took Professor Kulsrud’s class, I admired his knowledge, and his perspective was very valuable,” said Clarke, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business economics from UC Santa Barbara. “It reaffirmed my decision to be in tax.”

For Clarke, graduate studies solidified his skill set by adding specialized and in-depth knowledge of tax and accounting. He said coursework focused on real-life scenarios, case studies and simulations, which offered welcome opportunities for problem-solving and remain valuable to him today.

Clarke realized early on the benefit of an advanced degree while moving up the ladder at both Ernst & Young, where he worked for five years, and his current employer, Deloitte Tax, where he has worked for nearly eight years. Clarke is a senior manager in Global Employer Services. Supervising a team of six colleagues in offices across the country and around the world, Clarke provides strategic tax and HR consulting to large companies deploying employees internationally.

“A bachelor’s degree provides foundational skills, which are important, of course, but a graduate accounting degree provides in-depth knowledge to help you really succeed in public accounting,” Clarke explained. “Graduate studies take your qualifications to the next level, allowing you to be that much more valuable to your employer and your clients.”