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Taxation: Learning Skills for Life How a Masters in Taxation can distinguish you in the workforce

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Photo of Don Williamson
Credit: Jessica Joy De Jesus

Sitting on the desk in the MST Program Director Don Williamson’s office is one volume of the Internal Revenue Code. It’s a dense book – thick and daunting to open, and it’s filled with every aspect of tax law. Williamson emphasizes that the Internal Revenue Code is “just a book,” though. “What we help students do is to not be scared by it. If you train yourself to not be intimidated by the Internal Revenue Code, you can face anything in business.”

This is what the Masters in Taxation Program strives to accomplish. The MST Program gives students the tools to think clearly, concisely and critically – skills that can be applied to any profession.

Williamson mentions that many undergraduates don’t consider studying taxation because they do not want to concentrate on one subject. However, this is a misconception. Studying taxation does not limit a students’ skills; on the contrary, a degree in taxation will distinguish and empower a student in the workforce. “You don’t become an expert in tax,” says Williamson. “You become an expert in thinking.”

The MST Program at the Kogod School of Business is the only Master of Science in Taxation program in the area, and one of the few offered on the East Coast. Washington, D.C. is a second classroom. Students become more than just observers – they are active learning members in the city. The Tax Policy class takes trips to the Treasury Department, the US Tax Court, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the IRS’ national office.

In the classroom, Williamson utilizes examples from movies to show the students how taxation can be applied to every aspect of life. The students develop estate plans for Don Corleone from the Godfather, consider the employee status of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and debate the custody status of the parents in the Blind Side. “There’s nothing in life or death that you can’t apply to the Internal Revenue Code,” says Williamson. “Just like the Bible.”

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