JMU Accounting Masters Program Ranked #1 in CPA Exam Pass Rate

From: Public Affairs

The James Madison University master of science in accounting program was recently recognized as the top-ranked university in the country in pass rate for the certified public accounting exam.

According to the 2011 National Association of State Boards of Accountancy report, the 2010 edition of Candidate Performance on the Uniform CPA Examination ranked JMU as the No. 1 school with the top overall pass rate for first-time candidates with an advanced degree. The report covers testing information collected for the 2010 calendar year and details examination candidate performance from nearly 2,000 colleges and universities. To see how JMU compares to other schools, visit http://bit.ly/tGIwrA.

Dr. Paul Copley, director of the JMU School of Accounting, says, “To rank higher than numerous Ivy League and Big Ten schools is quite a distinction for JMU. We were ranked number four in 2009, and 13 the year before. To move to number one in 2010 is a tribute to our faculty and students. The work ethic of our students, coupled with a strong curriculum, helped us achieve this honor.”

Dr. Nancy Nichols, director of the JMU Master of Science in Accounting, adds, “This a very significant accomplishment that showcases our masters in accounting program as one of the top programs in the country. Achievements like this one make you truly appreciate the magnitude of the students’ accomplishments.”

She goes on to say, “We are very proud of our students and this national recognition of the quality program that JMU offers. We have a rigorous program that challenges students, and, as a result, provides them with the skills needed in the profession. The CPA exam success is a byproduct of a strong program. Our employers have known for years that we graduate outstanding students and this ranking acknowledges that fact.”

When asked what distinguishes JMU’s accounting program from other programs, Copley explains, “One difference is the 'boot camp' that JMU offers its students to help them prepare for the exam. The idea for the program goes back to my first year here, in 2004. I discovered that students didn’t really have a plan for preparing for the exam. It made sense to establish a study program for the 6 weeks following graduation in May. Since the exam is offered in July and August, the students would be well prepared to take it then.”

The boot camp is endorsed by Becker, the Illinois-based company that has been preparing students for the CPA exam for 50 years. JMU professors teach the material for four hours a day, four days a week – a drill-like environment that prepares them for the exam. The camp started in May 2005 with 45 students; today, more than 90 students take advantage of this opportunity.

Copley notes that “The boot camp only works if there is a strong foundation; that’s what our kids get through the undergraduate and master’s program; this just gives them the confidence to succeed.”

Nichols adds, “We have high quality students who work hard and a dedicated accounting faculty who provide them with an educational experience that gives them solid foundational knowledge and prepares them to succeed in the profession. Our students know that their first professional milestone is to pass the CPA exam. Their employers are impressed when they start to work with the CPA exam behind them and they can focus their energies on serving clients.”

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Dec. 2, 2011