University of Vermont

University Communications

UVM Rises to No. 23 Nationally For Performance On CPA Exam

Grossman School of Business
A new focus on taxes by faculty in the Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program has helped improved scores on the CPA exam. (Photo: Sally McCay)

The University of Vermont now ranks among the top 25 institutions nationally for its pass rate on the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) exam based on the latest rankings from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

The university’s 78.6 percent first-time pass rate is based on the scores of 49 students, primarily graduates of UVM’s Master of Accountancy (MAcc) program in the Grossman School of Business, and ranks among the top three percent nationally, well above the U.S. and international pass rate of 54.4 percent. Overall, UVM improved from No. 40 to No. 23 (out of 858 institutions), and moved up five spots to No. 4 among the 283 medium-sized programs with 21-60 CPA exam candidates.

“The continuous rise of the Master of Accounting program in the rankings is a testament to the leadership of Susan Hughes and the dedication and commitment of our accounting faculty to the academic experience of the students,” said Sanjay Sharma, dean of the Grossman School of Business. “Whether I enter Kalkin Hall at night, on holidays, or on weekends, I always see our accounting students studying and/or preparing with dedication for their CPA exam, usually with an accounting faculty member mentoring them.”

Within New England, UVM ranked No.1 for first-time pass rate (88.1 percent) of its graduate students (MAcc only), who also ranked first for their pass rate within one year of graduation (94.4 percent) and average overall score (83.3). UVM also claimed the top spot in New England for first-time pass rate of its undergraduate and graduate students combined (90.9 percent) when taken within one year of graduation.

Hughes attributes students' hard work studying for the exam and her program's decision not to teach to the test as the main reasons for the increase in scores. “Our students benefit from the teaching expertise of our six full-time faculty members," said Hughes. "We all strive to make each class the best learning experience it can be to fully prepare our students to excel as entry level professional accountants. They study hard while in the program, and then devote the summer following graduation to studying for - and passing - the CPA exam.”

Hughes and Associate Professor Barbara Arel have worked to rearrange the focus of the program to cover all four sections of the exam equally. Lecturer Keith Kasper, president of the law firm of McCormick, Fitzpatrick, Kasper & Burchard in Burlington, and Assistant Professor Glen Walberg, a tax scholar, went from teaching the program’s lone introductory tax course to a full slate of tax courses and a specialized CPA law course.

The result has been a steady rise to the top of the New England rankings for first-time pass rates for undergraduates and graduate students combined in Business Environment and Concepts (BEC) (100 percent); Financial Reporting (88.9 percent); Audit (88.9 percent); and a No. 2 ranking in Regulation (81.8 percent).

“I was exposed to everything that was on the CPA exam at least briefly while attending UVM," said Benjamin Medor, a 2016 graduate who works as an audit associate with KPMG. “I think that by not teaching to the CPA exam, professors have the flexibility to touch on a broader range of topics within the accounting realm. I strongly believe that if you take as many accounting and finance courses as UVM offers, you will be very prepared for the CPA exams and work after college. That said, students who received the highest scores made studying their job during the summer for at least eight hours per day."