Charting their way to the top

CSB grads rank #3 nationally on 2011 CPA exams

March 29, 2012

By Barbara Hein

It was an unusual sound coming from the halls of the Accounting and Finance Department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University recently.  The chair of the department was heard to say "whoohoo!"  Why all the cheers and clapping?

The results had been announced for the 'Best-Performing Accounting Programs' of 2011 and CSB is ranked number three in the United States, according to the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).  The NASBA annually reviews the results of all first-time Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exams taken.

"We have a history of out-performing — by a strong measure — national averages at CSB and SJU," said Mary Jepperson, chair of the CSB/SJU Accounting and Finance Department.  "In the three years prior to 2011, our average pass rate for the two schools for all candidates (first-time and repeat) was about 60 percent.  The national rankings are based on first-time candidates and the 2011 group performed exceptionally well."

In 2011, CSB had 14 first-time CPA test takes with a pass rate of 84.8 percent and an average score of 82.2.  SJU test takers also performed well with 45 first-time candidates tallying a pass rate of 65.2 percent and an average score of 75.2.

"This is a strong affirmation that we have an excellent department and excellent faculty," said Rita Knuesel, provost at CSB and SJU.  "I was absolutely thrilled to learn this excellent news.  I am very proud of our students and the Accounting and Finance Department."

According to the report, the top five schools for first-time exam takers were:

  1. Wake Forest University with an 88.4 percent pass rate
  2. University of Pennsylvania with an 85.5 percent pass rate
  3. College of Saint Benedict with an 84.8 percent pass rate
  4. University of Virginia with an 84.7 percent pass rate
  5. Duke University with an 80.8 percent pass rate

"We have long believed that a strong accounting and finance program nestled in an amazing liberal arts education is the best possible preparation for the work world — wherever our students go. This ranking solidifies the fact that the liberal arts is a good home for pre-professional programs," Jepperson said.

A home that may need to get used to more "whoohoo's" from its chairperson in the future.