Appreciating Excellence
Trinity named No. 11 in the nation for CPA performance results
Thursday, June 4, 2020
accounting books on shelf

Preparation, responsiveness, and an interdisciplinary approach continue to drive Trinity's Master of Science in Accounting toward national excellence. The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) recently ranked Trinity University No. 11 in the nation for its performance results in the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination (CPA). Graduates from the master’s degree program have a first-time pass rate of 84.7 percent, almost 30 percent higher than the national average. This level of success stems from the University’s unique combination of accounting fundamentals, experiential learning, and liberal arts methodology. 

The CPA contains four sections: Auditing and Attestation, Business Environment and Concepts, Financial Accounting and Reporting, and Regulation. According to accounting professor Julie Persellin, Chair of Trinity’s Department of Accounting, preparation for this rigorous test sequence begins the moment students enter their introductory classes. “We’re providing them with a really solid accounting foundation, starting with the first course all the way through the graduate program,” Persellin says. “We introduce questions and situations they’ll need to understand for the CPA from the moment they begin.” 

However, not all learning is done in the classroom—as Persellin puts it, “Exams are one thing, but what you do in real life is another.” Accounting students at Trinity spend part of their undergraduate work in the field. Major firms (including all of the Big Four) heavily recruit at the University, interviewing students in their third year of study for internships taking place during their senior year. Not only does this experience afford students with critical professional skills prior to graduation, but creates professional opportunity. “Over 90% of Trinity interns get full time job offers,” Persellin says. “In fact, there’s only been 1 year out of the past 20 years without a 100 percent placement rate.”

In Persellin’s opinion, this outstanding rate of success partially results from the program’s adaptable and diversified curriculum. “We are concerned with making sure that [the students] are on the forefront of the profession,” she says. “So many firms are very heavily using data analytics, so we hired another professor specializing in data analytics to teach two courses in the graduate program.” As the Jesse H. Jones Distinguished Professor of Accounting, Marcia Watson brings a fresh perspective heightened by a familiarity with the tools that accounting firms are currently using. She continues to work in close conjunction with the accounting community to stay up to date on innovations in the field. 

Aside from being highly attuned to changes in the world of accounting, Trinity’s program embraces the interdisciplinary spirit of a liberal arts institution. Students take the same business core curriculum, gaining skills from a wide array of fields before selecting their specialty. “There are not a lot of schools that have the mix of a strong accounting department with the liberal arts approach,” Persellin says. “We work together to shape graduate students who are truly great, well rounded individuals that come out curious—and that's what employers want.”

Brooke Yung ’20 helped tell Trinity's story as a writing intern for Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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