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The CPA Exam Stats You’ve Been Waiting For: The Best-Performing Accounting Programs of 2011

Because the 2011 NASBA Candidate Performance book is a significant improvement over previous versions, we've got some new data to share and it's pretty exciting.

Now, the following stats cover first-time exams across all programs (we'll explain program size in a moment).

  • SHOCK, Wake Forest is #1 yet again. The actual shocking part here is that they came in at an 88.4% pass rate – as many of you know, 2011 was a rough year for CPA exam candidates and the numbers weren't good. It should be some kind of consolation to the Wake haters out there that they "plummeted" from a 90.6% pass rate in 2010. Yes, "plummeted" is used loosely.
  • 2. University of Pennsylvania (wow, who saw that coming?) 85.5%
  • 3. College of Saint Benedict 84.8%
  • 4. University of Virginia 84.7%
  • 5. Duke 80.8%

Now, this year the institution pass rates are divided by size of program as well, so let's just drill down starting with large programs (large defined as 60 or more candidates sent to the take the CPA exam from that program in the year in question):

  • 1. Wake Forest – again, DUH. Wake sent 63 candidates to 216 exams for an average score of 88.4. Well done yet again, kids.
  • 2. University of Virginia sent 127 candidates to 339 exams for an average score of 84.
  • 3. University of Michigan Ann Arbor sent 109 candidates to 307 exams for a pass rate of 80.1% and an average score of 81.8.
  • 4. Truman State University sent 80 candidates to 256 exams for a pass rate of 78.9% and an average score of 80.4.
  • 5. University of Florida sent 153 candidates to 353 exams for a pass rate of 76.8% and an average score of 79.9.

How about some medium programs? This covers 270 institutions who sent 21 – 60 reported candidates each:

  • 1. University of Pennsylvania sent 34 candidates to 83 exams for a pass rate of 85.5% and an average score of 82.6.
  • 2. Vanderbilt sent 41 candidates to 143 exams for a pass rate of 79% and an average score of 81.1.
  • 3. Washington University St. Louis sent 47 candidates to 109 exams for a pass rate of 74.6% and an average score of 77.2.
  • 4. Concordia College (shout-out to Professor Albrecht!) sent 25 candidates to 63 exams for a pass rate of 74.6% and an average score of 77.2.
  • 5. University of Missouri Kansas City sent 57 candidates to 123 exams for a pass rate of 73.2% and an average score of 77.8.

Of programs that sent the highest number of candidates, the Top 5 for actual number of candidates sent are as follows:

  • 1. CUNY Baruch sent 592 candidates to 1,018 sections for a pass rate of 51%
  • 2. University of Southern California sent 542 candidates to 1,181 sections for a pass rate of 62%.
  • 3. Pennsylvania State University Park sent 498 candidates to 1,052 sections for a pass rate of 47.3%.
  • 4. University of California Los Angeles sent 455 candidates to 935 sections for a pass rate of 63.9%.
  • 5. Lastly, the University of Phoenix sent 435 candidates to 777 exams for a pass rate of 30.4%.

Keep in mind NASBA qualifies this data by saying "reasonable efforts have been made to insure accurate and up to date information" contained in their candidate performance book but this data is simply for informational purposes, like you guys comparing accounting programs amongst yourselves. In no way should this data be used to make critical life decisions without additional metrics. That kind of goes without saying, so if I need to say it, maybe you should find a new gig. NASBA also disclaims that not all of the data included in the book is completely reported. Hence not basing your entire life on the data contained therein.

Do with this information what you will, just keep it light, please.

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