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Accountants from USF rank among nation’s best

A recent report from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy showed graduates from USF’s School of Accountancy ranked at the top of the list of the nation’s certified public accountant exam scores from 2002.  

“This is an objective measure of our students’ technical ability when they come out of the program,” said Robert Keith, director of the School of Accountancy.  

Each year, the American Institute of CPAs creates the four-section exam based on the areas of auditing and attestation, financial accounting and reporting, regulation and business environment and concepts, and then sells it to each state.

The responsibility of administering the exams, which are given in May and November each year, falls to each state, which must return them to the AICPA for grading. The AICPA then reports the results to each state, and the state makes the final pass or fail decision. 

Students with advanced degrees placed second in November’s exam and eighth in May’s exam. Additionally, students with bachelors’ degrees placed fourth among those who had no advanced degrees. 

“(Ranking high) affects our reputation in the professional community,” Keith said. “It helps our students get jobs.” 

Keith said USF ranked No.1 nationally for landing on the top 10 list of CPA scores the most times in the past decade. Out of 20 examinations given over the last decade, USF has placed in the top 10 fourteen times. Second place went to both the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who have placed nine times each. USF left long-time Florida favorites the University of Florida and Florida State University in the dust, placing in the list of top 10 universities six and seven more times during the past decade, respectively.  

“A lot of schools publicize opinion surveys, but this is an objective measure since everybody takes the same test,” Keith said. 

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy publishes a report each August containing the results of the prior year’s exams.

Last year’s results were based on more than 108,000 students who took the test. 

“Although we do get some academic recognition, I think the big payoff is for Tampa Bay in the fact that a lot of large companies have been attracted to relocate some very large accounting operations to this area. And one of the things they cite as a reason for doing this is the accounting program here and the quality students it produces,” Keith said. 

Companies such as Coca-Cola and MetLife have chosen Tampa for the location of their accounting centers, Keith said. The two companies will employ a total of more than 1,100 people. 

“We feel like we are part of the economic engine that drives Tampa Bay,” Keith said.