Dealing with numbers on a daily basis doesn’t come easy for a lot of people. However, there are some who have an uncanny, almost natural ability to easily tally those tricky digits. For everyone else, earning a Master of Science in Accountancy is key to grasping those numbers and understanding how to record financial transactions pertaining to business, to acquire a great career.
Adrian College’s Master of Science (MS) in Accountancy program recently received its yearly Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Pass Rate Statistics from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) 2019 Candidate Performance on the Uniform CPA Examination Report and found it’s at 67.40% overall, compared to the State of Michigan’s 56.60%. The national average is 52.80%.
“The best path to a successful accounting career is for a student to pass the CPA exam as soon as they possibly can and get into the best possible job, preferably, a very large national or regional CPA firm, even if their desire is not to work in public accounting for a long period of time,” said Donna Baker, Adrian College associate professor in accountancy and MS in Accountancy Graduate Program liaison. “To have that experience on their resume is very significant as they go on to choose what they want to do.”
In addition, Adrian College’s 2019-2020 program had 63% of its graduated students gain employment with large national and regional CPA firms. Twenty-six percent of those students went into corporate accounting while 5% went into local CPA firms. That’s a 94% employment rate before the students complete their first course in the MS in Accountancy program. Baker said she and her colleagues aggressively reach out to find good placements for the accounting graduates and a majority find employment even before their first grades are finalized. With those connections made and Adrian College students excelling in the field, other businesses have taken note and are also seeking out the accounting program’s students.
“I always tell my students to focus on that exam,” Baker said. “Once they have the credentials on their resume, they can choose whatever they want to do. Many Fortune 500 CEOs are CPAs and have worked in large accounting firms. If students want to aim for the top companies, they would have the credentials to do that after passing the CPA exam.”
Adrian College is number two in the state as a small college in NASBA’s CPA pass rate rankings and is number six in the state overall. Adrian College ranks 36th nationally as a small college.
“When I came to Adrian College my vision really was to try to find a way to have the students follow this path,” Baker said. “We completely revamped the Master’s program in Accountancy.”
The program’s curriculum was split into four different parts to mimic the four sections of the CPA exam. Baker and her colleagues then incorporated CPA review materials in each of those four sections for four eight week classes. Baker said it’s hard to do, but if a student is very dedicated they can complete the first eight weeks and take that particular section of the CPA exam. Students can do the same thing after the next eight week section and so on until all four sections of the exam are completed.
“It’s very difficult to do all four of them, but they can have at least part of the exam done to be well ahead of others when they earn their MS in Accountancy,” Baker said.
She went on to say that most of the other college’s MS in Accountancy programs have students study the same material Adrian College is teaching for an entire year before taking a stab at the exam. Their students have to review the material again before taking a section of the exam, while they are also seeking a career.
Because Adrian College’s students take sections of the exam during their studies, the average age of those students who passed the CPA exam is just 23.5 years old, more than three years younger than the state average of 26.9. The national average is 28 years old. Adrian College’s students also passed the exam with higher passing scores of 77.8 on average. The average score in Michigan is 73.7. Nationally, the average is 72.1. That rating places Adrian College in the top 20 in Michigan for the youngest average passing grades.
Baker said her accounting courses aren’t boring and filled with number-crunching nerds.
“This is what I tell my students, because accounting has the stereotype of being absolutely boring, ‘there are so many different career paths,’” Baker said. “I encourage the students to take the path of getting their Master’s, pass the CPA exam, get their foot into the largest organization possible, and then the sky is the limit. What is your passion? Are you an NFL fan? Guess what, they all need accountants. Do you have a real heart or compassion for charities? They all need accountants. Do you want to work close to your kids in school someday? Guess what, they all need accountants too.
“You go through our program and these students are not just sitting in cubbies inputting and cranking out data… It is not just a program that’s going to teach them what they need to do to pass the exam,” Baker said. “We focus on all of the skills they need to be successful and strategically guide an organization to achieve their goals.”
Baker has not only been an accounting educator for the past 30 years. She also owns a well-established accounting firm in Adrian.
“I’ve never once been bored,” Baker said of her chosen career.
Adrian College’s MS in Accountancy program is completely online and has been attracting students from other colleges and universities.
“A majority of the faculty are all here,” Baker said. “We actually have an accounting lounge that students can meet and work in. So, we still have an enormous amount of interaction with these students. We’re available almost any time for students through Zoom or emails.”
The program is available to anyone seeking a MS in Accountancy. Adrian College students currently account for approximately 75% of those involved while 25% of the program consists of other college or university students and adults.
For more information on the MS in Accountancy program at Adrian College, go online to adrian.edu.