Graduate students ace CPA exam, top St. Louis market

by | May 21, 2017

Those enrolled in UMSL's Master of Accounting program continued a trend of high CPA exam pass rates in 2016, surpassing the national average by 26.6 percent.
Stephen Moehrle, teaches

Stephen Moehrle (at right) leads the Master of Accounting program as the department chair and professor of accounting. (File photo by August Jennewein)

As a mother of three with a full-time job, Stephanie Parrish had limited time to prepare for the Uniform CPA Examination. Luckily, her education at the University of Missouri–St. Louis provided the tools she needed to excel.

“I have no idea how I would have made it through all of the material if I had been learning it from scratch,” Parrish said. “The fact that I was already familiar with a lot of it really helped accelerate my studying.”

Parrish’s success story does not stand alone as UMSL Master of Accounting students continue to shine in CPA exam pass rates.

While the 2016 national pass rate was a daunting 48.7 percent, UMSL advanced degree candidates far surpassed this benchmark at 75.3 percent. This set of students also led the St. Louis market by a considerable margin.

With nine universities in the market space, earning a 5 percent pass rate increment over the next highest program and doubling the rates of some programs were not easy tasks.

“Being among the best programs in the St. Louis area and the state of Missouri is no small feat,” said Stephen Moehrle, department chair and professor of accounting. “Missouri ranks very high in pass rates nationally.”

UMSL graduate students also led the region for first-time testers (84.6 percent pass rate) and first-time testers within one year of graduation (93.8 percent pass rate).

Moehrle attributes the success to the caliber of students, while many alumni credit the accessibility of faculty members.

“The faculty were probably the most important part for my education in school and while preparing for the exam,” said Mike Sneller, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UMSL. “Even after you’re done with their class – if you have an issue with another course or while you’re doing the exam preparation – you can still reach out at any time and know the faculty is going to be supporting you.”

When students pass, they often alert Moehrle and other faculty members electronically. With the number of positive messages flooding his inbox and social media feeds, Moehrle suspected the 2016 results would be every bit as good as the great rates observed during the past decade.

“They are great students who work extremely hard,” Moehrle said. “Because they are so strong academically, we have been able to ramp up the rigor of the curriculum without losing any students.”

Parrish, who now works for RubinBrown LLP, is actively utilizing the knowledge gained at UMSL – particularly the skills she gained from an accounting research and writing course taught by Associate Professor Pamela Stuerke.

“Now that I’m out into the workforce, I appreciate what I had at UMSL even more,” Parrish said. “We had a really great baseline to start from. I have a great network of friends and alumni now, and I hear the same things from them. They really feel like they got what they needed in order to be successful.”

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