Current students and recent graduates of Western Carolina University’s master’s program in accountancy did better on the certified public accountant exam ― a requirement for becoming a CPA ― than the national average, results show.

The National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, which proctors the exam, listed WCU test takers performing at a 67 percent pass rate in 2015, compared to the 50 percent national average.

The WCU College of Business offers core classes for the Master of Accountancy Program at the university’s Biltmore Park location in Asheville. The program is designed to prepare future generations of accountants for the public accounting profession, as well as for industry, government and nonprofit organizations. Students gain the knowledge and tools they need to meet the state board requirements for CPA licensure.

“There are many certifications out there that accounting professionals could pursue, but the CPA designation continues to be the gold standard of the accounting profession,” said Susan Swanger, director for the WCU Master of Accountancy Program. “While not all of our students pursue that designation, it is evident that those who undertake the examination process do quite well. The pass rate reflects our rigorous admissions standards, the breadth and depth of our curriculum and, of course, the dedication and mentoring by our faculty members.”

CPA exam pass rates

CPA exam pass rates

WCU also exceeded the national average in each of the four sections of the CPA exam. On the auditing and attestation section, it was 64 percent compared to a national average of 47 percent. In the business environment and concepts section, WCU scored 65 percent to the 57 percent national average. WCU scored 68 percent to 47 percent national average in the financial accounting and reporting section, and in the regulation section the national average was 49 percent to WCU’s 71.

“The most important factors contributing to these fantastic results, however, are the sheer desire to excel and the commitment to hard work displayed by our wonderful students,” Swanger said. “We are most proud ― Catamount proud.”

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