Patterson School of Accountancy Offers Becker CPA Review Course

OXFORD, Miss. – Accountancy students at the University of Mississippi can get a leg up on their peers when it comes job-hunting time by taking the “Ole Miss-Becker” Certified Public Accountant Review as a credit course through the university’s Patterson School of Accountancy.

Becker Professional Education offers preparation courses for the CPA exam and other professional certification exams. Being able to take the exam while still in school is a huge benefit, several previous students said.

“It has definitely helped me with my career having the exam behind me,” said recent graduate Jeannie Blair, who works for Deloitte LLP in Nashville. “I am not worried about studying after work, as many people are, and it was great to get it out of the way while I was still in ‘study mode’ in college.”

Josh Norris, another alumnus of the program who works for Ernst & Young in Memphis, agrees.

“I couldn’t imagine going to work, then having to study after-hours,” Norris said.

Though this is the third year the school has offered the CPA review course, it is only the second year that students can receive academic credit for it, helping them focus on the course much as they do with other accounting classes.

“We had motivation to really keep up with it and study just as we would for our other classes,” Blair said. “I think if we hadn’t received class credit, we wouldn’t have taken it as seriously.”

Many students who have taken the course have received their bachelor’s degrees in accounting and are enrolled in the master’s program in either taxation or accountancy.

Passing the CPA exam is a requirement in the United States to be a certified accountant, and people who do so generally earn at least 10 percent more than non-CPA accountants.

Forty-nine students participated in the course during spring 2009. The CPA exam includes four individual parts, and based on scores reported by students, the results were outstanding. At the end of last summer, 147 scores on individual sections had been reported, with 132 being passes and only 15 being fails. This is a pass rate of 89.8 percent, compared with the national average of about 50 percent on individual sections. Approximately half the UM students passed all four parts of the CPA exam on the first sitting.

“I am pleased with the results, but not really that surprised,” Dean Mark Wilder said. “These students have already gone through a rigorous accountancy program here at Ole Miss, so they are primarily reviewing and synthesizing their knowledge with the course. Also, it is widely acknowledged that the Becker materials are very good. Furthermore, offering the course for credit with our faculty delivering the class motivates the students to be accountable.”

The benefits from this course can be immense, said Dave Nichols, UM associate professor of accountancy.

“If a student does what we ask them to do, they should be able to have completed the CPA exam by the time they graduate,” Nichols said.

Students who have taken this course agree that it offers great benefits, but future students need to be prepared to work hard.

“It was a huge time commitment, but well worth it,” Norris said. “The combination of the Becker materials and insight from the accounting faculty is exactly what students need to pass the exam.”

To learn more about the Patterson School of Accountancy, visit