Building a program around student success
Thinking outside the box and winning big
The majority of University of Kansas (KU) students start their careers on the Missouri side of Kansas City. When Missouri started allowing students to sit for the CPA Exam 60 days before meeting their 150-hour educational eligibility requirement, students wanted to take the CPA Exam during their final Master of Accounting (MAcc) program semester. So the KU (MAcc) program did what it does best — adapt. The normally 15-week final semester for MAcc students was compressed to 10 weeks. Credit hours were front-loaded to make up for the six hours that would be missing from the final semester, and the faculty worked harmoniously to create an exam prep that would work for students studying together or on their own.
The KU team has continuously evolved how they use Becker materials to prepare students to sit for the CPA Exam. At first, they conducted daylong, in-person Becker sessions. Later on, they pivoted to better meet the students’ needs. “We found students studied better when they worked at times and paces that suited them individually,” said Mark Best, a KU lecturer and former Becker instructor. “They watch a little lecture and then do a little multiple choice, watch a little more — it’s something you can’t do in a classroom with 100 people in front of you.”
“We don’t teach to the exam, but we understand most students are in MAcc programs to get their 150 hours to be eligible for the CPA Exam. The smartest way to help them is combining a master’s degree with CPA eligibility. We’re cognizant of their goal, and we use Becker to help them succeed.”
Alee S. Phillips
Master of Accounting Program Director
Adapting the curriculum for success
Something the KU team prides itself on is its ability to go beyond the exam to help students. A recent example was changing the undergraduate tax sequence from individual to corporate. “We made that change so four-year undergraduate majors going to work in the industry after graduation would have more relevant tax education for their careers,” Phillips said. “Our students are academically prepared to be successful on exam day and beyond after completion of our program. The faculty’s commitment to continuous curriculum review — and our partnership with Becker — have both been game changers.”
Virtual blackboard sessions
During the Becker CPA Exam prep, KU has adopted a uniquely successful approach to teaching. First, they give a study schedule but make sure that all students know they’re responsible for following it in their own way. Then, virtual discussion boards are set up for each section of the exam and one for general concerns. As students work through the Becker materials, they can anonymously post difficult questions or scenarios to the corresponding board.
There, KU faculty draw from their subject matter expertise and personal CPA Exam experiences to provide answers and insight. The whole process gives visibility to faculty around where students are struggling and creates a repository for all the information students need to succeed on the exam.
With a deep Becker integration and unique approach to preparing their MAcc students, the CPA Success Index predicts that 90.1% of KU grads will have passed their CPA Exam within 18 months of graduation.*
Results are as reported by the University of Kansas.
*University of Kansas’ score on the CPA Success Index means that nearly 90.1% of their students can expect to pass the exam within 18 months. They ranked in the #5 spot in Accounting Today’s report in February 2021. Davis, Charles, Lindquist, Timothy, & Ugrin, Joseph. “Truman State takes top spot among college accounting programs.” Accounting Today, 3 Feb. 2021.