Like many successful companies, the birth of Becker Professional Education was inspired by a smart idea by a driven individual. In 1957, a young Price Waterhouse employee in the firm’s Cleveland offices began teaching eight of his colleagues a course he designed to help them all pass the CPA Exam.
That man was Newt Becker, and a year earlier he was in his third year at Price Waterhouse while also a graduate student in accounting at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University. When Becker had initially sought resources to help him prepare for the rigors of the CPA Exam, he was disappointed in what he found. He envisioned and then set about developing a program that not only provided a tightly focused review of the subject matter to be tested, but also taught candidates to “take” the examination and succeed.
Becker’s approach was validated by his students’ success. With the encouragement of the firm’s partners, he expanded the course. Then in 1960, Becker struck out on his own to bring his visionary program to the outside world. From that dynamic foundation, Becker Professional Education was formed.
With a proven methodology, well-constructed content and remarkably consistent student successes on the CPA Exam, Newt Becker faced the challenge of growing the company. He found the solution in what was then state-of-the-art technology—the portable reel-to-reel tape recorder and the overhead projector. He was soon recording lectures in his distinctive style and distributing the tapes to local instructors—complete with instructions, overhead transparencies and handout materials. Through technology and tenaciousness, the distribution barriers of time and space were overcome.
By the mid-1980s, students in approximately 90 U.S. cities could take advantage of Becker’s CPA Review classroom course. International expansion began in 1989 with the opening of classrooms in Canada. Beginning in 1995, a flurry of international expansion resulted in 14 locations in the Middle East, Pacific Rim and Canada—some operated by local educational companies under license from Becker.
Today, Becker is truly global with partner locations over 55 countries, now including Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Self-study courses are available in over 120 countries worldwide.
In 1996, faced with a changing CPA Exam environment and his own personal plans, Newt Becker sold the business to DeVry Inc.
Becker Professional Education carried on its founder’s tradition of measuring business success by the achievements of its students. In fact, as the industry soon recognized, students who prepared for the CPA Exam with Becker passed at double the rate of non-Becker candidates. This remains true, and Becker is the only CPA review provider that engages an independent third-party research firm to validate its pass rate claim.
Since 2005, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has been awarding the Elijah Watt Sells Award to the top CPA candidates nationally, who, on their first attempt, achieve the highest cumulative scores for all four sections of the Uniform CPA Examination. A remarkable 89 percent of the winners (66 of 74) have studied with Becker’s CPA Exam Review.
In 2009, Becker introduced its Continuing Professional Education program as well as its Project Management training curriculum.
Newt Becker died on January 2, 2012 at the age of 83. The community that makes up Becker Professional Education remains inspired by his painstaking efforts, and that of his early colleagues, to deliver the best product to prepare for the CPA Exam.
Newt Becker’s legacy of putting the student first is reflected in the Becker culture that thrives today. The addition of review programs serving the field of healthcare is the most recent example of our determination to continually meet student needs and stay focused on professional development.