Trevecca accounting graduates rank among the best in nation, state in CPA exam performance

When the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) released the most recent data trends regarding CPA exam pass rates late last year, Trevecca graduates ranked among the top performers in the nation.

NASBA released the Candidate Performance on the Uniform CPA Examination—2018 Edition on Oct. 1, 2019.

Trevecca graduates ranked 15th in the nation in a category comparing candidates from small programs sitting for the exam for the first time. This placed Trevecca accounting alumni in the top six percent of the 242 reporting institutions of higher education from across the country. Trevecca graduates performed better than those from similarly sized accounting programs such as Saint Vincent College, Wofford College and Bethel University. 

Trevecca alumni also achieved an average overall first-time pass rate of 65 percent. The American Institute of Certified Accountants estimates the nationwide overall first-time pass rate for the CPA examination averages around 45-55 percent, varying by quarter and section.

In the state of Tennessee, Trevecca graduates achieved the highest pass rate (87.5 percent) in the state for the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section of the exam, leading institutions such as Vanderbilt University, Belmont University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Trevecca-trained accountants garnered the fourth-highest overall pass rate among the 24 Tennessee colleges and universities included in the ranking. 

For Alex Houser, a 2018 graduate of the program who also recently completed the CPA exam successfully, these rankings come as no surprise. 

“I believe the classmates who I graduated with were some of the brightest intellectuals and business professionals that I will ever meet. We were competitive in everything we did and that translated from the classroom to the CPA exam, and eventually into a professional setting,” said Houser, who is an experienced associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). “I truly believe only Trevecca offers students the opportunity to have genuine relationships with professors in such a way that fosters professional development and a sense of confidence that [you] can achieve anything, as long as [you’re] willing to work for it.” 

Greg Runyan, associate professor and chair of Trevecca’s Department of Business Administration, and Dr. Allen Jinnette, associate professor of accounting, attributed the success to the accounting program’s rigorous curriculum and motivated students. 

“God has sent us a lot of great students,” Runyan said. “They are a pleasure to work with and we’re so proud of their careers and how they give back to Trevecca.” 

“Our curriculum has been instrumental in helping students be successful in passing the CPA exam,” Jinette said. 

Houser says his Trevecca experience has helped to shape his career. A 2019 graduate of Trevecca, Houser secured a job with one of the Big Four, PwC, before he had graduated. 

“Accounting classes taught critical thinking and issues management, which are both [daily imperatives] in public accounting,” Houser said. “Ironically, I recently have used an old paper that I wrote for Advanced Accounting that addressed GAAP versus IFRS accounting. It does not shock me that I was doing work in college that would one day be used almost word-for-word in some of my everyday issues.”

Sarah Smith, a 2014 graduate of Trevecca’s accounting program, agrees. Now a manager of entrepreneurial services at KraftCPAs PLLC, Smith says Trevecca’s curriculum helped her hone the professional skills she needed to excel while the faculty instilled values that guide her today. 

“Trevecca gave me the academic foundation that I needed to be successful in my job but, more importantly, taught me how to be a trustworthy and respectable employee, coworker and trusted adviser to my clients,” Smith said. “I believe that is what has truly helped me advance in my career and effectively manage people and interact with my clients on a day-to-day basis.”  

Since 1973, Trevecca’s accounting program has been preparing graduates to work in the professional accounting field. While accounting students are making their mark at the Big Four firms—including two May 2020 graduates—Trevecca accounting students can be found starting their careers at HCA, Envision Healthcare, Surgery Partners, Blankenship CPA Group, KraftCPAs and many other businesses including the music industry and nonprofits. 

For Runyan, his former students’ success is more than a statistic. It’s a way to honor Gerald D. Skinner, for whom Trevecca’s business school—the Skinner School of Business and Technology—is named. 

“I had Mr. Skinner as a professor in the ’70s, and I know that he would be proud of these results,” Runyan said. “One of his main pushes was to get everyone to take the CPA exam.”

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Media contact: Mandy Crow,, 615-248-1695