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W&L Graduates Secure Highest Pass Rate of Any U.S. Institution on CPA Exam Of the W&L graduates who took the exam, 89.5% passed one or more sections on their very first attempt.

Washington and Lee graduates secured the highest pass rate of any U.S. institution in the Certified Public Accountant examination in 2017. Of the W&L graduates who took the exam, 89.5% passed one or more sections on their very first attempt. W&L graduates also had the highest average score among medium-sized programs which include Vanderbilt, Georgetown, Cornell and Washington University in St. Louis.

“W&L’s pass rate reflects the hard work the students put forth and the commitment the accounting faculty have to their students’ success,” said Sally Richmond, vice president for admissions and financial aid. “It exemplifies our belief that W&L’s intellectual rigor and faculty mentoring best support student learning and professional preparation.”

The accounting major at W&L builds on the liberal arts foundation, increasing analytical and communication skills while providing the knowledge necessary to work in any number of business areas. Majors take a combination of accounting, economics and business administration courses that prepare them for a variety of jobs.

“Our approach to accounting has allowed us to offer innovative courses accompanying the more traditional ones,” said Elizabeth Oliver, Lewis Whitaker Adams Professor in Commerce and associate dean of the Williams School. “Students can study, for example, ‘History Through Accounting,’ ‘Anatomy of a Fraud,’ ‘Casino Accounting’ or ‘The Boardroom: A View Behind the Corporate Curtain.’ These courses allow students to explore accounting from a number of different dimensions.”

“You do not have to graduate from a university with a big accounting program to do well on the CPA exams, or more broadly, succeed in the accounting profession,” said Afshad Irani, department head and professor of accounting. “Graduating from a liberal arts institution like W&L provides you with both the technical and life skills needed to do well in the real world.”

The CPA Exam consists of four, four-hour sections: Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Business Environment and Concepts (BEC), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) and Regulation (REG). Participants must pass all four sections within 18 months, earning a minimum score of 75 on each part.