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Accounting students in the Haslam College of Business are among the brightest in the state and the nation, according to the latest report from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.

The accounting students ranked seventh among those from nearly 500 schools in the United States for Certified Public Accountant exam pass rates in 2014, according to the report, released in the first quarter of 2015. This puts them in the 98.5th percentile nationwide.

Much like the bar for lawyers, the exam is a professional licensing test that accountants must pass before beginning their CPA practice. Pass rates are a key factor in determining a student’s educational preparation.

UT students passed 82.8 percent of the CPA exam sections attempted, edging out Vanderbilt University for the state’s top honors. In addition to quality, UT’s undergraduate programs and Master of Accounting program graduate approximately 225 students each year, the highest number of accounting graduates in the state.

Joe Carcello, EY and Business Alumni Professor and head of the Department of Accounting and Information Management, said the rankings demonstrate much more than test skills.

“Most of the achievement rests with our students—they are very bright and work hard—but this is a great success for our department as well,” he said. “It is easy to be big. It is hard to be superb. It is staggeringly difficult to be both the biggest and the best. Students of the Department of Accounting and Information Management have accomplished both.”

Carcello has set his sights next on the top spot in the Southeastern Conference. UT accounting students finished third in the SEC this year, behind the University of Georgia and the University of Florida. Other pass rates for public universities in the SEC trailed the big three considerably with Auburn University at 67 percent, the University of Mississippi at 65 percent, and the University of Alabama at 59 percent.

UT’s accounting program has moved up twenty-two spots in the NASBA rankings since 2006.


Tanya Brown (865-974-1570,

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,