Entire accounting graduate class finds employment

It’s hard to be better than perfect.The university’s Master of Accounting class of 2007 achieved a 100 percent job placement rate upon graduation.

Barry Bryan, director of the MAc program in the Neeley School of Business, said this was a result of a good job market and the program’s graduates being highly qualified.

Bryan said since the Enron scandal, companies are looking for more credibility in financial reporting, which has created a better job market for recent graduates eligible to take the CPA exam.

TCU’s CPA exam pass rate last year was 59 percent, according to the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy Web site. Seventy-eight percent of University of Texas students passed the exam, and 75 percent of Texas A&M students passed.

“I think we’re certainly holding our own,” Bryan said, “and our recruiters would tell you the exact same thing.”

The program’s recent success is attracting students to the program, Bryan said. The MAc program has risen from 17 students in 2004 to 40 students in 2006, according to the TCU Fact Book.

The school has seen an increase in the number of recruiters on campus, including three new firms, RSM McGladrey, Inc., Grant Thornton LLP and PKF Texas, that came to TCU this fall. PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four accounting firms, named TCU one of its key schools for recruiting around the country.

Katie Lacker, a MAc student who will work for PricewaterhouseCoopers, said she is glad to have a job waiting for her when she graduates in May 2008.

“It’s comforting because we’re able to focus completely on school,” Lacker said. “It’s not like we have to worry about taking off school to go to an interview or look for jobs while having to study for tests too.”

Bryan said this year’s class was chosen from among roughly 90 applicants, and enrollment is based on the needs of the market.

“I would feel a little guilty to bring in more people than could get jobs when they finish,” Bryan said.

Bryan said TCU’s program will never equal the size of those at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Texas’ program graduated 100 students last year, according to the McCombs School of Business Web Site, and A&M’s program graduated 250 students, said James Benjamin, head professor of A&M’s accounting department.

Still, Bryan said, his goal is to meet or exceed their CPA exam pass rate.

“That’s a tall order, but we’re close,” Bryan said. “We’ve made significant strides.”

Bryan said accounting firms find Neeley’s MAc graduates well-prepared technically and analytically and equipped with the necessary social skills.

“I think it speaks highly of our program in that the firms find our students to be very qualified for the entry level positions,” Bryan said.

Claudia Vaz, a MAc student, said her professors prepare her to start working right away.

“The professors design the classes with a ‘what you need to know when you start working,’ approach, besides any additional information we need,” Vaz said.