Here’s a lesson in numbers when it comes to CPA exam performance.

You probably already know Tippie’s MAc grads do extremely well on the CPA exam—we earned a 80.7% first-time pass rate in 2019 to be precise. But is that a good number? Let’s put things into context.

What are the relevant stats?

Each year, National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) collects and reports on first-time CPA exam performance by school. This standardizes the measurement of exam performance across institutions, making for an apples-to-apples comparison. NASBA can also provide program-level breakdowns for each institution.

In 2019, the first time pass rate across all candidates nationwide, regardless of degree, was 58.6%. This number has changed very little over the years.

From Big Ten to Big Four

Some of the best accounting programs are concentrated in the Midwest. In fact, the Big Ten average for first-time CPA pass rate of 70.4% beats the national average by nearly 12 points.

How does the University of Iowa stack up?

In 2019, the average first-time CPA pass rate at the University of Iowa was 80.7%—that’s a combined stat for undergraduate and graduate students. This is over 11 points higher than the next-best performing public university in the state, and more than 10 points higher than the Big Ten average.

The University of Iowa's Master of Accountancy grads passed the CPA exam on the first attempt at a rate of 80.7%.


Source: National Association of State Boards of Accountancy [NASBA] non-public data.