State Board Report

July 2012

Female African American accountants and female Hispanic accountants are less likely to be CPAs than their male counterparts, researchers who were recipients of NASBA grants discovered. Dr. Dale Flesher, speaking at both the Eastern and Western Regional Meetings for his co researchers, Dr. Helen G. Gabre and Frank Ross, said the purpose of the study was to conduct an empirical investigation of the possible factors associated with the dearth of minority (Hispanic and African American) CPAs. The researchers gathered 965 responses, from members of the National Association of Black Accountants (653) and the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (312). They found 50 percent of the African American males answering the survey passed the CPA Examination, but only 32 percent of the African American females passed. As for the Hispanic accountants, 60 percent of the males had passed the CPA Examination but only 37 percent of the females had.

The researchers also found that African American candidates who graduated from private black colleges had the highest pass rate, 53 percent, and those from non-black private colleges the second highest pass rate, 38 percent. Taking a CPA review course proved to be particularly important to passing the examination, with a 95 percent failure rate for those who did not take such a course. In summary, Dr. Flesher said economics impacts the pass rate. "I am not sure how this affects regulators – other than the cost of the examination. If you need more revenue – get it from the licensees, not from the examination candidates." He suggested scholarships for review courses would be helpful.

Dr. Kate Mooney and Kerry Marrer, of St. Cloud University, also reported on the results of their study to the NASBA Regional Meetings. They gathered data from 444 students to see what types of courses they were completing to reach the 150 hour total. Their school has many transfer students, so 75 percent of the respondents had transfer credits, each having an average of 34 credits. The researchers categorized the courses taken as relevant (business, accounting, core competencies, etc.), unintentional (having been taken prior to admission to the accounting major) or irrelevant (other courses, such as basket weaving). The "unintentional courses" came about because students had started in another track or had courses that could not be transferred easily.

"Students are not choosing the easy, irrelevant courses to meet the 150 hour requirement," the researchers found. However, they did find that at St. Cloud University, "Students who are meeting the 150 hour requirement are doing it with mostly unintentional courses."

Education Committee Chair Karen Turner asked that the Boards submit to her suggestions for research that would be useful to them.

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