How One Accounting Professor is Helping the CPA Pipeline


As the accounting industry continues to search for solutions to the weakening CPA Pipeline, there are great opportunities now that can be implemented by academic institutions to encourage accounting students to become the next leaders in the accounting profession. 

As we reported in our article, “How a Pro-CPA Campus Promotes CPA Pipeline Growth,” there are many theories as to why there has been a confirmed discrepancy between the number of students majoring in accounting compared to the number of CPA candidates sitting for the CPA Exam. The solution lies in finding ways that stakeholders in the accounting profession, specifically colleges and universities, can encourage and foster opportunities for accounting students to easily transition to become Certified Public Accountants.

How can colleges and universities encourage CPA Pipeline growth on their own campuses?

One way to encourage accounting students to further their careers by obtaining the CPA credential is for accounting departments to employ faculty who are CPAs themselves.

Tweet this

How does this help the CPA Pipeline issue? According to our interview with Steve Matzke and Joann David of the AICPA, research shows that accounting students will seek out academics who are key influencers and have practical accounting experience and/or the CPA license. These individuals can provide practical guidance to the CPA path. When students in a classroom setting can visualize how a job is conducted and how to challenge and find resolutions in the business world, it makes the field more relevant and relatable, and therefore more appealing.

How can accounting programs encourage their own faculty to sit for the CPA Exam?

According to the Journal of Accountancy’s article, Incentivizing accounting professors to get their CPAs:

Less than half (48%) of the 843 accounting faculty teaching at four-year universities in the United States who responded to [their] 2016 survey were active CPAs. [Their] data show[s] the obstacles that are keeping professors from obtaining and keeping their CPAs—and how those hurdles can be overcome.

David J. Emerson, CPA, CGMA, Ph.D., and Kenneth J. Smith, CPA, DBA, who conducted the study, presented their findings in the Incentivizing Accounting Professors to Get their CPAs infographic.

According to their research, barriers for professors in obtaining or maintaining a CPA license include no support from their academic institutions and cost constraints. 74% of polled accounting faculty members indicated that their institutions “should provide incentives to those who obtain and/or maintain an active CPA license.”

We reached out to one professor who never questioned the importance of obtaining her CPA license once she began teaching at a university. Jane Adams, CPA, is a Lecturer of Accounting at Henderson State University. She began her career in the private sector, but her passion for accounting inspired her to transition into academia. As a new lecturer of accounting, she felt it was extremely important to get certified as a CPA so that she could encourage other accounting students to follow the same path.

Roger CPA Review’s interview with Jane Adams, CPA – a professor who passed the CPA Exam to encourage her own students.

ROGER CPA REVIEW: How did you get into the accounting field? Was there a certain professor or accounting course in school that inspired you to go into accounting as a field of study?

JANE ADAMS: I graduated from college within three years and planned to major in accounting, but back then, the CPA Exam format was completely different than it is now. At that time, CPA candidates sat in a room for three days and took all parts of the Exam at one time. I was terrified to take the Exam, so I decided to change my major from accounting to business administration with only a minor in accounting. I worked for a year after graduating from college and then went back to obtain my Masters of Business Administration (MBA).

I continued to work full-time at a succession of jobs, but ended up at a company in their accounting department, starting as a cost accountant. I worked for this company for over 18 years and held successive roles, eventually reaching the top accounting spot as the controller. During my time in the private sector, the CPA Exam changed to a new, less intimidating format.  I no longer feared the format and decided to start the journey that would eventually lead me to the CPA Exam. Since accounting was only my minor in college, I needed 21 additional hours before I was eligible to sit for the Exam. I began “chipping away” at these 21 hours, one course at a time.  Continuing to work full-time, now as a CFO at another company, it took me four years to complete the necessary course work.

I was eventually recruited by Henderson State University to teach accounting. I jumped at the chance! I was excited to teach students in ways I wasn’t taught the material. I wanted to bridge the gap between real-world lessons and the accounting classroom setting.  

RCPAR: Do you think it is important for accounting professors to have their CPA license?

JA: Absolutely! At Henderson State University, most of the students in the accounting program have plans to sit for the CPA Exam. Having my CPA license allows me to give students a current perspective of the Exam and what it takes to obtain CPA licensure. I’m able to demonstrate to accounting students what it’s like to walk the CPA path, what the journey looks like, and to set the correct expectations for them. Having my CPA license has made me a pretty popular person in the department amongst my students because they’re always coming to me to ask questions about the Exam and for advice on what to study to successfully pass. It’s imperative for me to lead by example if I want to encourage students to become CPAs.

RCPAR: Do you think it’s important for accounting professors to integrate CPA Exam concepts into their curriculum? Why or Why not?

JA: Yes, in fact, our curriculum is largely based on the CPA Exam. We recently transitioned to incorporate more CPA Exam material. Accounting textbooks are filled with lots of information and 17 weeks in a semester is a short period of time.  Sometimes we must pick and choose what we teach, so we are making a conscious effort to choose items that are often tested on the Exam. As professors, we must stop and think about what accounting firms and other employers need from new accounting graduates. We need to prepare our accounting students for the real world and most employers want to hire CPAs.  We must ask ourselves, “what can we do as professors to prepare students for a successful career in accounting?”

RCPAR: What would you like for your students to learn from your experience in preparing, sitting for, and passing the CPA Exam?

JA: It’s never too late! Even if I run across a student who isn’t planning on sitting for the Exam, I always point out to them that it’s never too late to reconsider getting their CPA license. And for older students like me, they need to be encouraged that age and point in career shouldn’t dictate whether or not they sit for the Exam. You’re never too old to absorb new material or to learn new things.

I often find myself in my classroom repeating things that Roger says on his videos – I spent 9 months with him so we’re pretty good friends! I’ll say, “You won’t see this on the CPA Exam or this concept isn’t tested very often, so let’s not spend a great deal of time on it in class.”  My students are so eager to learn the mysteries of the CPA Exam and I’m glad to make it more accessible to them by sharing what I have learned.

RCPAR: What would you say to other accounting professors who might be on the fence about taking the CPA Exam?

JA: Do it!  If you have the prerequisite accounting hours, it’s just a matter of purchasing the right CPA Review course materials.  Choose materials that make sense for you, and most importantly, materials that will keep you engaged in the process.  Studying for and passing the exam should be easy for a professor who is already immersed in accounting curriculum.

RCPAR: What inspired you to choose Roger CPA Review as your review provider for the CPA Exam?

JA: I researched CPA Review courses online, found Roger’s free videos on YouTube and watched a few. I was working 55+ hours as a CFO, so I needed software that was engaging, informative and entertaining. I instantly liked Roger’s personality and how he simplified the concepts, focusing in on the information I needed to know to pass the CPA Exam. The Roger CPA Review course is fun, and the material can be quickly absorbed.  The videos can be watched again and again, which helped me on the more difficult concepts.

I looked at other well-known review courses, but found them to be boring.  I knew I couldn’t sit and study a book for hours or listen to instructors drone on and on.  I needed a presentation format that was easy to listen to, easy to understand, and most importantly, a format that enabled me to pass the exams!  That’s what I found with Roger CPA Review.

About Jane Adams

Professor Jane Adams is a full-time Instructional Practitioner, teaching Accounting at Henderson State University. She’s also a CFO Consultant at Munro & Company. 

Are you an accounting professor thinking about sitting for the CPA Exam in the new year? It’s never too late to get started — try our course for free today!

Start a Free Trial