To become a certified public accountant (CPA), students have to take and pass the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination. It is a complex, multi-part, lengthy exam that assesses important skills CPAs are expected to have. This is what all accountants prepare for; it is the culmination of years of studying. However, it is not as simple as showing up and taking a test.

“There is a complicated application process, an extensive list of requirements and even some strategies that should be considered before taking the exam,” says Beth Murphy, professor of accountancy at DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business.

Many years ago Murphy noticed that there was a lack of information about the preparation for applying to take the exam. To fill the void for DePaul accounting students, Murphy created a workshop to help students not only understand strategies for applying and taking the CPA exam, but also understand what the requirements are to become CPA exam eligible. 

Comprehensive Computer-Based Workshops

Murphy’s Computer Based CPA Exam: Preparation, Application, and Optimal Strategies for Success workshop is offered several times per quarter. The purpose of the workshop is to provide students with helpful information about the requirements for Illinois CPA candidates and the alternatives available to students for meeting these educational requirements. ​Material covered in the workshop includes:

  • Content of the CPA Exam
  • Passing requirements
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Application process and strategy
  • Testing strategies

The CPA Exam Workshop is one of the most popular events held every year, attracting 300-400 students annually. It is optional, but recommended for all accounting students. This workshop can often steer the way a first-year undergraduate student schedules classes so that he or she will meet the stringent educational credit hour requirements in four (instead of 5) years. It also can help a senior ready to graduate decide which month would work better to take the exam. Graduate students also benefit from knowing their options with respect to when they could potentially be eligible to take the CPA exam.

Students often attend the workshop early in their academic career and then come back once more before applying for the exam to see if there have been any changes. The workshop is updated every quarter. The last major change to the exam came in 2011, when International Standards were added to both the financial accounting and reporting and the audit sections of the CPA exam. 

The last major changes in the Illinois educational requirements for CPA exam candidates were put into effect in July 2013, and they required more accounting hours and some specific requirements about accounting and business course content. Murphy has served as a DePaul liaison to the Illinois Board of Examiners to demonstrate how the DePaul undergraduate and graduate accounting curricula meet the updated education requirements which are conveyed to DePaul students during her workshops.

The next dates that the workshop will be offered are:

  • Feb. 18, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • March 4, 11:50 a.m. to 1:20 p.m.
  • March 5, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Workshops Key to CPA Exam Success

June Poon (MS in Accounting ’14) attended the workshops twice before successfully passing the exam. She currently works as a tax consultant at Deloitte

“I first attended a workshop when I started my accounting program so I could gain an initial understanding of the CPA exam, and then again closer to graduation and, therefore, closer to when I would be eligible to take the exam,” says Poon. “I took the CPA prep workshop because I wanted to learn as much as I could about the exam in order to know what to expect.”

“Dr. Murphy's workshop is well organized and comprehensive,” says Poon. “Her CPA workshop helped me pass all four parts of the exam within a six-month period, while I was working full-time. I highly recommend all DePaul students interested in taking the CPA exam to take advantage of this wonderful, free resource!”

Murphy has also presented this workshop at national conferences held for Hispanic students, at the IL CPA Society’s Mary T. Washington Wylie Internship Preparation Program, and at other local universities when invited.​

DePaul accountancy students who want to find out more about the workshops should contact Murphy.