Accelerating her way to CPA
After earning a B.S. in business administration with a concentration in accounting at Paul College in 2018, Janet Khoury decided to immediately pursue a master’s degree to earn the credits required for a CPA license. Although she had a lot of choices when it came to graduate accounting programs, enrolling in the M.S. in Accounting at Paul College was an easy decision.
Janet Khoury 18‘, 19’G currently audits wealth and assessment management clients for Ernst & Young in Boston and is on her way to becoming a Certified Public Accountant. She’s passed all four of her CPA exams and will officially become a licensed CPA as soon as she’s worked a full year in public accounting.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting at the University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics in 2018, Khoury decided to immediately pursue a master’s degree to earn the credits required for a CPA license. Although she had a lot of choices when it came to graduate accounting programs, enrolling in the M.S. in Accounting at Paul College was an easy decision.
“Paul College has a prestigious and reputable program in accounting. I knew a master’s degree would give me a competitive advantage in the workforce,” she said. “From my undergraduate experience, I also knew how dedicated the professors in the program were and the advanced accounting knowledge I would gain. Lastly, staying at UNH was an easy transition for me because I had already spent four years there and couldn’t imagine starting new anywhere else.”
The University of New Hampshire ranks first in New Hampshire in its CPA pass rate among first-time test takers. The M.S. in Accounting program at Paul College also reports a 100% job placement rate for those students eligible for U.S. employment. Those who already have an undergraduate degree in accounting can complete the 30-credit program in as few as nine months, while non-accounting or non-business majors may complete it in 16 to 20 months.
Although the M.S. in Accounting degree isn’t specifically designed to be a CPA preparation course, Khoury, of Westborough, Mass., said it helped her boost her knowledge in specific areas, such as advanced tax topics and business law, in preparation for the Regulation Exam. Other classes, such as advanced accounting and governmental and not-for-profit accounting prepared her for the Financial Accounting and Reporting Exam, while the advanced auditing class helped her pass the Auditing and Attestation Exam.
At the same time, Khoury was able to study for her CPA while she attended graduate school, and actually took and passed her last exam on her first day of work at Ernst & Young in October 2019.
“After starting full-time at EY and seeing people study while they are also juggling work, made me happy to have gotten it done beforehand, especially before busy season” she said.
Paul College gave Khoury the strong undergraduate foundation she needed to be successful in graduate school, as well as opportunities to explore career paths, practice interviewing skills, and serve in leadership roles. She spent a lot of time her undergraduate junior year interviewing with representatives from different firms, some of whom she met at the Paul College Accounting Career Fair.
Khoury ended up applying for EY’s leadership program the summer after her junior year and then was then invited to their three-day national program in Washington, D.C. She was ultimately offered an internship there after graduation, in addition to another internship offer at a “Big 4” accounting firm.
Khoury credits UNH alumni with helping her make her final internship decision, that ultimately led to her to accepting a full-time offer at EY before the start of her graduate program.
“I sat on the phone for hours with different alumni trying to decide which firm was the best fit. I thought about my personality, the people at each firm, and thought, ‘Who do I see myself working with more?’,” Khoury said. “I spoke with professors to try and help decide where to begin my career. There are so many UNH alumni at EY. After my internship, I was fortunate enough to return to the same team in Financial Services that I interned with. My team is incredible and are the reason that I enjoy going to work every day.”
In addition to alumni and Paul College’s Career Services team, Khoury said the professors in her graduate program had a major impact on her life, both professionally and personally. During her ethics class with accounting instructor John Colliander, students were encouraged to think outside the box and engage in thoughtful discussion, she said.
“Another class I enjoyed was governmental and not-for-profit accounting with Professor (Linda) Ragland. It was interesting to learn about a topic that we didn’t touch upon in undergraduate classes. It also gave me an advantage when taking the CPA exam. When I was studying, I was instead able to focus my attention on my weaker areas in accounting,” she said.
When Khoury suffered a concussion due to an injury sustained on the rugby pitch, and then experienced the death of her grandmother, faculty went out of their way to be supportive, such as Professor (Jonathan) Nash and Sinthy Kounlasa (administrative assistant).
“I was not able to attend my hooding ceremony (graduation), but Dean Deborah Merrill-Sands insisted on still presenting me with my master’s degree. She and a few other faculty members were able to join, which shows the dedication Paul College has for its students and how grateful I am to be a Paul College alum,” she said.
For those considering a master’s degree in accounting, Khoury recommends reaching out to both alumni and professors and gaining an understanding of how well the program will prepare you for the career you want and the CPA exam, if you are thinking about taking it.
“You’ll enhance your accounting knowledge that you won’t be able to obtain in an undergraduate program, and down the road, that will open up other career opportunities you might not have known about,” she said.