MPA Admissions Blog

Insider Information for Prospective Texas McCombs Students

Introducing Mduduzi Mugoba, tMPA Class of 2019

Duzi is a traditional Master in Professional Accounting student who is graduating this May. Let’s learn a bit more about him and his time here at Texas McCombs.

  1. Name: Mduduzi “Duzi” Mugoba
  2. Where did you grow up? Zimbabwe
  3. Where did you earn your undergraduate degree? Florida International University
  4. What is your undergraduate degree in? Accounting
  5. Why did you decide to come to the MPA program at Texas McCombs? It is the best accounting program in the country so couldn’t turn down the offer to come to school here! Also, Texas McCombs is in a great city like Austin with so many cool and fun things to do outside of school. So I would say I chose the program for its prestige and for its location.
  6. What is your MPA academic track? Financial Reporting and Assurance
  7. Why did you decide to become an MPA student ambassador? The MPA program has given me access to amazing opportunities professionally and socially so would love to give back in any way I can.
  8. What has been one of your favorite classes so far and why? Well, it’s so hard to choose one particular class because I have loved them all! I will say each professor is so different in their teaching styles and how they present information; it is a fun experience navigating all these different styles. I do have a two classes I just have to mention… The first being Professor Badolato’s Financial Statement Analysis (ACC 380K) course, which was high-paced and intense with so much information coming your way. I loved it because it was perhaps my most challenging class in that involved learning in a very different way compared to anything I had ever experienced before. I learned so much about Financial Statement Analysis (and about myself) which was awesome! My other favorite is Investment Theory (FIN 397) with Professor Brown. The information is so relevant and something I will apply to my life in future. The big takeaway from the class (at least for me) is the investment opportunities available if one is interested in passive investment and personal finance management. The class itself is also challenging but that is a common theme for most classes in the MPA program.
  9. What are your plans after you graduate? I was offered (and accepted) a full-time position at EY and will be working in Houston in their assurance practice. I start in the fall, so while I wait on my start date I plan on taking at least two parts of the CPA exam and enjoying some Texas sun. I am also a fan of the cold drinks that go with the nice, hot summer weather. 🙂
  10. Can you tell us more about the MPA intramural soccer teams you have played on? Oh yes! It was something that myself, Jeff Chen, and Tyler Wilford were thinking about when the spring semester started. In fact, we just wanted to play some form of intramural sport. Then I ran into Ray Lee (our Team Captain) at a Diversity and Inclusion talk, and he mentioned that he was trying to organize a team to play soccer but couldn’t find enough people. So we exchanged numbers, then I gave Ray Jeff and Tyler’s numbers and they went on to create the team (so all the credit of starting the team should go to me because I had all the contacts haha). But in all seriousness, it was just a way for us to get together as MPAs and do something outside of class. It turned out great because we have a couple of people who have played soccer before, so we were able to be competitive and make it to the playoffs for the men’s league (which we lost under dubious circumstances), but now we have a co-ed team with more MPAs and hopefully more success!
  11. Anything else you’d like to share? I would say that as important as the classes are, I have enjoyed meeting different people more than anything. The MPA program is very challenging and one can get extremely busy, but I think the most value I have received from the program is meeting new people and actually making meaningful connections outside of the conventional “networking.” It’s important to keep that in mind for anyone looking to join the MPA program.


Mighty MPA Soccer

The Mighty MPAs smile for a team photo with Steve Smith, Senior Director of the MPA program. Duzi Mugoba is pictured in the bottom row, third from the left.

AICPA Announces 2018 Elijah Watt Sells Award Winners

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) named the 110 recipients of the 2018 Elijah Watt Sells Award on Thursday, April 11, and the Texas McCombs MPA program has three winners:

  • Natalie Gilbert (BBA ’17, MPA ’18) who is currently employed with PwC in Houston, Texas
  • Laura “Elise” Jones (BBA ’17, MPA ’18) who is currently employed with KPMG in Dallas, Texas
  • Minjae Kim (BHP and BBA ’17, MPA ’18) who is currently employed with Analysis Group in Dallas, Texas

This award recognizes those who scored a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the CPA exam, passed all four sections of the exam on their first attempt, and completed their testing in 2018. Over 86,000 individuals sat for the CPA exam in 2018.

78% of Texas McCombs students who took the CPA exam in 2018 passed all four sections; this compares to a 52% pass rate among all over Texas colleges and universities.

Congratulations to Natalie, Elise, and Minjae, as well as the other 107 winners — it’s an tremendous accomplishment to receive this award!

See a list of all the winners here.

The Elijah Watt Sells Award was established in 1923 to honor one of the country’s first CPAs, Elijah Watt Sells. He was a founding partner of Haskins & Sells (a predecessor to Deloitte) and one of the first practicing CPAs in New York. He also served on the AICPA governing council and helped turn the AICPA into what it is today.

Elijah Watt Sells Award

MPA Soccer in the Springtime

Texas McCombs’ MPA students organized a co-ed intramural indoor soccer league this semester — aptly named “The Mighty MPAs.”

The Mighty MPAs played their first game last Thursday and won 2-1 (but they said it should have been 3-1)! Games are played Thursday evenings, and the goal is to win their league to get their name up on the wall in Gregory Gym!

This co-ed team is a mix of integrated and traditional MPA students. The official roster is:

“Ray” Hyeongil Lee — Captain
“Duzi” Mduduzi Mugoba
Hannah Edwards
Tyler Wilford
Lydia Elseth
“Jeff” Kuan-ting Chen
Adrian Sauciuc
“Dean” Dong Uk Lee
Roger Telosa
“Daniel” Jae Hyun Lee
Rachel Reese
Lara Garton
Colton Jackson
Muhannad Alsharekh
Madison Mcdonald
Dan Yang
Ebonie Hunter — Team Manager

We’ll continue to cheer them on as they aim to go undefeated and earn all the fame and glory of coming out on top this season! But no matter the outcome, they are all winners in our eyes! 🙂

The Takeaway: An Interview With PhD Alum Nathan Sharp

Nathan Sharp coauthored “Inside the ‘Black Box’ of Sell-Side Financial Analysts” with Lawrence Brown, Andrew Call, and our very own Department Chair, Michael Clement. The FARS (AAA) recently selected that paper as the best financial accounting paper published in the last five years. Nate sat down and chatted with us about life post-Texas McCombs, working at Texas A&M, researching with Michael Clement, and much more. He is pictured with his wife (Holly), daughters (Kennedy, London, and Kate), and sons (Jackson and Austin) in the fall of 2018.

I spent much of the early part of my life in Utah, but I got to Texas as fast as I could. Next summer will mark 17 years since I moved to Texas. My wife and I have five children, and my family is the center of my world. After I finished my PhD at UT, I started my career as a faculty member in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. Coming to Texas A&M was one of the best decisions of my life. My family and I have been so happy to stay in Texas, and I have been blessed with great colleagues and great students at Texas A&M.

I have thought often of the tremendous debt of gratitude I owe to the faculty at UT-Austin. I was so fortunate to begin my journey into accounting academia at a place where I could be taught and mentored by many of the top scholars in our field. UT’s accounting faculty has a depth and breadth that is unmatched by any other program I know of. The foundations of my career were laid in the PhD program at Texas McCombs, and any successes I’ve had in my career since then trace back to the way UT’s PhD program shaped me.

In many ways, this was a ground-breaking paper in the analyst literature. We were the first scholars to survey sell-side financial analysts to gain detailed insights into the inputs and incentives that influence their research. Using a survey allowed us to ask questions that no other research paper had asked before. Our team of researchers complemented each other very well, and we had a lot of fun working together on this paper and seeing our idea come to fruition. In 2016, 0ur paper became the most highly cited paper in the Journal of Accounting Research among all papers published in that journal during the preceding eight years. One of our coauthors had a relative who worked in finance at a Fortune 100 company, and I still remember the day he reached out to share that the CFO of his company had discovered our paper on SSRN and shared it with the entire finance team at the company. It was neat to see that our paper was making an impact not only within but also outside academia. Our study also received a lot of attention in the popular press; journalists at The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, and The Economist wrote stories about our paper.

Michael is the type of colleague and coauthor everyone wants to find. I think part of what makes Michael so unique is that he brings together incredible institutional knowledge and experience with one of the top scholarly backgrounds in the country in the areas in which he researches. That is a rare combination. We followed up our sell-side analyst study with research on buy-side analysts, which was published in 2016 in the Journal of Accounting and Economics. Our latest study on investor relations officers is forthcoming in 2019 in the Journal of Accounting and Economics. These three papers are a trilogy of studies that complement each other and provide unprecedented, rich detail about each of these important participants in our capital markets. Frankly, no other team could have completed these three papers without Michael. He brought so much to the table that was invaluable for these projects. I have never had more fun working on research, and I have never learned more than I did through the trilogy of papers we published together. Michael has been the mentor of a lifetime.

I am enjoying researching and teaching more than ever. The awesome thing about this career is that there are always new challenges, new research ideas, and new frontiers. I hope to follow in Michael’s footsteps by making a positive impact on students and colleagues in our field for many years to come.

U.S. Applicants: March 31 Final Deadline

We are quickly approaching the final March 31 application deadline! If you plan to apply to the Texas McCombs MPA for fall 2019, you must submit your online application no later than 11:59 p.m. CDT on Sunday, March 31. Also, submit the additional application materials as soon as possible because space in our incoming class is limited. We will review your application after we receive all of the required application materials.

Please note that it will take about 3 weeks for your official GMAT scores to be sent, received, and added to your UT application record. If your official scores are not on record by March 31, send Keri Ledezma a copy of your unofficial score report, in the meantime.

Contact Keri if you have any updates, questions or concerns about your application. We look forward to receiving your application soon!

Meet Brian White, Associate Professor at Texas McCombs

Brian White is a member of our Department of Accounting faculty and was recently promoted to Associate Professor, effective September 1, 2018. He teaches some of the accounting MBA courses here at Texas McCombs, so you may see him in some of your electives in the near future!

Ann Arbor, Michigan is where I was born and lived for most of my childhood. However, my wife’s hometown of Liverpool, England is my adopted hometown. I lived in Liverpool for ten years, our three kids were born there, and we go back at least two or three times every year.

I received a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown (I originally planned to pursue a career as a diplomat), an MS in African Studies from University of Edinburgh, an MBA from Manchester Business School, and a PhD in Accountancy from University of Illinois

Necessity is the mother of invention. My wife and I bought her family business—a small chain of retail stores based in Liverpool—from her grandparents when we were both 24 years old. She had grown up in the business and I had worked as a retail manager in high school and college, but neither of us had any experience running a business. We divided up the duties, and accounting was one of mine. I quickly decided that I needed some more training, so I applied to the evening MBA program at Manchester Business School. While I was there, I focused on accounting and finance because it was so relevant to what I was doing every day at work: tracking and reporting revenues and expenses, designing compensation plans for our employees, managing the annual audit (which was required for nearly all UK companies back then), etc. I also found I was pretty good at accounting, and it was interesting. Ultimately, I ended up becoming a CPA. When I decided to pursue an academic career, a PhD in accounting was the natural choice.

The combination of our incredible students, world-class faculty, and the city of Austin made it a very easy choice.

I teach the core financial accounting class to all of our incoming full-time MBA students. I also teach the same course in our Houston MBA program. Next fall, I’m looking forward to teaching the PhD seminar on behavioral research in accounting for the first time.

That’s like asking me to choose between my children! If I have to choose, I will go with a paper that I published with Shana Clor-Proell (from TCU) and my Texas McCombs colleague Lisa Koonce. The paper is titled, “How do experienced users evaluate hybrid financial instruments?” It was published in the Journal of Accounting Research in 2016. Hybrids—financial instruments that have characteristics of both debt and equity—are a tricky issue in accounting because it is difficult to know how to classify them on the balance sheet. In the paper, we find that experienced finance professionals rely primarily on disclosed features of hybrid financial instruments, rather than their classification, suggesting that accounting standard setters may want to focus on disclosure. It’s been a fun paper in part because we have had the opportunity to discuss it with board members at the FASB and IASB.

That’s a tough one too! I’m going to go with Jeffrey Hales’ 2007 paper, “Directional preferences, information processing, and investors’ forecasts of earnings,” published in the Journal of Accounting Research. That was the paper that convinced me I wanted to do behavioral research in financial accounting. Jeff shows that simply holding stock in a company can change investors’ beliefs about the company’s future performance via a cognitive process known as motivated reasoning.

I played the bass guitar in a number of different bands in high school and college. Maybe even more unbelievable is that at the same time I had long, curly hair!

Department of Accounting ranked No. 1 by U.S. News

U.S. News and World Report came out this week with its annual Best Business School rankings, and the Department of Accounting at Texas McCombs topped the list at No. 1 for the 13th straight year!

We are very fortunate to have such an phenomenal group of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who continue to make the Department of Accounting the best in the world.  Read the summary of the rankings below, including the Texas McCombs MBA program coming in at No. 19, or on Texas McCombs News.


The Texas McCombs MBA hit No. 19 for the full-time MBA and No. 8 for working professionals. Three of the school’s business specialties were among the ranking’s top 10.

Landing at No. 19, the Texas McCombs Full-Time MBA Program maintained its venerable top-20 position in the 2020 edition of U.S. News & World Report ’s survey of the nation’s best graduate schools of business.

The Texas McCombs MBA has counted itself among the top 20 programs in 27 of the past 28 years. Among public schools, McCombs and the University of North Carolina tied for fifth place, behind the University of California, Berkeley (6, tied), University of Michigan (10), University of Virginia (12, tied), and UCLA (16).

Specialty Rankings

The U.S. News ranking also considers strengths in subject areas. Three McCombs business specialties landed in the top 10:

• Accounting: No. 1 (13th year in a row and 27th year in a row among the top five)
• Information Systems: No. 4 (27th year straight in the top five)
• Entrepreneurship: No. 10 (23rd consecutive year in the top 10)

Working Professional MBA Takes 8th

In the best part-time MBA rankings, McCombs placed at No. 8. The working professional MBA programs at McCombs, which include the Texas Evening MBA, the Texas MBA at Houston, and the Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, have held top 10 status for the past 10 years.

UT-Austin’s Spring Break 2019

The University of Texas at Austin will have a spring break next week (March 18 – 22). The university offices, including the MPA Program Office, will remain open, but classes will not be in session.

Also, don’t forget that Daylight Saving Time begins for most of the U.S. and many parts of the world on Sunday, March 10!

How Sweet It Is: MPA Alumna Spotlight

Texas McCombs was fortunate enough to have two Elijah Watt Sells Award winners in 2017: Hyungmin Kim and Maureen Sweet, both MPA Class of 2016 graduates. Let’s learn more about one of our winners, Maureen Sweet.

Maureen Sweet exemplifies what it is to be a top student and accounting professional. She’s hard-working, smart, and an Elijah Watt Sells Award winner. The 2016 Texas McCombs Master in Professional Accounting alumna is one of only 58 Sells Award recipients in 2017.

Maureen grew up in northeast Ohio and completed her undergraduate studies at Fordham University in the Bronx. She received her BA in Spanish Language Literature and minored in Business, and she especially enjoyed her undergraduate accounting courses. After graduating from Fordham, she managed the finances for Stupid Cancer, a nonprofit in New York City that leads the way in advocacy, research, and support for young adults with cancer. Something clicked for her while she was filing Stupid Cancer’s annual statements. She loved how she could use financial statements to gain insights into how a business operates. “It gave me a holistic picture of the company, and I learned how to problem solve,” Maureen said.

Maureen knew she had found her calling. When she began considering graduate accounting programs, Texas McCombs made her short list. Three things came to mind to explain why she chose to attend UT-Austin: the program’s prestige, the city, and her future. “The reputation of the MPA program speaks for itself. And I knew I’d love Austin,” Maureen added. “Plus, the program would help me get all my credits for the CPA exam in a short amount of time.”

While in the MPA program, Maureen grew relationships with the faculty and MPA staff members, as well as other students. She attended four of her classmates’ weddings last year!

Maureen knew she only wanted to take the CPA exam once, so studying was a top priority. A few months after completing the exam, she was contacted by the AICPA and told that she was a recipient of the esteemed Elijah Watt Sells Award. Needless to say, Maureen was beyond ecstatic. “I was extremely excited and honored to receive the Sells Award,” she commented.

In the fall of 2016, Maureen started her new career at Deloitte Tax in San Jose, California. Before she hit her two-year anniversary, Maureen was promoted to Tax Senior. “This is exactly what I wanted. I love consulting with interesting clients.” Additionally, she is taking advantage of the beautiful outdoors in the Golden State.

As for the future, Maureen plans on staying in public accounting and enjoying the opportunity to see a broad range of experiences with her clients. “I’m looking forward to continuing to be in a career that challenges me every day,” Maureen said. And we here at Texas McCombs cannot wait to see how she changes the world.

Texas McCombs’ other Sells Awards winner in 2017, Hyungmin Kim, is a BBA graduate of Seoul National University and earned his MPA in 2016. He is currently employed with The Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan.


Read more updates from the Department of Accounting in the fall issue of The Accounting Times.

Should You Pursue a Graduate Degree in Accounting?

You’ve decided to become a Certified Public Accountant, but you’re not sure how to go about getting there. Here are a couple of options to consider if you are set on pursuing this career path:

  1. Take the required accounting coursework for CPA exam eligibility as a non-degree-seeking student. Available at some colleges and universities, a non-degree-seeking option may be a good fit if you are already working and have built a professional network. This approach would help you meet the requirements for the CPA exam and may provide more choices in course delivery, such as evening, weekend or online classes.
  2.  Study a graduate degree in accounting, such as the Texas McCombs MPA. This is a great option if you are seeking employment opportunities, want to expand your professional network and would like to enroll as a full-time student. The benefits of a structured master’s degree program include dedicated career services, connections with students and alumni, networking opportunities with employers and the addition of a higher-level degree to your credentials. Most graduate accounting programs require specific pre-enrollment courses. The Texas McCombs MPA helps you to make an easy transition to a new career by requiring only five pre-enrollment requirements, which can be completed at a local community college.

Contact us if the Texas McCombs MPA sounds like a good match for you!

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