For the 18th straight year, Arthur Andersen was rated the most highly regarded accounting firm by accounting professors, according to a recent CPA Personnel Report survey. But this year's competition was closer than most, with Deloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers finishing narrowly behind. The top three were followed in order by Ernst & Young, KPMG, BDO Seidman, Grant Thornton, and McGladrey & Pullen.

The survey asked accounting professors to rate firms based on their outlook for business success, compensation, quality of client service, career opportunities, and other factors. The focus was on the impression accounting professors have and presumably pass on to their students.

The University of Illinois received top honors when the same survey asked respondents to rate undergraduate accounting programs, and the University of Texas ranked second. The two switched places in the ranking of graduate programs. Brigham Young University scored third in both categories. The University of Chicago, Stanford University, and the University of Texas topped the respondents' ranking of doctoral programs.

PricewaterhouseCoopers was most often mentioned by professors as the firm where their top student planned to work. Professors reported that compensation and benefits seemed to be the driving factor in their students' first-job decision. Reputation for client service was considered least important.

A complete copy of the report can be obtained by calling (404) 881-1141.

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