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How to Get a Ph.D. in Accounting

by Jen Saunders

A Ph.D. in accounting will prepare you to teach accounting at the university level. If you're meticulous, a fan of crunching numbers, and have a strong desire to teach with significant authority in your field, a Ph.D in accounting may be worth considering. Like most doctoral degrees, an accounting doctorate will take some time, but on-track students typically complete their Ph.D. in accounting in four years. The application process is fairly simple depending on the university of your choosing. After completing a bachelor's degree and scoring well on the GMAT, you will be ready for the application process.

Academic Prerequisites

Before you can earn a Ph.D. in accounting you must first graduate with a bachelor's and have exceptional grades. If you are in high school, take some AP math classes like calculus and trigonometry. Entering college with these mathematic abilities gives you an advantage at tackling more difficult courses. Classes found in a typical Bachelor of Science accounting degree program include core courses in business and accounting. For example, University of La Verne's core courses include Business Finance, Legal Environment of Business, Principles of Marketing, Management Information Systems, Operations Management, Principles of Management, Intermediate Accounting I and II, Cost Accounting, Federal Taxation, Auditing and Advanced Accounting.

GMAT and Admissions Essay

Ph.D. candidates must take the Graduate Management Admission Test and earn a favorable score that meets admissions criteria. If your school doesn't reveal its GMAT score requirements, you can find the average cumulative score from previously enrolled Ph.D. classes and use the findings as your target score. When applying to various accounting Ph.D. programs, most universities direct prospective students to submit an application packet that generally includes their GMAT score, transcripts, a resume, reference letters and a graduate admissions essay. The graduate admissions essay is arguably the most important part of your application packet, as it lets the admissions panel get to know you as a person and not just a name with a GMAT score and a GPA.

Coursework

Most Ph.D. programs in accounting don't have the massive number of classes that undergraduate curriculums hold. Instead, a number of upper division courses are generally offered with research projects and dissertations taking up the remainder of the coursework. Because accounting is constructed from the fabric of managerial accounting, financial reporting and taxation, several accounting Ph.D. programs instill the knowledge of decision theory, finance, economics and statistical inference within the context of accounting. Therefore, most Ph.D. accounting programs are expansive in range and provide students with an interdisciplinary education that fine-tunes advanced skills and knowledge in accounting.

Completion Time

Most Ph.D. programs in accounting take four years to complete, though time frames will vary according to each university. Some Ph.D. accounting programs are divided into completion time stages. For example, many institutes reserve the first two years of the program to teach advanced coursework in relevant subjects like probability, mathematics, finance and economics with the objective to make students fluent in these areas so they may be better prepared to tackle more advanced work in years three and four. These last two years of the Ph.D. program will generally consist of research projects, attending seminars and writing a dissertation -- tasks that will require having the advanced knowledge in subjects emphasized within the first two years of the doctorate program.

About the Author

Jen Saunders is an entrepreneur and veteran journalist who covers a wide range of topics. She made the transition to writing after having spent 12 years in England where she studied and taught English literature.

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