Do you have a bachelor’s degree in accounting but feel like there’s more to the field than tax audits and payroll? Are you an educator at heart with a love for numbers? Did you secretly love your accounting theory classes in your MBA degree?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to consider getting a PhD in Accounting! You’ve found the perfect place to start your journey toward the highest possible degree in the field of accounting.
What kind of Doctorate in Accounting should you get?
Like any PhD program, the doctorate is reserved for the few brave souls who have a passion (some would call it an obsession) with research and writing. So don’t be fooled! You’ll still be working with numbers, but accounting theory and research dominate the curriculums for most of these programs.
Most of the schools on our list follow a similar layout for their PhD programs in Accounting. Over the span of 4 to 6 years, you’ll complete:
- 1-2 years of coursework
- 1-2 semesters of teaching fellowships
- 1-2 major research papers
If you’re looking for a more flexible program that fits your specific needs, we’ve also identified the Best Online Doctorate’s in Accounting Degrees.
How much money do people make with a Doctorate in Accounting?
Once you’ve successfully defended your dissertation, your career options look optimistic. Most graduates go on to become college professors of accounting. If that’s your goal, you can look forward to making around $97,000 or more per year, according to Payscale.com.
The beauty of accounting as a field is that it’s always in demand. No matter the economy, no matter the state of politics, we’ll always need you brainiacs to figure out better systems of transactions, or solve loopholes in tax laws, or improve the quality of financial reporting.
For those very reasons, the demand for accountants is on the rise and expected to increase by 10% between now and 2026. The need for business educators is also growing at an amazing rate of 15% by 2022. All the hard work and late-night studying will be worth it! We promise!
What are the requirements for a Doctorate in Accounting?
The application process for most of these programs is actually quite simple! Other than an official GMAT or GRE score and your undergraduate transcripts, most schools don’t find it absolutely necessary that you have an MBA or even years of experience at an accounting firm.
When it comes down to it, the most important requirement is solid research and writing skills. Well, that and a passion for expanding the field of accounting. As long as you know (and appreciate!) the difference between the practice of accounting and accounting research, you’ll do just fine in any of these programs.
What are the best Doctorate in Accounting programs?
If you’re ready to take the plunge, this list of the 10 Best Doctorate’s in Accounting degrees will get you well on your way.
Our team of data analysts formed an exhaustive methodology by gathering each Doctorate in Accounting program in the nation and comparing their reputation, graduation rates, retention rates, affordability, and the early salaries of graduates. Our sources and information come straight from program websites, as well as PayScale, U.S. News & World Report, and The National Center for Education Statistics.
In the end, we came up with 10 amazing programs that offer the finest education and research opportunities in accounting. You really can’t go wrong with any of them!
See our rankings methodology page.
The University of Texas at Austin
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: $16,010
The flagship school of the University of Texas System, the Austin location houses over 50,000 students. The McCombs School of Business ranks among the top 20 business schools in the nation. According to a Bloomberg ranking, UT Austin graduates an exceedingly high number of people who go on to become S&P 500 CEOs.
The renowned accounting doctoral program at UT Austin blends together three learning phases over the span of the 4-5 year program: coursework, research, and dissertation. In the coursework phase, you’ll take five core accounting seminars. Here’s a sample of a few:
- Empirical Research in Accounting
- Behavioral Research in Accounting
- Foundations of Financial Accounting Research
Because UT Austin has a large team of accounting faculty, doctoral candidates enjoy lots of research opportunities. Some current research publication topics include “The Joint Effect of Auditor-Client Social Bonds” and “Financial Statement Quality and Debt Contracting.”
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College Choice Score: 97.72
Average Net Price: $16,683
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public research university. It offers over 150 programs of study and is highly regarded academically at both a national and global level. We’re not the only ones who have taken notice of this university: US News & World Report recently ranked the Accounting graduate program as #2 in the nation.
Research is king in University of Illinois’ Accountancy PhD program. Starting year-one, students jump right into research projects. Doctorate students must complete two semesters of teaching, as well as 96 credit-hours of classes. Most of the coursework involves dissertation preparation like:
- Constructs in Accounting Research
- Special Research Problems
- Thesis Research
The accounting program University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign boasts a strong completion rate. In the last 10 years, over 80% of the doctorate students have completed the program. Most have taken 5 years or less to finish.
University of Pennsylvania
College Choice Score: 96.45
Average Net Price: $22,944
The University of Pennsylvania is private Ivy League school located just outside of Philadelphia. The university was founded by Benjamin Franklin. The Wharton School of Business, which houses the PhD in Accounting, is ranked #1 across the board, from Business Insider to Forbes.
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania highlights analytics and quantitative study. The Accounting PhD program aims to prepare students for financial economic research. Some of the pre-dissertation coursework includes:
- Empirical Research in Accounting
- Accounting Theory Research
- Empirical Design in Accounting Research
Students at the University of Pennsylvania are given a number of fantastic opportunities to work with faculty. Workshop colloquiums are weekly, one-hour discussions between faculty members and doctoral students. First-year students also get paired up with a faculty member for a semester-long assistantship.
College Choice Score: 96.19
Average Net Price: $16,695
An academic paragon of the west coast, Stanford University is a private research institution located outside of San Jose. It consistently ranks in the top 5 schools in the nation. Students have unique access to the Silicon Valley, the Pacific Ocean, and some of the most celebrated faculty in the world.
Stanford’s PhD in Accounting covers a range of opportunities, from financial reporting to taxation to managerial accounting. The program has two quarters of built-in teaching opportunities. Doctoral students tend to focus their research in some of the following areas:
- Economic Analysis & Policy
- Political Economics
On par with Stanford’s high level of academic standards, this PhD program is not for the faint of heart. In total, you’ll have to complete the following: first-year research paper, second-year research paper, field exam, university oral exam, candidacy, and doctoral dissertation.
The University of Chicago
College Choice Score: 95.94
Average Net Price: $31,068
Located in the “Windy City,” the University of Chicago is a private research institution. It is home to over 140 unique research institutes on campus. Not surprisingly, then, the school lives up to its status as a “high research activity” institution.
The Accounting Research Center is the cornerstone of the PhD in Accounting degree at the University of Chicago. The ARC is home to leading research, publication, and teaching. This doctoral curriculum emphasizes flexibility within the field of accounting. It incorporates coursework like:
- Price Theory
- Economic Modeling
The University of Chicago publishes one of the most recognized academic journals in the field of accounting. The Journal of Accounting Research is published five times a year, and is the oldest research journal in the field. You could be at the center of that!
University of Michigan
College Choice Score: 94.67
Average Net Price: $16,107
The University of Michigan is a large, public institution in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The University of Michigan takes research very seriously, and emphasizes cutting-edge study in all of its academic areas. The business graduate programs rank 11th in the nation, according to US News & World Report.
A top-ranked program in general, the PhD in Accounting at the University of Michigan is highly selective. It only accepts 1 to 3 candidates per year. In the first two years, you’ll write and present two research papers. In between you’ll work one-on-one with faculty in relevant areas such as:
- Investor Relations
- Measurement, Decision-Making and Risk Profiles
- Managerial Investment and Cash Holdings
The PhD program guarantees their students a full five years of financial coverage, which includes teaching fellowships, stipends, health care, and travel funds. While you have the option of working on your dissertation into a sixth year, most students finish within five years.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
College Choice Score: 90.36
Average Net Price: $10,077
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is known as one of the three branches of the southern “Research Triangle.” Fittingly, it is ranked as one of the top 10 research universities in the United States. UNC was founded in 1795 and is recognized as one of the oldest public universities in the country.
You’ll get right to work in the UNC Accounting PhD program. With an emphasis on decision theory, statistics, and economics, this program has you writing research papers from term one onto your dissertation. You’ll also take a number of coursework in your first two years, including:
- Accounting Research Methods
- Macroeconomic Theory
- Business Fundamentals
UNC treats their students right. All incoming PhD candidates receive financial support for five full years, which includes the summer terms. If you want additional funding, you are encouraged to apply for fellowships and teaching placements.
University of Southern California
College Choice Score: 89.59
Average Net Price: $31,384
The University of Southern California (USC) is known for more than just it’s sunny location in Los Angeles. This private, nonprofit, research university excels in business, innovation, and research. The Marshall School of Business is ranked among the top 15 business institutions in the world.
At USC’s Marshall School of Business, you’ll jump into not only cutting edge research opportunities, but the chance to apply your skills in the classroom by teaching undergraduates. After going through basic coursework and research seminars, students end up focusing their dissertations in one of four areas:
- Financial Accounting
- Managerial Accounting
- Tax Accounting
- Auditing and Corporate Governance
Unique to this program, USC makes it possible for students to take their coursework outside of Marshall School of Business. Some even choose electives offered at other universities. Even more, the plethora of academic centers and institutes at USC give you a solid launching point for groundbreaking accounting research.
University of Mississippi
College Choice Score: 89.34
Average Net Price: $14,918
Located in Oxford, Mississippi, and known by most as “Ole Miss,” the University of Mississippi is a strong research institution of the south. Accountancy is one of the most popular undergraduate majors, which speaks to the strength of its overall program in accounting.
Requiring a total of 70 degree hours, the PhD program at the University of Mississippi is divided into four sections: required coursework, minor fields, quantitative proficiency and foreign language proficiency, and the dissertation. Some of the preliminary classes include:
- Knowledge of Research Tools
- Statistical Methods for Business and Economics
- Methods of Mathematical Analysis
Luckily for you and your research, the University of Mississippi houses the biggest accountancy library in the world. In addition, you can find the National Tax History Research Center, National EDP Auditing Archival Center, and the McMickle Accounting History Library, and more all on campus.
New York University
College Choice Score: 88.58
Average Net Price: $35,147
Located in the heart of the “Big Apple,” New York University is a private research university with quite the list of accolades. Its academic reach extends further than New York, with satellite branches in Berlin, Madrid, Paris, and beyond. The Stern School of Business is one of the most prestigious business schools in the country.
The doctorate program in accounting at NYU ensures that all PhD candidates are learning research skills from the backdrop of modern financial theory. NYU doesn’t require an MBA as a prerequisite, but rather is interested in candidates who have strong research and quantitative skills. Some of your initial first-year courses would include:
- Regression and Multivariate Analysis
- Microeconomic Theory
- Empirical Research in Financial Accounting
Famous NYU faculty members work one-on-one with PhD students to co-publish in major accounting research journals. This includes the Journal of Accounting Research, Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, and more.