Accounting PhDs Tips

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How Should I Select a PhD Program in Accounting?

How To Select a Ph.D. Program in Accounting

At the risk of sounding like your seventh grade teacher, “do your homework!” Use the Internet as your first reference source and learn as much as you can about the course offerings, the examination process and the dissertation requirements of any Ph.D. Program in accounting that sparks your interest. Your career plans should match the program you select.

Are you going to teach at the college level? Do you want to perform high level research? Is your “sheepskin” merely going to fill up space on the wall of your den? If you have no professional plans to use your accounting Ph.D., you could opt for one of the many “quickie” doctorates that have little, if any, acceptance in the business or education community. However, if you are planning on teaching, performing serious research, or progressing to senior management in private industry, you must be sure that after years of hard work and expense, your doctoral designation will be accepted.

The course requirements, examination process and dissertation expectations are primary to your selection process. A suitable accounting doctoral program should have course requirements that match your interest areas. If you are comfortable with oral exams, as many doctoral programs require, there is no problem. Should these pose a problem for you, selecting a program that only requires a written exam might be better. You need to learn if you are required to write a thesis-level or dissertation-level final document. The size and depth of this document can vary widely. All of these components are important in your selection of the best PhD program in accounting for you.

Is an Accounting Thesis Or Dissertation Required to Earn an Accounting PhD?

A Thesis Or Dissertation Is Required to Earn an Accounting Ph.D.

If you enter an accounting Ph.D. program or a D.B.A. program, you will probably be required to write a full research paper, normally called a dissertation. Although both thesis and dissertation are often used interchangeably, there is a difference in these original works. Therefore, when you hear or read that someone is using both terms, be sure to learn if they are referring to the same thing. In the United States, a thesis (derived from the Greek word meaning “position”) is most commonly required for the completion of a Master's degree program and is normally less complex than a dissertation. A thesis requirement may be in the 30 to 75 page range while a dissertation may extend to up to 250 pages, sometimes more. Like a thesis in a Master's situation, a dissertation is usually the final requirement to earn the doctor title.

If you hope to earn an accounting Ph.D., the thesis/dissertation is somewhat different than in some other specialties, like Psychology, English literature, Engineering, etc., in that the majority of accounting requirements are standardized and set by other third parties (AICPA, FASB, etc.). This makes it more challenging to “create” a new idea, perform extensive research on it and state a new, unique position on your topic. In fact, the primary difference between an accounting Ph.D. program and a Doctorate of Business Administration (D.B.A.) is the focus of your accounting thesis or dissertation. Ph.D. studies are directed at the creation of a new approach or methodology to a situation, whereas D.B.A. studies target research on a current theory being explored in much greater depth, resulting in your learning and publishing new information about the subject.

In almost all accounting Ph.D. programs, online or on campus, you will be required to write an accounting thesis or dissertation as your final step to "doctor hood." A final note of potential importance: Determine if, in addition to writing the research paper, you are required to have it published or just available for publication, should a source desire to do so. Some accounting doctoral programs may have this requirement, while many others will not. Obviously, a publishing requirement adds another variable that may delay the earning of your doctorate. As long as you are aware of this, and all requirements for the program, you can proceed with confidence.

What Might an Accounting PhD Program Cost?

Cost of an Accounting Ph.D. Program

When discussing what an accounting Ph.D. program might cost (or any other doctoral program, for that matter), the word MIGHT becomes the critical factor. Unlike most Bachelor's and Master's level programs, accounting doctoral programs theoretically cost from $0 (not a typo) up to $40,000 or more per year of study. While this may seem like a hard-to-believe range of expense, there is a rather simple answer.

Unlike lower levels of study, most doctoral programs are focused on the student's own research and study, NOT professor-led classes every day. accounting Ph.D. programs, like all others, use professorial involvement for guidance, mentoring and “administration” of the student within the program. It is assumed that the student is already somewhat of an expert in his/her subject matter and is independently taking their expertise to the next, top level. Consequently, even in on-campus situations, an accounting doctoral program is also not dependent on in-person classroom studies. Therefore, the two largest expense items of higher education, professor compensation and the cost of maintaining classroom buildings are totally minimized. Should you elect to earn an accounting Ph.D. online, the circumstances are a bit different. There are costs to mentor, teach and administer distance learning that remain even in a doctoral situation.

Here is an example: Should you be accepted to Johns Hopkins University in a Ph.D. program, the cost for on campus study and residence is around $29,500 per year. On the other hand, if you choose not to be a campus resident (don't forget, you'll still have living expenses, however), your cost for tuition only is just $2,950 per year – less than a full year at a community college! Another example is the University of Chicago, a most prestigious institution. The cost of three quarters (nine months) of study in a doctoral program is $27,300, including the cost of tuition – which is $0. As you can see, the major cost of earning an accounting education in a Ph.D. situation is staying alive while not earning a professional salary for full-time employment.

Earning an accounting Ph.D. online is a bit different. With flexibility in class and study schedules, you can proceed at your own pace, while keeping your professional employment if you so desire, since the “classroom” may be available 24/7/365 theoretically. The cost varies widely for online accounting doctoral programs, but you can estimate around $500 to $700 per credit. As you learn more about the universities offering distance study for a doctorate, you'll know about their minimum credit requirements and their cost per credit to determine the true expense to earn your Ph.D.

Where Can I Find Information on Accounting PhD Programs?

Finding Information on Accounting Ph.D. Programs

There are many sources of information on the Internet and your local library that provide useful information on accounting Ph.D. programs. With the ability to earn a D.B.A. or an accounting Ph.D. online, the choice of schools and programs has never been larger. You will locate many websites that provide links to both online and on-campus universities, wherein you can learn a great deal about their accounting doctoral programs. While at their websites, verify their accreditation, including the accrediting agency. You can then investigate the agency to verify that the accreditation has value.

Your local library is another source that should have excellent reference material pertaining to both online and on-campus Ph.D. programs in accounting. You should examine both information published by the schools you are considering and also investigate non-related third party publications that discuss your favored institutions. If you find an apparently wide variance in the information, you should continue your research to verify that the accounting Ph.D. program offered is a good fit for you. Finding the right accounting doctoral program for you often requires you to research deeper than you might for a Bachelor's or Master's Degree because of the lack of standardization at the doctoral level.

What Are Some Choices for Locating Good Accounting PhD Programs?

Locating Good Accounting Ph.D. Programs

While not as numerous as some other common Ph.D. concentrations, there remains a good variety of choices for people wishing to earn an accounting Ph.D. An equivalent is a Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.), which is offered by some universities. The Internet is the perfect vehicle to perform your preliminary search for institutions that might have the accounting doctoral program you want.

You must understand that earning a doctorate is neither quick nor easy. Beware of any accounting Ph.D. programs that offer an easy course load, minimal requirements and/or a true fast track to the awarding of the degree: Unless you simply want a doctoral designation attached to your name with no plans of using it for anything but a wall decoration, find a legitimate Ph.D. program in accounting. Be sure it is recognized by the business community, the research community and the education community.

While always important, a university's accreditation becomes more important in a doctoral setting. Examine a school's accreditation information carefully, including the agency that awarded the designation and ensure that their accreditation is accepted by the business and education community. If you're considering earning your Ph.D. in accounting online, verify any on-campus residency requirements, oral or written examination locations (at home via the Internet or must you travel to St. Louis?), and an expected length of your thesis or dissertation. A 100-page dissertation is vastly different from a 450-page document.

What Are Accounting Doctoral Programs?

Accounting Doctoral Programs

The highest level of education in the United States, Canada and many European countries is the doctorate. Accounting doctoral programs validate that designation holders are the best of the best. The level of knowledge, understanding and expertise required to complete an accounting doctoral program indicates that all who successfully complete their studies are at the pinnacle of the accounting profession.

Completing a properly accredited accounting doctoral program qualifies one to teach at a college level, perform the highest level of research for “think tanks,” government agencies, international organizations, etc. and/or write and publish scholarly works on the subject. Accounting doctoral programs are often a bit different than other doctoral level specialties since much of the subject matter is technical (like an engineering doctorate) and the creativity factor is sometimes more challenging. Should you successfully complete an accounting Ph.D. program or a D.B.A., you will enter a rather small and exclusive fraternity of experts. You have more flexibility than in past years, since there are accounting doctoral programs that you can complete either mostly or totally online. This path may or may not reduce overall requirements, but it often can make earning this prestigious designation a bit easier and more time efficient.

How Should I Evaluate Accounting PhD Programs?

Evaluating Accounting Ph.D. Programs

Accounting Ph.D. programs come in a variety of flavors. Some are just interesting, but have little acceptance in the business, research or education communities. Others, much more demanding to complete, are accepted globally by all relevant business and education sectors. Assuming you want to teach, perform research or hold a senior officer level in private industry or government, you must earn your Ph.D. in accounting from a properly accredited institution, either online or on campus.

Do extensive research to locate the accounting Ph.D. programs that match your interests, time expectations, course and exam requirements and dissertation expectations that you feel you can meet. Even with a rather technical specialty like accounting, the process of completing an accounting Ph.D. online or on campus can be vastly different from school to school. Another important consideration is the availability of a mentor as part your many doctoral programs. Do you want one? Can you see the value of a mentoring program, which is required by many Ph.D. programs? All of these considerations are important to your evaluation of accounting Ph.D. programs.

What Type of Professional Opportunities Are Available If I Complete a PhD Program in Accounting?

Available Professional Opportunities If You Earn a Ph.D. in Accounting

Like all other holders of an earned doctorate, you will be pleased with the opportunities and compensation offered if you complete a Ph.D. program in accounting. If possible, decide before you begin your studies what direction you want your professional life to take. Do you want to teach college level courses? Perform high level research for private industry, government or international organizations? Achieve promotion to senior level management? These career paths will provide different opportunities and lifestyle situations.

Should you choose a teaching career, you will now have the credentials to pursue a tenure track position at a college or university. Compensation levels, depending on the reputation of your institution, will range from $50,000 to $100,000 or more. From think tanks to universities, to multi-national corporations, to governments, research opportunities will be available for you to pursue in the United States and many foreign countries. You can decide what professional settings most interest you. As you can imagine, compensation levels vary dramatically depending on your employer, your subject of expertise and the level or research you're performing. But all salaries offered will be well above the average.

If your ultimate goal is a very senior management position in private industry, you might also consider earning a Doctorate in Business Administration (D.B.A.) instead of a Ph.D. Some corporations differentiate the stronger focus on the application of theory (D.B.A.) versus the development of theory (Ph.D.), believing the application more important than the theory for their corporate purposes. But, don't worry; both designations will earn you compensation levels in excess of $100,000 per year when you achieve your goals.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Accounting PhD Online?

Length of Time to Get an Accounting Ph.D. Online

In on campus doctoral programs, the normal time frame is three to five years from start through dissertation completion. To earn an accounting Ph.D. online, the time frames may be similar or very different. There are a few reasons for the differences. An on-campus situation means that your classroom study and research activities are based on scheduling class times and availability of research facilities – on the university's time frame, not yours. Accounting doctoral programs online will give you more time flexibility for either class or research, some schools even offer 24/7/365 access. Another difference: on-campus universities strongly discourage full-time professional employment while you are a doctoral candidate so you can totally focus on your studies and research. Because of the flexibility of Accounting Ph.D. programs online, many students keep their full-time professional jobs and perform their doctoral studies and research in every available off hour.

Therefore, if you are earning your accounting Ph.D. online, depending on your personal wishes and professional schedule, you might finish your studies and dissertation in a shorter period or, often, a much longer period of time. The choice is yours and the flexibility of the accounting doctoral program you select.

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