Doctorate in Accounting Program Guide

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by Marni Davimes

Published on June 16, 2021

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By earning a doctorate in accounting, students gain the in-depth knowledge needed to teach accounting and conduct research in the field. Graduates enter a growing field, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15% job growth between 2019 and 2029 for financial managers, who earn a median annual salary of $134,180.

Read on to learn more about what doctoral programs in accounting entail, including courses, careers, and salary potential.

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Should I Get a Doctorate in Accounting?

If you work in accounting and want to increase your earning potential and job prospects, pursuing a doctorate in accounting can be a smart move. Accountants with a Ph.D. can qualify for lucrative careers in finance, academia, and corporate management.

Many Ph.D. programs waive the cost of tuition, and students actually receive a stipend while they work as research or teaching assistants for the school's accounting department.

Generally, a doctorate in accounting takes 4-7 years to complete. In addition to that time commitment, students may need to make a substantial financial investment in their education. Accounting programs generally cost over $18,000 per year on average.

However, many Ph.D. programs waive the cost of tuition, and students actually receive a stipend while they work as research or teaching assistants for the school's accounting department. This stipend can make it more realistic to dedicate such a substantial amount of time to earning your degree.

What Can I Expect from a Doctorate in Accounting Program?

Students who want to pursue an accounting degree at the doctoral level should expect to enroll in a Ph.D. program. These programs are created for students who are interested in conducting academic research related to accounting or who want to teach at the postsecondary level. Most programs culminate with a dissertation, which requires significant original research.

During their studies, learners can expect to take courses in subjects like accounting research, advanced statistics, microeconomic theory, and corporate governance. Students can often tailor their coursework to their future careers through electives and concentrations.


Forensic Accounting

Students in this concentration learn to recognize the techniques used to commit fraud. Degree-seekers research financial fraud case studies and learn to use new theories and approaches within forensic accounting. Graduates can work for fraud investigation firms and the government.

Accounting Information Systems

This concentration focuses on developing and designing accounting information systems for businesses to collect, store, and manage their financial data. Graduates can find work at any company that analyzes financial data to reach business goals.

Audit Accounting

In this concentration, courses focus on accounting research, financial reporting ethics, corporate governance, and best practices in auditing. Graduates can teach auditing or conduct research in the field.

Public Accounting

This concentration leads to careers in government agencies, nonprofits, and corporations. Coursework helps students build the skills needed to manage organization finances, prepare taxes, and conduct audits.

Managerial Accounting

This concentration focuses on financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, and cost management. Graduates can make key business decisions for organizations as high-level financial executives.

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How to Choose an Accounting Doctoral Program

When choosing a doctoral program in accounting, cost is among the most important factors. The best programs offer a stipend in exchange for research or serving as a teaching assistant.

Students must also consider delivery method, program location, available concentrations, and accreditation. In the end, choose the program that best meets your personal and professional needs.

Programmatic Accreditation for Doctorate in Accounting Programs

Pursuing a doctorate in accounting with proper accreditation is crucial. In the accounting field, programmatic accreditation can help you identify the best programs. Most accounting programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the International Accreditation Council for Business Education, or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Find the best online Doctorate in Accounting programs

How to Get Into an Accounting Doctoral Program

Although each program maintains unique admission requirements, many doctoral programs in accounting share common prerequisites. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree at minimum, while some schools require a master's degree. Additionally, many schools require GMAT scores and prior coursework in math and statistics.

Since Ph.D. programs involve a heavy research component, some schools prefer applicants with prior research experience.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions

What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Accounting?

Since a doctorate in accounting is a terminal degree, graduates can qualify for the most advanced and lucrative positions in the field. Degree-holders may find work as professors, financial analysts, and researchers. Graduates can also become CFOs, supervising entire financial departments for businesses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial managers earn a median annual salary of $134,180 and top executives make a median annual salary of $107,680. See where else your degree can take you below.

Popular Career Paths

Financial Analyst Professor of Accounting Researcher Chief Financial Officer Auditor

How Much Money Can I Make With a Doctorate in Accounting?

Professionals with a doctorate in accounting qualify for the most advanced and lucrative positions in the field. For instance, according to the BLS, professors make a median annual salary of $80,790, while financial managers make $134,180 per year. Keep in mind that salary potential also depends on experience, title, and location.

Certifications and Licenses a Doctorate in Accounting Prepares For

Certified Fraud Examiner

By earning this certification, professionals demonstrate expertise in detecting and preventing financial fraud. Certified fraud examiners (CFEs) are required to pass an exam consisting of four major disciplines: fraud investigation methods, financial transactions and fraud schemes, law, and fraud prevention and deterrence.

Certified Public Accountant

Certified public accountants (CPAs) must pass the CPA exam, which is made up of four sections: auditing and attestation, business environment and concepts, financial accounting and reporting, and regulation. Once students pass their CPA exam, they are eligible to apply for their state CPA license.

Chartered Financial Analyst

Professionals who want to earn their chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation must pass a three-level exam, have required work experience, and apply to the CFA Institute. Students enrolled in a doctorate in accounting program may be able to use school experience rather than professional experience.

Certified Financial Services Auditor

Certified financial services auditors (CFSAs) must pass the CFSA exam, which tests their knowledge on auditing practices, internal audit issues, risks, and remedies in accounting. They must also submit character references and hold relevant work experience.

Certified Management Accountant

To earn the certified management accountant (CMA) designation, candidates must pass the CMA exam comprising two parts that cover 12 competencies. This certification demonstrates mastery of both management and financial accounting.

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Accounting Programs

What is accounting?

Accounting is the recording, organizing, and analysis of financial information. Accountants also store, retrieve, summarize, and present this financial data for auditing, tax, and budgeting purposes for both individuals and businesses.

How hard is it to get a Ph.D. in accounting?

Getting a Ph.D. in accounting requires dedication and a commitment to the field. While professionals who have been working in accounting for several years may not find the coursework particularly difficult, they can still struggle with the time commitment, research, and dissertation.

How many years does it take to get a Ph.D. in accounting?

Typically, a Ph.D. in accounting takes 4-7 years to complete. However, completion times for doctoral programs can vary significantly based on how long the dissertation takes.

How much does it cost to get a doctorate in accounting?

The cost of most doctoral degrees is $10,000-$20,000 per year. However, many Ph.D. students receive a stipend during their enrollment and may receive a tuition waiver if they work as research or teaching assistants.

Are accountants in high demand?

Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects 4% job growth for accountants and auditors. This rate is on par with projected growth for all careers during that period.

Learn about top online accounting programs and see if an associate degree in accounting is right for you. Digital trends, such as big data, mobility, blockchain technology, and artificial intelligence (AI), have had a huge impact on the practice of accounting and the future direction of the industry as a whole. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% growth for the industry, which is faster than the average 7% growth for […] Earn a certificate in accounting. Learn about career opportunities and how to choose an online certificate in accounting. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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