What Can You Do With a PhD in Accounting?

Graduate students seeking a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) typically find careers in academia after graduation. Despite an increase in Ph.D. enrollment in recent years, there remains a shortage of professors qualified to teach the programs, meaning there is ample opportunity for employment. View article »

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  • 0:04 Accounting Ph.D. Careers
  • 1:04 Accounting Professor…
  • 2:26 Professional…

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Video Transcript

Accounting Ph.D. Careers

Due to a critical shortage of Ph.D. graduates in accounting, there is both high demand and rising pay for accounting professors. While the cost involved with obtaining a Ph.D. could be viewed as a deterrent to a career in research and teaching, stipends and flexible degree options have been offered to help offset the price of tuition. With a Ph.D. in accounting, you can become an accounting professor. Due to the current shortage of Ph.D. graduates, the job market for accounting professors has been flourishing as new university teaching positions open up. With many professors nearing retirement age, a lack of replacement teachers leaves schools with the choice to actively promote their programs or cancel them altogether.

A search on just a handful of job sites, like HigherEdJobs, can reveal hundreds of open positions for full- and part-time accounting professors, assistant professors, visiting instructors, and touring lecturers.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Accounting with Computers, General
  • Auditing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Financial Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Taxation, General

Accounting Professor Career Future

According to a March 2016 article from the Journal of Accountancy, demand for accounting faculty has outpaced undergraduate enrollment in accounting programs, which have increased every year since 2000. A 2015 study by the AICPA has found that most students opt for private practice over academia. Additionally, nearly half consist of foreign students who may take their education back to their home countries.

Despite a shortage of academic instructors, the salary for accounting professors remains high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, business professors earned an average of $102,600 in 2016. In comparison, accountants engaged in private practice earned an average yearly salary of $67,190. Yet despite strong career prospects and pay, the number of accounting professors remains insufficient, resulting in fewer and fewer schools that are offering accounting Ph.D. programs.

The Hasselback Directory of Accounting Faculty shows fewer than 70 schools offering accounting doctorates or concentrations in 2014. Ph.D. students must often submit the following when applying to a program: test scores, transcripts, certifications, and proof of work experience.

Professional Transition Support

More than 65 large U.S. accounting firms donate financial resources to the Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program, formed in 2008 to lure practicing tax accounting specialists into academic professions. The program requires a minimum of three years of experience, recent Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores, and a commitment to a research and teaching career in the accounting fields of auditing and taxation. The program provides tuition assistance and offers an annual stipend for accepted applicants attending one of the over 45 participating universities.

In addition to the Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program, there are new non-traditional Ph.D. programs that allow students the flexibility to pursue a graduate degree while maintaining their current salary as a working professional. While this may seem like an attractive option, tuition costs are often higher as traditional Ph.D. students are often given a modest stipend through teaching or assisting in research. Receiving a Ph.D. in Accounting is the first step to a career in academia, and graduates can enjoy strong career demand and steadily increasing salaries. In order to meet the shortage of university professors in accounting, there are options to help pay for Ph.D. programs or to be able to pursue an advanced degree while maintaining a private practice salary.

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