PhD Finance Vs. PhD Accounting

May 29, 2019

Finance and accounting both fall within the fields of business and management but are unique programs available at the doctoral level. Find out what sets these programs apart and how you can apply.

Finance and accounting may each be offered as a specific concentration for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Management or as an individual PhD program. Both programs generally focus on empirical research tools in their respective field, but finance tends to draw more from economics, while accounting works more with archival data within an organization. Learn more about some of the similarities and differences here.

Comparing a PhD in Finance to a PhD in Accounting

PhD in Finance

PhD in Finance programs generally train students in the theoretical and empirical tools in the field and typically includes a lot of economics. These programs may take 4 to 5 years to complete, may provide teaching opportunities, and usually require comprehensive exams and a dissertation. Students are encouraged to publish scholarly articles with faculty members, and research opportunities in the field include the exploration of topics like banking and monetary systems, asset pricing, international finance, behavioral finance, and financial market structure. The curriculum may include core courses in subjects such as microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, finance theory, corporate finance, and empirical methods, and some programs may expect students to read as many as 100 papers in the field of finance. Graduates with their PhD in Finance may pursue careers as university professors or researchers for various financial organizations.

PhD in Accounting

PhD in Accounting degree programs train students in the empirical research skills used in the field and also may provide students with hands-on teaching experience through teaching assistantships. These programs also take about 4 to 5 years to complete, may require around 66 credits beyond a master's degree, are full-time, and require comprehensive exams and a dissertation. Students may explore topics such as auditing, financial reporting, taxation, and managerial accounting in their research. Specific seminar and/or course topics may include archival research, financial accounting theory, managerial accounting theory, statistical methods, empirical research, and capital markets research. Graduates of PhD in Accounting programs may also work as university professors or researchers in the field of accounting.

Common Entrance Requirements

Admission to PhD in Finance and PhD in Accounting degree programs are fairly similar and may be competitive, as some programs only accept a few students each year to provide one-on-one mentorship and/or provide funding. Applicants generally need at least a bachelor's degree, but students with a master's degree may be able to take fewer courses, and therefore, finish the program slightly faster than those with a bachelor's degree. Students may be required to have prior coursework in areas like calculus, linear algebra, and statistics, and typically need to take the GMAT or GRE. The majority of these programs require applicants to submit their transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, and a personal statement or responses to specific essay questions with their application.

Students can earn a PhD in Finance or PhD in Accounting in 4 to 5 years, must complete a dissertation, and can usually pursue careers in research and higher education. However, these programs differ in some of the specific course topics and areas of research.

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