Best DBA Accounting Programs

Jun 17, 2021

DBA Accounting Overview

There are many different doctorates in business available, including doctorates in finance, accounting, business administration, and more. A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is an advanced degree specifically designed for business leaders wishing to further develop their knowledge and skills in the field. Graduates of these programs can advance to higher executive positions in leadership, consulting, and analysis, or pursue careers as post-secondary educators. DBA programs typically offer various areas of concentration, including one in accounting. The accounting DBA trains students in the theories, ethics, and best practices of the field. DBA programs in accounting are available in on-campus, hybrid, and online formats. Here we will explore the details of these degree programs.

Admissions Requirements for DBA Accounting Programs

Once students have compared programs and are ready to apply, they need to carefully examine the admissions requirements and application process at their desired school(s). Typically, with the appropriate application, students will be required to include supplemental material. The specific materials vary by program, but it is common for students to have to include transcripts from all of their prior postsecondary education. Several of these DBA in Accounting programs require applicants to take the GMAT, but some schools may waive the exam if students meet certain criteria, such as a higher GPA. Other materials that programs may require with the admissions application include a resume or CV, letters of recommendation, and a statement of intent or essay responses. Depending on the program, students may also need to submit a writing sample.

Educational & Professional Prerequisites for DBA Accounting Students

DBA in Accounting programs often provide students with several different pathways for meeting admissions requirements for the program. For instance, most of these programs require that applicants hold a master's degree, which usually needs to be from a business-related area. However, some programs may also accept students who have a master's degree in a different field, but a bachelor's degree in a field of business. Some programs may accept those with only a bachelor's degree or degrees in areas outside of business, but require them to take additional coursework. There are some DBA in Accounting programs that expect applicants to have prior coursework in accounting, finance, and economics. Professional experience could also be required for applicants, but usually does not exceed 5 years.

Accreditation for DBA Accounting Programs

DBA in Accounting programs often have program-level accreditation in addition to being offered from regionally accredited institutions. While regional accreditation is helpful and provides students with various benefits, such as eligibility for financial aid, program-level accreditation is often preferred by employers. This is because program-level accreditation is usually awarded by subject area and means that programs have met academic standards that are more specific to the industry. Therefore, graduates of these programs could be better prepared for entering a career in the field. In the case of DBA programs, many of these programs are accredited by business-related organizations, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

How Long Does It Take to Earn a DBA in Accounting?

Most DBA in Accounting degree programs can be completed in 4 years. Students typically finish their coursework in the first 3 years and then work on their dissertation in the last year of the program. However, some programs allow students to finish in as little as 3 years. This may be due to factors such as transfer credit, course load, and full-time vs. part-time status. Some programs allow students up to 7 years to finish their program, which can be helpful for part-time students and others with busy schedules.

DBA Accounting Coursework

Usually, students are required to take between 48 and 75 credits of coursework. Coursework is typically divided into some core required courses and coursework in the given concentration, which in this case is accounting coursework. The core courses may include some core business courses, core education courses, and core research courses.

Core business courses are designed to further develop students' understanding of main business areas and develop business leadership skills. Students could take classes in management and leadership, marketing, business strategy, and business ethics.

Core education courses are designed to prepare students for teaching at the collegiate level and may include courses in effective teaching and/or a teaching practicum. Sometimes education courses may only be associated with an academic track of the DBA designed to prepare students for education-related careers vs. a professional track for business leaders.

Research courses help prepare students for their dissertation and usually cover topics in qualitative and quantitative research. Accounting courses include topics in managerial accounting, compliance/ethics in accounting, accounting theory, auditing, and fraud.

Preparing Your DBA Accounting Dissertation

Although some DBA in Accounting programs offer various options for a final project, such as a research project report or multiple research papers, most of these programs require a traditional dissertation. Students traditionally work on their dissertation in their final year of the program but have usually taken some steps towards their dissertation before this time. For example, many programs include a course that discusses the different aspects of the dissertation to help prepare students. Students also usually complete a comprehensive exam and dissertation proposal to prepare for their dissertation.

Once the proposal stage has been completed, students can begin conducting their dissertation research. During the data collection process, some programs may require an internal review board to ensure things are staying on track. Finally, students must defend their dissertation. This usually involves an oral dissertation before one's dissertation committee. Depending on the setup of the program, students typically take multiple credit hours for their dissertation.

What Other Types of Accounting Degrees Are There?

There is no shortage of accounting degree programs offered at the undergraduate or graduate levels. Many of these programs are available online and on-campus. Undergraduate degree programs in accounting are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the field, while graduate-level programs are designed for career advancement and leadership responsibilities. Some of these degree programs also help students meet eligibility requirements for different professional certifications in the field of accounting. Explore some of the accounting degree options here.

Accounting Associate Degrees

Associate degree programs in accounting are commonly available as Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), or Associate of Applied Business (AAB) degrees. Usually, these 2-year programs can be easily transferred and count as the first 2 years of coursework for a 4-year bachelor's degree program in the field. Graduates with their associate degree in accounting can pursue various entry-level bookkeeping, accounting, finance, or auditing positions, typically as a clerk.

Accounting Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degree programs in accounting are typically offered as Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), or Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees with a concentration in the field. These programs traditionally take 4 years to complete and help prepare students for the CPA exam and other professional certifications in the field. Coursework usually includes accounting courses, as well as other business-related courses, such as those in economics. Graduates of these degree programs can work as accountants or auditors but may need additional courses for certifications.

Accounting Master's Degrees

There are also several different masters degrees in accounting available, such as Master of Science (MS), Master of Accountancy (MAcc), or Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. At this level, students may consider their career goals to make sure an accounting program is the best option. For example, those wishing to pursue their CPA license may choose a MBA in Accounting or an MBA in Finance. Usually, master's degree programs are designed to be completed in 2 years or less. Many schools offer dual programs for students that allow them to earn both their bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting in less time. Graduates with their master's have likely met the required hours of coursework to take the CPA licensing exam but may also go on to work in advanced accounting- or auditing-related positions.

Accounting Graduate Certificates

There is also no shortage of on-campus accounting graduate certificate programs and online accounting graduate certificate programs, as well as graduate certificate programs in related areas, such as business analyst, finance, and forensic accounting. These programs are typically short, with some allowing students to finish the certificate program in less than 6 months. Students may take between 9 and 21 credits of coursework and, depending on the school, could be able to apply these credits towards a master's degree, such as an MBA in Accounting.

Career Options & Salary Outlook for DBA Accounting Graduates

Graduates of DBA in Accounting programs can work a wide range of accounting- and business-related careers. Many go on to work in various areas of accounting, such as careers in managerial accounting, financial accounting, and general accounting. They are usually qualified for advanced leadership and managerial roles that oversee other staff members. Other graduates may desire to move into consulting and assist organizations with various accounting-related issues. Still, others may decide to help teach the next generation of accounting students and conduct research as postsecondary educators. Below, we look at a few different job options.

Become an Accountant or Auditor

Accountants or auditors have to hold at least a bachelor's degree, usually in accounting or a closely related field. Sometimes, during their education, students in the field may participate in internships or other hands-on learning opportunities to gain practical experience and stand out from the competition. Some accountants will go on to pursue their CPA license, which requires students to pass a 4-part exam after meeting education requirements (150 hours of coursework). Several organizations offer various kinds of credentials for accountants and auditors that can help them stand out to employers and demonstrate their expertise.

Accountants may specialize in a particular area of the field and help organizations prepare and maintain various financial records. They may ensure that taxes are filed properly and other financial forms are accurate. Auditors also help check for accuracy on financial records, check for issues of fraud, and ensure compliance with current regulations.

Become a Top Executive

Positions such as chief financial officer (CFO), managing director, chief executive officer (CEO), and more all fall under the umbrella of top executives. These professionals have to have at least a bachelor's degree, but advanced degrees are common and/or preferred. It is also important that top executives have extensive work experience. Typically, this experience needs to be in a related area and include management experience. Some top executives may need to have licenses or certifications related to their field, such as a CPA license for some CEOs.

While job duties vary by position and employer for top executives, in general, they help look at the big picture for their organization. They may help set goals and create plans and strategies to meet these goals, based on an organization's objectives. Top executives generally oversee various staff members and managers, oversee financial activities, and find areas for improvement.

Become a Postsecondary Teacher

Many students who earn a doctoral degree go on to teach their given subject at the postsecondary level. Most colleges and universities require their educators to hold a doctoral degree in their field of expertise, but some may only require a master's degree. It is also common for postsecondary teachers to need an industry-specific license or certification if that is common in their field, such as a CPA license for accounting instructors. It is also helpful for these professionals to have some work experience in their field.

Postsecondary teachers work as educators, researchers, and sometimes advisors. They commonly teach various courses in their particular subject area, as well as stay updated on current developments in their field and/or participate in research in their field. They may oversee the work of graduate students and help students know which courses to take at the institution. Other responsibilities vary by school but could include participating on different college-related committees.

Accounting Professional Organizations

There are many different accounting-related professional organizations available that can meet individuals' professional needs. Generally, these accounting organizations aim to support professionals in the field, as well as promote the field of accounting to the next generation and the public. These groups also offer a range of resources and networking opportunities for professionals. Here, we examine a couple of the professional organizations that are available in accounting:

  • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants- The AICPA is designed for current and aspiring CPAs. The group not only offers the CPA exam but also has a range of certificate programs and other professional credential options related to accounting. The organization also provides career information, access to news, and is involved in advocacy initiatives.
  • American Accounting Association- The AAA offers membership and aims to provide research for professionals in all areas of accounting. The group has an accounting education newsletter, information for scholars, and information for potential doctoral students. Professionals can also take advantage of webinars, career information, and awards.

How Much Does a DBA in Accounting Cost?

The total cost of a DBA in Accounting varies by school and several different factors, including tuition, fees, and living expenses. Some programs may charge a flat rate per year for the program, such as $33,000 each academic year for a DBA program with a concentration. Other programs may charge per credit hour. Some of these schools could charge upwards of $900 per semester hour. Fees are another large part of the cost of a program, as some programs have fees in addition to tuition. For example, some programs have additional fees for the application and graduation. Students might want to consider living expenses when calculating the total cost and then examine payment plans and financial aid options.

Scholarships & Funding Opportunities for a DBA Accounting

Many schools work closely with students to help them figure out how to pay for their education. Doctoral students are still eligible to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and accept any federal or state loans and grants that they may qualify for. Some schools may also offer emergency funds for students who are in a tight and unique spot. Other schools offer discounts for various qualifying students, such as discounts for military service members.

Scholarships are another great way to help pay for postsecondary education and are available for a wide range of reasons from an array of organizations. Students pursuing a DBA in Accounting could be in a unique position to pursue scholarships in the fields of accounting and business, as well as awards for study at the doctoral level. Sometimes scholarships are offered by outside organizations associated with the field. Other times students can find scholarships available from their school of interest. For example, DBA students at Jacksonville University can pursue the Kinne Scholarship that is awarded each year. Applicants need to be a business graduate student and submit a personal essay and resume.

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