September 7, 2008

Accounting Doctoral Education-2007 A Report of the Joint AAA/APLG/ FSA Doctoral Education Committee

By Behn, Bruce K Carnes, Gregory A; Krull, George W Jr; Stocks, Kevin D; Reckers, Philip M J

INTRODUCTION Over the past few years the profession has witnessed a visible decline in the number of students graduating from U.S. accounting doctoral programs. A review of the accounting Ph.D. program listing in the Hasselback Directory reveals that output over the last eight years (941 graduates) significantly trails output in the eight prior years (1488) and the eight years preceding that (1664). The ramifications of this trend are numerous. One ramification is that current output levels are inadequate to provide replacements for retiring faculty over the next decade. It is estimated that about 1,500 doctoral-qualified accounting faculty will retire in the next eight years; thus, at recent levels of output the shortage currently experienced will be greatly exacerbated (i.e., an additional shortfall of 500+ doctoral- qualified faculty can be predicted). Another ramification of this trend is that there will be fewer research-active faculty to work with new doctoral students. Current enrollments in U.S. Ph.D. programs suggest future output may be in a further decline, and the shortage of faculty may be even greater.1

Various efforts (including those of the AICPA Foundation, AACSB, and the Big 4) are underway to address the current and future shortage of doctoral-qualified accounting faculty. One of these efforts was initiated by a joint American Accounting Association, Accounting Programs Leadership Group, and Federation of Schools of Accountancy (AAA/FSA/APLG) committee (hereafter, the Committee). This Committee's objective was to gather and disseminate information of interest to those considering entry to the accounting academic profession and those providing advice to potential students. Doctoral students from across the U.S. were queried with respect to what information they would have found informative in their career deliberations and school selection. From this information a survey was developed and sent to each of the Ph.D. program schools listed in Hassleback's Accounting Faculty Directory 2006-2007. The survey was distributed during the summer of 2007 and a preliminary report was presented to Ph.D. Coordinators attending a breakfast session at the 2007 AAA Annual Meeting in Chicago. The surveys were redistributed to each school for review and revision during the fall of 2007. Schools identified with Ph.D. programs in the new 2008- 2009 Hasselback Directory were also sent surveys. One school (Bentley College) was identified as starting a Ph.D. program, but not listed in the Directory. Of the 102 schools identified, 89 submitted responses, 1 did not respond, and 12 schools on the list no longer have an active accounting Ph.D. program.

This article provides basic summary statistics from that survey. Plans exist to update the survey annually and to extend the survey to non-U.S. Ph.D.-granting institutions. The unaltered responses from each of the responding schools will be made available online as part of the AAACommons as a service to all AAA members, potential Ph.D. students, and the public at large. It is our hope the responses of the individual schools and the summary statistics provided herein will inform interested parties and prove helpful in recruiting more members to the teaching profession as doctoral- qualified faculty. In reviewing the summary statistics, note that not all schools responded to all questions.


Current enrollments in 89 of the 90 active U.S. Ph.D. programs portend a slight increase in output over the next five years (see Table 1). Forecasting the best-case scenario, using an (potentially unrealistic) assumption of no attrition during their programs, output over the next five years will increase slightly to 734 graduates or about 147 per year (588 students graduated in years 2002-2006 for an average of approximately 118 per year).

While current enrollments suggest a slight upward trend, another encouraging sign is that universities plan to further increase future enrollments. Table 2 provides responses by schools to the question: How many new Ph.D. students have you admitted or plan to admit for 2007 to 2011?

But these increases may be largely illusory if one factors in student attrition. It is clearly the case that not all those who enter Ph.D. programs will graduate. In fact, our respondents estimate that a significant percentage (as high as 33 percent at some institutions) do not complete their programs, which is troublesome. All the data seems to indicate that challenging times are clearly in our future.


Current Ph.D. Program Enrollments TABLE 2

Planned Admissions to Ph.D. Programs TABLE 3


Among several questions of interest to potential applicants to Ph.D. programs are: "What are your requirements?" and "What are schools looking for in a Ph.D. applicant?" Besides Ph.D. applicants, other stakeholder groups have also expressed interest in these requirements and characteristics, in as much as Ph.D. program graduates become teachers of future generations of entry-level professional accountants. We outline some of these findings in the following paragraphs.

In regard to prior work experience, interestingly, only 2 percent of responding schools require any kind of work experience in the profession of accounting. Thirty-nine percent prefer experience and 12 percent strongly prefer experience. Forty-five percent express no interest or preference in experience. Forty percent of responding schools prefer applicants with master's degrees.

Many schools do not specify a minimum GMAT requirement (33 percent) while most do (67 percent). About half of the respondents specifying a minimum GMAT set that threshold between 600 and 650; with the other half specifying a GMAT above 650. Table 3 reflects what schools actually experience among applicants admitted.

In addition to GMAT scores and other measures of intellectual capacity (e.g., GPA), schools also value other qualities of applicants. Table 4 reports the percent of schools that indicated attention to several other variables.

Average GMAT of Entering Students


Qualities Sought of Entering Students


The vast majority of Ph.D. programs (80 percent) waive tuition for Ph.D. students and pay cash stipends (see Table 5). However, the variability in these stipends is significant. The majority of universities (80 percent) also require students to teach during their program. This may be to not only analyze their teaching potential, but also potentially provides students with additional funding (i.e., teaching a summer course, etc.)


Not surprisingly, the research focus of various U.S. doctoral programs reflects the make-up and interests of the faculty (see Tables 6 through 9 for an overview). Some schools attempt to serve all or nearly all student interests, while other programs identify niche areas. The responses of individual schools (available on the AAA website) should be especially helpful in this regard in identifying programs consistent with prospective students' interests.


Stipend Provided


Student Topical Research Areas


Student Research Method Areas


Faculty Topical Research Areas


Faculty Research Method Areas

Overall, faculty and student interests in archival research methods scores highest (56 percent and 64 percent, respectively). Interest in behavioral research methods is a distant second for both faculty and students (23 percent and 19 percent, respectively). Similarly, interest in financial accounting ranks highest among both faculty and students (49 percent and 52 percent, respectively). A mere 4 percent of faculty and 5 percent of students express an interest in the information systems area despite technology needs consistently scoring high in the wish list of professional recruiters. Students are nearly evenly split among managerial accounting, auditing, and tax registering scores of 12 percent, 12 percent, and 9 percent, respectively. These interest levels, by and large, reflect expressed interest of faculty. These results also appear to reflect a data availability issue. Arguably, financial archival research is the largest percentage of research performed today due to the number of financial databases available for researchers to use. It is a common concern of faculty mentors in the areas of Auditing, Tax, Managerial Accounting, and Information Systems that neither data nor cooperation from major employers is available to support dissertation work and post-doctoral research.

Tables 10 and 11 should be useful to potential doctoral candidates in identifying specifically which schools may best meet their interests. Tables 10 and 11 also identify the current interests of various U.S. doctoral programs as revealed by the makeup of faculty supporting their doctoral programs and interests of students in their programs.


A significant shortage of doctoral-qualified faculty exists today. Evidence exists that conditions will continue to deteriorate unless something is done to reverse trends. Improved information may facilitate some efforts to reverse trends. It is in that spirit that the Committee undertook the data-gathering effort described above. However, data have no value if no one knows it exists or where to find it. The purpose of this short article is to raise attention to the availability of this data (which can be found at the AAACommons website). The Appendix provides a copy of the complete survey to which each U.S. doctoral program replied. The AAA common website provides a page for the responses of each institution. TABLE 10

Faculty Supporting Doctoral Studies by Area and by Institution


Faculty Supporting Doctoral Studies by Area and by Institution


Doctoral Students by Interest Area and by Institution


Doctoral Students by Interest Area and by Institution

1 See Tables 10 and 11.

Bruce K. Behn is the President of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Gregory A. Carnes is the President of the Accounting Programs Leadership (APLG) Section of the American Accounting Association, George W. Krull, Jr. is with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Pre- certification Education Executive Committee (PcEEC), Kevin D. Stocks is the President-Elect of the Accounting Programs Leadership (APLG) Section of the American Accounting Association, and Philip M. J. Reckers is the Vice President-Education of the American Accounting Association.



School: ____________________

1. Who is the contact person for a student interested in your Ph.D. program?

2. What is the desired educational background of the students entering your Ph.D. program?

3. What type of work experience, if any, is required or recommended before admittance into your program? Are you willing to consider well-prepared students who have little or no prior work experience?

4. What is the average GMAT score for your entering Ph.D. students? What minimum criteria do you specify for a Ph.D. student? Do you have a minimum score you are willing to consider?

5. What qualities do you look for in students who are applying to your school?

6. Do you invite/require applicants in for campus or phone interviews?

7. How many new Ph.D. students have you admitted and plan to admit from 2007 to 2011? (by year)

8. What is the amount of your annual tuition and the typical financial package made available to new Ph.D. students in terms of cash stipends, tuition breaks, and otiier benefit provided?

Annual tuition:

Average annual cash stipend:

Average annual tuition breaks:

Other financial assistance provided:

9. How many full-time (FT) and part-time (PT) Ph.D. students do you currently have in your program in each of the following years of study?

1st year (FT) (PT)

2nd year (FT) (PT)

3rd year (FT) (PT)

4th year (FT) (PT)

5th Year + (FT) (PT)

10. Over the past years, how many Ph.D. students have graduated from your program annually?

2003-2004 ___ 2004-2005 ___ 2005-2006 ___ 2006-2007 ___ 2007- 2008 ___

11. On average, what percentage of your entering Ph.D. students graduate and how many years does it take on average to complete your Ph.D. program based on your last five graduates?

% Graduate:

Average # Years to complete:

12. Do you expect your students to teach during their Ph.D. program? If you expect students to teach, what is the expected number of classes per year?

13. List the schools where the last five Ph.D. graduates from your institution accepted employment.

14. Of your current Ph.D. students, how many anticipate graduating with a research focus on each of the following areas?

15. Of your current accounting faculty, how many are directly involved in supporting your Ph.D. students in research in each of the following areas?

16. What is the URL to your website?

Copyright American Accounting Association Aug 2008

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