Accounting Program Requirements

Accounting PhD students can choose to work under one of two research paradigms: analytical or empirical. Each concentration requires the student to take a series of courses/seminars within and outside the department to fulfill coursework requirements and move to the preliminary exams. The coursework of each student is tailored to meet his/her needs or background.



Coursework is chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser and/or PhD Coordinator. The program requires students to have a minimum of 40 degree program credits to move to the prelim exams. In general, students are required to take:

  • a minimum of 12 credits in Accounting Department PhD seminars
  • a minimum of 8 credits outside the Carlson School of Management (e.g., in economics, psychology, statistics, etc.)
  • 12 credits of a methodology (can overlap with supporting program)

Course descriptions:

Acct 8800: Empirical Research Topics

Current research topics that are cutting edge and are in instructor’s area of expertise. Topics vary.

Acct 8801: Empirical Research in Capital Markets

Topics include properties of earnings and earnings components, earnings management, time-series and analyst forecasts of earnings, voluntary disclosure of accounting information and related regulatory impacts.

Acct 8802: Empirical Research: Valuation

Topics covered include accounting earnings and stock prices, earnings based security valuation, estimation of earnings-based risk measures, market anomalies and related topics from corporate finance.

Acct 8803: Empirical Research: Accounting Choice

Covers positive accounting theory, standards/properties in an international context, corporate governance and accounting properties, executive compensation.

Acct 8811: Information Economics I

Covers mechanism design with asymmetric information, information and signaling phenomena, global games and coordination, and asset pricing with asymmetric information and higher order beliefs.

Acct 8812: Information Economics II

Covers the analytical literature on disclosure including voluntary disclosure incentives, strategic disclosure and its effect on stock price responses and real effects of accounting measurement and disclosure.

Acct 8831: Theory of Contracts I: Moral Hazards & AdverseSelection

Foundational models of moral hazard, models with adverse selection, from theoretical economics literature. How models have been applied to fundamental issues in accounting research.

Acct 8832: Theory of Contracts II: Renegotiation & Incomplete Contracting

How theoretical economics literature has introduced contraction frictions such as incompleteness/ renegotiation. How these frictions have been applied to issues in accounting research.

Research Paper

Research Paper

A major research paper is to be completed by the end of September as the student begins their third year in the program. The paper must also be presented at a workshop attended by Accounting faculty and students sometime during the third year.

Written Prelim

Written Prelim

The written exam in accounting is a take-home exam to be completed over one week. Students are asked to select three of the four research paradigms (analytical, empirical, experimental, and behavioral) from which to answer questions. The questions may include problem solving, design of experiments, research design for empirical tests, and methodology-related issues.

Oral Prelim

Oral Prelim

In accounting, the oral exam is usually based on the student’s planned dissertation topic.

Proposal Defense

Proposal Defense

Must be completed at least 2 semesters before the student’s planned graduation date.

Program Demographics 2014

  • Average Age = 29
  • Average GRE (before August 2011) = 1425
  • Average GRE (after August 2011) = 324
  • Average GMAT (total) = 715

Program Statistics 2014

  • Number of Applicants = 54
  • Admissions = 3 (5%)
  • Matriculants = 1 (33%)
  • Total program size = 11