PhD in Accountancy

Currently ranked #16 by Public Accounting Report, the School of Accountancy PhD program offers exceptional faculty and top notch opportunity. The purpose of our PhD program is to train and prepare students for an academic career at institutions having teaching and research missions in a four-year program. We focus on training students for state-of-the-art archival research. The faculty’s research expertise is primarily in the areas of financial accounting and auditing. 

Our goal is to admit two students per year to the program. We do consider international applicants, but only if they have evidence of strong English-language skills, and have either studied in or worked in an English-language setting. We do not consider international applications from individuals that do not meet these conditions. The School of Accountancy’s PhD Policy Committee makes admission decisions annually for the fall semester. Completed applications must be received no later than the prior February 1, and admission decisions are made by April 15.

Criteria for admission includes a record of outstanding prior academic performance, a minimum GMAT score of 700, and strong letters of reference. Prior graduate study and work experience are highly desirable. Students admitted to the program normally have an accounting background and some professional work experience. However, we do consider applications from highly qualified applicants without work experience and with backgrounds in other fields. Before an admission decision is made, the PhD Policy Committee requires a campus interview to ensure a good match between our program and the applicant's background and career goals.

Program Requirements

Prerequisites for admission to the PhD program are a minimum of two calculus courses (and preferably three), an introductory statistics course, and intermediate-level microeconomic theory. Students enroll for ten hours a semester, and the course work requirements are completed in two and one-half years (five semesters). The sixth semester (winter of the third year) is spent preparing for and taking the comprehensive written examination, and the fourth year in writing the research thesis.  The University of Missouri requires 72 total hours of course work beyond a baccalaureate degree. Specific course work requirements are:

  1. 18 hours in doctoral-level accounting research courses;
  2. 15 hours of course work in supporting theoretical fields;
  3. 18 hours of course work in research tools (statistics, research design, quantitative methods);
  4. A minimum of 14 hours enrollment in ACCT 9090: Research in Accounting.

Accounting Requirements

Students are required to take four research seminars: accounting research methods (ACCT 9460); financial accounting (ACCT 9466); auditing (ACCT 9444); international accounting (ACCT 9401), and topics in accounting (ACCT 9457). In addition, students enroll in ACCT 9401 while completing the first-year summer paper (see below).

Supporting Field

Students are required to take 15 hours in a supporting field.  There is flexibility in tailoring each student's program, though generally the choices come from the fields of economics, finance, organizational studies, or cognitive psychology.

Research Tools

Students are required to take Economics 7370: Introduction to Quantitative Economics, and Statistics 7510: Regression. In addition, a minimum of four additional courses related to the student’s program emphasis is required. Students will typically select either an empirical or an experimental emphasis and take appropriate courses (econometrics, statistics, experimental research design, and analysis of variance).

Friday Morning Research Seminars

An important part of learning research skills is participating in research workshop presentations. The School of Accountancy has a weekly research seminar that meets on Friday mornings to discuss current research-in-progress presented by faculty and Ph.D. students, and by invited faculty from other universities. Attendance is required at these seminars, and written critiques of selected papers may also be required.

Dissertation Hours

The University requires a minimum enrollment of two credit hours per semester and one credit hour per summer in ACCT 9090 to maintain full-time enrollment in the PhD program after completing compulsory course work requirements and comprehensive exams. This enrollment continues through the final semester of the dissertation defense, typically the summer following the 4th year in the program.

Language Proficiency Requirements for International Students

All non-native-English-speaking applicants are required by the Graduate School to provide proof of English language ability. As proof, the University of Missouri Graduate School accepts scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The Graduate School requires electronic reporting of IELTS examination scores. To be considered for admission, non-native English speakers must score a minimum of 500 on the paper-based TOEFL or 61 on the Internet-based test,and the IELTS must be a 5.5 or higher.  

In addition, if admitted to the program, international students are required to achieve Level 3 on a language-screening test administered by the University’s International Teaching Assistant Program by the end of their first year in the program, and Level 4 by the end of their second year in the program. Failure to achieve Level 3 and Level 4 on this timeline will result in the immediate loss of the financial support package from the School of Accountancy (including tuition waiver). 

First-Year Summer Paper

An independent research project under the guidance of a faculty member, is undertaken in the summer following the first year in the doctoral program. Students enroll in ACCT 9401 and receive three credit hours. It is the student's responsibility to develop a project in consultation with an interested faculty member. Students receive a research stipend from the School of Accountancy equivalent to a summer TA/RA appointment. A final draft of the project report must be presented in one of the weekly Friday seminars before the end of the subsequent winter semester. 

Comprehensive Written Examinations

A comprehensive written examination in accounting is required following the completion of all doctoral course work requirements. Normally this occurs early in the winter semester of the student's third year in the program. Preparation of the exam is the joint responsibility of the PhD Director, the PhD Policy Committee, and faculty involved in doctoral course work. The exam consists of questions in the candidate's area of specialization and general questions covering other areas of accounting research. At the discretion of the Director, a follow-up oral examination may also be required if deemed necessary. Failure to pass the comprehensive written and oral examinations can result in dismissal from the program. However, the PhD Policy Committee may, if it is deemed appropriate, allow a student to retake the written examination a second time after a minimum of 12 weeks (in accordance with University of Missouri procedures described in the Graduate Catalogue).

Dissertation

The final requirement of the PhD program is a research thesis. Preliminary work on defining the research topic should begin in the student's third year, leading to a written proposal and formal presentation in a Friday afternoon seminar early in the fall semester of the fourth year in the program. Following completion of the comprehensive examinations, the student's PhD Program Committee may be reconstituted to select appropriate faculty given the student’s dissertation topic. An oral defense is required upon completion of the dissertation.

Financial Support Package

All students receive a four-year commitment for a 12-month annual financial support package, subject to satisfactory performance in the program which is evaluated on a semester-by-semester basis (discussed below). Students are required to work 20 hours per week as a half-time research assistant (RA) or a teaching assistant (TA) during the fall and winter semesters and in the summers are required to work as a half-time RA or TA. In addition the university’s standard RA/TA stipend, and the College Ponder Scholarship, additional scholarships may also be available from the School of Accountancy or the University of Missouri for exceptional applicants.

Acceptance of the financial support package requires that there be no substantive outside employment while receiving support from the university. If a student is not finished after four years but is making good progress on completing a dissertation, the Director of the School of Accountancy may, at his/her discretion and subject to teaching needs, appoint the student to a half-time TA. No financial support is provided after five years in any circumstances.

Research and Teaching Assistantships

Students are assigned to specific faculty members to work as research assistants during the first two years in the program. This is a strong feature of the PhD program as it facilitates the development of a mentoring relationship with research faculty early in the program. A faculty member’s willingness to mentor students is a prime factor in making RA assignments.

Students then work as teaching assistants in the third and fourth years of the program. TA appointments are made by the Director of the School of Accountancy in consultation with the PhD Program Director. Throughout the year, the university offers a number of programs for PhD students designed to facilitate the development of teaching skills.

Performance Assessment

The Graduate College requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for academic eligibility; however, the School of Accountancy requires a higher GPA of 3.25, both cumulative and each semester in the program. Students who fail to maintain a GPA of 3.25, or otherwise fail to achieve satisfactory progress in the program, may have their financial support package suspended and may be placed on academic probation. See the University of Missouri Graduate Catalogue for additional information on academic probation and dismissal.

Each summer, the PhD Program Director evaluates the annual performance of doctoral students in the course work stage of the PhD program and prepares a written report to each student. Follow-up meetings may also be held at the Director's discretion. Information on student performance is solicited from the entire faculty. The Director of the School of Accountancy conducts teaching evaluations.

The dissertation chair is responsible for evaluating the progress of students at the dissertation stage. Any problems should be reported immediately to the PhD Program Director and the Director of the School of Accountancy.

Administration of the Program

The PhD Program Director, members of the PhD Policy Committee and faculty members teaching PhD seminars are required to be members of the University of Missouri doctoral faculty. The University of Missouri requires each student have a four-member Doctoral Program Committee (with one member from outside Accounting). This committee is initially assigned by the PhD Program Director who also chairs the committee until the comprehensive written and oral examinations are passed. At this point, the chair and committee membership will be reconstituted to select appropriate faculty given the dissertation topic area selected by the student. See the Graduate Catalogue for additional details on doctoral program general requirements and administration at the University of Missouri.

The following forms must be filed at appropriate stages of the program:

  • Forms D-1 and D-2 are filed upon successful completion of course work.
  • Form D-3. Filed at the completion of written exams.
  • Form D-4. Filed after the thesis defense.