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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Accounting

Doctoral Program

Our doctoral program in accounting was ranked No. 10 for research and No. 7 for teaching in the nation by Public Accounting Report in 2010.

Doctoral Program

Degree Requirements

The doctoral program in accounting is typically a five-year program, although students who have well-defined goals coming into the program may be able to finish in four years.

The curriculum includes:

  • Courses, which students take during their first five to six semesters in the program
  • A comprehensive exam, which students take after either their fourth or fifth semester in the program, depending on when they have completed all accounting course work
  • A dissertation, which students work on during their third, fourth, and fifth years
  • An interview for an academic placement during students’ fourth or fifth year
  • Research papers written in collaboration with faculty and fellow doctoral students, with the goal of having research papers published and/or in progress before graduation

This page outlines the program’s degree requirements. For more detailed information about the program, including suggested course schedules, download the following document:

Overview of Accounting Doctoral Program 2007-08 (DOC)

 Course Work

The course work for a PhD in accounting consists of a series of three required seminars in accounting, four courses in research methodology and statistics, and three courses in a minor/supporting field of the student’s choice. The minor/supporting field must be approved by both the Department of Accounting and the department of the minor/supporting field. Each PhD student is also required to take a teaching development seminar.

Required Courses
Accounting Seminars
Research Methods and Statistics

At least three courses from a supporting field (such as finance or psychology)


X630 Teaching Development Seminar

Summer Papers

During the first two summers in the program, students are required to write papers. These papers must be completed by early September of the second and third years. The papers require that students work with a faculty supervisor of their choosing.

The first-year summer paper can be a literature review/synthesis with a focus on identifying research questions, a replication of an existing study, or an original piece of research. The second-year summer paper is an original piece of research and may be presented in an accounting workshop.

Research Assistant Assignments

As part of their fellowship, doctoral students serve as research assistants to tenure-track faculty during the semesters and summers they do not teach. This assignment exposes doctoral students to different research topics and methodologies and provides opportunities for students to co-author with faculty.

Research and Travel Support

The Department of Accounting provides each doctoral student with a Research and Teaching Supplement (RATS) whose funds may be used for travel expenses, books, journal subscriptions, association fees, and other program-related expenses.

The Indiana University Graduate School, Kelley Doctoral Programs, and Department of Accounting provide assistance with expenses related to a dissertation. For example, the University Graduate School provides two grant-in-aid competitions per year for up to $1,000. The most common costs are those associated with administering experiments. The Department of Accounting also maintains a human subject pool that doctoral students may use for their dissertation or other research.

To encourage doctoral students to participate in conferences, the Accounting Doctoral Committee gives each student a designated travel budget of $1,500 for the duration of their stay in the program. This is in addition to the annual RATS allocation that can also be used for travel expenses. The department also pays for other travel opportunities during the program; for example, the doctoral committee selects and nominates one student per year to attend the American Accounting Association Doctoral Consortium, and the department pays the fee.

Accounting Workshops

The Department of Accounting holds research workshops Friday afternoons during the fall and spring semesters. These workshops play a key role in the development of doctoral students’ research expertise. We expect students to attend workshops and to participate in the research discussion.

Students also attend lunch with the workshop speakers. These lunches provide a great opportunity to talk to researchers both in and outside your research areas.


As part of their fellowship, doctoral students teach 12 hours over the first four years of the program, and the equivalent of 6 hours in the fifth year. In general, students fulfill this obligation by teaching discussion sections of A201 Introduction to Financial Accounting or A202 Introduction to Managerial Accounting. Faculty who teach the lecture sections of A201 and A202 oversee the associated discussion sections, which are held on Thursdays and Fridays.

Other teaching opportunities include lecture sections of A201 and A202 during summer session I (six weeks between early May and mid-June) and summer session II (eight weeks between late June and early August). The Accounting Doctoral Committee encourages students to teach a lecture section at least once during their program to gain experience in running a course on their own. Students also may teach a lecture section of an upper-level course, if available and desired by the student. Opportunities include A311 Intermediate Financial Accounting I, A312 Intermediate Financial Accounting II, A325 Cost Accounting, A329 Taxes and Decision Making, and A420 Financial Statement Analysis and Interpretation. Doctoral students work with the faculty teaching these courses to develop a syllabus and teaching plan.

 Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam is a written exam that is usually administered when students complete their course work (in June of the second year or in February of the third year in the program). The exam is administered over two days and consists of two equally weighted parts:

  • Part 1: The first part consists of three questions: one each from material covered in A601, A602, and A603. The student is allowed six hours to answer all three questions.

  • Part 2: At the conclusion of part 1, the student will receive a working paper to read and review. The paper is likely to have been submitted to a top-tier accounting journal for publication, and the student is given 24 hours to prepare a formal review of the paper, its potential to be published, and its contribution. The typed review should consist of a letter to the editor of the journal and a memo to the authors.

Students must obtain an overall average score of marginal pass or better on all questions. Students who fail the exam are required to take all or part of the exam again. In no event is a student required to wait more than a year to retake the exam. A second failure results in dismissal from the program.


Dissertations encompass the following four stages:

Stage 1: Development of Dissertation Idea

Students develop a dissertation idea and choose a dissertation chair by the end of their third year in the program. Students also submit a description of their dissertation idea to the Accounting Doctoral Committee at that time. This document includes a discussion of the research question, the motivation and expected contribution of the paper, and the methodology by which the research question will be investigated, including sources for data or experimental participants.

Stage 2: Defense of the Dissertation Proposal

Students form a dissertation committee with the input of their dissertation chair, and successfully complete a formal defense of the dissertation proposal prior to start of their fifth year in the program (i.e., August 31).

Stage 3: Accounting Workshop Presentation

In preparation for interviewing for an academic position, students present their dissertation in an accounting workshop during the semester prior to the semester they will interview (typically the fall of the fifth year).

Stage 4: Final Defense of the Dissertation

Students complete a formal defense of their final dissertation.