Ph.D. in the Accounting Area

Accounting Research involves the systematic and scientific study of accounting systems, institutions, standards and regulations for the purpose of understanding and characterizing their decision-facilitating and decision-influencing roles within organizations, in product and capital markets, and across economies. For instance, financial reporting systems play many roles in publicly held organizations characterized by separation of ownership from control. They help investors in valuing their claims to firms in financial markets (valuation role), are essential for corporate control and managerial performance evaluation (auditing, governance and stewardship roles), and impact how firms allocate their resources and make financial decisions (real effects). In a similar vein, management accounting systems facilitate planning and control within organizations. Often, these many roles of accounting information interact, posing challenges for system designers, policy makers, and standard setters.

The main goal of the accounting doctoral program is to train students to do high-quality research, and become influential scholars in top academic institutions. The accounting group has world-class senior faculty and young, talented scholars with considerable expertise in the above topics and a vibrant research environment. In addition, the program leverages the resources and excellence of Rice University in related fields such as finance, economics and statistics. Students will be required to take courses in economics, statistics, econometrics, finance, and a rigorous set of cutting-edge research seminars covering the essentials in theory, research methods, and contemporary accounting issues.

Program features: 

  • World-class faculty
  • Engaging research environment
  • Highly competitive financial package
  • Resources of a premier research university
  • Personal attention and mentoring in the Rice tradition

The Ph.D. program faculty consists of all tenure-track members of the accounting group:

For questions about the accounting doctoral program contact:

K. Ramesh

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For doctoral students who have chosen accounting as their area, the Ph.D. degree requirements are as follows: 
1. Complete a review course in Quantitative Methods in the summer before the beginning of the first semester.
2. During the student’s first two years, he or she must take a minimum of four doctoral-level courses per semester. The chosen courses must be approved by the area faculty advisor.
3. The student is expected to attend all research seminars organized in the accounting area during the student’s tenure in the Ph.D. program.
4. During the second and third years, the student must formally register for the accounting research seminar and attend presentations of faculty members from other business schools that visit JGS to present their research. The student must write a short summary and critical comments on two papers presented in the research seminar during the semester. These reviews should be submitted to the area advisor and will be graded by a subset of area faculty for a Pass/Fail grade.
5. Students must successfully complete the summer research paper requirements during the first two years. This requires working with an accounting faculty member during summer, getting the faculty member’s approval of the resulting paper, and then presenting the paper at an accounting research seminar no later than the spring semester of the following academic year.
6. Students must successfully pass a comprehensive exam administered by the accounting faculty at the end of the second year. The exam will be jointly administered and graded by accounting faculty, under the supervision of the accounting area advisor. The exam is focused on the coursework taken in accounting and also measures the student’s knowledge of the area as a whole. A successful performance in the exam will demonstrate the student’s competency in accounting and provide the foundation from which he or she begins the research that will form the basis of the dissertation.
7. Students are expected to successfully defend their dissertation proposal by the end of the third year.
8. Complete and defend dissertation within a maximum of 7 years from the time of matriculation.

Sample Course Sequence for a Doctoral Student in Accounting

Summer before the beginning of first semester
Quantitative Methods Review

Year 1 (Fall)
ECON 501 Microeconomic Theory I ECON 504 Advanced Economic Statistics
ECON 507 Mathematical Economics I MGMT 9xx Introduction to Accounting Research Workshop in Statistical Computing and Research

Year 1 (Spring)
ECON 508 Microeconomics II
ECON 510 Econometrics I
MGMT 9xx Analytical Research Workshop in Statistical Computing and Research


Year 2 (Fall)
ECON 509 Microeconomics III
MGMT 9xx Empirical Research in Accounting Elective


Year 2 (Spring)
MGMT 9xx Advanced Contemporary Accounting Research

Doctoral students will continue taking graduate-level accounting courses beyond their second year as well. Examples of elective courses are:

  • MGMT 911-914 Finance Seminars
  • ECON 511 Econometrics II
  • ECON 514 Industrial Organization and Control
  • ECON 523 Dynamic Optimization
  • ECON 579 Topics in Econometrics
  • STAT 622 Bayesian Data Analysis
  • STAT 522 Advanced Bayesian Statistics
  • STAT 621 Time Series Analysis
  • PSYC 550 Foundations of Social Psychology
  • PSYC 520 Foundations of Cognitive Psychology

Overview of Accounting Ph.D. Seminar Series

I. Introduction to Accounting Research — The course offers a thorough and broad-ranging introduction to accounting theory and research. It covers origins and evolution of key relevant accounting institutions, thought, paradigms and methods.
II. Analytical Research – The course provides a thorough and comprehensive introduction into the key economic theories underlying a significant part of contemporary cutting edge accounting research. The course is designed to be sufficiently deep to support both students intent on pursuing analytical research and at the same time broad enough that students with an empirical orientation will gain a solid foundation.
III. Empirical Research in Accounting – The course provides a thorough and comprehensive synthesis of empirical accounting research, covering the key “classic” papers in the major research areas, methodological issues and emerging areas within empirical accounting research.
IV. Advanced Contemporary Accounting Research – The course provides a more advanced treatment of cutting edge, predominantly empirical accounting research. Accordingly, the course content is expected to change frequently to reflect the current state of accounting research.