How Long Does it Take to get a Ph.D in Accounting?

Ph.D in AccountantingIf you are thinking of moving forward in your accounting career and thinking of getting more education, you may find yourself wondering how long does it take to get a Ph.D in accounting. While you only need a Master’s degree or an equivalent number of credit hours to work as a certified public accountant, the only job you’ll need a Ph.D for is teaching at the university level.

The Ph.D is a terminal degree, which means that you are considered an expert in your field who has attained the highest level of education. After doing so, you’ll be qualified to teach others who are looking to enter your field.

Typically, a Ph.D in accounting takes about five to seven years to complete, though the exact timeline depends on your own individual pace of study and research.

Preparing for the Ph.D Program

Finding out how long it takes to get a Ph.D in accounting is about more than those years in graduate school. Before you can ever enter the program, you need to finish four years of undergraduate school to get your Bachelor’s degree and usually another two to three years to get a Master’s degree. You may spend seven years in school before you get to the Ph.D, which can bring your total years of education to 11 to 14.

Coursework for a PhD in Accounting

Most Ph.D programs in accounting include two years of course work. Those courses are devoted to advanced level math and accounting work, such as probability, finance, economics, statistics and quantitative mathematics. While the credit hours are set, students typically have the freedom to choose the courses to fill those credits, according to the CPA Journal. Students can then tailor their education to their research interests.

Original Research

The bulk of a Ph.D program in accounting is spent completing original research, which culminates in a dissertation according to an article in the Journal of Accountancy. The dissertation is a book-length manuscript that explores a narrow research focus in depth. Students are in charge of directing their own dissertation research under the mentorship of a faculty adviser. Students who define their research interests early in their program and who are able to devote a large amount of time to their research can finish their dissertation more quickly. Students who are unsure about what they would like to research or who are splitting their time between their education and other commitments such as family and work may end up taking longer to finish.

Related Resource: Accountant Career Outlook

Other Requirements

Many Ph.D programs have additional requirements, such as students serving as teaching or research assistants. These additional requirements can lengthen the time to complete a Ph.D, since they can take up time that students can devote to their dissertation. Some students may find it difficult to juggle course work with teaching responsibilities, which could lead them to take on a lighter load and take more time to finish their degree.

Getting a Ph.D in accounting can open up a whole new career path for you. Instead of crunching the numbers yourself, you can train the next generation of accountants to do so.