Accounting Programs

There are very few educational programs developed for today’s economy that can be applied as broadly as a degree in accounting. The level of CPA is often considered the standard in the accounting discipline, but it is more closely associated with undergraduate and graduate degree holders.

Many upper-level-management executives hold doctoral degrees, though there aren’t as many as you may think. Accounting doctorates are generally rare. The typical managerial PhD is written as Business Administration Accounting and includes a much more diverse curriculum. There are also doctoral programs that are more streamlined to accounting basics.

Online Universities Offering Accounting Programs

Online universities have seen a significant growth recently and offer some distinct advantages in terms of economics, time and convenience. The primary problem with online schools is often the reluctance of the student to enroll. It is always a good idea to check out any prospective training institution, including its accreditation and financial aid eligibility. These are generally good indicators of the quality of education and school ranking.

In some online training, students are able to complete the program at their own pace, within limits. This may not be the case in doctoral programs. Because of this lack of marketing brand, many students are apprehensive when choosing which program will get their investment in time and money.

Though most of the graduate programs offered at online schools terminate at the master’s level, there are still some schools that offer the full doctoral. All professional degrees in accounting require the student to be proficient in mathematics and statistics.

Many of the accounting functions include operational classifications concerning the proper recording of business activity. The functional balance of art and science is part of the feature that makes administrative doctorate holders so valuable in the current marketplace. The balance sheet is often the skeleton of the company and effective reading of the sheet is essential for company executives.

Because of this relationship between accounting and revenue operations, the general education component of accounting degree programs plays a more integral role than in other occupational areas.

The general consensus that accounting is all numbers and formulas is not absolutely correct. Economics is a large component of accounting and business professional programs. This includes both micro and macroeconomics on both local and international levels. Classifying inputs and outputs as assets and liabilities is a constant process. Economics is defined as allocation of finite resources. Professional accountancy determines that finiteness for the particular business.

Online vs. On-campus Enrollment

In many cases the decision to enroll in an online school as opposed to on-campus is determined by current employment. A doctoral degree can be a perfect upgrade for any upwardly mobile employee, but often the employee is already on a career track. Online training may be more beneficial for this potential student. It also allows the student to present the program to the employer.

It is not uncommon for employers to reimburse employees for courses that are completed within the profession, but this may be problematic for the particular company or training program. Always check first in this situation. Reimbursement is effectively a retroactive scholarship. This rarely extends to the doctoral level, but may cover some undergraduate courses.

The ultimate measure of an online school’s strength, as with any other, is the success of the students. Though most of the references will be graduates of the university, schools with effective courses and educators can provide training in specific areas for those who do not complete the entire program. For some students, the knowledge may be more important than the degree.

A doctoral program is a daunting task in any discipline. The displacement of knowledge is vast and it is a long term project. The ability of the individual to complete a personal goal of this proportion, let alone the knowledge accrued, is particularly impressive. That accomplishment alone commands a degree of respect.

Campus-Based Accounting Programs


Traditional universities surely offer the best selection in terms of accounting doctoral programs, but with the current economic climate and the absolute necessity of a college education in terms of employment security, many potential traditional on-campus students are choosing alternate routes to their professional aspirations.

Many individuals are realizing that success can also be achieved through non-conventional training and training/experience combination. This principle can clearly be applied for anyone who also has business experience or previous education.

The simple truth is that most students will go to a traditional campus setting for reasons other than education. In many cases this is the best alternative in terms of accreditation and respect for the degree.

Believe it or not, academic snobbery can be part of the process of using an education to acquire employment. An example would be a potential candidate for a professorship at a university. Doctoral degree holders are qualified to teach college by virtue of their upper-level graduate degree, but it must be recognized by the university.

This could be a rare example, as most accounting doctorates are used in the private profit sector, but it is the type of consideration that should be weighed when determining where to attend college. Many accounting professionals are also hired within the public sector. Recognition could be contentious in this situation, too.

Another advantage that many traditional universities hold is an extensive alumni list. A good way to determine whether a school is right for you is to research the academic awards given to any particular department. Academic associations throughout the country recognize educators on a yearly basis and make good reference materials.


Remember that the popularity or reputation of a particular school is not always the best indicator of how successful they have been in preparing the average student for a better-than-average career. Many of the success stories from any particular institution may be anomalies or local folklore. The real test is in the thoroughness of the curriculum matrix and the impact that the school has had on society, local or otherwise.

A primary disadvantage of traditional education is relocation. Many schools offer master’s degree programs in accounting, but stop at the master’s level. It is critical to make sure that the courses taken at the undergrad and graduate level will apply when requesting admission into any doctorate program at a different university.

The most effective way may be to map the program from initial enrollment, at least at the beginning of the graduate level, and work through a feasibility study of completing the program. Assessing the university requirement to complete or capstone the program is a good place to begin, reverse scheduling the program. Courses regularly must be taken in a prescribed order in this subject area. This way you know what is required and when.

Don’t Just Decide…Make a Commitment

One of the most important dispositions when earning a professional degree is simple. Be serious. It is a life-changing event. If you enroll, plan on graduating. Do not play around.

The economical and personal investment can be staggering. Philosophical doctorates in accounting are rare and respected accomplishments. It is not so much what you accomplished as what you become. Our entire economy is dependent on efficient and effective accountancy. All businesses function on status sheets for each responsibility area and accountants determine that status. Accounting professionals understand the academic basics of accountability layered with the business principles of profitability. And that understanding can be applied to any industry in any economy.

Anyone considering a doctoral degree in accounting is choosing an occupation that is both demanding and in demand. Every business needs talented managers and accountants. The general need is so overwhelming that the pay scale for these management specialists is easily at the level of the highest paid of all corporate executives and is not always consistent with the success of the particular industry. Executives of this management level are often “hired guns,” coming in to pull companies out of economic straits, and are paid well to infuse new ideas and methods within the corporate structure.

Salary ranges are sometimes in the millions of dollars in yearly salary, though that is not necessarily typical. That is not including corporate perks. For degree holders who are intending to teach college, they can expect to make in excess of $100,000 per year at many universities and even higher in more expensive schools. This tends to be more the norm, but range higher in the private sector.


Below is a list of possible informational resources for anyone interested in a PhD in Accounting.

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