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Thread: Aspiring Accounting PhD - Master's worth it?

  1. #1
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    Aspiring Accounting PhD - Master's worth it?

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    I developed an interest in academia late in my college years, but went the CPA route following graduation as I didn't attend a prestigious program and all of my professors were industry experts. Having been in industry for several years now, I'm exploring the idea again.

    I attended a small private regional university in Southeastern U.S., and dual majored in Accounting and Finance with a 3.96 GPA. I developed close relationships with my prof's in undergrad, but they are not researchers. They do have their PhD's if that is of any help.

    I interned with a large private company for over a year; spent two years in the SF bay area with a large regional firm in tax, and have spent the last two years in industry with publicly traded companies. I currently have a manager title in a blended role with tax and financial responsibilities.

    My interests are in tax and managerial. I also took a lot of Psych electives in undergrad, and think I would be interested in behavioral research. I haven't sat for the GMAT, but I did well on the CPA and expect I could study well for the GMAT. I don't have much of a math background and will need coursework regardless. My question is if it's worth the time and cost of pursing a master's for research exposure and LOR's or if I should go another route?

    I'm mostly interested in teaching, but think I might enjoy research as well. My brother is an Econ PhD. so I have some familiarity with it, but no real exposure. I'm married now and the primary breadwinner, so cost is certainly a factor.

    Any advice or perspective is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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    Re: Aspiring Accounting PhD - Master's worth it?

    We’re actually pretty similar but you have a better gpa than me so kudos to that. I’m 3 years out of school and went to a large state school so didn’t make great connections with faculty and while many had their PhD our school isn’t very research heavy. Still with 3 years experience 750 gmat no high math classes and I’ve already had one interview at a T20 in accounting. I wouldn’t have went this route if I had to get a masters because that would mean loss of income and debt and a masters in accounting isn’t reasearch heavy anyway. I say if you want to mainly teach you’ll be fine to get into a mid level school with a good gmat. But remember to even get a teaching job you have to devote 4+ years in a program to research so you better like it to get through.

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    Re: Aspiring Accounting PhD - Master's worth it?

    Most top 50 schools would prefer it the other way round. So, it might be better to say you are keen on research in SoP, interviews etc. What you do afterwards is completely upto you.

    For me personally, I am keen on only research and discussed this with potential supervisors during the application process last year. They mentioned that research journal output is the most important factor and teaching is secondary.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inquisitive1 View Post
    I'm mostly interested in teaching, but think I might enjoy research as well.

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    Re: Aspiring Accounting PhD - Master's worth it?

    I don't think that a masters would actually help you that much. Most schools will be alright with you not having a masters, especially since you have industry experience. You're profile is pretty good and if you want to focus on both teaching and research (or more on teaching) then you probably want to shoot for that mid-tier of state schools (Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia State, etc.).

    A lot of those mid-tier programs will have you teaching a bit more (not necessarily a bad thing if you like it) and will also pay you more than some of the upper level programs (might help with being the primary breadwinner).

    Best of luck!

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    Re: Aspiring Accounting PhD - Master's worth it?

    I would be surprised if pay is better at mid-tier state schools than it is at higher schools even with the teaching requirement. I only know one number from that range, but it is significantly lower than the higher tier schools and PhD students teach like 5 courses a year.

    I don't think that a masters in accounting would help you directly. A CPA gives you everything that a MAcc does and more. However, contact with research professors, immersion in the environment at a research school, additional coursework in math, stats, econ, psych, etc. would all help. A masters is one way to get these things.

    Other options are to start attending workshops at a nearby school. Take relevant classes part time. Sitting in on a doctoral seminar.

    If you do a masters I would probably go psych, econ, or finance. The first two give you methods and research while the latter puts you in the business school and will likely teach you more than a macc.

    I did my MAcc right before the PhD and it was very useful. I got exposure to PhD level classes and the research environment. It really helped me know that a PhD was the right path.

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