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MountainKing
11-21-2012, 12:46 AM
From what I gather, research at the top universities is very interdisciplinary in nature. Over time I've drifted here and there, and am now considering doing a Capital Markets focused Accounting PhD.

I used to have an interest in Empirical International Finance, Business Cycles, Experimental Economics and that sort of stuff. Would it be possible to do a PhD in Accounting at a University with a strong Economics department, and maybe do 2 PhDs, or two projects in vastly different areas?

mildlyconfused1
11-21-2012, 03:04 AM
An accounting PhD sounds fine for all of those things, it's more about how the topics are approached than the topics themselves. Two PhDs is rarely done, especially in such similar fields, it tends to be a negative signal. Often universities will allow you to do a masters in another field and some schools also have PhD minors.

OneArmedEcon
11-21-2012, 03:27 AM
I really don't see the benefit of doing a PhD Economics if you already are doing a PhD Accounting. The latter is far, far more marketable with respect to academic positions.

mcsokrates
11-21-2012, 04:50 PM
In a lot of places, the PhD Accounting students will take most of the core courses (Micro and Metrics usually), and occasionally a field class or two (especially if there's some sort of applied metrics field). So I think that there's ample opportunity for cross-department collaboration while still doing a PhD in Accounting, which will result in, as OneArmed says, making fat stacks.

MountainKing
11-21-2012, 05:37 PM
Thanks a lot. I asked this question because I read a VERY interesting paper on implied cost of capital written by one member from the Econ dept and another from the Acct department.

tyminn
11-21-2012, 05:43 PM
Can you guys expand in general, why a phd in accounting is so much more marketable/lucrative? Thanks.

mathemagician
11-21-2012, 06:21 PM
I would say that accounting is the best kept secret in academia but the posts above sort of contradict that. However, most people don't know how well accounting PhDs place until they enter grad school.

In my school the accounting PhDs would take micro and metrics with us. They were almost without fail among the bottom of the class even though they are a top 5 accounting program. However, their stipends were over twice ours and accounting assistant professors make over 250k a year. Every business school must have accounting professors in order to run and accounting PhDs also easily find management type jobs at the big 4 accounting firms or any large company. Accounting research is almost purely reduced form and more or less like finance. I met an accounting assistant professor at a conference at Chicago Booth this summer and she told me her JMP was essentially the first structural paper in accounting.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably pick an accounting PhD over econ.

BTW, Mountain King, a dual PhD is almost certainly not advisable. Look at it this way: you need at least 6 non-overlapping papers for two dissertations and also satisfy the course requirements for both programs. By the time you are done, the extra years in school will far outweigh any sort of benefit from the dual degree since you're only going to be hired based on one of the degrees (no job I know of requires two PhDs). However, you are free to do accounting type research in the econ department or econ type research in the accounting department.

applicant12
11-21-2012, 06:46 PM
Can you do an Accounting Phd w/o much knowledge in it though? I mean I took 2 basic courses in Accounting in undergrad but that's about it. What are the typical requirements for admission to an Accounting PhD program?

OneArmedEcon
11-21-2012, 08:13 PM
Can you guys expand in general, why a phd in accounting is so much more marketable/lucrative? Thanks.

Demand>>Supply

A couple of reasons. First, business schools have to continually hire a relatively large number of accounting faculty to teach accounting courses. Yet, relatively speaking, there are far fewer PhD Accounting degrees conferred relative to number of academic positions; whereas in Economics (or Political Science, Public Policy, etc) there are far, far more PhD's produced than academic positions that become available. Even in "good years" there is excess supply (both from new PhD's and experienced AP's who re-enter the job market after being denied tenure) to an extent that those with PhD Accounting don't have to worry about.

Another reason is that there are very lucrative industry positions available to PhD Accounting that still allow you to be an active researcher in academic circles to an extent that PhD Economics generally exclude. That is, when a PhD Econ goes to work for a private consulting firm (not including a thinktank like RAND, but a large consulting firm), you generally don't have opportunities to regularly publish in top economics journals. There is a firmer division between academia and the private sector and, generally speaking, it's very difficult to re-enter academia after you have been in the private sector (since you're not actively publishing--most of what you are producing is proprietary research). Accounting is much more fluid and there isn't the same "stigma" (for lack of better word) associated with taking a job in industry as one would in most other disciplines.

So you have more robust demand and far smaller supply, which creates the situation where a PhD Accounting is an incredibly marketable degree. At my school, PhD Accounting students take the Micro and Metrics sequences (and occasionally field courses), so I've gotten to know a few of them pretty well. They are very well trained, very well supported, and easily face better job opportunities upon graduation than econ students.

Much of accounting research is very similar to academic research produced by applied micro economists who study similar issues. If your interests are such that it would make sense to do either, then you really should target PhD Accounting programs. And there is absolutely no sense in doing a "dual major" PhD, as you'll probably be able to take any doctoral Economics course that makes sense to take as a PhD Accounting student and then integrate that into your dissertation (business school academic programs tend to be very flexible, compared to Econ programs that are much more regimented with respect to course requirements).

OneArmedEcon
11-21-2012, 08:27 PM
Can you do an Accounting Phd w/o much knowledge in it though? I mean I took 2 basic courses in Accounting in undergrad but that's about it. What are the typical requirements for admission to an Accounting PhD program?

My impression is that these requirements vary greatly by institution. Generally speaking, the undergrad and Masters-level accounting courses are practitioner focused and don't relate directly to research. Some knowledge of basic concepts are necessary (e.g., understanding the different types of depreciation permitted under GAAP or whatever), but what an academic researcher needs to know is quite a bit different from a practitioner. At my school, students who don't have a degree in Accounting from an accredited program have to either take supplemental courses concurrent with their program or otherwise establish that they understand the core concepts. My impression is that the admissions process is far more idiosyncratic in that work experience is generally valued far more than econ programs.

Bear in mind that you don't need a lot of upper-division econ courses to get into a PhD Econ program (really intermediate level theory and possibly econometrics are the only "must haves"). I would venture that if you're a competitive Econ applicant then you'll be competitive at a Accounting program, albeit probably a lower ranked program. But also consider that your job prospects coming from a Top 30ish PhD Accounting program are probably much better than coming from a Top 15ish PhD Econ program.

MountainKing
11-22-2012, 01:13 AM
Can you do an Accounting Phd w/o much knowledge in it though? I mean I took 2 basic courses in Accounting in undergrad but that's about it. What are the typical requirements for admission to an Accounting PhD program?
As somebody mentioned above, Accounting research is a lot like Appied Microeconomic research. Therefore, it would be hard for any undergrad level Accounting courses to help with a PhD, as such.

However, this is limited to the top programs. Once you aim at the mid ranked programs, an Undergrad in Accounting/CPA seems to be better geared towards a teaching oriented environment.

tyminn
11-22-2012, 08:02 PM
Thanks for the responses. That is certainly interesting. I suppose thinking of accounting as being so much a professional degree at the undergrad and mba level, that I didnt really consider much possibility for "research" in accounting. I know a well respected phd in accounting from penn, and he went back and fourth between industry and academia, very easily.

Do you think this issue of marketability and flexibility between academia and industry apply to all business school fields, finance, management science, etc, or is accounting special even among the other business school specializations?

Also can you give examples of research topics a phd in accounting would pursue, or thesis topics?

sanda
11-23-2012, 03:36 PM
Do you think this issue of marketability and flexibility between academia and industry apply to all business school fields, finance, management science, etc, or is accounting special even among the other business school specializations?
I don't think so. Accounting is special in the sense that legitimate accounting professors will also be a CPA with big 4 experience. It is pretty hard for B-schools to fib that.

I assume governance laws and their costs would be a major research field.