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Thread: PhD in Accounting Candidate Profile

  1. #1
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    PhD in Accounting Candidate Profile

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    Hello,

    I am searching for some evaluation on my candidacy for top PhD programs, as I am hoping to be ready to apply by this fall/winter for 2021 admission. My background:

    Undergrad GPA: 3.7 from a large state school with a Top 25 PAR ranking (for
    small-faculty schools)
    Masters GPA: 3.7 MAcc from large state school (5-year concurrent program with undergrad degree)
    Research Experience: Served as an undergrad RA on a research project that was published in Contemporary Accounting Research. Worked as a student researcher for a school-sponsored thinktank for 1 year as well.
    Teaching experience: Worked as a grad teaching assistant for 1.5 years. Work included teaching labs, proctoring tests, grading, and test prep.

    Work Experience: 2.5 years (3 busy seasons) in public accounting with PwC; 2 years in management consulting (Fortune 500 clients).
    CPA Licensed
    Math: Here is where it gets sticky (hopefully here and not before). I took AP Calc in HS and got a 5, so I technically have Calc I and II college credits. I also took and passed Business Statistics I and II.

    Currently starting to plan for the GMAT. I took a practice exam on mba.com and projected a score of 700. I have been a good test taker historically, and I think with 45-ish days of study I can get into the 730-740 range.

    Research preferences: Probably financial or audit (not sure yet, is that bad?). Either way I am interested in archival methodology.

    Letters of recommendation would come from well respected and published professors, including two that have published in JAR. All three are tenured, if that matters.

    Here are my questions (any and all input welcome):

    1. What is the best method for me to get up-to-snuff on math? If I have the credits, is it a question of whether I understand the math? Or will they want to see recent courses passed for calc/calc-based probability and stats?

    2. With my resume, will a 720-740 GMAT suffice?

    3. Is my research experience worth mentionting?

    4. What else can I do to improve my profile?

    Thank you in advance. I am excited to get started on this journey.

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    Re: PhD in Accounting Candidate Profile

    Quote Originally Posted by SonOfArathorn View Post
    Hello,

    I am searching for some evaluation on my candidacy for top PhD programs, as I am hoping to be ready to apply by this fall/winter for 2021 admission. My background:

    Undergrad GPA: 3.7 from a large state school with a Top 25 PAR ranking (for
    small-faculty schools)
    Masters GPA: 3.7 MAcc from large state school (5-year concurrent program with undergrad degree)
    Research Experience: Served as an undergrad RA on a research project that was published in Contemporary Accounting Research. Worked as a student researcher for a school-sponsored thinktank for 1 year as well.
    Teaching experience: Worked as a grad teaching assistant for 1.5 years. Work included teaching labs, proctoring tests, grading, and test prep.

    Work Experience: 2.5 years (3 busy seasons) in public accounting with PwC; 2 years in management consulting (Fortune 500 clients).
    CPA Licensed
    Math: Here is where it gets sticky (hopefully here and not before). I took AP Calc in HS and got a 5, so I technically have Calc I and II college credits. I also took and passed Business Statistics I and II.

    Currently starting to plan for the GMAT. I took a practice exam on mba.com and projected a score of 700. I have been a good test taker historically, and I think with 45-ish days of study I can get into the 730-740 range.

    Research preferences: Probably financial or audit (not sure yet, is that bad?). Either way I am interested in archival methodology.

    Letters of recommendation would come from well respected and published professors, including two that have published in JAR. All three are tenured, if that matters.

    Here are my questions (any and all input welcome):

    1. What is the best method for me to get up-to-snuff on math? If I have the credits, is it a question of whether I understand the math? Or will they want to see recent courses passed for calc/calc-based probability and stats?

    2. With my resume, will a 720-740 GMAT suffice?

    3. Is my research experience worth mentionting?

    4. What else can I do to improve my profile?

    Thank you in advance. I am excited to get started on this journey.
    This is an appealing profile. Your first question is the most important one because math/stats is the obvious hole right now. Assuming a ~730 GMAT score with a good quant component, you'll be viewed as someone who potentially has the quant horsepower to succeed, but who hasn't demonstrated it in the most relevant areas. So there are 2 components of addressing that hole:

    1. Substantively, how do you develop your math/stats skills to the point where you're prepared for the quantitative aspects of a top program?
    2. In terms of signaling, how can you convince decision-makers that you have the requisite math/stats skills?

    Those are two different, but related questions. You could informally take online classes in calc/linear algebra/probability/econometrics to get you up to speed, which would address the first component but not necessarily the second. Or you could formally enroll in one or more courses that would address the second component, because they would send a credible signal that you understand the material. However, the courses that are convenient/available to you for enrollment might not be as directly relevant or high-quality as the ones you could take online. But regardless of which approach you take, you need to do one of them.

    I'd be ok with a combination of high GMAT (particularly quant) and completion of relevant online courses. Be sure to articulate how you're plugging that hole in your statement.

    2. Yes, 720-740 GMAT with relevant work and RA experience would be fine for almost all schools, as long as you've plugged some of the math hole. The higher the quant component you can get, the more likely you'll be viewed as someone that can handle the coursework.

    3. Yes, definitely. Talk about what you learned, what you liked about it, why it motivated you to pursue a career in research/academia.

    4. Beef up your math/econ/stats.

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    Re: PhD in Accounting Candidate Profile

    Have you taken any Econ classes in the past? Math is important, but I think that Econ is equally as important, given that you will most likely be taking micro/econometrics at the PhD level once you get into a program. In terms of what you could do to improve your profile, just having Calc I and II probably isn't as bad as you assume. I think that most PhD applicants in accounting don't have quantitative training that exceeds that. If you're looking for a good course to take, I'd suggest Linear Algebra (mostly for stuff that you'll do in econometrics).

    In terms of your research experience, it is definitely worth mentioning, especially if you're going to get a reference from someone that you did research with. Your references will be a big determinant on where you end up. I think that overall, you have a solid profile. What types of schools are you aiming for (i.e. in general, Top 10, Top 20, ... etc.)? This will help to determine what your chances are like.

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    Re: PhD in Accounting Candidate Profile

    Your profile looks solid.

    I had what I think was a bit of a watered down version of your profile. Similar academic and work history, similar lack of recent formal math experience, and I had a 730 GMAT. However, I had no research experience, which should be a big plus for your profile.

    I only ended up applying to 2 schools (got into one of my top choices pretty early so I scrapped a lot of my in progress applications). I got into both schools I applied to (both top 40, but much higher in audit which is my focus) and neither batted an eye at my math experience. I was upfront about it in personal statements and told them I would do anything needed to prepare ahead of time. If you have a strong GPA and GMAT, they can pretty safely assume you have the competency. Others may disagree with that, but that's just my two cents.

    Feel free to shoot me a private message - happy to give you more advice and details through direct message.

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