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Thread: Profile Evaluation for Accounting PhD

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Profile Evaluation for Accounting PhD

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    I need help planning what I am going to do over the next two years to maximize my chances of getting into a good Accounting PhD program. To start, here is my current profile:

    GMAT: Have not taken yet but my mock scores average 720 with a high quant score. I plan to take the test when my application draws nearer.

    Undergrad degree: BS Accounting. I graduated with honors from the top university in my country in Southeast Asia (but not Singapore or HK) and in the top 10% of my batch.

    Grad degree: MS in Public Policy and Management from a good US School (think Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M). I pursued this masters because of a scholarship. My quality point average was 4.0/4.0 and I graduated with high honors.

    Relevant subjects taken:

    During undergrad, I took Intro to Microecon (A), Intro to Macroecon (A), Calculus 1 and 2 (A+), Foundations of abstract math (A-), International Trade and Dev’t Policy (A), and Intro to Stat (A+) I also took heaps of accounting and finance subjects for my bachelor’s degree.

    During my masters, I took Applied Microecon (A), Applied Macroecon (A+), and Statistical Reasoning (A+). I also took a subject on Data Analytics and Database Management (don't know if these are relevant)

    I am currently planning to enroll in Calc 3 and Linear Algebra which I will likely finish by the time I apply.

    Work experience: 5 months with a Big4 office in my country in the Transaction Advisory Group, 1 year of full-time work with a small firm that provides accounting services to SMEs. I also have close to 2 years work experience of part-time work with the small firm.

    Teaching Experience: After working in industry, I got a job as a full-time instructor in the top university in my country. I have 4 years of teaching experience and have taught heaps of accounting and finance subjects. I've also had several small projects consulting for small businesses.

    Research experience: I am expecting a sole-authored journal article to be published in my college’s local journal (a low-tier journal) some time next year. I am also expecting a book chapter I’ve co-authored to be published soon.

    LORs: No popular LORs but all from academics

    Research interests: Earnings management, disclosures

    Other: I am a CPA in my country and I have also passed the level 1 exam of the CFA. I also know Python and STATA (used them for my research).

    Based on my personal evaluation, here are the weaknesses of my current profile:

    1. I have little work experience with a large company.
    2. I can still improve my quant and econ background.
    3. My masters isn’t a MAcc like those of most accounting PhD students (I don't have the resources to pursue one)
    4. I can improve my GMAT (working on this)
    5. No rockstar LORs
    6. Little research experience


    Currently, I’m still employed as faculty member by the university and I have the benefit of taking Econ Stats and Econometrics if I wanted to. However, I will have to take those subjects on the side and it will take me a year to finish both.

    I also have the option of looking for a job now to address the first weakness I identified.

    My main question is this: should I stay in my current workplace and take the econ subjects or should I leave and get another job to improve my work experience?


    What would maximize my chances of landing a top accounting PhD? Also, given my current profile, how likely am I to get into the top 20 to 40 schools? Thanks in advance to anyone who can give their insights!
    Last edited by filocpa; 11-19-2020 at 01:29 PM.

  2. #2
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Profile Evaluation for Accounting PhD

    Hi Filo,

    Assuming you can get 720+ on the GMAT, you look like a good candidate for those top 20-40 schools you listed. I would even shoot into the 10-20 range. Here are my comments on the weaknesses you listed:


    1. I have little work experience with a large company. - Not that important. You have a CPA from your country and a little experience.
    2. I can still improve my quant and econ background. - Taking econ stats and econometrics could be useful. Overall, your math background is pretty good for what you are aiming at. I assume you are looking at doing archival research.
    3. My masters isn’t a MAcc like those of most accounting PhD students (I don't have the resources to pursue one) - A MAcc isn't actually that great of preparation for an accounting PhD. Knowing the financial accounting rules is good, but your CPA implies that you have that. The only reason I would recommend a MAcc for you would be to address point 5.
    4. I can improve my GMAT (working on this) - Yeah, higher is better. Make sure you can get 50 or 51 on the quant and as high as you can on the verbal.
    5. No rockstar LORs - I think this is actually your biggest problem, and I'm not sure how to address it for you. I assume the top school in your country has researchers. Did they at least do accounting PhDs at decent American (or possibly top international) schools? That would help a lot. Can they realistically speak to your ability to do accounting research? Do you think you could reach out to an accounting professor or two at your master's school? You could give them a brief background (a little less than you wrote here) and mention that you were a student there and are interested in accounting PhDs and ask for their advice. The 3 schools you listed all have good faculties and PhD programs, though CMU has had some issues.
    6. Little research experience - Most people don't have much research experience going into programs. You have some exposure. Look at newer issues of TAR, JAR, and JAE to get an idea of recent research. SSRN is a source that is actually more up to date. The fact that you know earnings management and disclosure shows you have at least some exposure.



    I hope that helps. I can answer more questions or give more detail, but I don't get on this board as much as I used to.

  3. #3
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Re: Profile Evaluation for Accounting PhD

    Many thanks, YaSvoboden!

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