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Thread: PhD Econ vs PhD Accounting

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    PhD Econ vs PhD Accounting

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    Hi guys,

    I want to know how a PhD in Accounting differs from a PhD in Economics in terms of coursework, research methods and placements? My interest lies in taxation which is common to both Accounting and Economics. As per my understanding, Accounting has traditionally concerned itself with more of the business oriented and institutional aspects of taxation (eg mergers, acquisitions, transfer pricing etc), econ usually looks at economic phenomena like tax incidence, incentives for compliance, optimal taxation, salience etc. However, my impression is that these boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred and it is possible to do an Accounting PhD which is heavily economics focused in terms of coursework content (economic theory, econometrics) with the benefit of strong institutional focus. Is this understanding correct? The reason I ask is because some top departments (such as MIT's Accounting Group or Wharton) have remarkably little information on the structure of a PhD in Accounting in terms of coursework, what the degree entails etc. Is it possible to take classes in the economics department for instance? How much traditional Accounting material does the coursework contain? How much Finance coursework? And while the intake is way lower in Accounting compared to Econ, the placements at some of the top places seem to be very very good. Does it make more sense then to pursue a PhD in Accounting instead of Econ?

    Thanks

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    Re: PhD Econ vs PhD Accounting

    If you are interested in topics at the intersection of the two disciplines, Accounting is the better choice (resources, placement, and salary). On the other hand, you have to be sure you're happy to teach accounting classes. Back when I was applying to grad school, I was considering applying to Finance PhD programs but I just couldn't stomach the idea of teaching Corporate Finance 201 for 35 years.

    Accounting degrees can be idiosyncratic and flexible in content compared to Econ programs. You'd have to research the requirements (and areas of flexibility) of each Accounting program pretty carefully.

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