September 21, 2021

So you want to get a PhD

What Future Accounting Professors Need to Know About ‘Publish or Perish’

This is the final post in the PhD series from Dr. Emelee, who is a Big 4 refugee in the process of obtaining his PhD. You can find his previous posts here. Happy trails, Doc! Once you finish the PhD and become an Assistant Professor at a university, it’s time to start working toward tenure. […]

What’s Getting a PhD in Accounting Really All About?

This is the first post from our new contributor, Dr. Emelee, a former Big 4 employee who is in process of obtaining his PhD. So you want to be a professor?  Teaching looks like it would be fun (it is), you see that some professors are only on campus two days a week (they are), and you’ve […]

West Virginia University to Offer PhD Program in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation

Did you ever have dreams of being a doctor that busted the bad guys? Something like Quincy. Or maybe Robert Langdon. When you opted to go into accounting, you probably thought those dreams were hopeless.

Well, we have good news for you aspiring number-crunching crime fighters who still yearn for the “Dr.” prefix. West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics is announcing (later today, we’re told) that they will be offering the first doctoral program in Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation. The program will admit its first students in August 2012 and will prepare individuals for a career in accounting research and teaching at the university level.

Shall we hear from scholarly types? Okay!


“West Virginia University’s Forensic Accounting and Fraud Investigation program has been a model for other colleges and universities across the country,” said WVU President Dr. Jim Clements. “Our expertise has made us a national leader in this field, and the addition of the Ph.D. program will provide WVU with an important opportunity to create scholars in the areas of fraud, forensics and ethics. I applaud the faculty for all they have done to make this possible.”

Dr. Clements is referring to WVU’s Graduate Certificate in FAFI and the new PhD program will simply add to the University’s scholarly fraud-busting prowess. Dr. Jose V. Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean, of the school said, “This new Ph.D. program is the next logical step in building a complete educational offering in these specific areas, and that step is due to the commitment and expertise of our excellent faculty. This program is a reflection of their long and dedicated work.”

So this is a pretty exciting for the accounting sleuths (amateur or professional) out there if you’re interested in taking your wonkiness to the next level. Whether or not it has the Sam Antars of the world shaking in the boots is another question.

Anyone interested should contact Dr. Tim Pearson or check out the program on the WVU website. Get crackin’.

Great Big Drawbacks to Getting Your PhD in Accounting

The post the other day on getting an accounting PhD was so inspirational that I devoted several whole seconds to the idea…

Not for me.

Sure, being a professer has its attractions, especially at the end of filing season. Easy hours, nice gym facilities, trampy co-eds — how I miss the world of higher education. And yet I’m not sold.


Right now I have a good job. There’s also a family I want to maintain (sorry, trampy co-eds) and kids to get through school. To get a PhD would require me to walk away from my decently-paid position in this “most profitable small business.” But I must pay attention to the benefits, too, as Caleb related:

“Professors are constantly learning” – To become a PhD would require an odyssey beginning in a university town somewhere, taking boring courses in statistics to prepare me to write some enormous research project that nobody outside of my doctoral committee (poor bastards) would ever read. Sure, all of the practical tax stuff I’ve learned in 25 years of practice would become stale from disuse, but I’d be constantly learning to develop visionary statistical correlations.

“Professors want to make a difference in the world” – Yes, the difference between what I’d be making in my compensation as a graduate assistant for five years and what I make now would be a difference in the world – even a world of difference.

“Life as a professor is full of flexibility” – Yes, especially until you get on a tenure track. You have the flexibility of moving from a one-year fill-in position at Eastern West Dakota State to a similar position at the Utah School of Mines and Home Economics. But no “substantial financial risk,” at least once you’ve thrown away your perfectly good private sector job. No money, no worries.

I’m convinced the whole PhD system is just the same racket as the new IRS preparer regulations – a way for insiders to erect barriers to entry to enable them to raise their prices and milk their customers. But it does protect those poor students from being instructed by anybody with actual fresh knowledge of what a CPA firm looks like from the inside, so thank goodness for that.

Three Big Benefits to Getting Your PhD in Accounting

Not so long ago, we presented you with the interesting results of the Final Four if schools advanced based the number of accounting research papers produced. This may or may not have piqued your interest in the possibility of ditching the grind of 9 to whenever you get off for the friendly confines of a college campus.

For those of you that are interested, Professor David Wood of Brigham Young University passed along a link that compiles information for anyone giving serious thought to going back to school. We also got some of his thoughts about his own experience as a professor.


Other than everyone calling you “Doctor” there are three benefits that professors enjoy that is listed on BYU’s “So You Want to Get a PhD.?” page. Granted these don’t apply to just those in accounting but to anyone looking to dive into higher ed instruction:

Professors are constantly learning – “Professors spend the majority of their time teaching and researching. Both of these acts are rooted in learning and sharing your learning with others.” Learning? You mean people enjoy learning? Constantly? Yes, it’s true that some accountants are in it for intellectual stimulation as opposed to the glamor, riches, and title. Professor Wood wrote to us in an email, “Every day is filled with exciting new challenges—from thinking about how to improve business through my research to trying to better communicate and reach students.”

Professors want to make a difference in the world – “In the classroom, professors are role models to their students and teach students how to make the world a better place.” Yes there’s some mushy stuff but that’s good, right? Being able to guide future accountants by showing them different paths that careers can take, what opportunities exist now and what the future holds is a rewarding part of a professor’s job. Professors have the amazing opportunity to inspire young minds to want to make a difference in their chosen career. As Professor Wood told us, “College students are at an important cross road in their life and professors can help provide clarity and information for students to make well-informed, good decisions.”

Life as a professor is full of flexibility – “Not only do professors largely work when and where they want, but they also choose what they do.” This is the stuff that most can only dream of in most corporate/Big 4 world – work when you want, where you want, time for hobbies and other activities. Sure you had to work hard at researching and teaching the new wave of CPAs but there’s a lot freedom that comes with it. Again, Professor Wood, “I don’t know any other career that offers the flexibility of academics without bearing substantial financial risk.”

There you have it. Lots of learning, you get to inspire young minds and you basically can live the way you want. Of course it involves some work too but we’ll touch on that later. Meanwhile, you can ponder.

So you want to get a Ph.D.? [BYUaccounting.net]