Coursework & Expectations

Because the requirements differ depending upon the student’s year in the program, the first year, second year, and third year are addressed in separate sections. Program requirements are discussed in each section.

First Year

Faculty advisor: Each first-year student will be assigned a faculty advisor to assist with course selection and guidance about research and teaching assistantships and other matters as appropriate throughout the first year. The advisor, in consultation with the accounting (and any other relevant) faculty, also provides information regarding the faculty’s expectations for performance in the program and feedback on the student’s performance.

Coursework: Coursework is tailored to each student’s background and interests. In the first year, students often take graduate level courses in economics, mathematics and econometrics. Students with limited knowledge of accounting are expected to complete M.B.A. level courses in financial accounting and managerial accounting. Also in the first year, students are exposed to the major paradigms in accounting research in one or more required accounting seminars. Students must also attend scheduled accounting workshops each semester and are encouraged to participate during the seminar.

Summer paper: Each student is expected to write a summer paper following the first year of coursework. The summer paper may be prepared individually, with another doctoral student, or with a faculty member. (Collaboration with faculty is permitted if the student has played a major role in the generation and development of the core idea and takes the lead in writing the paper.) Each student must prepare a summer paper proposal which must be approved by a member of the accounting faculty, who agrees to serve as a reader on the summer paper. A faculty member who collaborates with the student on a summer paper may not be the reader on that paper. The summer paper is due by the start of the fall term of the second year and will be presented in the accounting workshop during this term. Failure to hand in the paper by the specified date may result in immediate recommendation for dismissal of the student. The summer paper, and its presentation, will be reviewed by the accounting faculty after the accounting workshop presentation. At this time, the accounting faculty will decide whether the student is making satisfactory progress, and advise the student accordingly.

Research assistantship: A critical part of the accounting doctoral program is forming professional relationships with faculty members and learning about the research and teaching processes. To encourage the early formation of such relationships, the accounting doctoral program requires that each first year student work as a research assistant to an accounting faculty member at least five hours per week, for which s/he is compensated. The student’s first year advisor will provide advice and guidance to help the student work out a research assistantship that matches the student’s needs and interests with those of the faculty.

Evaluation: Students are expected to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better by the end of the first year. Any student who receives an “F” or fails to exceed or meet a cumulative 3.0 average by the end of the first year may be subject to dismissal. Poor performance on the summer paper may also result in dismissal from the program.

Second Year

Faculty advisor: By the start of the second year, each student should select a faculty advisor, to replace the advisor assigned in the first year. (The new faculty advisor and the first year advisor may be the same person, but they need not be; the important issue is that the new faculty advisor is selected by the student.) The second year faculty advisor serves a similar role to that played by the first year faculty advisor.

Coursework: In the second year, coursework largely consists of doctoral seminars and other coursework offered by both the Fuqua School of Business and across the University. Students must also attend scheduled accounting workshops and write a referee report on two of the presented papers each semester. The faculty member in charge of the seminar grades this work on a pass/fail basis.

Comprehensive examination: At or near the end of the second year, students must exhibit satisfactory performance on a written comprehensive examination that tests the student’s understanding of the research discussed in the doctoral seminars and workshops (part 1) and the student’s ability to read and evaluate accounting research (part 2). The comprehensive examination is written by a committee of the accounting faculty, appointed by the accounting area coordinator. The examination committee will grade the exam and determine what actions, if any, are required. Depending on performance on the examination, students may be dismissed from the program or asked to retake the examination. Students are not permitted to take the comprehensive exam more than twice. The examination committee will determine any additional qualifications for a student to retake the exam and when the timing of that exam will occur.

Curriculum paper: At the end of the second year, students are required to prepare an original single-authored research study (a curriculum paper). The goal of the curriculum paper is to facilitate the student’s transition from coursework to the generation, design, implementation and presentation of a research idea. This transition is essential to successful and timely completion of a dissertation. Each student must select two faculty members to serve as readers. The role of the readers is to advise and provide feedback from conception to completion of the paper. Each student is required to present his/her curriculum paper in the accounting workshop series in the fall of the third year. The accounting faculty will evaluate both the presentation and the paper, and determine what actions are required (e.g., dismissal from the program, additional coursework, etc.).

Research assistantship: During the second year, accounting doctoral students are expected to work at least ten hours per week as research assistants, for which they are compensated.

Evaluation: Students are expected to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better in the second year. Any student who receives an “F” or fails to exceed or meet a cumulative 3.0 average by the end of the second year will be subject to dismissal. Poor performance on the comprehensive exam and/or curriculum paper may also result in dismissal from the program.

Third Year and Thereafter

Coursework: Students generally take coursework for at least half of the third year, with the nature and amount of the coursework depending on the student’s background, interests and progress in the program. All students must continue to attend scheduled accounting workshops in the third year and thereafter.

Dissertation: Students must satisfy the dissertation requirement established by the Graduate School of the University. Dissertation topics often stem from summer and curriculum papers, or from the student’s work as a research assistant. Ideally, a student will have focused on a research topic by the end of the third year. Each student selects a thesis committee consisting of a minimum of four members of the Graduate faculty, with at least one member coming from outside the Fuqua School (or any other business school). No later than the fall term of the fourth year, accounting doctoral students are expected to present a dissertation-related paper in the accounting workshop and propose a dissertation. At the proposal the student presents and defends his/her research project. Immediately following the proposal, it is the responsibility of the thesis committee to evaluate whether the student has made satisfactory progress and should continue with this research project. After a successful proposal, the thesis committee will provide the student with a report describing the additional work to be done by the student in order to complete the thesis. When the student completes the work detailed in this contract, s/he may defend the dissertation.

Research assistantship: During the third year, accounting doctoral students are expected to work at least ten hours per week as research assistants, for which they are compensated.

Evaluation: Students are expected to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better in any courses taken in the third year and thereafter. While students are encouraged to complete and defend their dissertations by the end of the fourth year, additional time is sometimes required. The thesis committee is responsible for reviewing the progress of the student in the dissertation phase, for providing feedback, and for recommending corrective action (including dismissal) if that progress is unsatisfactory.