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Washington State University
Carson College of Business PhD: Accounting Concentration

PhD: Accounting Concentration

Now accepting applications for Fall 2024

This program will prepare you to become an outstanding accounting educator/researcher in the areas of managerial accounting, financial accounting, auditing, and taxation. The program is research-oriented, emphasizing interaction between students and faculty to facilitate quality publications in both behavioral accounting research and archival accounting research.

  • Learn how to conduct quality accounting research
  • Participate in faculty-sponsored research projects as a coinvestigator and/or a coauthor
  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the academic accounting profession, including teaching, research, and service

Admission requirements and prerequisites

We prefer the GMAT, but we do accept the GRE test as a substitute. In either case, the exam must have been taken within five years of the time of application to WSU.

In addition to these requirements, a successful applicant typically has attained, at a minimum:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a four-year accredited university
  • 3.5 GPA

Admission preference is given to applicants possessing one or more of the following:

  • A master’s degree in accounting or a related field
  • Relevant work experience
  • Evidence of research interests similar to those of current faculty

As an entering PhD student, you should be competent in mathematics (including linear algebra and calculus) and business (accounting, economics, finance, management) and have adequate computer skills and a good command of the English language. If you are deficient in any of these areas, additional coursework (beyond the major course of study) may be required.

Major field requirements

15 credits

These requirements will enable you to develop proficiency in your primary area of study:

  • Acctg 596: Overview of Accounting Research
  • Acctg 596: Behavioral Accounting Research
  • Acctg 596: Archival Data Research
  • Mktg 593: Seminar in Research Design
  • A minimum of 3 additional hours of accounting or related courses approved by the coordinator of the PhD program in accounting

Doctoral program course requirement

1 credit

  • BA 598: Research and Professional Development Seminar

Research methods and statistics requirements

12 credits

Completion of a minimum of 12 credits of graduate-level statistics covering topics such as experimental design, ANOVA, multivariate analysis, regression, psychometric theory, and structural equation modeling are required. You may combine courses from psychology, economics, statistics, etc., as indicated below, to meet this requirement.

Required courses

Behavioral track

  • Analysis of Variance and Experimental Design (e.g., Psych 511 or Stat 512)
  • Regression Analysis (e.g., Psych 512 or Stat 535)
  • Quantitative Methods and Research Design (e.g., Psych 513)

Archival track

  • Regression Analysis (e.g., Stat. 535)
  • Econometrics I (e.g., EconS/Fin 511)
  • Econometrics II (e.g., EconS/Fin 512)

Select one from the following, with approval by the Accounting PhD Program Coordinator:

  • Psychometrics (e.g., Psych. 514)
  • Theory of Linear Models (e.g., Stat. 533)
  • Nonparametric Statistics (e.g., Stat. 514)
  • Applied Multivariate Analysis (e.g., Stat. 519, MgtOp 519)
  • Applied Linear Models (e.g., Stat 530)
  • Time Series Analysis (e.g., MgtOp 516)
  • Introduction to Statistical Theory (e.g., Stat 556)
  • Statistical Computing (e.g., Stat 536)
  • Advanced Topics in Operations and Statistics (MgtOp 596)
  • Research Methods in Political Science (Pol.Sci. 503)
  • Analysis of Variance of Designed Experiments (Stat. 512)
  • Course approved by the Accounting PhD program coordinator

Supporting field requirements

9 credits

Program requirements in this area constitute an integrated portfolio intended to develop proficiency in a field of study outside of accounting. The supporting field may consist of graduate level courses and seminars in Economics, Finance, Psychology, Sociology, Management, Management Information Systems, Marketing, or other areas consistent with the student’s research concentration. The student in consultation with the Accounting PhD program coordinator and/or the student’s doctoral committee chooses the supporting field courses.

Independent research paper

Each student is expected to complete a substantial research paper reflecting an appropriate mastery of a specific area of literature, research design, methodology, and analysis. As stated in the CCB PhD Policies and Procedures Manual (Section 2.5), the purpose of the paper is “to provide the student with an opportunity to work with faculty members on research, provide experience as preparation for the dissertation and to develop a publication record prior to entering the job market.”

The paper is normally started following the student’s second semester, but may be initiated before this time. The completed paper is to be presented by the student in a research workshop before sitting for comprehensive exams.

Sample program of study

Year 1: Tools and supporting field courses

First semester

  • Acctg 596: Introductory Seminar
  • Research Methods/Statistics
  • Research Methods/Statistics

Second semester

  • Acctg. 596 (Archival Seminar)
  • Research Methods/Statistics
  • Marketing 593 (Seminar in Research Design)
  • BA 598 (1 credit)


Independent Research Paper

Year 2: Tools and supporting field courses

First semester

  • Acctg 596: Behavioral Seminar
  • Research Methods/Statistics
  • Supporting Field Course

Second semester

  • Supporting Field Course
  • Supporting Field Course
  • Accounting Major Course


Preparation for Comprehensive Exam

Year 3: Comprehensive exams and dissertation proposal

First semester

Comprehensive Exams

Second semester

Dissertation Proposal

Year 4

Dissertation and Other Research

Possible fifth-year graduate assistantship support

At any time prior to the end of a student’s fifth semester, depending upon the student’s demonstrated academic progress and expected likelihood of superior research quality and productivity, the Accounting PhD program coordinator may extend a written offer of fifth-year graduate assistantship support to a student. In order to receive the fifth-year support the student must respond affirmatively in writing within the response period specified in the offer, but in no case later than the end of the fifth semester. The written student response should include a proposed revised outline of her/his Program of Study (i.e., a revision of #8 above). Once a final agreement encompassing the student’s revised outline is reached, including the signatures of both the student and the coordinator, it represents a commitment by the student to actively pursue the revised outline on the WSU campus.


Beau Barnes
Associate Professor
Department of Accounting
Todd Hall 242

Program at a glance

Degree offered: Doctor of Philosophy
Number of faculty working with students: 11
Number of students enrolled in program: 8
Students with assistantships/scholarships: 100%

Universities and colleges employing recent graduates:

  • Kent State University
  • University of Montana
  • Ohio University
  • University of San Diego
  • Loyola Marymount, and more