PhD in Accounting vs. DBA in Accounting

PhD in Accounting vs. DBA in accounting

If you want to pursue a career as an accounting educator, lead organizations or provide high-value consulting services, earning a doctoral degree in accounting is key. Once you set your sights on pursuing a doctoral-level education in accounting, you’ll have to decide whether to get a PhD in accounting or a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) in accounting. Learn more about these two programs to determine which educational path is the right fit for your career aspirations.

PhD and DBA Difference and Admissions Requirements

Although PhD and DBA programs in accounting are very similar, the fundamental difference between PhD and DBA programs is that the focus of PhD programs is to develop new theories, whereas the focus of DBA programs is to apply theoretical knowledge to business. The accounting PhD is the most common degree for those who want to pursue a career in academia, while DBA programs are designed to provide business executives with the competencies needed to pursue business/public administration careers that require advanced qualifications and research skills.

The prerequisites for gaining admission to DBA and PhD programs are typically similar and may include a completed master’s degree in a business-related field, GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, and work experience. GMAT scores tend to carry a lot of weight in admissions decisions, because it is hard to compare grades between different schools. At some institutions, however, the only official prerequisite for PhD programs in accounting is a bachelor’s degree.

Accounting DBA Overview

DBA programs take about four to five years to complete and require the completion of a research dissertation. They are a great fit for business executives who want to move into senior positions. A DBA program can also be a pathway to a career as an accounting professor, though many large research universities prefer hiring candidates who have PhDs. Courses that you might take in a DBA accounting program include the following:

  • Economic theory
  • Quantitative research methods
  • Business management theory
  • Emerging issues in financial decision-making
  • Emerging issues in economics
  • Seminar in financial accounting
  • Seminar in managerial accounting

Accounting PhD Overview

Although a PhD in accounting is typically intended for those who wish to become college professors, like a DBA, a PhD can also be used as a basis for careers in advanced research, consulting or business/public administration. PhD programs also take about four to five years to complete and typically require students to work on a research dissertation. Students may take some of the following courses:

  • Economic theory
  • Regression and correlation
  • Introductory econometrics
  • Research methods in accounting
  • Empirical research in accounting
  • Analytic research in accounting

Choosing Between a PhD of DBA

If you’re interested in pursuing a PhD or DBA program in accounting, research a variety of programs, evaluating their structure and curriculum, as well as the types of research they publish and the career paths that alumni have pursued. Both DBA and PhD programs in accounting are offered online, giving students the opportunity to enhance their credentials and further their careers while balancing the demands of career and family.

PhD and DBA Accounting Career Opportunities

The growing demand for accounting professors makes academic careers attractive to PhD and DBA graduates. According to an annual faculty salary survey conducted by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the average salary of a recently hired accounting professor is $127,400.

The demand for professors with doctoral degrees in accounting is also high. According to a study called “Assessing the Shortage of Accounting Faculty” in Issues of Accounting Education, the overall supply of new accounting faculty across all specialties from 2005 to 2008 was only 49.9% of the number demanded.

Other potential jobs outside of academia for those who hold either an accounting DBA or PhD include vice president of finance, business researcher, chief financial officer, and senior auditor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top executives are among the highest paid workers in the United States, with a median annual wage of $168,140. However, these positions are among some of the most highly competitive and typically require years of experience in addition to your degree.

A doctoral degree in accounting can help you take your accounting career to the next level. This is an excellent time to pursue advanced study in accounting, owing to the shortage of accounting professors and business professionals with advanced accounting and research skills. To start putting together the puzzle pieces of your future, find the right DBA or PhD in accounting program now.