PhD Program Policy
School of Accounting
David Eccles School of Business
University of Utah
TABLE OF CONTENTS
3. Administration of the
4. Supervisory Committee
5. Program Description
6. Research and Teaching
7. Admission Requirements
PhD In Business Administration
Specialization: Accounting and Information Systems
School of Accounting
The University of Utah
The David Eccles School of Business (DESB) at The University of Utah offers a
program of study leading to the PhD in Business Administration with a major
field in accounting and information systems. The doctoral program in Accounting
and Information Systems is a full-time program that normally requires at least
four years of study.
This document sets forth policies and procedures relating to the PhD program in
accounting and information systems. Relevant policies and procedures governing
the PhD program may also be found in the "PhD Program Policies and
Procedures" document of the DESB (revised 10/99), and in the General
Catalog of the University of Utah. In the event of any conflicts in these policy
statements, the policies of the University and of the Eccles School of Business
take precedence whenever their requirements exceed those specified in this
The objective of the PhD program in accounting and information systems is to
prepare students for faculty positions at leading research universities. Thus,
the major emphasis of the program of study is to develop the specialized
knowledge and skills necessary to conduct scholarly research in accounting and
information systems and to be effective teachers of accounting and information
systems. The PhD degree represents high scholarly achievement demonstrated by
The PhD program in accounting and information systems places emphasis on
"mastery" of the subject matter of the field, rather than on a
designated sequence of courses and examinations. The focus of the program is on
the integration of knowledge and is designed to insure that the student becomes
a teacher-scholar by adopting the attitudes and mores of academia. The
successful student will also be able to effectively communicate his/her ideas
orally and in writing. A strong emphasis is placed on the flexibility to meet
the particular needs and objectives of individual students. Enrollment is
limited each year to allow the program to be tailored to the individual student
and to provide for adequate interaction with the faculty.
3.1 Membership in the Accounting PhD Committee
The School of Accounting PhD program is administered by the Accounting PhD
Committee and the Director of the Accounting PhD Program, who serves as the
chair of the committee. The Accounting PhD Program Director and committee
members are appointed by the Director of the School of Accounting. The School of
Accounting*s elected representative to the DESB PhD Committee also serves as a
member of the Accounting PhD Committee.
3.2 Duties of the Director of the Accounting PhD Program
The Director will perform the following administrative functions:
1. Maintain a file of
information with respect to each doctoral student, including application
materials, supervisory committee appointment forms, and the formal program of
2. Serve as the faculty
advisor to all PhD students during their first three semesters in the program,
until the formation of their supervisory committee,
3. At the end of each
semester, solicit progress reports on each student from faculty who are
teaching seminars and/or working with the PhD Students,
5. Inform PhD students
of the availability of scholarships and research grants available to them, and
maintain a file of current information related to such funding opportunities,
3.3 Duties of the Accounting PhD Committee
3.3.1 Admission of students to the PhD program
The committee will examine the credentials and backgrounds of students who apply
for admission to the program and will make admission recommendations to the
School of Business PhD Committee. If qualified students apply for areas that are
not represented on the committee, the committee will consult with appropriate
faculty members in those areas to determine the possibilities of admitting
students. Where possible the committee will meet with prospective students to
determine their suitability for admission to the program. If this is not
possible, then the applicant's suitability for admission will be assessed by
means of a phone interview."
3.3.2 Assessment of academic background of entering students
Students entering the program are expected to have sufficient background in
accounting, information systems, and related areas to complete the program
successfully. Prior to their first semester in the program, the committee will
meet individually with admitted students to assess their academic preparation.
This assessment may take the form of discussions, evaluations of previous
coursework, and/or examinations. This assessment will be used to guide the
student in identifying background coursework or other steps that may be taken to
improve their ability to succeed in the PhD program. Coursework, readings,
and/or other methods will be determined as appropriate to ensure that students
are adequately prepared to be successful in the program.
3.3.3 Annual student performance evaluation
At the end of each academic year, the PhD Committee will complete a formal
evaluation of the performance of each PhD student in the program. For purposes
of this evaluation, written input will be obtained from the student's
instructors in selected courses and seminars, from members of the student's
supervisory committee, from the director of the Accounting and Information
Systems Colloquium, and from other faculty members whose interaction with the
student puts them in a position to evaluate the student's progress and ability
to complete the program successfully. If, in the judgment of the committee, the
student's performance indicates that he or she is unlikely to complete the
program successfully, the student may be asked to withdraw from the program.
The committee will prepare a written evaluation of performance for each student.
This evaluation should identify the student's strengths and weaknesses and
provide suggestions to the student regarding how his or her performance might be
3.3.4 Recommendations re Accounting PhD Program policy
The PhD Committee will, as necessary, review the existing policy document for
the Accounting PhD Program, and make recommendations to the faculty concerning
modification and improvement of this document.
During or prior to the first semester of the student's second year in the PhD
program, a supervisory committee must be established to guide the student
through the remainder of their PhD work. This committee must be composed of five
members, of which at least three must be from the student*s major field of study
and at least one must be from outside the major field of study. Based on
recommendations from the Accounting PhD Program Director, the student*s
supervisory committee is appointed by the Director of the DESB PhD Program and
approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.
Within the School of Accounting, the composition of the supervisory committee
often changes after the student successfully completes the qualifying
examinations and begins work on the dissertation. In the remainder of this
document, the term "coursework committee" is used to refer to the
supervisory committee prior to completion of the student's qualifying exams,
while the term "dissertation committee" is used to refer to the
supervisory committee subsequent to completion of the student's qualifying
4.1 Coursework Committee
The coursework committee will generally consist of three members of the School
of Accounting faculty and one faculty member each from the student's allied
field and research competency field. The coursework committee assists the
student in developing a proposed program of study, and approves this program for
submission to the Director of the DESB PhD Program. This program of study must
be approved by the Director of the DESB PhD Program before the end of the
student's third semester of PhD work.
The coursework committee will meet with the student a minimum of once each
semester to examine the student's progress. This is important to adequately
monitor the progress of the student in assimilating and integrating material
from the courses he/she has taken. If students are having difficulty in
particular areas, the plan of study will be adjusted accordingly.
The coursework committee is responsible for certifying the student*s proficiency
with data analysis techniques and computer application software as appropriate
for their research program, for approving the student*s sole-authored research
paper, and (as further discussed below) for preparing and administering the
student's qualifying examination.
4.2 Dissertation Committee
The dissertation committee will have five members. Generally, the committee
chair will be an active scholar in the candidate's field of emphasis. One member
of the dissertation committee will generally be from the candidate's allied
field. The dissertation committee is formulated upon completion of the
candidate*s qualifying exams, by means of implementing any necessary changes in
the supervisory committee. Such changes are initiated based on recommendations
from the Accounting PhD Program Director, and must be approved by the Director
of the DESB PhD Program and by the Dean of the Graduate School.
The dissertation committee is responsible for guiding the student in planning
and carrying out a research program that will represent a significant
contribution to accounting and information systems knowledge and will culminate
in an approved dissertation. The dissertation committee is also responsible for
arranging and judging the candidate*s final oral defense of the dissertation.
5. Program Description
Each student's program will include a major field requirement in accounting and
information systems, an allied field requirement, a research competency
requirement, a breadth requirement, and a teaching competency requirement.
Following the completion of these requirements, the student must take a
qualifying examination, consisting of written and oral parts, to be admitted to
candidacy for the PhD degree. Once admitted to PhD candidacy, the candidate must
complete a dissertation requirement. In addition, there are certain general
program requirements related to coursework, residency, registration, etc.
Finally, the School of Accounting requires all PhD students to regularly attend
and participate in the Accounting and Information Systems Colloquium. Each of
these requirements is described in greater detail below.
5.1 Major Field Requirement in Accounting and Information Systems
A minimum of 24 semester hours of graduate-level coursework is required to
complete the major field requirement. Subject to approval by the student*s
supervisory committee, relevant courses from any department may be used to
satisfy this requirement. Transfer courses may not be applied to satisfy any
portion of this requirement. The 24 hours is a minimum hour requirement, and
each student will be considered independently to determine if their background
and research interests require more than the 24 hours.
The following course is required of all students:
To fulfill the remainder of the 24-semester-hour minimum requirement, 12 hours
must be taken from the set of accounting PhD seminars listed below.
Accounting 7130 Information Economics Seminar
Accounting 7420 Database Management Seminar
The remaining hours taken in
the major field will be selected, in consultation with the student*s coursework
committee, from Accounting 7910 (Special Study: PhD), and from other graduate
courses in accounting and information systems and related fields, as appropriate
to the needs and interests of each student.
5.2 Allied Field Requirement
The allied field requirement is satisfied by completing a minimum of 9 semester
hours of graduate coursework outside the School of Accounting. Transfer courses
may not be applied to satisfy any portion of this requirement. Allied fields may
be broadly or narrowly defined. All courses within the allied field may be taken
within a single academic department, though this is not required. It is
recommended that this coursework be taken at the doctoral level. Some possible
allied fields include (a) finance, (b) psychology, (c) communications, (d) law
and economics, (e) computer science, (f) informatics, (g) global business, (h)
strategy, (i) operations management, and (j) economics.
Students are required to become proficient in quantitative and/or qualitative
methods and research methodology as appropriate for their specialty by
completing a minimum of 12 semester hours of coursework. Transfer courses may be
applied to satisfy a portion of this requirement.
In addition, students are expected to become proficient with appropriate data
analysis techniques and computer application software. Furthermore, all students
are required to prepare and submit a sole-authored research paper. Prior to the
student sitting for qualifying exams, the supervisory committee must certify
that the student has met these requirements.
5.4 Breadth Requirement
Regardless of his/her previous background, each student must take a minimum of
three breadth courses, one of which must be the DESB Cross-Discipline Seminar.
The other courses will be determined in consultation with the student's
coursework committee. These courses will be chosen to satisfy the spirit of
breadth within a business curriculum, to meet the objectives of the PhD program
of study in accounting and information systems, and to address the interests of
the individual student. These courses must be outside of the student's major and
research methods coursework. Breadth courses cannot be part of a narrowly
defined allied field, but there may be overlap in departments between the
breadth and allied field courses. Transfer courses may be applied to satisfy a
portion of the breadth requirement.
5.5 Teaching Competency Requirement
All students must complete the DESB Teaching Effectiveness workshop during their
first two years in the program. Each student is also required to teach one
regularly scheduled course at the University of Utah within their major field
during a minimum of one academic semester. Students without significant prior
teaching experience must complete the DESB Teaching Effectiveness workshop
before teaching. International students must also complete the University of
Utah*s International Teaching Assistant*s workshop prior to teaching.
5.6 Qualifying Examinations
Written and oral qualifying examinations are required of each student. The
purpose of these examinations is to assess the student's competency in the field
of study. Some of the qualifying examination questions will be designed to test
the student*s ability to integrate material across the various research areas of
accounting and information systems. In preparing for these examinations, it is
expected that the student will read the most current literature in his or her
primary research area, including literature that may not have been available at
the time the student completed the related PhD courses.
Before the student is eligible to sit for the qualifying examinations, (a) all
coursework listed on the program of study, other than that used to meet the
breadth requirement, must be completed, (b) the student*s sole-authored research
paper must be approved by the coursework committee, and (c) the student must be
certified by the supervisory committee as competent with relevant data analysis
techniques and computer software applications. Students must pass their
qualifying examinations by the end of the first semester of their fourth year in
Written qualifying exams are scheduled once a year, generally in July unless all
students taking the exams and their supervisory committees agree on an alternate
date. Students are required to advise the Director of the DESB PhD Program at
least one semester before they plan to sit for the exam. All students taking the
exam in a particular year will sit for the written exam at the same time.
The coursework committee is responsible for preparing the student*s written
qualifying exam in the major field. For this purpose, the coursework committee
chair will solicit questions from committee members and from each professor who
has taught one or more Ph.D seminars or courses critical to the graduate program
that the student sitting for the exam has taken. The exam is then compiled by
the student*s coursework committee, drawing from the questions submitted.
The length of the written examination in the major field will be determined by
the student*s coursework committee. Normally, a written examination in the
allied field will not exceed four hours.
After the written qualifying examination is prepared by the coursework
committee, it is submitted to the Director of the DESB PhD Program, who is
responsible for administering the exam. In cases where take-home qualifying
examination questions are used, special arrangements may be made which differ
from this policy.
Each faculty member will grade student answers to the questions they have
submitted. Each examination question that is assessed a non-passing grade by the
first grader will also be graded by at least one other faculty member. At the
discretion of the supervisory committee, selected examination questions may also
be graded by one or more other faculty members for other reasons. Based on its
review of the questions, answers, and assigned grades, the coursework committee
determines by vote whether the student has passed the examination. Upon
completion of the examination process, the student will be notified in writing
of either a pass or failure.
The student's examination answers and comments of the committee may be reviewed
by the student in the School of Business PhD Program office at the discretion of
the committee members. The chair of the coursework committee, in consultation
with the Director of the School of Accounting, will determine whether students
will be furnished copies of the completed exam.
After successful completion of the written exams, the student's oral examination
will be scheduled by the supervisory committee chairperson in consultation with
the other committee members and the student. The purpose of the oral exam will
be to discover whether the student is able to integrate the subjects covered in
the written examination, and to integrate the major and allied fields. In some
cases, at the discretion of the supervisory committee, this purpose may be
achieved through presentation by the student of a preliminary dissertation
proposal at the oral exam, though this does not obviate the requirement of a
formal defense of the proposal before the faculty. After the oral exam has been
completed, the committee will decide by majority vote whether the student has
passed. After passing the oral examination, the student is advanced to
If a student fails any portion of the qualifying exam, he or she may, at the
discretion of the supervisory committee, be given no more than one opportunity
to retake the examination.
A dissertation is required of each candidate for the PhD degree. A dissertation
is defined as an original piece of research which makes a contribution to the
knowledge in a particular discipline. The dissertation shall embody the results
of research, giving evidence of originality and ability in independent
investigation, and constituting a genuine contribution to knowledge. The
dissertation must show a mastery of the relevant literature and be presented in
a creditable style.
It is the candidate's responsibility to select a topic and present a written
proposal to the faculty at the Accounting and Information Systems Colloquium.
Normally, the candidate should prepare and obtain the dissertation committee's
approval of the proposal within six months of completing the qualifying
examinations. After consultation with the dissertation committee, the candidate
should meet with the Director of the Accounting PhD program to schedule a date
for presentation of the proposal to the faculty. The candidate should arrange
for a complete copy of the dissertation proposal to be copied and distributed to
the faculty a minimum of two weeks before the scheduled presentation date. If at
all possible, all members of the candidate*s dissertation committee should
attend this presentation. At the completion of the formal presentation to the
entire faculty, the dissertation committee will meet to evaluate the
dissertation proposal, and will decide by majority vote whether to approve the
Within the field of accounting and information systems, a PhD dissertation may
consist of a series of self-contained research papers on closely-related topics.
If a candidate elects to follow this approach to their PhD dissertation, then
for purposes of the prior paragraph a "proposal" will consist of the
"front end" (e.g., motivation, research question, sample description,
research design) of the first paper, together with a written statement that
explains in satisfactory detail the candidate's plans for carrying out the
necessary research to complete the remaining research papers in the series.
Students are strongly encouraged to remain on campus until the completion of
their dissertation. Each student should consult with his/her dissertation
committee in making the decision to leave campus before all phases of the
dissertation have been completed.
Upon completion of the dissertation, the dissertation committee shall schedule a
public oral examination at which the candidate must defend the dissertation
satisfactorily. At least three weeks prior to the oral defense of the
dissertation, the candidate must submit an acceptable draft of the dissertation
to the chair of his/her dissertation committee. The other members of the
committee should receive copies at least two weeks before the examination date.
The candidate's dissertation committee determines whether the defense is
successful by majority vote.
5.8 General Requirements
A minimum of 48 semester hours of coursework is required for the PhD degree. A
minimum of 35 semester hours must be completed at the University of Utah. No
more than 14 semester hours of transfer credit may be applied to the entire
program of study. A single course cannot be used to fulfill more than one
requirement. Each student must complete at least 14 hours of Accounting 7970,
Thesis Research: Ph.D.
All PhD students at the University of Utah must maintain minimum registration
(e.g., 3 credit hours per semester) from the time of formal admission through
completion of all requirements for the degree, unless granted an official leave
of absence (under policies and procedures set forth in the University*s General
Catalog within the "Registration" section of the chapter on
"Graduate Information"). This minimum registration requirement is in
force until the PhD dissertation is successfully defended. Students not on
campus and not using University facilities are not expected to register for
summer term; however, PhD students who take both their written and oral
qualifying examinations, or their final oral examination (dissertation defense),
during the summer term are expected to maintain their minimum registration
status for that summer term.
All students admitted to the PhD program are expected to work full time toward
the completion of their PhD program requirements. During the coursework stage of
the program, a full load is between 9 and 16 semester credit hours. Students
must maintain at least a 3.00 cumulative GPA. Grades of "C" or lower
are not acceptable to fulfill program requirements. The time limitation on the
degree is six years from the date of matriculation to completion of all
requirements for graduation.
Students with more than two incomplete grades outstanding will not be allowed to
5.9 Accounting and Information Systems Colloquium
In addition to the program requirements discussed above, all accounting and
information systems doctoral students are required to attend and actively
participate in scheduled meetings of the Accounting and Information Systems
Colloquium, which features papers presented by departmental faculty,
distinguished speakers from other schools and from the profession, papers and
dissertation proposals presented by fellow doctoral students. Students are
expected to be appropriately prepared for these colloquia. Attendance and
participation in the seminars will be monitored by the Colloquium Coordinator
and the student's coursework committee.
6. Research and
During Fall and Spring semesters of their first four years in the program, when
they are not teaching a course or serving as a teaching assistant, each student
is required to serve as a research assistant to one or more faculty members.
During these assistantships, students work under the direction of a faculty
member and assist directly in the performance of research projects. Students are
required to spend a minimum of twenty hours per week (300 hours per semester) in
Each student is also required to teach one regularly scheduled course at the
University of Utah within their major field during a minimum of one academic
Applications for admission to the Doctoral program are reviewed once each year
during the Spring semester. Matriculation begins in the Fall semester.
Applications must be accompanied by transcripts of all academic work, both
graduate and undergraduate, and by test scores for the Graduate Management
Admissions Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Letters of
recommendation from university faculty are also requested, as well as a written
statement explaining their academic and career objectives.
International applicants whose first language is not English must submit with
their application both a Test of Spoken English (TSE) score and a Test of
Written English (TWE) score, in addition to the Test of English as a Foreign
Language (TOEFL) score required by the Graduate School.
The admissions committee looks for indications of intellectual capacity,
maturity, and carefully considered personal objectives in making admittance
decisions. Generally, a cumulative grade point average in undergraduate work of
3.2 or better and in graduate work of 3.5 or better is required along with
scores of 600 or higher on the GMAT.