PhD Program Policy 

School of Accounting

David Eccles School of Business

University of Utah 


 Revised 05/2000 





1. Introduction


2. Objective


3. Administration of the Program


4. Supervisory Committee


5. Program Description


6. Research and Teaching Assistantships


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 statement. 


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 independent research. 

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: 

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 improved. 

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 exams.

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.

5.3 Research Competency Requirement 

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 the program. 

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 candidacy. 

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. 

5.7 Dissertation 

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 candidate's proposal. 

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 register. 

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 Teaching Assistantships 

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 this activity. 

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. 


7. Admission Requirements 

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.