Connecting you with highly ranked faculty and sharpening your research capabilities in preparation for an impactful academic future.
Home > Ph.D. Program > Emphasis in Accounting

Emphasis in Accounting

Program Overview

The accounting Ph.D. program in the Smeal College of Business at Penn State is one of the top accounting Ph.D. programs in the country, and is designed to help prepare you for a successful and productive career as a faculty member. Our goal is to always be counted with the very best accounting Ph.D. programs in the U.S. through a clear and strong commitment to the development of outstanding research and teaching skills. While the preparation is rigorous, our students enjoy the benefits of a highly supportive atmosphere in the program. Our Ph.D. students make a commitment that is consistent with our goals of pursuing excellence in doctoral study, and are rewarded with the opportunity to obtain challenging faculty positions at quality institutions. Recent placements of our graduates include Harvard, Minnesota, MIT, North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Pennsylvania (Wharton), and Stanford.

Course Work

You will take several Ph.D. research seminars in accounting, and seminars in economics, finance, and other disciplines to support your chosen area of interest. The seminars in accounting are designed to help you build a framework of research issues that are of interest in financial and managerial accounting, auditing, and taxation. The accounting seminars will also help you learn which research methods can be used to address the issues, and the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. In addition to the accounting research seminars, the department has a weekly research colloquium at which researchers from the top universities in the country present their research papers.


The mechanisms and processes that make for a quality Ph.D. program are in place, and are reviewed and evaluated periodically to ensure the maintenance of a competitively effective program. You will have the opportunity to enhance your research skills by working with nationally respected faculty with a broad set of interests. These faculty members give attention in their research to important issues of interest to other academics, as well as to business practitioners and regulators.


Financial support of our Ph.D. students in the form of graduate assistantships and fellowships is excellent. The fellowships are available through the accounting department, as well as through the Smeal College of Business and the University. In addition, our students have been most successful in competing for doctoral fellowships made available through programs offered by various business firms.

Research Assistantships

In addition to interacting with faculty on research and other matters during the course work stage of the program, you will have numerous opportunities to serve as a research assistant for faculty members. Service as a research assistant contributes significantly to the development of your research skills, and enables you to develop your own research portfolio. To enhance your research productivity, you will have access to numerous databases of financial statement and capital markets information provided by the Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP), COMPUSTAT, Datastream, I/B/E/S International, and Lexis/Nexis. Tax research data are available through the Ernst & Young/ University of Michigan Tax Panel Database. Penn State's Pattee Library also offers several sources of financial statement and capital markets information such as COMPACT DISCLOSURE, a series of financial statements, and other information on CD-ROM.

Teaching Assistantships

You will also receive formal training to help enhance your teaching abilities. This is accomplished through opportunities to serve as a teaching assistant, and through a special Preparing for the Professoriate course. As a beginning teaching assistant, you will teach our introductory accounting course. As you advance through the program and develop your research skills, you will have opportunities to teach more advanced courses depending on departmental needs and your interests.

The Tools Available to You

The department is very supportive of its Ph.D. students. You will have a computer in your office and readily available printers dedicated solely for Ph.D. student use. You will be given numerous opportunities to interact with faculty and other Ph.D. students, not only in accounting but also in economics, finance, and other disciplines, depending upon your interests. Each year two Ph.D. students receive full support to attend the Big Ten Accounting Doctoral Consortium. At this event, Ph.D. students have the opportunity to interact with professors and other Ph.D. students from all of the Big Ten universities, and to discuss emerging research topics in accounting. The department also sends one student to the annual American Accounting Association Doctoral Consortium at which students interact with faculty and Ph.D. students from all over the world. Ph.D. students also attend the Financial Accounting Standards Board Ph.D. Student Program and the Doctoral Internationalization Consortium in Accounting.

Program Requirements
Accounting Department
Accounting Faculty
Accounting Faculty Research Interests
Accounting Ph.D. Placements
Accounting Doctoral Students

For more information contact:

Professor Karl Muller
Smeal College of Business
The Pennsylvania State University
384 Business Building
University Park, PA 16802-3603

Phone: 814-865-0202
Fax: 814-863-8393