PhD in Business Administration

Equipping doctoral graduates for successful careers as educators and researchers at major colleges and universities.

Our PhD program offers a close mentoring relationship with faculty members, with training that typically requires five years. In addition to formal doctoral-level coursework and dissertation development, the program also gives students first-hand experiences as researchers and college teachers. First and Second Year Papers are completed under the mentorship of a faculty member and in the case of the Second Year Paper under the guidance of the Advisory Committee. Students and faculty members often meet weekly in informal brown-bag lunches to discuss research, teaching, and academic life.

Leading accounting academics from well-known schools present and discuss their research at weekly workshops. These scholars also meet with doctoral students to offer advice and information. University of Kentucky faculty members and doctoral students also present their research at these workshops.

Admission Guidelines

To be considered for the PhD in Business Administration Concentration in Accounting, the applicant must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School and Gatton College of Business and Economics.

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Degree Requirements

An accounting doctoral student must satisfy successfully four main degree requirements:

  1. Completion of an approved plan of required and elective courses. This coursework typically requires two years in residence.
  2. Completion of the first-year research project under the guidance of a faculty supervisor.
  3. Completion of the second-year research project under the guidance of a faculty supervisor and Advisory Committee. The second-year paper serves as the qualifying exam for entrance into doctoral candidacy.
  4. Writing and defending a dissertation. This dissertation effort includes:
    • identifying a research topic,
    • proposing a plan for investigating the topic,
    • obtaining approval of the proposal from the student's faculty Advisory Committee and faculty advisor,
    • defending the proposal before the student's committee, and, the faculty and PhD students.

Additional program information is available in the statement of policies and the description of the PhD student evaluation process. The dissertation is then filed in the UK library.


An accounting plan of study requires a minimum of 40 credit hours. Students normally take a minimum of 9 and up to 12 credit hours each semester. The coursework has two components:

Core coursework requirements

  • BA 700 - Teaching Methods in Business (1) (required of all BA PhD students)
  • ACC 700 - Introduction to Accounting Research (1st semester)
  • ACC 700 - Introduction to Financial / Archival Accounting Research (alternate spring semesters)
  • ACC 700 - Introduction to Psychology-based Accounting Research (alternate spring semesters)
  • ACC 700 - Survey of Methodological Tools in Empirical Accounting Research

There are two tracks in the program: (1) psychology-based accounting research, (2) economics-based accounting research.

Students studying psychology-based accounting research do additional coursework in marketing, management, psychology, statistics, communications, and education (depending on their specific interests and the available courses).

Students studying economics-based accounting research do additional coursework in economics and finance. Some also earn Masters in Economics degrees as a part of their PhD coursework.

First Year Paper

Students work closely with a faculty advisor who is assigned based on the student's research interests. In the summer following the first year, and with the consent of the student’s faculty advisor, the paper may be a replication of research (with recommendations for future research) or an original research project. The student shall present their completed, sole-authored paper to the research faculty at a brownbag no later than the 3rd week of the student’s third semester in the program.

Second Year Paper

Students work closely with a faculty advisor who is assigned based on the student's research interests. In addition, each student will need to form an Advisory Committee. The student is responsible for initiating, developing, and completing the second-year paper. The paper serves as the written component of the qualifying exam. The student shall present the sole-authored paper to the faculty and doctoral students at a workshop no later than October 31st of the student’s third year in the program. The presentation serves as the oral component of the qualifying examination.

Advisory Committee

In consultation with the student and the research faculty, the VASOA Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) shall determine/approve the members of the advisory committee by December 31st of the student’s second year in the program. Typically, the faculty advisor will serve as the Chair of the Advisory Committee. The composition of this Advisory Committee shall comply with the UK Graduate School policies.

To assist with formation of the Advisory Committee, the student should identify an outside committee member. This outside member must be selected from a discipline outside of Business Administration, which includes the Von Allmen School of Accounting, Finance, Marketing, and Management departments. For example, faculty from Economics, Statistics, Psychology, and Computer Science can serve as outside members for doctoral students in Business Administration.

The Committee:

  • advises the student,
  • approves the plan of study,
  • determines whether the student advances to dissertation work.

After students pass their qualifying exam, their Advisory Committees can be reformulated to closely reflect each student's specific dissertation interests.

The Advisory Committee's functions include:

  • assessment of the dissertation proposal
  • oversight of the research efforts
  • approval of the dissertation defense here

Qualifying Examination

The Second Year Paper serves as the as the written component of the qualifying exam. The Second Year Paper Presentation serves as the oral component of the qualifying examination.


Students are admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree after they have successfully passed the qualifying exam (i.e., second-year paper and presentation). Doctoral students are encouraged to begin identifying a dissertation topic and developing ideas about how to investigate the topic fairly early (e.g., in the second year of study). This helps students to progress through the program in a timely manner.

The Von Allmen School of Accounting (VASOA) strongly encourages each student to have completed dissertation work before leaving the University of Kentucky to begin employment. Long-distance, part-time efforts at completing a dissertation are problematic for both the faculty and the student. Dissertation efforts may involve theoretical, analytical, and/or empirical (e.g., survey, field, experimental) research.

A dissertation must significantly contribute to the accounting discipline; it must clearly enlarge the existing body of accounting knowledge. The student's coursework provides a foundation for conceiving and carrying out research work.

The student’s Advisory Committee from the Qualifying Exam functions as the Dissertation Committee. However, the composition of the committee can be modified if needed. Members of the School of Accountancy faculty serve on the student's advisory committee to offer stimulation, guidance, and feedback over the course of the research work. The committee's chairperson tends to be especially influential in this regard. Successful dissertation efforts also depend heavily on the student's dedication, work ethic, creativity, and ability to communicate effectively.

Gatton Persistence Scholarship

During this challenging time, the Gatton College is offering extra support to students in need. Thanks to the contributions of generous donors, we are proud to offer a number of Gatton Persistence Scholarships for the 2022 – 2023 academic year. Gatton students who demonstrate financial need are encouraged to apply. Scholarships will start at $1,000.

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Contact Us

If you are interested in challenging yourself intellectually and becoming a professor in a major research university, contact us to get more information about applying to our PhD program in Accounting. Contact Jeannie Graves.

Monika Causholli
Director of Graduate Studies for Accountancy