PhD in Business Administration

The Business Administration Accounting PhD Program will be accepting applications for Fall 2023.

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 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. Successfully passing a comprehensive written and oral exam through which the student demonstrates mastery of accounting subject matter and a readiness to pursue dissertation research.
  3. Completion of first-year and second-year research projects under the guidance of a faculty supervisor.
  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 supervisor,
    • 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.

Advisory Committee

Initially, a student's advisory committee will consist of members of the School of Accountancy admissions committee.

The committee:

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

Until students pass their qualifying exams, they may have the same advisory committee members as others. After students pass their qualifying exams, their advisory committees typically are 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

The university requires that each committee must have at least four members. At least two must be School of Accountancy professors; at least three must have graduate faculty standing, and at least one must be from outside the Business Administration faculty.


An accounting plan of study requires a minimum of 40 credit hours. Students normally take 9 credit hours each semester, and 4 hours their first summer. 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 and Second Year Papers

Students work closely with a faculty mentor who is assigned based on the student's research interests. In the summer following the first year, students complete a literature review of research in their area of interest. They present the paper to the faculty and doctoral students during a fall research workshop. During the second year of study, the student and mentor complete a research project suitable for publication.

Qualifying Examination

The Von Allmen School of Accountancy qualifying exam is designed to allow a student to demonstrate that the student is qualified to pursue dissertation research. It consists of a written and an oral portion.

The written portion tests a student's comprehension of research methodology, research tools, and accounting subject matter. The written exam is normally given in early summer after the end of the spring semester in which coursework is completed, at a time determined by the accounting doctoral program director.

The oral portion of the exam gives the advisory committee an opportunity to evaluate the student's responses to the written exam and the student's qualifications for conducting dissertation research.


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 in preparing for the qualifying exam and may allow formal approval of a student's dissertation proposal to occur soon after the qualifying examination is passed.

The Von Allmen School of Accounting 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. 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