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online PhD programs, online phd in Accounting, accounting phd, accounting phd onlineAccounting is often referred to as one of the most versatile degrees that one can earn. That may seem surprising on the surface; however, accounting is a science that is used to analyze and manipulate financial data. No matter the industry, every company has an accounting need. On top of that, many individuals turn to accountants to help them with their personal finances as well. Accounting is regarded as a very stable career choice and historical data shows that the demand for accountants doesn’t even decrease in an economic downturn. That is an incredible testament to job security in the field. What’s more, accounting is growing at a rate of 10% over the next decade according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This rate is slightly faster than the national average growth rate for all career fields.

Accountants also have a lot of responsibilities in their position. As an accountant for a company, you would be tasked with balancing the books, monitoring the finances to ensure they are correct, and perhaps even giving advice based on the financial situation of the company. You may also find yourself auditing and giving oversight to problems within an organization like fraud, embezzlement, unauthorized spending, and more.

At the undergraduate level, there are specializations in auditing, taxation, and more. If you want to further your education even more, you will have a greater variety of options to choose from.

Doctorate Degrees in Accounting

At the doctorate level, there are a few different degree options in accounting. You could earn a DBA in Accounting, a PhD in Accounting, or some other type of degree as long as it offers at least a concentration in accounting, accountancy, or accounting science. A degree at this level would prepare you for a career in research, teaching at a university, or working as a high-level executive at a corporation. If you select the PhD option, you are more likely to get an education suited for research or academia. If you choose a more practical degree, like a Doctor of Business Administration, you could still pursue those careers but the education you receive will be more tailored towards a practical career in accounting.

Your dissertation along with your electives will be used to individualize your program beyond the core curriculum. Some areas you could choose to focus on could be Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Tax Accounting, Economic Analysis & Policy, or Auditing and Corporate Governance. Some universities offer designated programs for a particular area and some of them allow you to customize your program in collaboration with an academic advisor.

When pursuing a doctorate in accounting, particularly a PhD in Accounting, you will encounter courses like:

  • Empirical Research in Accounting
  • Microeconomics
  • Behavioral Research in Accounting
  • Business Fundamentals
  • Statistical Methods for Business and Economics
  • Regression and Multivariate Analysis

The curriculum is also guaranteed to include research courses. These courses are intended to prepare you not only for your dissertation but for a lifetime of scholarship. You will learn how to design research studies, how to collect and analyze data, and then how to make the information you find in your research actionable.

Earning an Online PhD in Accounting

Online education programs are amazing. They have been available since the mid-’90s and they have done a lot for students by making education more accessible, which is something that will always be important. Some of the perks of online programs include greater flexibility, more areas of study to choose from as you are not limited to local universities, you won’t have to move, and it is very possible that you’ll pay less than you would for a campus-based degree.

PhD programs in accounting are hard to come by online but we scoured the country for your best options and ranked them below.


When creating our ranking of the best online PhDs in Accounting, we started by compiling a list of schools that met a few initial ranking criteria. In order for consideration, each school must offer at least one doctoral program in accounting in an online or hybrid format, must be based in the United States, and hold proper accreditation. No for-profit schools were considered for this article.

When the initial list was created, we then scored each school out of a possible 300 points based on the following three factors.

  • Freshman Retention Rate (⅓ of final score)
  • Graduate Rate (⅓ of final score)
  • Affordability (⅓ of final score)

Schools appear in ascending order based on their score below. Some schools that may have otherwise ranked may have been omitted due to incomplete information or according to their own wishes.

Information presented in this article was obtained from the schools’ websites whenever possible. In the event that that information was insufficient, we used the additional resources of the National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. News & World Report,, and

We’d also like to note that no colleges or universities are ever awarded preferential treatment in our rankings for any reason.



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  1. MERIT: 215
    View Profile Average Cost: $45,752

    Doctor of Business Administration in Accounting

    George Fox University offers a hybrid DBA in Accounting. The program starts every year in the spring and continues year-round. It is presented in a cohort model, and while the university deems it a hybrid program, it remains primarily online. Students have to attend campus just twice each year. These meetings are scheduled (typically) in late May and then another in late July to early August. The first session lasts for eight days, and the second one is only four days.

    This online doctorate in accounting program consists of 56 total credits. There are 48 units worth of coursework which break down into a doctoral core, an education core, your concentration courses, and research courses. The remaining credits come from the required dissertation. It takes the average student about four years to complete; three years are made up of coursework, and the final year is when you will complete and defend your dissertation.

    You’ll take a range of classes like Foundations of Management and Leadership, Foundations of Marketing, Conceptual Foundations of Economics, and more. The education component is great for those of you who may want to go on to teach at the university level, and they cover topics like effective teaching and a business teaching practicum. The accounting courses include Advanced Applications of Ethical Reasoning and Compliance in Accounting, a Seminar in Accounting, and more.

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  2. MERIT: 196
    View Profile Average Cost: $41,112

    Liberty University, Online Masters Degree, Online PhD, Online Degree

    Doctor of Business Administration in Accounting

    Liberty University is home to a fully-online DBA in accounting. This university places such high importance of flexibility, and we love that for online students. This is a 60-credit program overall, and the transfer policy allows for you to bring up to 15 credits in from prior college experience. You can also choose from any one of the six start dates throughout the year. The average student can finish this program in about three years.

    The classes you’ll take are eight weeks each, and they are presented asynchronously. This means that you can log in and work on your materials when it is convenient for you, allowing you to work full time while you earn your doctorate. You will also be eligible for financial aid and scholarships as well as have access to a lot of great student support services even though you’re a distance learner.

    On top of the incredibly comprehensive business core in this program, you will take a number of specialization courses in accounting. This degree program could prepare you for a career as a CPA, a CMA, an auditor, budget supervisor, and more. The featured courses in the program are Tax and Research Jurisprudence, Auditing, Financial Accounting Theory, and Accounting Ethics.

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What is an Accountant?

An accountant is someone who records business transactions on behalf of the business that they work for. That is the broadest description of the job, which is actually incredibly varied. There are a lot of different types of accountants because there are numerous subfields within the overarching field of accounting that you could choose to specialize in.

Bookkeeping is a potential subfield in accounting. Not all bookkeepers are accountants, but some of them are. This type of accountant could be in charge of payroll or weekly reports. This type of accountant is not required to hold any kind of license, which may make this an attractive option if you have yet to obtain proper certification. Bookkeepers don’t represent a business to the IRS, though.

The most common type of accountant is a CPA. That stands for Certified Public Accountant. This type of accountant gets certified through state licensure and certification exams. They are able to fulfill any function of accounting within a business, and they are also able to represent businesses or individuals to the IRS. CPAs have a legal responsibility to ensure that they are representing their clients with integrity and not being negligent.

Other types of accountants include Certified Bank Auditors; they review financial records for accuracy. There are Certified Trust and Financial Advisors, Certified Credit Executives, and more. So, an accountant is someone who handles the ins and outs of a business’ or person’s finances, but there is so much more under the surface of that definition as well.

What Does an Accountant Do?

The role that an accountant plays is going to depend on the company they work for and the type of accountant that they are. However, no matter what they are doing, accountants are truly the lifeblood of a business. They examine the financial records of a business, ensure that they are accurate, prepare financial reports, run payroll, ensure that taxes are properly dealt with, and more. Below, we will look at the most common day to day responsibilities of an accountant.

Issuing Invoices: Businesses need to make money which is why it is important to make sure that they are properly charging for their services and then ensuring that those amounts are collected in an acceptable time frame. An accountant can prepare invoices to bill the customers and clients that a business serves so that the money is coming in.

Recording Sales: Keeping track of sales is important for a host of reasons. A business needs to make sure that it is profitable, see what money is coming in, what products are moving, and so on. Accountants can keep track of these sales so that the information can be effectively used for things like ordering inventory, what products to phase out, and so on.

Advising on business structure: This may not be typical of an accountant but it is certainly something that is in their wheelhouse. An accountant can handle the paperwork and provide crucial advice to make sure that your business is developing properly thanks to the strong background knowledge in business that they’ll get when they are pursuing their degree in accounting.

Managing Invoices: Businesses have suppliers. If you were to work for a business as an accountant, one of the things you could see yourself doing is managing invoices from people or other businesses that the company you work for owes money to. You would read them and make sure that they were correct and then make sure that they were paid on time. This also includes keeping track of the expenses a business incurs.

Managing Payroll: As an accountant, you may be tasked with managing payroll. This includes verifying how many hours employees worked and making sure they were paid. This would also include keeping track of how much money the business would need to withhold to pay their taxes.

Keeping up with Tax Law: One of the most common things that an accountant does for a business is making sure that their taxes are straight. Having your ducks in a row at tax time is hard enough as an individual, but managing taxes for a business is a whole different ball game. As an accountant, that is where you would come in. You would keep your superiors up to speed on any tax law changes and make sure that their taxes were squared away and making sure they’re properly paid on time.

There are a lot of things that accountants do, and all of them are vital to the survival and success of a business, which means that this is a job that won’t be going away any time soon.

What Can You Do With an Accounting Degree?

Accounting, as we said before, is a deceptively broad field. When you hear the words “accounting degree,” you may feel like you are roped into being an accountant, but that isn’t the case. This is because of what you learn in an accounting program. Accounting degree programs provide you with the technical skills you will need to be an accountant, but they also cover a broad foundation in business. Some of the topics covered in an accounting program include financial regulations, financial records, business strategy, risk management, information systems, analytics, ethics, and more.

You will explore a lot in the world of business when you are earning your accounting degree. Because of all of that knowledge, you’ll have, you are not limited to just being an accountant. Here are some other jobs that you could have.

Financial Examiner: In this position, you would be responsible for ensuring that your company was complying with laws that govern financial institutions and lending practices. You would help evaluate the health of financial institutions and can help your clients steer clear of loans that will be risky for their financial security. Regulations are constantly shifting, and this job is growing because more people to guide companies through those shifts are certainly in demand.

Budget Analyst: As a budget analyst, you would be analyzing the budgets for a company or whoever your clients may be. You would have the responsibility of helping your clients or employer manage their finances, keep an eye on spending to make sure they are staying in their budget, and even helping to create those budgets.

You could also be a finance manager, a business consultant, or even a CFO. How you choose to specialize your degree with electives or a concentration area is up to you, and that is what is going to help you steer your professional life in the most fulfilling direction for you.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Accounting Degree?

There are accounting degrees offered at various levels, and each of them is going to take a different amount of time. The average time to complete a bachelor’s degree is four years. However, there are a lot of programs, particularly online, that offer accelerated options. Some schools will allow you to transfer in as many as 90 credits towards your degree if you have them! There are also alternative credit options where you could be awarded college credit through a challenge exam or a portfolio detailing relevant work training or experience you’ve had in the past. You could earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting in one to two years if the circumstances meet up in your favor.

Master’s programs are also available in accelerated formats. You could earn a master’s degree in accounting in as little as one year. Schools offer asynchronous programs that allow you to study according to your schedule, condensed course formats, transfer policies, and more. In fact, there are some online MBA in Accounting programs that you could finish in just ten months as long as you are able to dedicate the time to study at such an aggressive pace.

Doctorate programs take between three and four years to complete. This depends on whether you choose to study full-time or part-time, the time it takes you to complete your dissertation, and a handful of other factors.

Why Get a PhD in Accounting?

A PhD is a huge investment of your time and money, and it can be hard to decide if it is truly worth it for some people. Did you know that less than 1% of the population will ever earn a PhD in America? It is the highest academic honor that you can obtain. Having a PhD in Accounting will set you up for success. You will set yourself apart as an expert in the field of accounting and perhaps whatever subfield you choose to specialize in.

When you have a PhD in Accounting, you are not limited as to what career path you can choose. Of course, the obvious paths are research or being an accounting professor at a college or university, but there are many more options. Having a PhD will qualify you for high-level positions or even prepare you to start your own firm. What you do with your PhD is entirely up to you because you have the utmost qualifications that one can receive in the field.

Apart from the honor of knowing you worked so hard and reached an incredible academic goal, there are other benefits. As we said, you will have greater career opportunities, but you will also have more job security, more earning potential, and all the education you could ever need to reach your professional goals.

How to Get a PhD in Accounting.

The first step in getting a PhD in Accounting (or any doctorate in accounting) is to make sure that you have met the prerequisites for such a program. It is important to lay a firm groundwork for you to build upon with such advanced education. You should have a bachelor’s degree in a related field at the very least. Most universities also prefer that you have a master’s degree (such as an MBA), and a few years of relevant work experience. This may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through but fulfilling these requirements is the first thing you can do to set yourself up for success when it comes to earning your doctorate degree in accounting. Some programs will also expect you to have taken the GRE, the GMAT, or both.

You will need to research and select the best program for you. Make sure that it holds the proper accreditation, it fits into your budget and offers the courses/concentration that you know you’ll need to take to prepare you for the career you want. Once you have selected a program, you will need to go through the application process. This usually includes gathering letters of recommendation, writing an essay, doing interviews, submitting transcripts, exam scores, a curriculum vitae, a letter of intent, etc. Each school is going to need different things from you when you’re applying. Make sure that you’re familiar with these things as early as possible and get everything together so you can submit your application at the appropriate time.

Once you are accepted into the program, that’s when the work begins. Most PhD programs start out with coursework. This will include a doctoral core, classes in your major area, and research courses. Some may have an internship or a practicum included in this component as well. Once all of your coursework is finished, you will take comprehensive exams and complete your dissertation. When you’re done with your dissertation, you will have to defend it in front of a group of program faculty. That’s the last thing you’ll have to do before you graduate.