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Accounting PhD

The Ph.D. in Business Administration with a major in Accounting is designed to prepare qualified individuals for a career in scholarly accounting research and teaching at the university level. The doctoral program is offered to a relatively small, highly qualified, and motivated group of students who demonstrate the potential to become highly regarded scholars in the field. Doctoral students are expected to be in residence on a full-time basis throughout the duration of the program. Typically, a student will be in residence, full-time for a period of four years.

Individualized Program

Each doctoral student is paired with a faculty member with similar research interests. The faculty member will work closely with the student and will serve as a research mentor throughout the duration of the program. Currently, the training, background, and interests of the doctoral faculty support behavioral and archival research in the context of forensic accounting, fraud examination and ethics across the functional accounting areas of audit, financial, governmental, information systems, international, managerial, and tax accounting. The individual plan of study for each candidate will be determined by the student, the faculty mentor, and the Ph.D. committee.

Admission Requirements

Our PhD Program admit doctoral students on a bi-annual basis.
To be considered for admission into the Ph.D. in Accounting program, prospective students must:

  • Submit an online application by January 15, 2023 to be given full consideration for College fellowships
  • Have a bachelor’s degree in accounting from an accredited college/university OR a bachelor’s degree in any field AND a master’s degree in accounting from an accredited university
  • Provide a statement of purpose describing why the applicant is pursuing a Ph.D. and the applicant's career aspirations upon completion of the degree (submitted as part of the online application)
  • Provide a current résumé or curriculum vitae (submitted as part of the online application)
  • Provide three letters of reference (coordinated and submitted as part of the online application)
  • Have official transcripts from all colleges and/or universities attended sent directly from the applicant’s colleges and/or universities to the West Virginia University Graduate School. Students entering the doctoral program will normally have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher (based on the U.S. standard of 4.0)
  • Have an official score on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) sent directly from the test administrator to the West Virginia University Graduate School). Students entering the doctoral program will normally have a GMAT score of 650 or higher.  
  • Obtain a score of at least 100 on the TOEFL-ibt or a score of at least 7.0 on the IELTS test IF English is not the applicant’s native language. It should be noted that the College of Business and Economics TOEFL requirement for applicants to the Ph.D. in Business Administration is higher than the University requirement. Go to or to register and find out more about these tests.
  • If you completed your bachelor’s degree in one of the following countries, then you have met the WVU English proficiency requirement and do not have to submit a test score (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.): Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, Liberia, Nigeria, Commonwealth Caribbean Countries (Anguilla, Antigua, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caico).

The items listed above are minimum requirements for admission into the program. Since there is limited space in each class, meeting the above requirements does not guarantee admission. Applicants are not admitted on a provisional basis.

Program Requirements

The requirements for a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a major in Accounting include the successful completion of coursework, a comprehensive examination, a dissertation proposal, and a final dissertation defense. 

Students will work under the guidance of tenure-track research-oriented faculty as graduate research and teaching assistants. Graduate assistants are required to teach a minimum of six classes while in residency. The program requires full-time enrollment (i.e., minimum of 9 credit hours during each fall and spring semester), attending courses on-campus, and attending and participating in research workshops while in residency.

A plan of study for each student is developed by the student in consultation with the Ph.D. Committee and the student’s faculty mentor during the first year of the program based upon the nature and objectives of the student’s research interest. Please visit the WVU Graduate Catalog

Research Seminars

Students must successfully complete a minimum of four accounting doctoral research seminars. Course descriptions for each of the research seminars are available in the “Courses” section of this document. 


Students must successfully complete a minimum of four graduate level statistics courses.  Statistical Methods 1 (STAT 511) and Statistical Methods 2 (STAT 512) are typically the first two statistics courses taken.  Students must take at least two additional 500 level graduate statistics courses. The two additional courses must be approved by the Student’s faculty mentor.

Support Area

Students must successfully complete a minimum of four graduate level courses is a supporting area. A supporting area is one that is outside of, but complementary to, the major area of accounting and should relate to the student’s research interests (e.g., criminology, economics, finance, management information systems, law, management, psychology, public administration, public finance, sociology). The support area and related courses will be selected with the assistance of the student’s faculty mentor.

Graduate Colloquium

While in residency, doctoral students must register for one credit hour of ACCT 799 Graduate Colloquium, each fall and spring semester. The graduate colloquium consist of internal and external scholars that present their research on campus. Doctoral students are expected to read the research paper prior to each presentation and participate during each presentation by asking questions and making comments.

Qualifying Paper

Doctoral students must complete a qualifying paper during their first summer in the program. Doctoral students should consult with their Faculty Mentor to decide upon a suitable topic. The qualifying paper must be submitted to the Doctoral coordinator by the start of classes during the student’s second year. The Doctoral Committee votes to determine whether the qualifying paper is adequate for the student to continue in the Doctoral Program.

Comprehensive Examination

After successfully completing all coursework on the plan of study each student is required to take a written comprehensive examination.  This two-day exam will cover course-related topics and materials from the candidate’s plan of study.

In the event that a student fails all or part(s) of the exam, the student may be asked either to retake the entire exam or re-take select parts of the exam.  A student may retake part of all of the examination only once. If performance on the second attempt is not satisfactory, the student is dismissed from the program.

Dissertation Proposal

After successfully completing the comprehensive examination, the student must select a Dissertation Committee comprised of four members, one of which must be from outside of the Accounting Department.  The candidate will develop a dissertation proposal under the guidance of the Dissertation Committee. Once the Dissertation Committee thinks that the student and the research write-up are ready, an oral defense of the dissertation proposal is made by the student.  During the defense, the Dissertation Committee will take note of comments, suggestions, and critiques by those in attendance, and will decide if the proposal defense is successful (pass), unsuccessful (fail), or partially successful (modifications are necessary). Once the proposal is defended successfully, or required modifications are made the Committee may approve (pass) the dissertation proposal.  If a second dissertation proposal defense is necessary and is deemed unsuccessful, the student is dismissed from the program.

After successfully defending the dissertation proposal, the student can begin the research project(s) presented in the dissertation proposal.  The candidate must keep his/her Dissertation Committee members appraised of progress towards completion of the dissertation. It is critically important to notify the Dissertation Committee members of any unforeseen difficulties that arise as the student conducts his/her research.

Dissertation Defense

The final dissertation defense typically occurs near the end of the fourth year and is formally scheduled and announced to the university community. At the final defense, the candidate presents the results of their dissertation and fields questions from the audience. Based upon the comments made during the defense, the Dissertation Committee members decide whether the dissertation is completed or if the candidate must do additional work before the dissertation can be considered complete. 


If the changes are minor in nature, the Chair and Committee may approve the dissertation contingent upon making the minor changes.  If the changes are substantial, the Dissertation Committee may require the candidate to make the recommended changes and defend the dissertation again at a later date.

Upon successfully defending the dissertation, the student must follow the University Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) guidelines for electronic publication of the dissertation. Once the dissertation has been successfully approved by the University, the student is eligible to attend formal graduation ceremonies.


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