The Ross PhD program in Accounting is recognized as one of the best accounting PhD programs in the world.

The objective of the program is to prepare students for successful academic careers in leading reserach oriented institutions.

Major strengths of the program include rigorous research training, generous financial support, and a mentoring culture that features close interaction between faculty and students.

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PhD Program Philosophy

Accounting research focuses on how the production and dissemination of accounting information and other corporate disclosures influence investor decisions in capital markets, managerial behavior within firms, and policy decisions by regulators. Accordingly, the philosophy of our PhD program is to promote scholarship and research that integrates emerging issues in accounting with insights from allied disciplines including economics, statistics, finance, organizational behavior and political science. Our objective is to develop creative researchers with an aptitude for logical thinking through a rigorous program that emphasizes 1) a sound background and understanding of accounting issues and institutions, 2) expertise and knowledge of specific subject areas in addition to accounting, and 3) competence in research methods designed to extend our base of existing knowledge.

The strength of our Ph.D. program stems from the quality of the accounting faculty and the intellectual environment of the department. The intellectual environment is highly student-centric where faculty nurture and mentor Ph.D. students by providing them opportunities to interact with faculty and participate in research projects early in the program. The accounting Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan has a long history of success dating back several decades and owes much of this success to the willingness of faculty to work with students both during their doctoral studies as well as subsequent to graduation [see student-faculty research collaborations]

A distinguishing feature of our Ph.D. program is the generous financial support we offer all students. This support is guaranteed for five years and typically includes fellowships and stipends, health care coverage for self, spouse and dependents, as well as fund allowances for travel and technology purchases. 

Our graduates typically accept faculty positions at leading research-oriented universities such as the University of Chicago, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, UCLA and Wharton. Beyond placements, our program alumni have made important contributions to the profession at large. Several of our graduates have won the American Accounting Association’s prestigious Competitive manuscript Award, awarded each year for the best doctoral dissertation, and one of our graduates has also won the prize for Notable Contributions to the Accounting Literature.

Application Tips

In addition to enclosing all the necessary materials such as transcripts and test scores and recommendations, please make sure your application demonstrates two key things:

First, you should demonstrate some contact or familiarity with the practice of accounting. It is not necessary for you to have worked for an accounting firm, but it would be helpful if you could inform us about any contact you’ve had with accounting data (cost or financial) in the course of your employment or schooling.

Second, you should give some indication that you are familiar with the difference between the practice of accounting and accounting research. In this regard it may be helpful to visit faculty web pages across the country; many faculty members showcase their research on their professional webpages. Another useful website is Social Science Research Network, an extensive repository of accounting and finance research papers.

Again, it is not necessary that you be an expert at accounting research (that’s what the PhD program trains you for!), but you should be somewhat aware of what an accounting PhD program entails.

Program Structure

During the first two years of the program, students take courses in accounting, economics, finance, econometrics, mathematics, and other related disciplines. In addition, they also learn programming skills and become familiar with various accounting and business institutions.

Michigan is a highly ranked university in all areas of graduate education. In addition to the proscribed courses, University of Michigan allows the flexibility for students to take courses in a wide variety of disciplines, so students can tailor their course plan to meet their developing research needs.

In addition to coursework, there are first and second year research paper requirements. These are intended to introduce students to the process of academic research and gain valuable feedback on both the execution and presentations of research. The first and second year research papers also allow students the opportunity to foster their relationships with faculty and often lead to co-authorship projects.

At the end of the second year, students take their comprehensive written exam. Successful completion of coursework, first and second year research papers, and the comprehensive exam complete the requirements for candidacy.

The remainder of the program is devoted to collaborative research with other students and faculty, as well as successful completion of the dissertation.

Faculty-Student Research Collaborations

The following is a list of representative publications and working papers between Accounting faculty and current and former Ph.D. students. Current and former students are highlighted in bold.

Blankespoor E., G. Miller, and H. White, The Role of Dissemination in Market Liqudity: Evidence from Firms’ use of Twitter. TheAccounting Review, 89 (1) (2014): 79-112.

Blankespoor E., B. Hendricks, and G. Miller, Perceptions and Price: Evidence from CEO Presentations at IPO Roadshows, Working Paper, 2015.

Bushman R., B. Hendricks, and C. Williams, Bank Competition: Measurement, Decision-Making and Risk Profiles, Working Paper, 2015.

Caskey J., M. Minnis, and V. Nagar, Investor Relations and the Flow of Information through Investor Networks, Working Paper, 2015.

Chen J., V. Nagar, and J. Schoenfeld, Sources of Analyst Expertise, Working Paper, 2015.

Hendricks B., and G. Miller, Does the Founder’s Premium Really Exist? Evidence from a Longitudinal Study of IPO Firms, Working Paper, 2015.

Hendricks B., J. Neilson, C. Shakespeare, and C. Williams, Responding to Regulatory Uncertainty: Evidence from the Proposed Basel III Rules on Mortgage Servicing Rights, Working Paper, 2015.

Li, F., M. Minnis, V. Nagar, and M. Rajan, Knowledge, compensation, and firm value: An empirical analysis of firm value. Journal of Accounting and Economics 58 (2014): 96-116.

Miller, G. and C. Synn, Friends with the Media, Working Paper, 2015.

Neamtiu, M., N. Shroff, H. White, and C. Williams, The Impact of Ambiguity on Managerial Investment and Cash Holdings, Journal of Business Finance and Accounting 41(2014): 1071-1099.

C. Synn and C. Williams, Financial Reporting Quality and Optimal Capital Structure, Working Paper, 2015.

COORDINATOR: CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS

  • Associate Professor of Accounting
  • Michael and Joan Sakkinen Faculty Fellow
  • Faculty Director Accounting PhD Program
Christopher Williams' areas of interest include the role of accounting information in capital markets, the reporting and regulation of financial...

Our Past PhD Students

Recent Graduates

Year
Name
Current Affiliation
2017 Ryan McDonough Rutgers University
2017 Nayana Reiter University of Toronto
2016 Christina Synn University of North Carolina

2015

Jason Chen University of Illinois, Chicago
2015 Randy Hucks Eastern Michigan University
2015 Jed Neilson Penn State
2015 Jordan Schoenfeld University of Utah
2014 Brad Hendricks University of North Carolina
2013 Emmanuel De George London Business School
2013 Jeff Hoopes Ohio State University
2013 Tianshu Qu Nanyang Technology University
2012 Beth Blankespoor Stanford University
2011 Ken Merkley Cornell University
2011 Nemit Shroff MIT
2010 Michael Minnis University of Chicago
2010 Gwen Yu University of Michigan
2009 Lian Fen Lee Boston College