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Degree Requirements

Both the College of Business and the Department of Accounting and Information Systems have course and other requirements for the Ph.D. degree that, in total, form a student’s program of study. These requirements are summarized below:

  1. Each student must know and be able to apply certain concepts, tools, and techniques of business practice. A student who enters the doctoral program without having earned a business or management degree from an institution accredited by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) must develop a broad understanding of the functional areas of business and management by completing coursework in each of these areas: Accounting, Finance, Management, Supply Chain Management, and Marketing. Students can petition the Doctoral Program Committee for exemption from this requirement based on coursework taken as part of a business or management degree that is not accredited by the AACSB. See http://www.reg.msu.edu/AcademicPrograms/ProgramDetail.asp?Program=6024 for Broad Graduate School of Management requirements.
  2. A student must have a minimum familiarity with certain concepts, tools, and techniques of accounting practice. The materials covered in accounting courses ACC 300 and 301 or 805 and 807, 321 or 821, 331 or 833, 341 or 841 or 843, and 411 are sufficient to satisfy the minimum familiarity requirement. However, the minimum familiarity requirement is automatically fulfilled by students who enter the doctoral program with a degree in accounting from an AACSB accredited accounting program. Alternatively, this requirement can be met by taking certain accounting courses at MSU or another institution with an accredited program. If a student has an accounting degree from an institution that is not accredited by AACSB, then he/she could petition the Doctoral Program Director to get a waiver for one or more of the required accounting courses by providing necessary supporting evidence.
  3. Each student must take EC811A, EC812A, and EC812B.
  4. The major field of study is accounting. The major in accounting consists of:
    • 3 Lecture/Recitation/Discussion Hours: 3 credits
      Research on auditing, financial and managerial accounting, and taxation using theoretical perspectives and research methods from the social sciences and business disciplines.
    • 3 Lecture/Recitation/Discussion Hours: 3 credits
      Methods for scientific research in the areas of organizational behavior, personnel, and organizational theory. Theory building, hypothesis formation and testing, reliability theory, construct validity, external validity, research design.
  5. Each student has a minor field of study. The minor is a minimum of 9 hours of course work. The minor is intended to provide theoretical framework, perspective, and content as a basis to conduct research in accounting. Examples of minors are economics (micro), finance, organizational behavior, operations management, and psychology.
  6. Competence in research-related areas is required. This requirement may be satisfied by completing a minimum of 12 credits in research-related courses with a four course minimum. Courses must be at the 400-level or above to assure graduate level competence in the areas studied. Research-related credits earned to meet the requirements of a degree other than the Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration will not be accepted in fulfillment of this requirement. These courses typically are research-method and statistics courses offered in departments such as economics, marketing, supply chain, psychology, and statistics.
  7. Each student must maintain an overall GPA of at least 3.25 by the end of the second semester of full-time enrollment and thereafter to remain in the program. A 2.0 grade is the minimum acceptable grade for a course in a student’s program of study or for graduation requirements.
  8. Up to the time of dissertation proposal defense, each student must write two review reports per academic year in the style of referee reports (to be done under the advice of the Doctoral Program Director). The expectation is that students would review two of the department accounting research workshop papers during each academic year, although alternate arrangements can be made with the Doctoral Program Director under compelling circumstances. Each student has the responsibility of identifying the workshop papers that he/she would like to review, and contact the Doctoral Program Director expeditiously. The department encourages students to share their review reports with the workshop presenters (preferably ahead of time) and use their visit as an opportunity to have engaging interactions with invited scholars. There will be no specific course credits for this requirement.
  9. In addition to dissertation research, PhD students are required to complete two research projects as part of the program requirements. The first research project would entail a literature review and include a replication of selected segments from a paper in the area reviewed. Students are welcome to go beyond the minimum requirement for the first research project (e.g., a minor extension of the chosen paper). The output of this research project could range from an academic-style research paper to a condensed research report that summarizes the work undertaken by the student. The actual format of the output would be determined by the faculty member who is the advisor to the student for the research project. PhD students and advisors may consult the Doctoral Program Director for additional guidance on the output of the first research project. The second research project would be a completed working paper including testable hypotheses and results. This research paper could be an independent research paper or a paper co-authored with faculty members or other PhD students in the department. The ultimate objective is to create a paper with sufficient quality to allow it to be submitted to a refereed scholarly journal in accounting or related disciplines. If the research paper is co-authored, then the expectation is that the PhD students using the paper to meet the second research project requirement would contribute significantly to all aspects of the research project (e.g., hypotheses development, research design, empirical analyses, and manuscript preparation). Students must find an accounting faculty member within the department to act as an advisor for each of the two research projects, and inform the Doctoral Program Director as soon as the advisor is identified. Students must present the output of the first research project and the academic paper from the second research project in separate departmental workshops. Each student must register for two one-credit independent studies (ACC 890) with his/her advisor or the Doctoral Program Director for the two research projects. For students who are expected to take the comprehensive exam during the summer of the second year, the research project schedule would be as follows:
    • Students work on the first research project during the first summer and present the output in a departmental workshop during fall of the second year (grade would be assigned after presentation).
    • Students will present the academic paper from the second research project during fall of the third year (grade would be assigned after presentation).
  10. Prior to taking the PhD comprehensive exam, each student must have successfully completed the requirements for the first research project (including presenting in a departmental workshop) as well as completed four enrollments of the accounting PhD seminars (ACC 950) and MGT 906. Given a student can take more than four enrollments of ACC 950, each student must obtain the prior approval of the Doctoral Program Director for the four specific enrollments that would satisfy the prerequisites for the comprehensive exam. This examination is usually given in early summer and has three parts:
    • Parts 1 and 2: These two parts will cover the different subfields of accounting that were included in the accounting research seminars.
    • Part 3: Critique of a working paper in the student’s area of research interest.

    The purpose of this examination is to test a student’s knowledge of the scholarly accounting literature, with emphasis on historical and contemporary issues, theories, and research methods. In addition to assessing a student’s knowledge, the examination tests a student’s ability to design, evaluate, and communicate scholarly research.

  11. Each student must complete a doctoral dissertation judged to be a significant contribution to knowledge by a faculty committee consisting of not less than four members, one designated as chairperson who is an accounting faculty member from the MSU’s Accounting and Information Systems Department. Composition of the committee must be formally submitted to and approved by the Doctoral Program Director. At least two committee members must be from the accounting faculty and one member must be from outside the Department of Accounting and Information Systems. The doctoral dissertation proposal must be presented at the department research workshop series, with all the members of the student’s dissertation committee in attendance. The dissertation proposal must be approved by three-fourths of the student’s dissertation committee including approval from the chair. A successful oral defense of the completed doctoral dissertation is required in an open meeting, with all the members of the student’s dissertation committee in attendance. See Graduate School website for important dissertation requirements: http://www.msu.edu/user/gradschl/graduation.htm#doctoral.

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