UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Accounting PhD Program

Program Overview

The Accounting PhD program at UNC is a rigorous, four- to five-year program designed to train scholars to produce high-quality research as faculty members at top universities.

The PhD program places emphasis on the use of knowledge from economics, finance, decision theory and statistics in order to examine issues in accounting research. Although some students have completed graduate work prior to entry into the PhD program, it is not necessary to have any graduate training. In fact, a background in accounting is neither necessary nor sufficient for success in the PhD program.

Visit the Accounting area website

Program Timeline

  • During the first two years of the PhD program, students focus on course work in order to develop the tools necessary to produce high-quality research. Upon entry, each student is assigned to a faculty member who acts as an adviser. This faculty member need not be the same during the entire program, depending on how the student's interests develop. Each student serves as a research assistant for their assigned faculty member.
  • In the summer after the first year, each student writes an original research paper under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • By the end of the second year, students take their comprehensive exam. The exam consists of a written exam covering all of the accounting courses taken in the first two years of the PhD program and an oral presentation of the student's current research.
  • After passing the comprehensive exam, students begin the second part of the program, where they spend the majority of their time working on research.
  • Students satisfy the teaching requirement by serving as a TA for one semester and by teaching one undergraduate accounting course.
  • In the third year, students focus most of their time on their dissertation. During this process, students benefit from close collaboration with faculty members, and students have the opportunity to present their research during faculty research seminars.
  • The rest of the program is spent finishing the dissertation and preparing for the job market process.
  • Upon completion of the program, students are awarded a PhD in business administration.


UNC Accounting PhD graduates have gone on to tenure-track positions at some of the leading universities in the world, including:

College of William & Mary
Columbia University
Duke University
George Mason University
Georgetown University
Georgia State University
Hong Kong University of Science & Technology   
National University of Singapore
Pennsylvania State University
Southern Methodist University

University of Chicago
University of Illinois
University of Massachusetts
University of Memphis
University of North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
University of Pennsylvania
University of Rochester
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Waterloo
Washington University in St. Louis