PhD Program

 The Department of Accounting Information and Management’s PhD program is designed to prepare students to become faculty members at leading business schools around the world. The department has been very successful in the placement of students in the program, with recent graduates receiving appointments at Harvard, the University of Chicago, and Stanford.

There are several key factors responsible for the success of our program. First, we require students to obtain rigorous training in the basic disciplines of economics and statistics as the foundation for development of their research skills. Second, we offer more PhD seminars in accounting than most other U.S. doctoral programs, with four PhD seminars offered annually. Third, the faculty includes recognized leading scholars in both analytical/theoretical accounting research as well as empirical/archival capital markets research. Two of the PhD seminars are analytical and two are empirical as a result. Fourth, we focus on integrating doctoral students into the faculty research activities starting in the summer following their first year. For the next three years, doctoral students are involved continuously and intensely in research projects of mutual interest with department faculty. We consider this involvement key to their future success as researchers. Finally, many Northwestern faculty members, in addition to those formally associated with the Kellogg School’s AIM Department, are interested in accounting research questions including, for example, the Kellogg School’s finance department faculty and the NU economics department faculty, and this interest enriches the research environment.

The PhD program is focused on research and one key measure of success in academe is the publication of research results in peer-reviewed scholarly journals such as the Accounting Review, the Journal of Accounting and Economics, the Journal of Accounting Research, Contemporary Accounting Research and the Review of Accounting Studies. Accounting researchers also publish in finance and economics journals. Members of the AIM faculty include an editor of one of the leading accounting journals and editorial board members of several of the other leading journals. PhD students are thus able to work with leading academic researchers in the field as part of their training. This early immersion in the research environment has become even more important in the past several years as most graduating PhD students have one or more research papers (in working paper or published form) in addition to their dissertation.

A series of research workshops generally held on Wednesday afternoons provides an important supplement to each student's academic program. Research papers by faculty from other universities, AIM department faculty and doctoral students are presented and discussed. The workshops generate new research ideas, critique current ones, and communicate research interests among faculty and students. Students are expected to participate actively in these workshops.

The program has a high quantitative component. The current state of accounting research is such that successful academics must have advanced knowledge of at least one of the following areas: econometrics, finance, economic theory or mathematics. Accordingly, we require our students to obtain a significant concentration of coursework in at least one of these areas. The program typically takes four to five years for students to complete, even for those who enter the program with an advanced degree.

Please download the Program Guidelines (PDF 82 KB / 21 pages) for a more detailed description of the program requirements.

PhD Program

Download the Program Guidelines (PDF 82 KB / 21 pages)

 Prof. Thomas Lys

Professor Thomas Lys, Coordinator, PhD Program
Photo © Nathan Mandell