PhD plan of study

The W. P. Carey School of Business requires 84 credit hours of coursework, including a minimum of 72 hours of graduate course credits beyond a bachelor’s degree and 12 credit hours of dissertation. Students who have completed related master’s-level graduate coursework can potentially transfer up to 30 hours of credit to satisfy this requirement.

The core — basic program

W. P. Carey School guidelines require that the first 24 credit hours in a doctoral student’s program of study consist of at least 12 credit hours from the core, or basic program. The School of Accountancy defines the core program for doctoral students as:

  • 3 credit hours – accounting seminar
  • 3 credit hours – microeconomics (ECN712, ECN770 or ECN510)
  • 6 credit hours – quantitative methods (ECN 725, Econometrics I, ECN 726, Econometrics II) 

You will be required to attend a math bootcamp offered by the Department of Economics in early August, prior to the beginning of the doctoral program. In addition, students who lack a strong math background may benefit from preparatory courses such as Multivariate Calculus or Linear Algebra (MAT 342).

Advanced program

The advanced program consists of 24 graduate course credit hours, with a minimum of nine from the School of Accountancy. Independent Research (FIN 792) or Readings & Conference (FIN 790) credits may not be used to fulfill this requirement. According to your research interest and specialty, the other 15 credits related to the specialty area can be taken outside the accounting department. However, the courses must be graduate-level. 

You must complete two research papers during their first- and second-year summers. A sample distribution of semester hours in the advanced program is as follows:

  • Accounting seminars - 9 credit hours minimum
    • Archival/Analytical Financial Accounting
    • Archival/Analytical Tax Research
    • Experimental/Behavior Accounting Research
    • Archival/Analytical Managerial Accounting
    • Seminar on selected topics
  • Supporting coursework - 9 credit hours minimum
    Graduate-level (500- or 700-level) required courses that vary depending on your specialty area.
  • Elective supporting coursework - 6 credit hours minimum
    A minimum of six additional credit hours of graduate-level (500- or 700- level) courses are required in areas supporting your specific research interests. For example, students can take additional courses in Quantitative Methods, Seminars in Finance, Economics, Management or Psychology to fulfill this requirement.
  • Summer research papers - 3 credit hours
    Research papers are required after both your first and second year. Each paper counts for 1.5 credit hours.

Additional course requirements

The remaining requirements can be met by taking elective courses. Up to 30 credit hours of related graduate coursework previously completed can potentially be transferred to satisfy this requirement. 

Comprehensive examinations

All students are required to take a written comprehensive examination at the end of their second year. Only one re-examination is permitted and you must receive approval from the School of Accountancy doctoral committee, the associate dean for graduate programs, and the dean of the Graduate College.


You may register for a maximum of 12 hours for thesis work. 

Performance evaluation

All doctoral students are required to complete a performance evaluation at the end of each academic year. You will be evaluated on academic performance, quality of research or teaching assistantships, and research productivity. Your faculty advisors will provide input on your performance.