Ph.D. Program

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Smith, David B

David B Smith

Ray Dein Professor & Deloitte Scholar


CBA 392

P.O. Box 880488

Lincoln, NE 68588-0488


Fax: +1-402-472-4100

The Ph.D. program in Business Administration with a specialization in accountancy lets students earn a Big Ten degree while preparing them to conduct accounting research and to teach. Our program particularly suits those interested in concentrating in audit or tax, with field areas in finance or economics. New entrants typically come to the Ph.D. program with strong technical accounting backgrounds and recent coursework in calculus and other quantitative methods.

How Students are Selected and Timing of Admissions

We consider a mix of attributes such as prior academic success, recommendations, past work experience and GMAT scores (650 or above is desirable). Typically, prior to admitting a new Ph.D. student, one of the current students must complete or leave the program. This means that it is difficult to forecast admissions. We currently expect to admit three -- four students every other year. The next class will be admitted for the fall 2014 semester.

Program Planning and Credit Requirements

Program Hours: A minimum of 90 graduate credit semester hours beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the Ph.D. degree. Students often come to the program with a Master in Accounting or related area and these hours may be used to partially fulfill the requirements.

Initial course selection direction: Course selection for entering students is administered by the Director of the Ph.D. Program. Students should arrange to see the Director of the Ph.D. Program as soon as they arrive on campus.

Supervisory Committee: Supervisory Committees should be formed as early as possible. The Ph.D. Program Director will assist students in the initial selection of this committee, though the committee may be changed at anytime by the student (with the consent of the Director of the Ph.D. Program). The committee directs the entire course of study and is not obligated to accept any existing credits beyond the master’s degree. The committee must include two members from outside of the School of Accountancy, one of whom is outside the Business Interdepartmental Area. Students must file a Supervisory Committee Appointment Form with the Director of the Ph.D. Program and the selections must be approved by the UNL Graduate College.

Description of the Ph.D. Program Coursework

The maximum semester course load for students that are employed as teaching or research assistants is twelve hours though normally Ph.D. students take nine hours.

Accounting: A tentative list of required accounting courses includes four Ph.D. seminars:

  • ACCT 916 Introductory Ph.D. Seminar
  • ACCT 99x Financial Accounting Research
  • ACCT 99X: Selected Topics-Auditing Research
  • ACCT 99X Selected Topic-Tax Research

Field Area: A student is required to successfully complete a twelve graduate credit hours sequence of courses outside of accounting but related to his chosen accounting concentration area. This requirement may be fulfilled, for example, by taking four Ph.D. seminars in finance.

Mathematics and Econometrics Area: A Ph.D. student should have taken the equivalent of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Calculus I-III prior to entering the Ph.D. program. A program of study will include at least four tool courses (normally a total of twelve graduate credit hours). These courses normally include Statistics 880, Econometrics 957, Econometrics 958, and Econometrics 959.

Economic Theory: A Ph.D. student is required to successfully complete Economics 973 (Micro-economics). Students are encouraged to take Economics 873 (Micro economics)

Additional Program Requirements:

Second Year Paper and Presentation: A Ph.D. student is required to complete an individual research paper prior to taking the comprehensive exam. By December 1 of the third year, the Director of the Ph.D. Program must approve this completed research paper. Students are required to present their papers in the Accounting research workshop.

Weekly Workshops: All Accounting Ph.D. students must attend the accounting/finance research workshops. Students are expected to study the research paper prior to the presentation and make useful contributions during seminar discussions. Research presentations are most often held on Friday afternoons. It is important that scheduled classes do not conflict with this time.

Comprehensive Examination

When students have completed all the courses specified in their proposed programs and presented their second year papers to the faculty, they will be allowed to take a comprehensive examination. The examination is scheduled no more than twice a year. Students may sit for the exam twice. Students who do not pass by their second try will be asked to leave the program.


The Dissertation is to be original research performed by the Ph.D. Candidate. The student’s Supervisory Committee has the final authority on the acceptance or rejections of the dissertation.

Assistantship and Fellowship Support

All offers include graduate assistantships. A graduate assistantship compensates students for teaching and/or research appointments. The compensation includes a waiver of tuition, partial payment of the cost of health insurance and a monthly cash stipend. The work requirement involves 19-20 hours per week and no other outside employment is allowed during the assistantship commitment. All assistantships are contingent upon available funding but the policy of the School of Accountancy has been to fund students with assistantships while pursuing the Ph.D. degree in residence. Assistantships are awarded on a year-to-year basis contingent upon satisfactory progress toward degree completion and satisfactory work performance. However, assistantships may be terminated during the academic year with a 30-day notice for unsatisfactory performance.

Health Insurance

All graduate students with appointments that qualify for full tuition remission may purchase basic coverage under the university’s student health insurance plan. Dependent plans are also available on an optional basis.


We start reviewing files for fall semester admissions in early February. We do not admit Ph.D. candidates to start course work at mid-academic year (January). Our recommended date for receiving all application materials is January 1. When your file is complete in all respects, it will be reviewed by the School of Accountancy faculty for their decision. An on-campus interview is recommended. Final decisions on admission are normally made in mid-April.

Application Procedures

The Office of International Affairs provides orientation, counseling and advising to international students, and serves as the official liaison between your sponsoring agency and the United States government. Staff members are also available to help you make contacts on campus and in the Lincoln community.

Office of Graduate Studies - Requirements
  1. Apply online at the Office of Graduate Studies and submit the $50 application fee. The next day you will receive instructions for the UNL GAMES application system (Graduate Admission Management and Evaluation System). Please note: All application materials (except transcripts and finance resource certification) must be submitted electronically. Do not send paper recommendation forms or resume.

  2. Recommendation for Graduate Admission. Three letters of reference are required and should be submitted through GAMES.

  3. Professional Résumé. Your résumé should be submitted through GAMES.

  4. Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). You should register to take the GMAT and have the results forwarded to UNL (use institution code S40-HW-48). You should also submit your scores through GAMES.

  5. International Students should also include:
    • TOEFL score (minimum score of 550 written, 213 computer based or 80 iBT) (Use institution code 6877)

    Guidelines for international students can be found at

  6. Transcripts. Ask each college or university that you have attended to send one official transcript to:

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Graduate Admissions Office
    1100 Seaton Hall
    Lincoln, NE 68588-0619
    Tel: (402) 472-2875

Current Information on Tuition and Costs.

Additional Information

If you would like more information regarding the Ph.D. Program in the School of Accountancy, contact:

David B Smith

Ray Dein Professor & Deloitte Scholar


CBA 392

P.O. Box 880488

Lincoln, NE 68588-0488


Fax: +1-402-472-4100