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Top 5 Online Accounting PhD & Doctorate Programs

Student in an online accounting Phd doctorate program

Getting an online accounting PhD or doctorate is the best way to reach the highest levels of the business, academic, or government organizations with the specialized abilities needed to keep the complex financial structure of our world functioning. The world runs on money, and all businesses need skilled and knowledgeable accounting professionals to guide them. Plus, earning your accounting PhD online is one of the most convenient ways to get your training to a level where you will be able to earn more while also keeping your company on a financially sound footing.

Online Accounting PhD vs Doctorate Programs

There are two basic types of accounting doctorates—a Doctor of Philosophy, also known as a PhD in accounting, or a Doctor of Business Management, also called a DBA. Either degree is considered terminal, as in the highest level of education you can get. You can teach at the university level or get a high-level job in the business or government sectors with either degree. However, PhD in Accounting programs are geared more towards those who will do research, create policy, teach, or work in consulting roles. The DBA is a more practice-focused degree option, but it will include lots of research and apply that research to problems in accounting in the real world. Both degrees will require research and writing, but the DBA will have a research project, while an online accounting PhD will require a written dissertation that includes original thought.

What to Expect in Online Accounting PhD Programs

Most people who enroll in online doctorate accounting programs are adults with jobs and families that take up much of their time. Accordingly, an online accounting PhD can take different lengths of time depending on how many courses a student can fit into their busy life. Most programs will take over two years to complete at a minimum, including courses and doing a final project or dissertation. PhD in accounting programs often have a seven- or eight-year limit on how long students may stretch out their study, but some allow you to petition for extra time if you need it.

Another factor that may affect the time until your degree will be whether you have graduate credits you can transfer and if you can complete the advanced dissertation in a finite amount of time. No matter how long it takes you, you will be among peers who have different professional experiences and are dedicated to their studies. The people you network with, both faculty and ambitious peers, can be important contacts as you progress in your career.

The courses in each program may vary somewhat, but there are some fundamentals that all accounting PhD programs will cover. All programs will have classes about research, qualitative and quantitative, plus some courses near the end of the program that cover aspects of the project or dissertation, like preparing the analysis, developing the framework, collecting data, and writing about your results. In addition, most programs have courses on ethics, business leadership, marketing, accounting techniques, data analysis, auditing, theories of accounting, and more specialized accounting or general business topics. These will all be advanced topics considering that these are accounting PhD programs.

Some people who want to enter an online doctorate accounting degree program don’t have all the knowledge they need, so they may need to take some foundational business or accounting classes to get up to the level of an advanced degree. Suppose you have a master’s degree in a specialization other than accounting or have limited general business management training. In that case, you may need to take extra courses to bring your knowledge to the doctoral level.

Top Accounting Careers with a PhD or Doctorate

With an online accounting PhD, you can work in almost any industry, business, government, or nonprofit setting in a variety of lucrative careers. Every organization has budgets and needs to account for spending and taking in money.

A PhD program in accounting can prepare you to work in a corporation, accounting firm, healthcare system, small business, nonprofit, insurance firm, manufacturing, consulting company, local or federal government, or international business concern. You can choose to teach at a community, in-person, or online college or university. With your accounting doctorate, you would also have the option to be self-employed and use your advanced skills to provide services to various entities.

PhD in accounting salary ranges can vary by the industry and type of role you perform. Becoming a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is one option. They have a mean annual salary of $213,020, with the highest salaries going to those who work in company management or computer industries instead of government or education.

Many other job titles below the CFO level could be great options, like being a senior accountant, senior auditor, budget supervisor, vice president of finance, auditor, or accounting executive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs that fall into the category of “financial managers” earn a median salary of $131,710, with job growth of 17%, which is much faster than average. You could also be a controller with a median salary of $235,251.

If you choose to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you might have a salary that starts around $70k, but that could easily work its way much higher up to $450k or more.

If you decide to go toward academia, you could be a business professor, and the median salary is currently $126,411. If you go up that ladder, you could be the dean of a business school, for which the median is $181,510. You could also consider being a researcher in public policy or business, and your salary would vary based on the industry. If you become a consultant, you could earn a median of $115,641, but a PhD in accounting salary may be higher.

The job outlook for all of these professions can vary, with college teaching expected to rise faster than average at 12% over the next ten years, management consultants at 14%, and accountants expected to grow at an average rate of 7%. Most people with the online accounting PhD will be at higher levels in all of these careers, and so should bring in the higher salary ranges in many cases.

Top 2 Online Accounting PhD Programs

  1. Northcentral University

    Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration / Advanced Accounting
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    Northcentral University’s online accounting PhD program comprises a total of 60 credits and is completed entirely online. Students with no transfer credits may finish the curriculum in as little as 45 months or take up to seven years to complete the program at a slower pace. Up to 12 transfer credits may be awarded. The foundational courses must be taken in sequence, and they include Doctoral Studies in Business, Research Methods, Qualitative Research Design, Statistics II, Planning Dissertation Research in Business, and The Dissertation Manuscript and Defense. For the specialization in advanced accounting, students choose five courses from the following: Advanced Managerial Accounting, Advanced Accounting and Fraud Examination Techniques, Advanced Forensic Accounting Theory and Practice, Advanced Accounting for Nonprofit Organizations, Advanced Tax Strategies, Advanced Auditing Methods and Practice, Advanced Accounting Theory and Policy, and Advanced Cost Accounting. Additional credit hours may be required for some students to complete the accounting PhD dissertation.

    The PhD in accounting online from Northcentral aims to prepare business leaders to enter public, private, and nonprofit sectors with a broad knowledge of business management. Students are expected to demonstrate original ideas in their dissertation specialization that will further the field of knowledge in accounting and allow them to provide solutions to real-world problems. For regular admission to the program, applicants must have a generalized business master’s degree, a specialized business master’s degree plus a bachelor’s in business, or a master’s degree in any field plus an undergraduate business degree. Applicants who don’t meet the criteria can apply to be on the evaluation track, which requires them to take a course that will determine which standard courses they may need to complete before entering the curriculum sequence for the PhD program in accounting. Northcentral’s program is an affordable and flexible option, with guidance from faculty to develop scholarly work in the field. It is a great program for those seeking high-quality education in accounting, especially for those who may not meet the full admission requirements but want a fast track to complete their PhD in accounting.

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    Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration / Advanced Accounting


  2. Capella University

    Degree: PhD – Accounting (ACBSP-accredited)
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $94,915

    The accounting PhD program from Capella University has 21-23 required courses and comprises 90 quarter credits at a minimum. Students may transfer up to 12 credits into the program. The core program has required courses including Research Processes, Theory and Practice in Global Business, Doctoral Project Development – Framework Development, Ethics and Leadership in Global Environments, Marketing Principles and Practice, Foundations of Research, Scholarly Literature, and Theory in Management, and Survey of Research Methods. Students can choose their courses in research, including Tests, Measurements, and Business Research Design, Quantitative Research Techniques 2, and Qualitative Data Collection Strategies, Data Collection Guides, and Field Testing. The specialized accounting courses are Advanced Research in Accounting, Financial Reporting, Accounting in the Global Era, and Forensic Accounting. Students must pass a comprehensive exam and complete the dissertation. Three required virtual residencies allow students to network with faculty and peers and learn with the group in real-time.

    Capella’s online accounting PhD offers students a fully online program with an academic mentor and milestones to keep them focused on goals and staying on schedule. The program’s structure gives you access to peers and faculty, and you set your own schedule with weekly assignments and classroom discussions. You can pay as you go, so your out-of-pocket costs at any time depending on your course load. Applicants need to have a 3.0 GPA on their master’s degree, and international students are accepted with additional requirements. Military students get a ten percent discount on tuition, and scholarships are available for doctoral study. Tuition is reasonable, and the cost to complete the degree will vary depending on how long each student takes to complete the coursework and the dissertation. The Capella PhD program in accounting is a solid choice for a comprehensive online program that is flexible for ambitious but busy adults.

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    PhD - Accounting (ACBSP-accredited)


Top 3 Online Doctorate Accounting under $60,000

  1. Liberty University

    Degree: Doctor of Business Administration / Accounting
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    The online doctorate accounting degree at Liberty University offers an ACBSP accredited program that highlights quality, affordability, and flexibility. The program is 60 credits long taken in 8-week online courses, and the average completion time is three years. Shorter online course lengths make scheduling easier for working adults, and this curriculum is designed to deliver a well-rounded education for advanced business professionals. The program includes theory, ethics, and practice, with such core courses as Foundation of Applied Research Methods, Marketing for Competitive Advantage, Strategy Formulation & Strategic Thinking, and Case Study Research Methods & Consulting Techniques. The accounting cognate courses include Accounting for Decision Making, Tax Research & Jurisprudence, Advanced Auditing, Advanced Financial Accounting Theory, and Accounting Ethics. At least 15 credits within the program will be focused on an applied research project related to the student’s interests.

    The Liberty doctorate in accounting application requires either an MS or an MBA in Accounting with a GPA of 3.0 for admission in good standing. Admission is competitive, so meeting the requirements doesn’t guarantee admission, and further documentation may be required to consider your application. If you already have doctoral-level credits, you may apply to transfer up to 50% of the credits needed for the degree. Also, classes are entirely online but include networking opportunities, and students can opt for intensive courses to increase their networking time. Tuition is reasonable for all, but it is great for military members, veterans, and their spouses, who get a half-price tuition deal. Additionally, there are discounts available to first responders. Liberty offers a Christian perspective in its programs, giving the whole curriculum an ethical and biblical approach. With a degree that focuses on real-world applications of accounting and business theory, graduates will be well-prepared to take on leadership roles in businesses of all types.

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    Doctor of Business Administration / Accounting


  2. Walden University

    Degree: Doctor of Business Administration / Accounting
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $52,930

    Walden University’s online doctorate accounting program is online except for two in-person residencies on campus. Students can complete the degree in a minimum of 2.3 years or take up to a maximum of eight years. If needed, they can petition to extend their completion time. The foundation and core courses include Business Essentials, Contemporary Challenges in Business, and Organizational Leadership: Doctoral Theory and Practice. Strategy and research courses include Business Strategy and Innovation for Competitive Advantage, Qualitative and Case Study Methodology for Applied Business Research, and Quantitative Business Data Analysis Using SPSS. Courses for the specialization include seminars in accounting, accounting-based performance evaluation systems, and international aspects of managerial accounting. In addition, there are Doctoral Study Mentoring or Completion courses that students are continuously enrolled in until they complete their capstone and are eligible for the degree. Finally, students may be able to take the residencies in a virtual format, and there is an optional 3rd face-to-face course for students.

    The doctorate in accounting program at Walden University offers reasonable tuition and flexibility in scheduling and pace, yet students are encouraged to engage in their studies through completion continuously. Students may transfer up to 17 credits into the program. Applicants will need to submit an online application and transcripts. International applicants have additional requirements such as an English proficiency test and a resume. The program is designed to graduate confident and successful business leaders with the knowledge and practical research skills to compete in business. In addition, the school offers many scholarships and discounts, making tuition more affordable for many students. For those who want a high-quality education that fits a busy schedule, Walden’s DBA in accounting makes an excellent choice.

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    Doctor of Business Administration / Accounting


  3. Northcentral University

    Degree: Doctor of Business Administration / Advanced Accounting
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    One unique feature of the online doctorate accounting program at Northcentral University is the one-on-one mentoring approach, where students spend individualized time with the faculty. This 48-credit program requires no on-campus learning, 100% online courses, and weekly start dates to accommodate any scheduling preference. Most students complete the program in about 39 months, but there is flexibility to accommodate different pacing for busy professionals. The curriculum comprises 16 courses, with four required courses within the advanced accounting specialization. Core courses in the program include Business Strategy & Innovation, Ethics in Business, Scholarly Literature Review, Quantitative Research Design & Methodology, Qualitative Research Design & Methodology, Components of the Dissertation, and Institutional Review Board & Data Collection. The accounting specialization gives students more in-depth work in using data to drive business decisions, technical accounting knowledge, and a solid overall perspective on the financial health of businesses. Students will look at the relationship between business activities, business performance, and economic outcomes.

    The faculty in this program are all doctoral level, and students receive mentoring throughout the program. To be eligible for the direct entry track for the DBA, students must have a master’s degree in a generalized business area or a specialized business area plus an undergraduate degree in business. Applicants who don’t meet these requirements may be accepted in the evaluation track of the program, where they will first take the course Doctoral Comprehensive Strategic Knowledge Studies, which will evaluate their need for core courses to complete before entering the program sequence of classes. Up to nine transfer credits may be applied towards the degree. In addition to affordable tuition, the program at Northcentral awards many scholarships, qualifies for financial aid, and offers payment plans.

    Find Out More:
    Doctor of Business Administration / Advanced Accounting


Start an Online Doctorate Accounting Program Today

There is no better way to make yourself qualified for the highest levels of the accounting profession than to get an online accounting doctorate. No matter where you live or what your work schedule is, you can start an online accounting PhD program around your busy schedule and from anywhere. The feeling of working towards the highest competency possible and leveling up your career in any industry you choose make it an attractive option to get going on your PhD in accounting online today!

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