• Schulich’s PhD Program in Accounting is all about groundbreaking research. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers on issues that concern the business community, the accounting profession and broader society. Through a combination of mentoring, coursework, seminars and a wide variety of research and teaching opportunities, you will learn the craft of academic accounting research.

    To be successful, you will have to go far beyond the basic program requirements. You will be expected to participate in research with faculty members, to develop your own research ideas into conference presentations and academic articles, and to submit those articles to leading journals for publication.

Specialization Details by Category

Study Options

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Student admission is restricted to full-time study exclusively for the first four years. It is not recommended to be working outside of the PhD program during your studies. Students must be able to participate in the PhD program in Toronto.

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The minimal requirements of the PhD Program in Accounting include: the successful completion of two years of course work, a comprehensive examination, a research proposal, and a dissertation documenting independent and original research. If you don’t have the academic background of our usual PhD students, you may be required to take additional courses. Your dissertation will take between one and three years to complete, depending on your eventual topic and research methods.

As noted above, complete training in research requires you to exceed these minimal requirements. In particular, you must engage actively in research during your program. Throughout the program you will also be expected to participate in seminars, workshops, and conferences at the local, national, and international levels. It will be your responsibility to push as far as your skills and aptitude can take you. Frequent interaction with faculty members and fellow students is necessary in order that you develop intellectually and professionally.


Your coursework plan will be developed in consultation with the Accounting Area’s PhD Program Coordinator. The courses are typically one semester long (3.0 credits), and fall into six categories:

DCAD Courses

You will be required to take the following DCAD core courses:


These DCAD courses are designed to ensure that all PhD students at Schulich acquire a basic competence in research methods, including quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, and the philosophy and methods used in the social sciences.

Accounting Core and Elective Courses

You will also be required to take four of the following core doctoral accounting courses:


Note that ACTG 7950 3.00 is rarely offered. The other four courses are offered on a rotating basis so that you can complete them in the first two years of your program.

Unlisted elective courses may be taken for additional credit. Accounting electives are typically taken as directed studies, that is, taken by an individual student under the tutelage of an Accounting Area faculty member. Such electives focus on a specialized area of interest to the student and the faculty member, and can be helpful in filling in gaps in your knowledge in preparation for doctoral research.

Foundational Courses

You will also be required to take two courses from disciplines that are foundational to accounting research. These courses will form your minor. This requirement ensures that you lay down the theoretical foundation necessary for your doctoral research. The courses must be at the graduate level, and can include courses from economics, finance, behavioural sciences, social sciences, or other foundational disciplines. Examples of such courses are:

GS/ECON 6100 3.00 Topics in Microeconomic Theory

Additional Courses for Students without Master’s Degrees

If you enter the PhD program without a Master’s degree, you will be required to take an additional two graduate-level courses (6.00 credit hours in total) in quantitative methods such as statistics, econometrics, psychometrics or similar disciplines. This requirement ensures that you acquire a sound methodological foundation. Courses satisfying this requirement include:

GS/ECON 5025 3.00 Applied Econometrics (MA level)
GS/ECON 5220 3.00 Econometric Theory (MA level)
GS/MATH 6630 3.00 Applied Statistics I
GS/MATH 6631 3.00 Applied Statistics II
GS/MATH 6632 3.00 Multivariate Statistics
GS/MATH 6634 3.00 Non-Parametric Statistics
GS/PSYC 6140 6.00 Multivariate Analysis (full year course)

Additional Courses for Students without an Accounting Background:

Students admitted without a sufficient background in accounting may be required to take one or more additional prerequisite courses from the following list of existing MBA courses (before enrolling in 7000-level accounting courses):


A typical student entering the PhD program with a Masters degree will take at least 10 courses (or 30 credit hours) comprised of four DCAD courses, four accounting core courses, two foundational courses, plus possible electives. At the rate of three courses per semester, a typical student will complete his/her coursework in four semesters (Fall / Winter / Fall / Winter).

A typical student entering the PhD program without a Masters degree will take at least 12 courses (or 36 credit hours) comprised of the above course plus the two required quantitative methods courses. At the rate of three courses per semester, such a student will complete his/her coursework in four semesters (Fall / Winter / Fall / Winter).

Comprehensive Examination:

You will be scheduled to write a comprehensive examination after successfully completing all your coursework. This examination is designed to demonstrate your knowledge of the accounting field, your chosen foundation field, and research methodologies. The comprehensive examination will be set and administered by Accounting Area faculty members. It will normally be administered within 24 months of your entry into the PhD program. A second and final attempt at this examination will be allowed if you are unsuccessful in your first attempt. These requirements are standard across all fields offered in the PhD in Administration at the Schulich School of Business.

You will be strongly encouraged to reach a mutual agreement for doctoral supervision with an Accounting Area supervisor before attempting the comprehensive exam. This will help you approach the comprehensive exam with confidence, and with a sense of direction for your doctoral research. Regardless, your supervisor and supervisory committee must be named prior to enrolling in the third year of your program.

Research Proposal:

After passing your comprehensive exam, you will be required to submit a formal proposal outlining your research topic and your plan for completing the research. The proposal has to be defended before (i.e., presented to and approved by) your supervisory committee, normally within 36 months of entering the PhD program. A research proposal generally consists of a well-researched statement of your intended research topic, an appropriate literature review, a clear description of your data and methodology, and some preliminary results. Approval by the dissertation committee will be based on whether the proposed research will produce results of sufficient significance to merit the degree, and whether the plan to implement the research is feasible within a realistic timeframe given the available resources. An acceptable proposal will demonstrate that your research proposal will likely lead to an acceptable dissertation, and that you have a clear understanding of the research question, the research methodology, and the relevant literature. This requirement is standard across all fields offered in the PhD Program in Administration at the Schulich School of Business.


The dissertation is the written document that embodies the results of your original research. The dissertation is the core of the PhD program, and will be judged by its originality and contribution to the accounting field. The dissertation will be guided and examined by your dissertation committee in accordance with the rules of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. These evaluation procedures ensure that graduates have achieved the kind and level of preparation appropriate to the objectives and requirements of the PhD Program in Accounting.

We recommend further consultation with your area Ph.D. rep concerning any impending changes to the program requirements and guidance on selecting appropriate optional courses.


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Our faculty members do research that matters. We have substantial experience in a broad range of research paradigms and methodologies. We publish in pinnacle accounting journals on a variety of topics, including topics broadly related to the public policy and public interest consequences of accounting practice. Recent publications have examined topics such as corruption, ethics, executive compensation, international standard setting, and pensions to name but a few. A significant number of accounting area faculty members participate in the Schulich Public Interest Accounting Group, which is part of the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business.

Career Opportunities

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  • The demand for PhD graduates in accounting is very strong in Canada, the U.S., and across the globe. The Schulich PhD Program in Accounting will prepare you for a career in research and teaching at top business schools around the world. The program will give you a strong academic foundation in accounting, as well as an understanding of the relationship between accounting and other fields of management.

    Placement of Recent Graduates

     Hong Fan  Saint Mary’s University
     Carolyn MacTavish  Wilfrid Laurier University
     Jonathan Farrar  Ryerson University, Ted Rogers School of Management
     Eksa Kilfoyle  University of Windsor, Odette School of Business

Student Research

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  • Scholarly development is an integral part of student life at Schulich School of Business. Working on research topics with award-winning faculty, you will present your findings at industry conferences and publish them in key publications. Highlighted below are some recent accomplishments of PhD students in the Accounting area.

    Selected Publications

    2011 Jonathan Farrar – Tax fairness in Canadian government budgets: How fair is ‘fair’? Published in “Critical Perspectives on Accounting”

    2010 Janne Chung, Jonathan Farrar, Poonam Puri and Linda Thorne – Auditor liability to third parties after Sarbanes-Oxley: An international comparison of regulatory and legal reforms Published in “Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation”


    2014 Gajindra Maharaj. Facilitating Money Laundering – The Role of Banks, presented at the Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference

    Recent Dissertation Topics

    2013: Hong Fan – Essays in Tax and Financial Reporting

    2013: Carolyn MacTavis – The Effect of Auditors’ Communication of the Professional Practice Department Involvement on Audit Negotiations

    2011: Jonathan Farrar – The Impact of Tax Fairness Dimensions on Tax Compliance: Canadian Evidence

    2011: Eksa Kilfoyle – A Micro Level Analysis of the Implementation of International Management Accounting Practices: the Case of Universal Postal Union Postal Reform Project

    Current PhD students in the Accounting Area:

    as of August 2018

    • Claire Deng
    • Christine Gilbert
    • Jason Jia
    • Preetika Joshi
    • John Kurpierz
    • Gajindranath Maharaj
    • Pier-Luc Nappert
    • Errol Osecki
    • June Woo Park
    • Elayne (Ziyao) San
    • Leo Sheng
    • Leigh Ellen Walsh
    • Rachel (Changqiu) Yu
    • Lei Zhang