Doctoral Output in Accounting
Charles G. Carpenter and Gary S. Robson
1990, accounting doctoral program output has steadily declined,
along with declining applications, admissions, and prospective
student interest. The decline in doctoral production parallels
a decline in bachelor’s graduates, although the 150-hour
requirement as a precondition to sit for the CPA exam has
caused a marked increase in master’s degrees. The
demand for faculty should be analyzed in the context of
this decline in doctoral production.
program output in accounting grew to approximately 200 per
year in the late-1980s and remained so through the mid-1990s,
but since has declined to less than 90.
Exhibit 1 graphs the data that show the growth and then
the decline in doctoral program output from the late-1970s
to the present time.
number of resumes posted at the placement service of the
American Accounting Association’s (AAA) annual meetings
has also declined; 180 resumes were posted in 1992, and
just 64 in 2002. The authors speculate that, with 140 schools
posting openings for single or multiple faculty positions,
some candidates would elect not to post their resume but
would contact only those institutions in which they had
an interest. Exhibit
2 shows data from the AAA Placement Center for the last
11 years. The decrease in resume postings is unrelated to
the number of position announcements posted; 110 position
announcements were posted in 1992, while 140 were posted
authors sent a questionnaire to the doctoral program directors
of the 92 programs listed in the Hasselback 2002–2003
Accounting Faculty Directory. Responses were anonymous,
and the response rate was 42.4%. Respondents were asked
to indicate if the size of their program had changed and,
if so, whether the change was intentional. A decline in
program size was reported by 84.3% of the respondents, and
71.1% reported an unintended decline.
causes for the decline, where it existed, are listed in
3. Program directors cited a lack of interest in academia
as the dominant reason for low enrollments. Respondents
also indicated that applicants have higher opportunity costs
today, and that there may be an upswing of interest under
questionnaire inquired if admissions standards had changed
in the last five years. The responses (Exhibit
4) suggest that the standards have not changed in most
doctoral programs, although a small number did indicate
an increase in standards.
the questionnaire asked whether the percentage of students
completing the program in the past five years differed from
earlier periods, as well as whether the proportion of students
leaving without completing their dissertation (ABD) had
changed. The responses are presented in Exhibit
5. In both instances, the majority perceived no changes
in graduation or ABD rates. Of those students leaving the
programs, the percentage of students leaving to teach ABD
was unchanged from the past.
survey indicated that the decline in doctoral program output
first evident in 1995 has become a trend. In addition, the
changes in undergraduate and master’s level enrollments
in accounting influence both the supply of candidates for
doctoral programs and the demand for accounting faculty.
AICPA study (The Supply of Accounting Graduates and
the Demand for Accounting Recruits, by B. Sanders,
S. Goldfarb, and L.B. Romeo) for the academic year 1999/2000
showed a 30.4% decline in the number of bachelor’s
degrees conferred but a 58.3% increase in the number of
undergraduate decline may be partly attributable to competition
from other undergraduate majors—finance and information
systems, in particular. Recent accounting scandals like
Enron and WorldCom surely will influence enrollment; whether
negatively or positively remains to be seen. The almost
universal applicability of the 150-hour requirement may
have contributed to reduced enrollment at the undergraduate
level, and may also have been a source of demand for master’s
consideration in the demand for doctorates has been the
increasing number of business programs seeking accreditation
from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business
(AACSB). With this effort has come the related need for
a substantially doctoral-qualified faculty. In addition,
the prevailing trend toward lower teaching loads has increased
demand for accounting faculty (at least to the extent that
the reduction is not offset by larger class size).
the retirement of current faculty will contribute to demand.
In “Retirement Demand and the Market for Accounting
Doctorates,” R.L. Campbell, J.R. Hasselback, R.H.
Hermanson, and D.H. Turner (Issues in Accounting Education,
Fall 1990) constructed a model, using the Hasselback faculty
database, in which they forecast faculty retirement demand.
Although elements of the model were open to argument (e.g.,
when someone might retire), the anecdotal impressions are
that the findings were accurate.
AACSB has identified faculty supply and demand within business
disciplines to be a source of concern for its schools in
their management of faculty resources; its annual reporting
of average salaries of responding member schools shows considerable
volatility from year to year. The obvious consequences of
a supply-and-demand imbalance are heightened initial salaries,
salary compression or inversion of salaries among continuing
faculty, and an increase in nonsalary supplemental inducements.
G. Carpenter, PhD, CPA, is a professor of business
administration at Berry College, Mount Berry, Ga. Gary
S. Robson, PhD, is an associate professor of accounting
at Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio.