Program Description


We admit between two and four students each year. In our admission decisions, we consider your grade-point average (GPA), GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) scores, undergraduate and master's degree institutions' rigor, your statement of purpose, relevant work experience, and general seriousness of purpose. (We also require TOEFL scores from international students.) Our typical student has a graduate degree in accounting (although that is not required) and is often professionally certified as well. Incoming students also average several years of work experience with top-tier public accounting firms and/or corporations. Average GMAT scores are in the high 600s, and the average GPA for a typical incoming class is above 3.50 on a 4.00 point scale. Students find it advantageous to have exposure to calculus and economics at the collegiate level.

International students should note that we do not accept a GRE score in lieu of a GMAT score. We also look for substantial evidence of proficiency in English. We reach our conclusions by examining the composite picture presented by the TOEFL score (630 or above is desirable), the score on the verbal portion of the GMAT (80th or higher percentile rank), the score on the TWE portion, and the number of years of graduate study in English.  

Program Requirements

We strongly encourage students to remain in residence for their entire program. Daily presence on campus is necessary for adequate interaction with faculty, fellow students, and visiting scholars. A typical student with a master's degree spends a minimum of four years in residency in our program. Many students stay for their fifth year as well. The first year is devoted to course work that helps prepare the student for taking research seminars for credit. At the end of the first year, students also fill out a comprehensive plan of study with the help of a specialty advisor who is interested in the student's area of research. Students begin their accounting doctoral course work in the fall semester of the second year. Students sit for their comprehensive examination in their minor area (e.g., finance, psychology, economics, statistics) at the end of their second year or early in the third year of residence. Students also are expected to complete a research project during the summer session of their second year in residence. This project is substantially the student's effort under the overall guidance of a sponsoring faculty member. The major written comprehensive examination in accounting is administered at the end of the third year in residence. Many students take additional course work related to their thesis. An oral comprehensive examination and a proposal defense are required before the student can formally submit and defend his or her thesis to the Graduate College.

Typically, students enter the job market at the beginning of their fifth year. The initial contact with recruiting universities often takes place at the annual meeting of the American Accounting Association in August. The job market does not usually clear until May of the following year. Almost all of our students take academic positions. Recent placements include Penn State University, University of Alberta-Canada, University of Texas-Austin, Notre Dame University, and the University of Minnesota.  

Financial Support

We offer a very competitive package of financial aid. The package covers all tuition payments and provides for living expenses. Students earn this stipend by serving as research and/or teaching assistants. (Students also receive paid time off to pursue independent research projects.) Our students have won a number of departmental and University of Iowa scholarships and fellowships that can supplement (or replace) this stipend. Our students also have been successful in obtaining dissertation grants from institutions such as the Deloitte & Touche Foundation. Our students find that the base stipend is enough to live in Iowa City, a relatively low-cost community.

Contact Us

If you feel that there would be a good fit between our doctoral program and your personal qualifications, please submit an application to the University of Iowa. A complete application would include a resume, written statement of purpose, recent GMAT score (which must be less than five years old), transcripts from your undergraduate and graduate institutions, and three letters of reference. The statement of purpose is a one- to two-page written narrative detailing your reasons for pursuing a Ph.D. in accounting and the reasons for your interest in the University of Iowa. If the Ph.D. committee believes that a mutual interest exists, we typically invite domestic applicants for a campus visit. (International students are given a telephone interview.) The campus visit allows you to see Iowa City and meet with faculty and current doctoral students. The admission decision is made soon after the interview is completed. You should aim to send in a complete application as early in the academic year as possible, since the process takes a long time and we generally process applications sequentially.

If you have any additional questions, contact Paul Hribar at 319-335-1008 or