The study of accounting is transforming

Its scope has grown as it begins to share concepts with economics and finance, while big data tools have allowed for innovations, like using computational linguistics to determine the intent behind annual report numbers.

A PhD in accounting from the Tippie College of Business brings teaching skills, mentored research, and a publishing record that tees you up for top-tier faculty positions. But you’ll do more than fill bright minds; you’ll make your own contributions to the field.

Accounting PhDs in the job market

Our curriculum, mentorship, research focus, and emphasis on teaching skills will make you a competitive candidate for faculty positions at institutions around the world. The list of schools our accounting PhDs have joined recently is impressive:

  • University of Rochester
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Washington, Seattle
  • Ohio State University
  • University of Missouri
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Toronto
  • Texas A&M University
"It’s hard to come out of Iowa and not do well.”

Mentorship from accounting's best

Faculty mentorship: it’s the biggest predictor of your success as an accounting PhD student. It’s so important that the American Accounting Association created an award for it. The first winner was retired Tippie professor Daniel Collins.

The small size of Iowa’s PhD program in accounting means you’ll work closely with world-class faculty like Paul Hribar, Scott Asay, and Dain Donelson, who are committed to mentoring the next generation of knowledge creators.

See faculty research

Getting in

We admit between 2–4 students each year. First, you need to meet the university's minimum PhD admissions criteria. Other criteria for admission include:


The average among our students: 3.5+ on a 4.0 scale. We also consider the rigor of your undergrad or master's institution(s).

GMAT score

Our students average over 700 on the GMAT. We do not accept GRE scores in lieu of GMAT.

Letters of recommendation

We're interested in their assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, motivation, and ability to succeed.

Relevant work experience

Most incoming students have several years of work experience with top-tier public accounting firms or corporations.

English proficiency

This requirement applies only to international applicants whose native language is not English. We follow the Graduate College's English proficiency requirements

Statement of purpose

Content and overall seriousness are considered.

Curriculum and plan of study

We encourage PhDs to remain in residence for their entire program; being on campus every day is necessary for your interactions with faculty, peers, and visiting scholars.

A typical student spends five years in residence. Depending on prior coursework, it's possible to graduate in four.

Accounting Department Handbook


Year 1
  • Accounting coursework to prepare for research seminars
  • End of year: complete a plan of study with your advisor, a faculty member with interest in your research area


Year 2
  • Begin accounting doctoral coursework (fall)
  • Comprehensive exams in your minor area (i.e., finance, psychology, economics, stats)
  • Research project under the guidance of a faculty sponsor (summer)


Year 3
  • Major written comprehensive examination (end of year)
  • Additional coursework related to thesis topic


Year 4
  • Oral comprehensive examination
  • Proposal defense


Year 5
  • Enter the job market
  • Attend American Accounting Association annual meeting in August