The Stanford PhD Program in Accounting trains individuals to conduct research on accounting issues. Emphasis is placed on developing a conceptual framework and set of skills for addressing the general problem of evaluating accounting alternatives.
While issues of financial reporting, managerial accounting, and taxation are the ultimate concern, special emphasis is given to applying basic knowledge of economics, finance, decision theory, and statistical inference to accounting issues. As a result, the PhD Program in Accounting offers broadly based, interdisciplinary training that develops the student's skills in conducting both analytical and empirical research.
Faculty research represents a broad spectrum of interests and research methods.
- Empirical and analytical research on the relation between accounting information and capital market behavior examines the characteristics of accounting amounts, the effect of accounting disclosures on the capital market, the role of analysis as information intermediaries, and the effects of management discretion. Issues examined also include the impact of accounting releases on stock and option prices, earnings response coefficients, market microstructure, earnings management, and the effect of accounting changes.
- Problems of information asymmetries among management, investors, and others are currently under study. This research investigates, analytically and empirically, the structure of incentive systems and monitoring systems under conditions of information asymmetry. Research on moral hazard, adverse selection, risk sharing, and signaling is incorporated into this work.
- Other ongoing projects include research on the economic effects of regulation of accounting information, and analysis of tax-induced incentive problems in organizations.
- Additional topics of faculty interest include analytical and empirical research on productivity measurement, accounting for quality, activity-based costing for operations and marketing, and strategic costing and pricing.
The key features of all faculty research are the diversity of interests and methods and the interdisciplinary emphasis. The exact content, of course, is constantly changing.
Preparation and Qualifications
There are no formal education requirements other than possession of a bachelor's degree. Specifically, an M.B.A. is not required. Several students have entered without an M.B.A. and/or with little or no background in traditional accounting. Such background can be provided, if needed, by coursework available at the Graduate School of Business. The Program is small and permits tailoring to the background and interests of each student. Relative to other doctoral programs in accounting, the Stanford program is quantitatively oriented. Additional coursework can be provided to compensate for a lack of quantitative background in cases where the faculty believe an applicant's other qualifications are exceptional. Students with a very limited quantitative background typically take an extra year to complete additional coursework.
All students are required to have, or to obtain during their first year, mathematical skill at the level of one year of calculus; one course each in linear algebra, analysis, probability, and optimization; and two courses in statistics. Students are expected to have adequate computer programming skills using languages such as FORTRAN, Pascal, or APL, or to correct any deficiencies by the summer following the first academic year.