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The PhD Program in accounting offers broadly based, interdisciplinary training that develops the student’s skills in conducting both analytical and empirical research.

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.

Spectrum of Interests and Research Methods

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 analysts 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.
Preparation and Qualifications

There are no formal education requirements other than possession of a bachelor’s degree. Specifically, an MBA is not required.

Several students have entered without an MBA and/or with little or no background in traditional accounting. Such background can be provided, if needed, by coursework available at Stanford GSB. The program is small and permits tailoring to the background and interests of each student.

Relative to other doctoral programs in accounting, the Stanford PhD 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.

Recent Journal Articles in Accounting

Does a common set of accounting standards affect tax-motivated income shifting for multinational firms?

Corporate Governance, Incentives, and Tax Avoidance (forthcoming)

The rise and fall of startups: Creation and destruction of revenue and jobs by young companies

Recent Insights by Stanford Business

April 22, 2015
A new survey shows many lack skills, engagement to effectively oversee organizations.
Group of people sitting around a table | iStock/Rawpixel Ltd
April 21, 2015
A change to a tax credit could kill the nascent industry.
scissors cutting an electrical cord between the sun and earth | Illustration by Shannon May