Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Full disclosure – “average” programs need to tell it as it is

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While the accounting PHD job market is still a robust one, getting a PHD from a name brand school is no longer the guaranteed top employment it used to be for the “average” program graduate. While it is doubtful that many accounting PHDs will be taxi drivers or waitstaff anytime soon, expectations must be more realistic.

Why? Supply and demand are close to equilibrium at the overall market level with oversupply in financial accounting and small shortages in audit, management accounting, tax and anything to do with data analytics!

Second, most demand these days is coming from baby boom retirements, not program growth! Indeed, we may well be looking at program shrinkage in the not too distant future. Yes there are schools and parts of the world where this is not true but my overall sense is we have passed peak accounting”. But like being on the other side of “peak oil” there are still lots of opportunities.

But be realistic. The days of $200k plus 2/9 in the USA with a three course one prep teaching load for the “average” PhD program grad likely fast coming to an end. (That does not mean that recruits at top schools will not start at 230k plus etc etc). However, more “average” PHDs will be starting with a 4 load after the first year, with shorter guaranteed summer support, more stringent evaluation for renewal of support, more focused and demanding standards at renewal, and less willingness to put up with prima Donna behaviour.

Students at less mature PhD programs have to realize that salaries well under 200k are the norm, 5 course teaching loads are more common (especially after three years), extensive service commitments are required and lots of flexibility in what you are willing to teach will be needed.

Is it still a great life? You bet!!! But it is not what we have thought for the 37 of the last 40 years as ” normal”.

And that’s how I see it!


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