BYU Accounting PhD Prep Track Prepares Students for Careers in Academia

The Marriott School of Management's Accounting Ph.D. Prep Track is helping to correct a nationwide shortage of accounting professors by rapidly placing students in top doctoral programs across the country and setting graduates on the fast track for rewarding careers in academia.

"BYU's Ph.D. Prep program provides a unique opportunity for us to help solve a major problem in our profession - a shortage of new Ph.D.s in accounting," says Ted Christensen, associate professor in the School of Accountancy. "We don't offer a doctoral program in accounting, but we do have the ability to provide students with excellent preparation to join the best Ph.D. programs in the country."

According to reports issued by the American Accounting Association, approximately 500 new accounting faculty will be needed each year during the next decade to compensate for looming retirements, but the current average number of doctoral graduates is only 140 per year. However, Brigham Young University's School of Accountancy has broken the trend and become the largest single provider of accounting Ph.D. students in the United States, with over 50 alumni being placed in top programs over the last seven years.

This fall, nine BYU Accounting Ph.D. Prep Track alumni began new doctoral programs, while at least eleven more have recently completed their Ph.D.s and accepted positions as faculty members at universities across the country. BYU alumni will likely represent close to 10 percent of those entering accounting Ph.D. programs this year.

"It is gratifying to think of the positive influence so many of our alumni will have on dozens of colleagues and thousands of students at universities all over the country," says Douglas Prawitt, coordinator of the Accounting Ph.D. Prep Track. "Until recently, we've been, in a sense, filling the pipeline. But now the pipeline is really beginning to flow."

Because of his success with the BYU Ph.D. Prep program, Prawitt has been asked to chair a joint American Accounting Association/Accounting Programs Leadership Group task force that will attempt to take steps toward correcting the national accounting Ph.D. shortage.

"The deplorable state of the supply of accounting faculty is only going to get worse," says Susan Haka, president-elect of the AAA. "However, we are optimistic that awareness of some of the issues through an advocacy effort could begin to reduce some of the barriers."

Many BYU students have been inspired by Prawitt and BYU's Ph.D. Prep program to pursue a career as an accounting professor while the job market remains strong.

"If it weren't for the Ph.D. Prep Track, I don't think I would have even thought about pursuing a Ph.D.," says Spencer Pierce, a Prep Track alumnus who began doctoral studies at Northwestern University this fall. "However, because of the program, I am excited about a career in accounting academia."

BYU's Accounting Ph.D. Prep Track has received national recognition for its success in guiding students through the process of applying to Ph.D. programs, helping them gain skills they need to obtain their degrees and giving them a strong support system with other program members.

"I can't imagine a system that would help us to be better prepared," says Prep Track alumnus Ben Lewis, who is now at Cornell University. "We certainly cheer each other on. We've all done really well and have been placed in good programs. It will be exciting to see where we all end up in four or five years."

For more information about the BYU Accounting Ph.D Prep Track, visit

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, public management, information systems and entrepreneurship. The school's mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,000 students are enrolled in the Marriott School's graduate and undergraduate programs.

Media Contact: Joseph Ogden (801) 422-8938
Writer: Natasha Sabey