The dissertation phase of the doctoral program consists of the (1) dissertation proposal (2) oral exam (3) dissertation and (4) final oral examination. Traditionally, the preliminary examination was an oral examination offered immediately before the dissertation stage. However, most departments have developed the practice of offering a written examination before the oral examination is administered. Consistent with this practice, the Accountancy Department offers two examinations: first, a written Accountancy Core Examination and second, an oral Dissertation Proposal Defense.
Before commencement of the final stage of the Ph.D. program (i.e., the independent research stage), each student must develop a satisfactory proposal of the research to be included in the dissertation. The student is expected to start the development of a dissertation topic early in his/her course work stage and to present the dissertation proposal in the Accountancy Forum (workshop) soon after all of the PhD program non-thesis course requirements have been successfully completed. After presentation to the faculty in a scheduled forum, the written dissertation proposal will be the subject for the oral Dissertation Proposal Defense. The main objectives of this second part of the preliminary examination are to ensure adequate preparation to conduct advanced independent study and scholarly research, and for the dissertation supervisory committee and the student to come to an agreement on the research to be included in the dissertation The doctoral dissertation for the Ph.D. in Accountancy shall represent an independent, advanced research effort. Judgment by the student’s dissertation supervisory committee as to the merits of the proposed research shall be based upon the following criteria:
- Substantive originality,
- Propriety and sufficiency of research methods, and
- Potential contribution to the accounting literature.
Students are expected to pass the Dissertation Proposal Defense on their first attempt. Students who fail a defense must petition the Director of the Ph.D. program for permission to have another defense. The petition must show extenuating circumstances and outline a sufficient program of remedial actions developed in consultation with and approved by the student’s dissertation supervisory committee. Students should expect that more than one such petition will rarely be approved. When a petition to have an additional defense is denied, the prior failure(s) will be evidence of unsatisfactory progress toward completion of the degree, and the student’s program shall be terminated.
A student who has passed the ACE and the Dissertation Proposal Defense shall formally advance to the final (third) stage of the Ph.D. program. These students have a high probability of successful and timely completion of the Ph.D. program.
Oral ExaminationThe Graduate College appoints doctoral committees at the Department's request to administer preliminary and final examinations. The dissertation proposal, as revised based on comments received at the Accountancy Research Forum, serves as the basis for the oral examination. The passing of this examination affords the candidate ABD (all but dissertation) status.
This step involves completing and writing up the results of the research plan agreed to at the Graduate College Oral Examination.
The most important aspect of a Ph.D. program is the development of the requisite skills for conducting research. While an in-depth understanding of the accounting environment and its problems is necessary for identifying accounting questions and problems that are interesting from a research standpoint, the underlying theories and research tools are frequently obtained from source disciplines such as economics, finance, psychology, and statistics. Thus, the Ph.D. program is designed to be a careful blend of accounting and source discipline courses.
Accounting research encompasses a broad range of topics, including laboratory experiments that attempt to provide an understanding of how decision makers use accounting information, empirical tests of market reactions to publicly available accounting information, analytical models illustrating how owners and managers resolve conflicts, empirical research related to taxation policy, artificial intelligence and expert systems in the auditing area, and the development of experimental markets.
The faculty at the University of Illinois has a diverse set of research interests, and is at the forefront of accounting, auditing, information systems, and taxation research. Students are encouraged to work closely with the faculty in developing their research skills, in conducting joint research and developing their dissertation ideas.
Dissertation Supervisory CommitteesA dissertation supervisory committee, which consists of at least four voting members of the Graduate College, at least two of whom are tenured, is formed prior to the student’s presentation of his/her dissertation proposal in the Accountancy Forum.
The dissertation supervisory committee chairperson is a continuing faculty member from Accountancy, a member of the Graduate College, and someone with an appointment at the University.
In addition, the committee will be comprised of at least three committee members from Accountancy, at least one of whom is a tenured, continuing faculty with the University. Last, at least one member of the committee will be from a faculty other than Accountancy. The table below summarizes minimum requirements in Accountancy.
Minimum # of Voting Faculty Members - 4
Minimum # of Voting Faculty Members from Accountancy - 3
Minimum # Continuing Tenured Faculty Members - 2
Minimum # of Continuing Tenured Faculty Members from Accountancy - 1
Upon selecting a dissertation topic and in consultation with his/her coursework advisory committee and other faculty advisors, the student petitions the Director of the Ph.D. program for appointment of a dissertation supervisory committee, nominating members who meet these criteria. The student’s petition can take the form of (1) written signatures of each proposed member, OR (2) individual members can send an email directly to the Ph.D. Program Director, indicating their willingness to serve, a working title for the dissertation, and a brief description of the dissertation topic. The Director, in consultation with the Ph.D. Program Committee, reviews the nominations, and recommends the appointment of a dissertation supervisory committee to the Head, which may include nomination of a member by the committee. At the request of the Head, the dean of the Graduate College appoints the dissertation supervisory committee as the doctoral committee to administer the Graduate College preliminary and final examinations. The dissertation supervisory committee should:
- Ensure that the student is progressing satisfactorily and annually review such progress, submitting a summary of such review to the Director of the Ph.D. program.
- Supervise the student’s preparation of a dissertation proposal, including early exposure in a research colloquium, when possible.
- Advise the student with respect to scheduling his/her dissertation proposal presentation in the Accountancy Forum.
- Supervise the student’s subsequent response to comments obtained from his/her Accountancy Forum presentation.
- Advise the student with respect to scheduling the Graduate College preliminary examination, and conduct such examination.
- Supervise the student’s conduct of his/her dissertation.
- Advise the student with respect to scheduling the Graduate College final dissertation examination, and conduct such examination.
Final Oral ExaminationThis is a final oral examination on the candidate's dissertation given by the doctoral committee. After passing the examination and submitting a dissertation to the Graduate College that meets format and other requirements, the candidate is granted the PhD degree.