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For students who want to ascend to the highest levels of the accounting profession, an online doctorate in accounting can help you get there. This advanced degree focuses on high-level accounting and business skills that individuals need for roles as executives, consultants, and college professors.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial managers will be in high demand in the coming decade, with employment expected to grow 16% through 2032. The median annual salary for financial managers is $139,790. This degree will also prepare students for positions as post-secondary teachers, who earn a median annual salary of $80,840. Employment of these individuals is projected to increase by 8% through 2032.

The length of a doctorate in accounting program varies from 3 to 6 years, depending on the number of credits and other requirements. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the 2021-22 academic year, the average tuition and fees for graduate programs at public universities was $12,596. At private non-profit universities, the average tuition and fees was $29,931.

How to Choose an Online Doctorate in Accounting Program

Choose your area of study

The first step in this process is getting clarity on why you’re seeking a doctorate in accounting as well as your practical needs for an online degree program.

Most doctoral-level programs in accounting award a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA). This is a professional degree that prepares students for practical application of high-level accounting and business knowledge. It’s best suited for experienced accountants who want to become executives, consultants, or college professors. Individuals who are interested in becoming accountants or tax professionals should explore bachelor’s or master’s programs in accounting.

Also, consider what kind of program will best fit into your life. Online programs are delivered asynchronously, in which there are no scheduled class meetings, and students complete lessons and assignments according to their own schedule, or synchronously, with regularly scheduled virtual classes. You should also consider whether your schedule allows for a full-time course load or if you’ll need to enroll on a part-time basis.

Research schools and programs

After establishing the parameters for the kind of program you want, you can begin the research phase of the process.

One of the first things to confirm is whether the schools you’re considering are accredited. Colleges in the U.S. can be regionally or nationally accredited, with regional accreditation being the more widely accepted type of accreditation.

During the research process, asking the following questions can help you determine whether the school and program meet your needs:

  • What does the curriculum cover, and does it align with your professional interests and goals?
  • Who are the faculty, and what are their areas of expertise?
  • Does the program include any in-person learning requirements?
  • How do online students communicate with each other, faculty, and staff?
  • What support services are available for online students?
  • What networking opportunities are there for online students?
  • What is the overall culture of the department and institution like?

Visiting a school’s website is a good place to start to get answers to these questions. You can also contact their admissions office, follow schools and programs on social media, and participate in virtual open houses or information sessions when available.

Prepare for tests and applications

The specific admissions requirements and procedures will vary by school, so contact admissions offices to get the most accurate information about what you’ll need to do to apply.

Because doctorate programs are advanced degrees, they typically have rigorous eligibility requirements. These may include a minimum number of years of professional experience, a minimum GPA in a master’s program, or a master’s degree in a specific area.

General application requirements for a DBA program include:

  • Completed application and fee
  • Official transcripts from all colleges previously attended
  • Resume or CV
  • Personal statement
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • GRE or GMAT scores

Select your program

After completing your research, compare schools and programs to find the ones that best meet your needs and submit your applications. There’s no “right” number of programs to apply to, but remember that most schools require an application fee. Budget accordingly if you plan to apply to multiple institutions.

If you’re accepted to multiple schools, do another comparison and include any new information you have, such as scholarship offers. Determine what your priorities are for your post-secondary education, and choose the program that meets the majority of your needs.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

As you research schools, you should also collect information about tuition costs and available financial aid. To get the most accurate information, contact the school’s financial aid office to speak to a financial aid counselor.

To be considered for need-based aid, you’ll have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Schools use the information you provide on the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for need-based aid like federal student loans, scholarships, grants, and assistantships. You can also inquire about merit-based aid, like scholarships and fellowships.

If you’re planning on working while earning your DBA, find out if your employer offers tuition assistance benefits. Students who are active-duty military members or veterans can inquire about military tuition discounts and GI Bill benefits to help pay for their degrees.

Best 50 Accredited Online Doctorate in Accounting Programs

Best Online Doctorate in Accounting Programs Badge

Liberty University

National University

Trevecca Nazarene University

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This list features some of the best online doctorate in accounting degree programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. Many of the programs on our list have been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which assesses the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of business-related programs.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation, as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online doctorate in accounting degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect From an Online Doctorate in Accounting Program

Students who want to earn a doctorate in accounting can choose between a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). Both types of degrees will prepare students for high-level accounting and business roles, but Ph.D. programs are more research-focused, while DBA programs emphasize practical application of skills and knowledge.

The curriculum for doctorate in accounting programs is typically built around core classes focusing on advanced accounting principles and practices, with electives that students can use to develop a specialization. Students will also be expected to complete a dissertation, which is a research project based on a question or theory proposed by the student. In many doctorate programs, students spend the first 1-2 years focused on coursework, with the remaining time in their program dedicated to independent work on their dissertation.

In terms of how students learn in online programs, courses are delivered either synchronously or asynchronously. In a synchronous program, students meet regularly in virtual classes, allowing for real-time interaction with professors and classmates. In asynchronous programs, there are no regularly scheduled meetings. Students can access lessons and assignments anytime, creating a more flexible learning environment. When deciding whether they want a synchronous or asynchronous program, students should consider what type of learning style and environment they prefer.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online doctorate in accounting program

  • Current Topics in Business Administration: Often a part of the core curriculum, a current topics course gives students an overview of current trends in business theory and practice to help inform their scholarly research and approach to decision-making and leadership.
  • Advanced Accounting Theory and Policy: In this course, students learn to merge different aspects of accounting, including financial accounting, managerial accounting, and auditing, into a single theoretical structure that they can apply to a variety of situations in the accounting field.
  • Advanced Auditing: This course focuses on auditing theory and the application of auditing standards and methods in different settings. Students will also gain an understanding of the evidence and procedures external auditors use, including how they report on financial statements.
  • Advanced Managerial Accounting: This course combines accounting practices with decision-making skills to prepare students for the role of managerial accountants, who provide the information on costs, budgets, and projections needed to make business decisions
  • Accounting Ethics: In this course, students will examine the various ethical and legal systems and practices that relate to accounting to help them develop an ethical framework for decision-making.

Online Doctorate in Accounting Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online doctorate in accounting degree program?

Each school establishes its own application processes for doctorate in accounting programs. This will typically involve submitting an application and supporting materials like official transcripts, GRE or GMAT scores, a resume, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

In order to be eligible for a doctorate program, students must have a master’s degree. Some programs require applicants to have an MBA or other business-related master’s degree. It’s also common for doctorate programs to require applicants to have a minimum level of professional experience in their field. Applicants can demonstrate this with their resume, but some programs may also conduct interviews with candidates to determine their suitability for the program.

Before applying to a doctorate program, speak to an admissions counselor to ensure you understand all the eligibility requirements and application procedures.

How much does an online doctorate in accounting degree cost?

The cost of an online doctorate in accounting varies by school. Tuition costs are typically higher at private institutions than at public institutions. According to the NCES, in the 2021-22 academic year, the average tuition for graduate programs was $12,596 at public universities and $29,931 at private schools.

In addition to tuition, online students should also budget for technology, like computers, webcams, microphones, and reliable high-speed internet, as well as books and other learning materials.

However, students in online programs can count on some cost savings. For example, they don’t have to worry about transportation costs like gas, parking, car maintenance, or public transit fees that they would have to pay if they were commuting to campus.

How long does it take to earn an online doctorate in accounting degree?

The length of a doctorate program depends on how many credits it requires, as well as how much time students have to complete their dissertation. Generally speaking, doctorate programs take anywhere from 3-6 years to complete. Another factor that impacts how long it takes to earn an online doctorate in accounting is the student’s enrollment status. Students who enroll full-time will complete their degree faster than those who enroll on a part-time basis.

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