Thanks for your help so far. I have some follow up questions that I hoped you could address .
I would like to go to a strong research institution and be exposed to the different research methodologies across financial accounting (and maybe auditing). I was reading through the BYU site and they wrote about research school. I would like to know what kind of school are referred to as research schools and how can I identify them.
Also, I am still struggling with the concept of personal fit as most school have faculty members who perform financial accounting research. What factors could I be looking at when judging if I would be a good fit at a particular school.
In addition, I was unable to find the AAA school profiles you referred to in the post as a way of gaining insights into other excellent programs. I hope you can assist me by giving me more information about the AAA school profile and where I could find it as i guess it might help me answer my previous question.
Finally, how many school do you think is efficient to send applications to because I have read thread talking about sending to about 10 school but I am not sure how willing my previous professors would be to write 10 recommendation letter each for a candidate. They might even view it as an uncoordinated attempt to get into doctoral school.
Thanks for your help. I really appreciate your input.
1) "Research school" is tough to objectively define. Generally, these are schools where graduate (M.Sc. or PhD) programs are relatively more important than undergrad or MACC (or even MBA perhaps) programs, but you have large state schools like UT-Austin, Ohio State or Penn State that are also strong on research, so I wouldn't say the distinction is terribly important. What you absolutely need to keep in mind throughout this whole process is that you need to distinguish between "quality of education" and "quality of (post-PhD) opportunities". Stanford students get better placement than Oregon State but a significant reason is because they were able to get into Stanford in the first place. What I'm trying to say is that there are plenty of excellent research programs to choose from, and with an 730 (expected) GMAT score and a non-quantitative background you definitely don't want to restrict yourself to the Whartons or Stanfords of this world.
2) Personal fit works on two dimensions: (a) do you get along with that person, (b) are your research interests well-aligned. You can get a very good sense of (b) by looking at what people have published recently and what they're doing. You can only get a very imperfect sense of (a) through email -- send the people you're interested in an informal note saying you'll likely apply to their school and may want to work with them. If their answer comes quickly and they're friendly, it gives you an idea. Others won't answer or reply something useless like "send your app in and we'll see".
3) 10 schools is fine. It doesn't take all that much time to write a LOR. Either it's a regular letter (which you can copy-and-paste in its exact form to another recipient) or it's a standardized form that's easy to fill. You don't want to be stuck with a safety school and a place you don't really want to go to when you could have had 3-5 places to pick from.