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Question about Ph.D. Accounting - Admissions

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Question about Ph.D. Accounting - Admissions [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2010, 17:32
I'm still a few years away from applying to a Ph.D. program in accounting (I will be finishing my M.S. in accounting this December), but I would like to get a good idea about where I will stand 3-4 years from now when I begin applying.

My question is: How valuable is your work experience in the admissions process?

I'm asking this because after watching several videos from Ph.D. accounting students on the adsphd website and noting that all of them have a few years of Big 4 experience, I'm feeling a bit discouraged. I'm currently working in a small tax practice with a staff of less 10, two of whom are CPA's (I will soon be the third as I have the exam passed but do not currently meet the experience requirement.) Despite the size, we process about 1,500 returns, mostly individual, but we have a good mix of corporate/partnership returns as well.

I understand that there are a number of other factors involved in the admissions process, but will my work experience put me at a disadvantage compared to someone who has the same number of years of experience in a Big 4 tax department? If so, will a super impressive GMAT score compensate for that?

I'd appreciate any input on that.
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Re: Question about Ph.D. Accounting - Admissions [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2010, 18:01
The general consensus is that relevant work experience is preferable to none but not a huge factor in phd admissions. The key word there is "relevant" though. Your goal should be to pursue work experiences that relate to your research interests and highlight those in your SOP. The real point work experience can help with is aiding you in developing insightful research questions which are relevant to practice. Certainly, big 4 experience will be perceived as better than experience at a smaller firm but won't put you at a huge disadvantage.
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Re: Question about Ph.D. Accounting - Admissions [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2010, 18:49
Thanks for the feedback. Time to spend the next three years getting that awesome GMAT score lol.
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Re: Question about Ph.D. Accounting - Admissions [#permalink] New post 08 Nov 2010, 14:27
Haha - yeah a good GMAT/GPA/etc. is one of those things that can do wonders to get you in the door. You have a huge advantage in knowing you want to do this down the line. Sign up for the American Accounting Association (my firm reimbursed the membership fees as a professional organization). Anyway, sign up for some of those journals and start following research in your area of interest (which seems to be tax). Try to attend one of their conferences and network with some professors there. Once you get in the door, I think knowing about research and having shown a real passion for this pursuit go a long way. And yeah, if you have 3 years, brushing up on the quant stuff is also a great idea. Best of luck!
Re: Question about Ph.D. Accounting - Admissions   [#permalink] 08 Nov 2010, 14:27
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