History of the Prep Track

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The BYU Accounting Ph.D. prep track has its informal roots in 1994, when BYU accounting faculty member Doug Prawitt encountered several students who had an interest in pursuing an academic career but had little idea what earning a Ph.D. entailed; moreover, since academia is suffering from a significant long-term shortage of accounting professors and is projected to face even more significant shortages in the future, [1] the program seemed ideally suited for the situation.

Department approval to begin the SOA Ph.D. Prep track was received in 1996, and several students were mentored on an individual basis through 1999. The Ph.D. Prep track was launched on a larger scale in 2000, when Professor Prawitt began proactively recruiting Jr. Core accounting students into the program, initiated a formal application process, and created a new Ph.D. Prep seminar designed to introduce Ph.D. Prep students to the philosophy of science and academic research in accounting.[2] In 2002, seven students from the initial group that began the Ph.D. Prep track in 2000 entered accounting Ph.D. programs at Stanford University, University of Chicago, Cornell University and other top universities that fall. Each year since that time, the program has placed between four and eleven students into excellent Ph.D. programs across the country.

The program has steadily grown and evolved with the help of several members of BYU's accounting faculty. Several faculty members have contributed significantly to the program's development, including Professor Ted Christensen's initiation of a course in 2005 that introduces students to financial accounting research and instructs them on the basics of the widely used SAS programming language. Several other faculty members make regular voluntary contributions of time and energy by visiting the Ph.D. Prep seminar, hosting academic research readings sessions, and mentoring students. As of the Spring of 2010, the leadership of the Ph.D. Prep track consists of Professors Doug Prawitt (Coordinator), Ted Christensen, and David Wood.

The primary objective of the Ph.D. prep track program is to provide students with an excellent pre-Ph.D. preparation. Our preparation objectives are concentrated in four areas:

  1. Provide an excellent quantitative preparation through coursework:
    1. Mathematical foundation (differential and integral calculus, matrix math)
    2. Theoretical statistics (mathematical statistics, distributions, probability theory)
    3. Applied statistics (hypothesis testing, statistical tests, general linear model, experimental design, econometrics, statistical software, etc.)
  2. Provide a foundational understanding of and experience with academic research:
    1. Introduction to Academic Research Seminar (Acc. 516--introduction to the scientific method and the philosophy of science, development of research questions, academic writing, research paradigms and methods, etc.)
    2. Participation in 1 credit-hour academic research readings seminars led by Professor Ted Christensen (for financial research) and by volunteer faculty members every semester except when enrolled in Acc. 516.
    3. Active participation in faculty research workshops
    4. Research Assistantship (RA) with faculty member active in academic research, participating in meaningful research projects.
  3. Provide an introductory teaching experience:
    1. BYU
    2. UVSC
    3. BYU—Salt Lake Center
    4. Other opportunities
  4. Provide advice and guidance on preparing for and applying to a Ph.D. program:
    1. Regular meetings with Ph.D. Prep Track coordinator
    2. Establishment of a mentoring relationship with a faculty member (ideally through RA position), and informal, regular visits with other faculty members.
    3. Regular social events at Ph.D. Prep Track coordinator’s home to help create a strong group identity.

Ph.D. Prep Track alumni are also invited back to BYU to participate in the School of Accountancy's annual Accounting Research Symposium.[3] [4]


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