15 Best PhD in Accounting Online Programs [2020 Guide]

We've ranked the 15 Best Online PhD in Accounting Programs. Compare online accounting doctorate degrees, specializations, accounting careers, and salaries.

We’ve ranked the 15 Best Online PhD in Accounting Programs. Compare doctoral programs, specializations, careers, and salaries.

PhD in accounting online programs

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the financial world or fresh out of your master’s degree program, there’s plenty of appeal in getting your PhD in Accounting online.

Online accounting degree programs offer the same level of education as their traditional on-campus counterparts but are often more convenient and less expensive.

Best Online PhD in Accounting Degrees

Some of the most popular doctoral accounting degrees include the following. Click on the one that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide.

Choosing a specialty will prepare you for an interesting and rewarding career.


accountant working with a calculator

A PhD in Auditing is an essential in-depth investigator for any type of business. While taking Auditing classes, you will have a chance to learn economic principles, accounting, taxation, some government system types, and business policies.

Additionally, auditing is commonly used in the insurance field. After graduation, you can get a highly paid job and make yourself a great career.

The most common position for Auditing professionals is working for a large corporation or regulatory agency. If you like accounting, are responsible, and detail-accurate, then you probably already know how much you enjoy auditing.


people analyzing data displayed on computer screens

Finance is a little broader than Accounting but encompasses the topic. If you enjoy looking at the big picture of a company’s, organization’s, or even a person’s finances, this might be the doctoral program for you.

From accounting to investing to planning and advising on other financial strategies, you’ll play an important role in managing the funds of a company or for your clients. You could work for an investment company, a large corporation, a non-profit, or even a government entity.

From financial analyst to investment specialist to CFO, you’ll have many career options available to you. Many degree holders teach Finance and/or Accounting subjects at the university level.

Financial Accounting

accountant working in her office

A PhD in Financial Accounting is a great start for those who are looking for a career in academic or research organizations. By taking classes in Financial Accounting, you can also learn about business and economics in general and gain statistical and research skills.

Many students study Financial Accounting for the possibility of personal growth and higher earnings.

After graduation, you can work in government agencies, any educational institutes, and non-profit organizations, as well as big business.

Managerial Accounting

accountants working in the office

Managerial Accounting forms most of the accounting department in any type of business. Students that earn a PhD in Managerial Accounting learn economic principles and gain leadership and management skills.

Students can learn about investment and risk, cash flow valuation, and treasury risk management. After graduation, you will easily find yourself a career as an investment advisor, lead accountant, senior auditor, or department head.

A Managerial Accountant PhD is often in the top position in their sphere. A person who loves numbers, is accurate, and has a great eye for the details could find a great fit for any type of Managerial Accounting career.


accountant working in the office

A PhD in Taxation provides you with the knowledge to assist businesses and individuals to navigate tax law. You will gain the skills for addressing current and future issues of taxation.

You should be interested in economics, accounting, and finance if you want to get a PhD in taxation. After graduation, you can easily find a job as a government researcher, financial analyst, or corporate accountant.

What Is an Online PhD in Accounting?

accountant working with a calculator

Often requiring between 72 and 90 credit hours to complete, securing a PhD in Accounting serves as the perfect platform to display your expertise in the inner workings of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), as well as other facets of the modern accounting industry.

Additionally, focusing on this kind of graduate degree also allows for academic research and theoretical discussion, leading plenty of PhD candidates to remain in academia.

The “online” part simply means that you get the same education as you would attending class in person, but you get to complete your classes in a more flexible manner and often on a more flexible timeline.

Online PhD in Accounting Curriculum

students participating in a college class

As far as your actual coursework goes, you can expect to touch on a wide array of topics, including:

  • Accounting Research Methods
  • Econometric Theory
  • Math Tools for Accounting
  • Small Group Theory
  • Teaching Best Practices

Most PhD programs in accounting require a dissertation, but there are a number of online DBA programs with no dissertation required. Concentrations are available in accounting, finance, and related fields.

Learning what to expect now can give you a better idea of how to schedule courses and properly prepare for this learning experience later on down the road.

Career Outlook for a PhD in Accounting vs. PhD in Finance

Graduate students walking

In reality, these two disciplines are different sides of the same coin. Earning a PhD in Accounting revolves around auditing and recording past fiscal matters, while going the finance route focuses on leveraging this information to generate future projections and support sound business decisions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earning a PhD in Accounting and taking on a position as a professor can net you an average annual salary of $153,000. As for professors in the finance field, expecting compensation that falls somewhere between $117,000 and $133,000 during the same timeframe is a realistic outlook.

Here are some other career options to consider.

  • Economist
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Consultant
  • Investment Researcher
  • Department Manager

You could work for large corporations, investment firms, non-profit organizations, or the various levels of government. Every entity in every sector deals with finances.

How Do You Get a PhD in Accounting Online?

someone looking at his computer and thinking

When it comes to actually working through your coursework and ending up on the big stage with this kind of post-graduate degree in hand, you have two primary paths to success: taking classes on campus or completing your PhD program via a digital classroom setting.

Depending on your current professional and personal situations, splitting your time between flexible online learning and the real-world interaction (dissertation defenses, counselor meetings, fieldwork, etc.) could be the key to avoiding unnecessary burnout and scheduling stress.

The first step to earning your terminal Accounting degree online is to narrow down your selection of schools and apply.

PhD Admission Requirements

an admissions interview

To enter into a PhD in Accounting program, you’ll most likely have to jump through a few admissions hoops to beat out the rest of the applicant field. Submitting official transcripts of your bachelor’s and accounting master’s degree, as well as maintaining a GPA of at least 3.0, often serves as the first few steps of the process.

From this point, providing three letters of recommendation – usually via supporting faculty members – comes next. Finally, don’t be surprised if submitting your professional resume or achieving certain scores on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) also enters the picture.


a collage of the accreditation board logos

Just like everything needs to line up in the ledger, so everything needs to line up regarding a university’s credentials. It’s best if a regional board periodically audits the school and validates the educational programs it offers with official accreditation.

Make sure the universities you apply to are accredited by one of these boards:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

If the university you attend isn’t accredited, other schools and potential employers may not respect your degree.

Financial Aid

a screenshot of student financial aid pdf

Speaking of money, earning your next degree will be quite an investment. Look for these opportunities to lighten your expenses.

  • Grants
  • Scholarships
  • Fellowships
  • Employer Tuition Assistance

You may also qualify for deferred loans to help you get through school and back into the workforce before you need to pay too much out of pocket. Start your search by looking into the federal student aid available for graduate students.

Colleges Offering Online PhD in Accounting Programs

We chose each of these institutions for their positive accreditation status, degree programs, and online availability.

#1  Capella University

Capella University campus

Capella University is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is owned by Strategy Education, INC. You will find that this university delivers most of its programs online. It was founded in 1993 as The Graduate School of America.

Approximately 23% of the 38,000 students enrolled in Capella classes are doctoral candidates. As a student at Capella University, you can experience great support as you are joining a community of professionals. You can gain skills and knowledge that are relevant to your career goals.

  • PhD in Accounting
  • DBA in Accounting

Capella is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#2  City University of Seattle

City University of Seattle campus

City University of Seattle is a private university located in Seattle, Washington. It offers both campus and online classes, so you can find your preferred learning method. It all started back in 1973 when Dr. Michael A. Pastore founded City University to provide higher education for working adults.

Over the years, the school has increased its locations and student count. You can choose different degrees you want to study starting from certificate to Doctorate. There are different areas of study you can choose: Business and Management, Computer and Info Systems, Teaching and Education.

  • DBA in Business Administration (Finance concentration)

CityU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#3  Creighton University

Creighton University campus

Creighton University is a private university based in Omaha, Nebraska. It was established by the Society of Jesus in 1878. Creighton University plays in NCAA Division I athletics and is a member of the Big East.

Creighton University has 14 different teams in 8 different sports. If you are looking for a place to study and play in a basketball or baseball team, this could be the one. Creighton University offers top-ranked learning in the Jesuit Tradition.

  • DBA in Business Administration (Finance concentration)

Creighton is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#4  Drexel University

Drexel University campus

Drexel University, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a private research university founded by Anthony Drexel in 1891. It offers approximately 70 bachelor degree programs and 100 graduate degrees. Out of the nearly 25,000 students enrolled per year, one-third of them are grad students.

The Drexel Dragons play in the NCAA Division I, and there are many other student organizations to participate in.

  • DBA in Accounting

Drexel’s LeBow College of Business is among the elite 20 percent of business schools to be accredited by AACSB International.

#5  George Fox University

George Fox University campus

This is a Christian university located in Newberg, Oregon and founded as a school for Quakers in 1891. The private university has over 4,000 students and offers classes in psychology, social work, business, counseling, and accounting.

The university was called Friends Pacific Academy for a few years before it became a college in 1891. Also, have you ever heard of the athletic team named the Bruins? George Fox University has over 21 different sports – 11 for women and 10 for men. Attending this university is a great chance to grow professionally, spiritually, and academically.

  • DBA in Accounting

George Fox is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

#6  Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University campus

Indiana Wesleyan University, located in Marion, Indiana, is a private university affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It is also the largest private college in Indiana.

Most of the school’s 13,000 students are online, enrolled through IWU-National & Global. Through IWU, you can earn your pick of 80 bachelor degrees, 57 master’s, and 9 doctorates.

The Global campus includes a seminary for theologians and pastors.

The Wildcats play in the NCCAA Division I.

  • DBA in Accounting

Indiana Wesleyan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

#7  Kansas State University

Kansas State University campus

Kansas State University, or K-State, is a public research university. Its main campus is located in Manhattan, Kansas. It first opened in 1863 and was the first institution of higher education in the state.

Originally, the university was named Kansas State Agricultural College. Nowadays, it is a popular university. Furthermore, it offers a great active student life. Kansas State University has sports teams that play as the Wildcats in the NCAA Division I.

  • Hybrid PhD in Personal Financial Planning

Kansas State is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

#8  Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University is one of the largest Christian universities in the world, and it is also one of the largest non-profit universities in the U.S. The school consists of 17 colleges in total, including the medical school and a school of law.

The university has a traditional Christian orientation with three Bible-classes for undergraduate students. Liberty University was founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell and Elmer L. Towns, and at first, it was a Lynchburg Baptist College.

However, it is not all about education and religion. The university is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference for 17 of its 20 different sports. If you are looking for a great place to get an education in a Christian setting, Liberty University could be a good fit.

  • DBA in Accounting

Liberty is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

#9  Northcentral University

Northcentral University campus

If you are looking for a great non-profit university to study online, look into Northcentral University. It is located in San Diego, California and has been open since 1996.

Northcentral University was established by Donald Hecht as a private university. Now, it offers degrees from bachelor’s to doctorate‘s in Business, Technology, Education, Teaching, an Psychology.

  • PhD in Business Administration – Advanced Accounting
  • DBA in Financial Management
  • DBA in Advanced Accounting

Northcentral is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

#10  Rutgers University

Rutgers University campus

Rutgers University is an American public research university located in New Jersey. It is the largest higher education institution in the state.

Originally, the university was created as Queen’s College in 1766. It is the 8th oldest college in the U.S. The institution was renamed as Rutgers College in 1825.

Rutgers is known as the “birthplace of college football,” so you know it places a lot of importance on athletics.

  • PhD in Accounting

Rutgers is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

#11  Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University campus

Saint Leo University was founded in 1889 and is a private Roman Catholic liberal arts university in St. Leo, Florida. It ws the first Roman Catholic college in Florida and is one of the 5 largest Catholic colleges in the U.S.

Saint Leo University was also one of the first universities in the country that provided online education. Students that enroll in Saint Leo University have a great and active student life through a variety of organizations, clubs, and societies.

Saint Leo University athletic teams, named the Lions, participate in baseball, basketball, and golf for men, and swimming, softball, tennis, and volleyball for women.

  • DBA in Business Administration (Finance concentration)

Saint Leo is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#12  Trident University

Trident University campus

Trident University is a private online university in California. The university offers associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. Also, you can get certificates in education, business, and information systems.

Trident University was founded in 1988 with headquarters was in Cypress, California. It is a great way to get an education for veterans and the military, as the university is online, though Trident University is a flexible university for everybody.

  • PhD in Business Administration – Accounting

Trident is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

#13  University of Dallas

University of Dallas campus

The University of Dallas is a private Catholic school founded in 1956 in Irving, Texas. Since then, the university has been ranked as a leading university for both Catholic and traditional academic students.

Today, the University of Dallas enrolls 3,000 students from all over the world, 1,000 of which are graduate students. It continues to provide higher education with a Catholic perspective. On-campus students will enjoy the 744-acre property.

  • DBA in Business Administration (Finance concentration)

UD is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#14  University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina campus

The University of South Carolina is a public research institution in Columbia, South Carolina. It has been listed as an up-and-coming university by U.S. News & World Report. It was established in 1801 and is one of the oldest universities in South Carolina.

There are approximately 50,000 students enrolled in the university, which makes it one of the largest educational institutions in Carolina.

The school‘s 19 sports teams are competing in the Southeastern Conference and are known as Gamecocks. The university has a rich history of 200+ years of leadership in education.

  • Hybrid DBA in Business Administration – Finance

USC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

#15  Walden University

Walden University campus

Walden University is an online university headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This university is a part of a global network managed by Laureate Education, Inc. Originally, it was established in 1970 by two teachers from New York City.

Walden University receives more than 75% of its funds from the US government and guarantees you that it can offer you a student loan. It offers plenty of degree programs, starting from bachelor’s to doctoral. It has nearly 50,000 students enrolled, most of who are online.

  • PhD in Accounting
  • DBA in Accounting

Walden is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Is a PhD in Accounting Worth It?

a person receiving a diploma at a graduation ceremony

The salary statistics says that earning the highest degree in your field is always worth it considering the increased pay you’ll receive over the life of your career compared to the investment in education.

Of course, not every PhD student takes on this learning experience to move into a new position. This means that determining the worth of your time in the classroom can rest upon intangible considerations.

It will take a heavy commitment of time for the next couple of years. Is becoming an expert in your field something you want to spend the time on?

If so, you can start the process now, conveniently, online.

Isaac Collins
Isaac Collins
  1. Michael Quaique says:

    I have PhD but want to do postdoctorate.

    1. Joy Mays says:

      Hi Michael- Happy to assist. What kind of post doctoral studies are you seeking?

  2. Gyal Gapani says:

    I am interested to pursue PhD in Accounting – On-line program being serving public civil servant.
    Please advice which university is recommended.

    1. Isaac Collins says:

      Hi Gyal- We have listed 15 programs that will allow you to get your PhD in accounting through online study. You can compare each university to see if there is one that you think will prepare you for civil service more than the other. However, I do not see this as a specific concentration or specialization you can select.

  3. Abraham Nartey Tetteh says:

    I am in search of a university that offers PhD in Accounting, with 3 years graduating period and online. I hold Master degree in Accounting.

    1. Isaac Collins says:

      Hi Abraham- Most of the PhD programs listed on this page will allow you to finish your courses in less than 3 years, but the dissertation a PhD requires will take longer. However, if you opt for a DBA in Accounting without a dissertation, it would be possible to finish in 3 years or so (depending on the length of classes and your enrollment).

  4. Mouhamadou Moukhtar Diallo says:

    I have a Master in Finance in Accounting and will finished my MBA in June. I would to proceed for a PHD in accounting fully online.
    Can you please explain the difference bitween a PHD in Accounting and a DBA(Accounting)

    1. Joy Mays says:

      A DBA in Accounting is a professional doctorate with a focus on knowledge and its real world use and application in business. A PhD in Accounting is for someone focused on contributing to academic scholarship and will most likely require a dissertation.

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