Fellowship and Scholarships
2013 Illinois International Journal of
May 17-20, 2013
Symposium on Tax Research
September 19-20, 2013
Department of Accountancy
University of Illinois
360 Wohlers Hall
1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, Illinois 61820
Accountancy Ph.D. Preliminary
Examination Policy and Procedures
This site first discusses the objectives and then summarizes the content and administrative procedures related to the Accountancy Ph.D. Preliminary Examination. As explained below, this examination has two main parts: a written Accountancy Core Examination and a Dissertation Proposal Defense.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION
The preliminary examination is an evaluation of a student’s qualifications for further advanced study and independent research. Satisfactory completion of the examination is necessary to enter the final stage of the Ph.D. Program, which is devoted to research, the dissertation, and the final examination. The main objectives of the preliminary examination are to assess: 1) the student’s ability to integrate the material learned in the program of study preceding the examination and 2) the student’s development of knowledge, skill and intellectual maturity sufficient to complete the advanced, independent research stage of the Ph.D. program. Traditionally, the preliminary examination was an oral examination offered immediately before the dissertation stage. However, most departments have developed the practice of offering a written examination before the oral examination is administered. Consistent with this practice, the Accountancy Department offers two examinations: first, a written Accountancy Core Examination and second, an oral Dissertation Proposal Defense.
Written Accountancy Core Examination (ACE)
The two objectives of the ACE are to assess the student’s abilities:
1. To integrate substantive accounting and interdisciplinary knowledge, covered in the Ph.D. program’s common core courses, into coherent theoretical structures, and to apply such knowledge in:
a. Developing relevant and interesting research questions, and
b. Evaluating research paradigms/approaches appropriate for addressing those questions;
2. To critically analyze current accounting research.
The ACE is designed to measure whether students possess the knowledge and abilities necessary for further advanced study and independent research.
Students are expected to pass the ACE on their first attempt. Students who fail the ACE must petition the Director of the Ph.D. program for permission to take another ACE. To be successful, the petition must show extenuating circumstances and outline a sufficient program of remedial courses or other scholarly tasks developed in consultation with and ultimately approved by the Ph.D. Program Committee. Grading procedures for the ACE are discussed later in this document.
Dissertation Proposal Defense
Before commencement of the final stage of the Ph.D. program (i.e., the independent research stage), each student must develop a satisfactory proposal of the research to be included in the dissertation. After presentation to the faculty in a scheduled forum, the written dissertation proposal will be the subject for the oral Dissertation Proposal Defense. The main objectives of this second part of the preliminary examination are to ensure adequate preparation to conduct advanced independent study and scholarly research, and for the dissertation supervisory committee and the student to come to an agreement on the research to be included in the dissertation The doctoral dissertation for the Ph.D. in Accountancy shall represent an independent, advanced research effort. Judgment by the student’s dissertation supervisory committee as to the merits of the proposed research shall be based upon the following criteria:
1. Substantive originality,
2. Propriety and sufficiency of research methods, and
3. Potential contribution to the accounting literature.
Students are expected to pass the Dissertation Proposal Defense on their first attempt. Students who fail a defense must petition the Director of the Ph.D. program for permission to have another defense. The petition must show extenuating circumstances and outline a sufficient program of remedial actions developed in consultation with and approved by the student’s dissertation supervisory committee. Students should expect that more than one such petition will rarely be approved. When a petition to have an additional defense is denied, the prior failure(s) will be evidence of unsatisfactory progress toward completion of the degree, and the student’s program shall be terminated.
A student who has passed the ACE and the Dissertation Proposal Defense shall formally advance to the final (third) stage of the Ph.D. program. These students have a high probability of successful and timely completion of the Ph.D. program.
CONTENT AND PROCEDURES OF THE PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION
Accountancy Core Examination (ACE)
The Accountancy Department’s Ph.D. Program Committee shall have responsibility for the preparation, administration, and evaluation of the ACE. If two or more students request the examination, it shall be offered each January, scheduled between the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester. Alternatively, if two or more students request the examination, it shall be offered each May or June, prior to the beginning of the summer term. Other exam dates may be possible, at the discretion of the Ph.D. Program Committee.
The ACE shall consist of:
1. A series of questions (no less than two and no more than six) to be answered in written form (60%-80% of exam weight), and
2. A written critique of a research paper designated by the committee (20%-40% of exam weight).
This examination shall be based upon the body of knowledge derived from the Ph.D. background and common core course work requirements (see Accountancy Ph.D. Program Guide, p. 14). Some questions, however, may come from other areas as a method of assessing the generality of the student’s knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge to settings that differ from those encountered in courses.
The Ph.D. Program Committee shall assign two faculty members to evaluate the each of the individual questions and the critique. These faculty members collaboratively evaluate the student’s performance, assigning one of the three categories presented in Exhibit 2. Exhibit 2 also summarizes the implications associated with each evaluative category. In the rare event the two faculty members cannot agree on a category, the Ph.D. Program Committee will arbitrate. A student must pass the entire ACE by scoring a grade of “pass” or better on all parts of the ACE.
Dissertation Proposal Defense
Prior to submitting the dissertation proposal as the subject for the Dissertation Proposal Defense, the student shall present the proposal to the faculty at a regularly scheduled Accountancy Forum Before presenting the proposal in an Accountancy Forum,
1. The student shall have completed all program course requirements,
2. The dissertation proposal shall be evaluated as acceptable by all members of the student’s dissertation supervisory committee, and
3. The student shall have the approval of the Director of the Ph.D. program.
To schedule a date for the Accountancy Forum, the student must provide the Ph.D. program director with:
1. The written version of the dissertation proposal to be presented in Forum, and
2. A letter signed by every member of the student’s dissertation supervisory committee, indicating that the proposal is acceptable and is, therefore, ready to be presented in an Accountancy Forum.
The student must provide these two items to the Ph.D. Program Director at least 14 days prior to the scheduled Forum date. All dissertation forum dates must be scheduled during either the Fall or Spring semester at the usual forum time on a date when classes are in session (e.g., not during the final examination week or on a holiday). Both the written proposal and the letter listed above must be received before a Forum date can be scheduled. Dissertation forum dates will be scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.
After the Forum presentation, the student shall revise the dissertation proposal to incorporate the relevant comments of faculty and other interested persons made both during the forum and in other applicable venues. Sufficient time must be allowed between the forum and the Dissertation Proposal Defense to allow for this revision. If, in the dissertation supervisory committee’s judgment, a sufficiently substantial revision is necessary, the revised dissertation proposal shall be presented in another Accountancy Forum.
After the revision process, the student shall submit the revised dissertation proposal as the subject for the oral Dissertation Proposal Defense. This defense is an oral examination and should be held as soon as possible after the student has had time to respond appropriately to comments received at the Accountancy Forum presentation. One output from this oral examination shall be a written proposal, filed with the Department, which contains a complete statement of the required research. This proposal shall only be altered by mutual consent (of the dissertation supervisory committee and the student) or because of subsequent events which were not reasonably foreseeable at the time of this examination.
Scheduling the Series of Examinations
The ACE ordinarily should be taken as soon as possible after the student successfully completes the Ph.D. program’s common core course requirements (see Accountancy Ph.D. Program Guide, p. 14). The coursework advisory committees and faculty mentors shall have primary responsibility for ensuring that the ACE is taken in a timely manner. The Dissertation Proposal Defense shall be taken as soon as possible after:
1. Successful completion of the ACE,
2. Successful completion of all Ph.D. program course requirements,
3. Approval of all members of a student’s dissertation supervisory committee,
4. Presentation of the dissertation proposal in an Accountancy Forum, and
5. Appropriate revision of the proposal in response to comments made during the Accountancy Forum and other applicable venues.
The dissertation supervisory committees shall have the primary responsibility for ensuring that the Dissertation Proposal Defense is conducted in a timely manner. Prior to the Accountancy Forum presentation, the student must request that the Graduate College appoint his (her) doctoral committee (which has the same membership as the dissertation supervisory committee). The following procedure must be followed to appoint the dissertation supervisory committee:
1. The student shall contact committee members and verify that they are willing to serve.
2. The student also must verify that the composition of the committee meets graduate college requirements.
3. The student should provide a letter to the Ph.D. program director indicating the proposed committee membership. This letter should include the signature of every committee member, indicating that they are willing to serve on the committee. In addition, the letter should include a working title for the dissertation and a brief description of the dissertation topic.
The Ph.D. program director and the Department Head must approve the dissertation committee request. The student shall receive written notification from the Department Head of the approved committee.
EXHIBIT 1: Courses Covered on ACE
As listed in the current program, these courses are:
Background requirements covered on the ACE:
A. The equivalent of an AACSB accredited undergraduate degree in business with a major accountancy.
B. An intermediate undergraduate course in microeconomics.
C. Undergraduate courses in calculus (both differential and integral) and linear algebra.
Core Course work covered on the ACE:
1. Microeconomics at the graduate level (e.g., ECON 500).
2. Economics of Organization (e.g., BADM 590).
1. Models of Decisions and Choices (e.g., PSYC 534)
1. Approved finance elective (e.g., FIN 591).
1. A two-semester sequence in probability & statistics (e.g., STAT 400/410).
E. Accountancy Seminars:
1. Introduction to Accountancy Research (ACCY 592).
2. Constructs in Accountancy Research (ACCY 585).
3. Behavioral Accountancy Research (ACCY 593B).
4. Archival Accountancy Research (ACCY 593C).
5. Research Project (ACCY 593 Ph.D. program director as instructor).
EXHIBIT 2: ACE Grading Categories and Implications
A student must pass the entire ACE by scoring a category of “pass” or better on all individual part of the exam.
This category indicates distinguished/outstanding performance. Such performance is one indicator that the Ph.D. program committee considers in identifying students who have demonstrated excellence the doctoral program. However,this level of performance does not compensate for performance that falls into the “Fail” category on another part of the ACE.
This category indicates satisfactory performance. A student will pass the entire ACE if and only if the student scores at least this category on all parts of the ACE.
This category indicates unsatisfactory performance. If this level of performance occurs on any part of the ACE, it will constitute sufficient evidence of unsatisfactory progress in the doctoral program for the Director of the Ph.D. program to recommend termination from the Ph.D. Program unless the student petitions the Director of the Ph.D. Program for permission to take another ACE and the Ph.D. Committee grants the student’s petition.
For the petition to be successful, the petition must show extenuating circumstances and outline a sufficient program of remedial courses and/or other scholarly tasks developed in consultation with the student’s course work committee and ultimately approved by the Ph.D. Program Committee.
Students should expect that petitions for more than one reexamination will very rarely be granted.