shutterstock 1066812728So you want to continue your education in accounting. Perhaps you enjoy the academic environment, and, uniquely enough, you’re interested in going deeper in accounting research. However, is it worth it? You might be interested, but you want it to be worth your dime too, right? You might know the stats about the accounting field getting projected to grow by 10% over the next decade, but that refers to people with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Furthermore, you might wonder if earning your PhD in a broader field, like finance, will make more sense. Looking at the benefits of a PhD in finance, whether getting a PhD in finance is worth it in terms of income, whether getting it is worth it in terms of time, and whether getting it is worth it in terms of career possibilities might help you make your decision.

Benefits of a PhD in Finance

There are obvious benefits to a PhD in finance – increased salary, greater expertise, more opportunities in academia, greater likelihood of getting published, fewer people with your skills or knowledge, etc. But what less obvious benefits of a PhD in finance or accounting might exist?

A PhD demonstrates an independent work ethic. For most bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, a great deal of the time is spent in class. Often if you just show up to class, pay attention, take decent notes, and take your exams, you’ll pass with your degree. However, a PhD program is another matter. Sure, attending classes is required. But a lot of your time gets spent in independent study.

A PhD in accounting or finance helps you stand out. In a field filled with intelligent and shrewd people, an advanced degree helps you stand head and shoulders above others.

Similar to the point above, a PhD demonstrates a particular expertise. If you’ve earned your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting, then you’ve noticed how each stage gets narrower and narrower in terms of your particular knowledge. In your bachelor’s program, you focused on broad concepts, general practices, and wider ideas. For your master’s, that narrowed, perhaps, to particular people and their ideas, more nuanced approaches, a greater appreciation for the complexities and details in the field. Finally, a PhD program provides an even narrower concentration. For example, JP Morgan economist Jesse Edgerton wrote part of his PhD thesis on “Effects of the 2003 Dividend Tax Cut: Evidence from Real Estate Investment Trusts.” You can see the specific focus in the title!

PhD in Finance: Income

Is a PhD in finance worth it in terms of the increased income? Answering this question can help you weigh the value of this obvious benefit. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with PhDs in finance or accounting typically work in one of five occupations:

  • College professor
  • Financial consultant
  • Corporate policymaker
  • Economist
  • Investment research

The median income for each of these professions is $98,350, $90,640, $104,700, $102,490, and $84,300, respectively. Now, consider what you make in your current position and how that compares.

Additionally, you’ll also need to consider the cost of school. Depending on the school, your enrollment type, and how long you stay, your education will cost anywhere between $17,500 to about $110,000 per year. Yet, a fellowship, grant, or scholarship will defray some or all of that cost.

 PhD in Finance: Time

Is a PhD in finance worth it in terms of time? A bachelor’s degree can take 4 years, and a master’s between 2 and 4, but what about a PhD? How long it will take you to earn your PhD depends on several factors.

  • Whether your program offers advanced placement
  • Your enrollment type (full-time, part-time)
  • If you have a teaching fellowship
  • The demands of the program itself
  • Whether you complete each semester consecutively

With all that in mind, a typical program for a PhD in finance can take between 3 to 8 years to complete. It’s important to weigh the value of your personal career, your family, your education, and the like when making this consideration. Figuring that out can help you determine if it’s worth the time investment.

 PhD in Finance: Career

Is a PhD in finance or accounting worth it in terms of career opportunities? Will it really open that many more doors? Consider the projected job growth between 2016 and 2026 of the five occupations we mentioned earlier:

  • College professor – 11%
  • Financial consultant – 15%
  • Corporate policymaker – 8%
  • Economist – 6%
  • Investment research – 11%

The good news is that each of these is projected to grow over the next few years. Nevertheless, some will not grow by much. Yet in spite of all that, no career ceiling really exists if you have a PhD in finance. If you only have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you can only go so high. Particularly if you don’t have a lot of experience as well. But with a PhD, becoming a CEO, CFO, chief economist, and the like become very real possibilities.

If you’d like more information on career opportunities with degrees and experience in accounting, be sure to click here!

DQ Staff

February 2020

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