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Admissions FAQs

  • What credentials characterize successful applicants?
    Please see Admissions for a detailed answer to this question.

    In general, the program looks for well-rounded new PhD students with balanced strengths in motivation, academic skills, communication skills, quantitative skills, and institutional knowledge of accounting.

  • What is the minimum GMAT score the Department of Accounting will consider?
    This is a difficult question to answer, because the accounting PhD program does not impose any GMAT cutoff score as a minimum threshold. We consider the GMAT only in the context of a holistic review of all criteria, including the applicant's academic, practical, and socio-economic background. As practical guidance, however, most successful applicants score above 650 on the GMAT, and often score above 700. In addition to the overall score, it is also important to evidence balance between the verbal and quantitative dimensions of the GMAT.
  • Does the Department accept the GRE instead of the GMAT?
    Substantially all applicants to the accounting PhD program submit GMAT scores. Therefore, for maximum comparability, the Department of Accounting strongly urges PhD applicants to take the GMAT. This advice does not necessarily apply to other departments within the McCombs School of Business.
  • When is the TOEFL required?
    The University of Texas at Austin requires the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for international applicants who do not have a previous university degree from a country in which the only official language is English. Applicants should be cautioned that successful accounting PhD applicants often score in the upper 30s or 40s on both the verbal and quantitative dimensions of the GMAT. In general, the Department evaluates many sources of information that evidence the applicant's English communication skills, so the TOEFL (or its waiver) should not be overemphasized.
  • Who should write my three letters of recommendation?
    This is of course up to you, but if you have both academic and work experience in accounting, a reasonable strategy is to ask two of your former professors and one contact from your work experience to write letters of recommendation. (If you have not informed your employer of your doctoral aspirations, it is fine to request only academic references.) Please be sure to request that your recommenders not only fill out the recommendation grid on the form, but also append comments that attest to your potential for teaching and research in accounting. A free-form recommendation letter is fine for this purpose.
  • Does one need a previous accounting degree to apply to the PhD program in accounting?
    The program assumes a reasonable institutional background in accounting, equivalent to an undergraduate or master's degree in accounting. We do from time to time admit PhD applicants who do not have an accounting degree (such as applicants with an MBA degree), but these applicants typically have taken enough accounting courses to understand the institutional fundamentals of accounting. Applicants with no accounting background should first take enough accounting courses to acquire knowledge that is the equivalent of an undergraduate degree in accounting before beginning PhD coursework.
  • Does one need accounting work experience to apply to the PhD program in accounting?
    Work experience in accounting, like other credentials, is not so much a requirement as it is a factor that is considered at the margin in a competitive admissions process. Evidence from recent years indicates that successful applicants usually have at least one year, and often two years or more of full-time work experience in some facet of financial reporting, which can involve public accounting, accounting in industry, or taxation. Work experience helps PhD students to incorporate new insights and developments from practice in future research and in teaching.
  • What quantitative skills are desirable prior to beginning the PhD program in accounting?
    Strong grades in Calculus I and II, Statistics, and Linear Algebra are useful. If your coursework in these subjects is more than five years old, we urge you to systematically review these subjects before you apply.
  • How exactly do I apply?
    For step-by-step instructions, see How to Apply.