The Wisconsin PhD Program in Accounting and Information Systems prepares individuals for careers in research, teaching, and service at the university level. The program stresses high-quality research at the frontiers of knowledge. A majority of the student’s time in the program is dedicated to developing, refining, and applying their research skills.

The accounting and information systems specialization has a strong track record of producing high-quality researchers and teachers. Our approach values collegiality; students work closely with faculty in an apprenticeship-type approach.

Core Areas of Research

Student research is supported by faculty in four core areas and include archival and experimental research:

  • Auditing
  • Financial accounting
  • Managerial accounting
  • Tax

Our faculty members contribute to significant advancements in the field, as evidenced by our recently published journal articles.

Academic Requirements

The admissions process is highly competitive. Ideal candidates possess a strong academic background including prior study of accounting at the undergraduate or graduate level. Work experience is also valued.

All students must meet the general PhD requirements of both the UW–Madison Graduate School and the Wisconsin School of Business. Prospective students should have:

  • A strong mathematical background. Students with an undergraduate or graduate degree in accounting or the equivalent are given preference. While many students have completed master's degrees or an MBA program, these are not required.
  • In limited cases, a degree in the related fields of psychology, economics, or sociology, coupled with demonstrated interest in accounting, is sufficient.

Ideally, students complete the following courses prior to entering the program. (In some cases, these courses can be completed early in the program.)

  • Two semesters of undergraduate calculus
  • An upper division course in linear algebra
  • An upper division course in microeconomic theory, taught using a mathematical approach

Program Coursework

Students are required to complete three seminars in accounting research:

  • Introduction to Accounting Research
  • Behavioral Accounting Research
  • Archival Accounting Research

Students in our program develop a basic research background in both archival and behavioral empirical research. The program is one of the most balanced programs in the country in terms of support for different research methodologies and topics. Most students ultimately specialize in the research area and methodology that best suits their skills and research interests. Both behavioral (including experimental economics) and archival methods are strongly supported. Students also develop specialization in a related field such as economics, psychology, or sociology. Finally, students build a foundation in statistics that supports their research interests. Methodology courses in economics, agricultural economics, or psychology will generally provide a strong foundation.

Students present to the faculty an original research project—often co-authored with a faculty member or with another student—after their first year in the program and again by the end of their third year in the program.

See Guide for all course requirements.

Faculty Research Interests

Jongwoon “Willie” Choi
Research interests:
  • Experimental Economics
  • Managerial accounting and control
  • Reward systems
Mark Covaleski
Research interests:
  • Managerial accounting and cost management
  • Health care fiscal management
  • Accounting and control in hospitals, universities, and high technology firms
Ruyun “Ivy” Feng
Research interests:
  • Financial reporting
  • Informativeness of accounting information
  • Information environment and firm behavior
  • Information technology and alternative data
Fabio Gaertner
Research interests:
  • Executive compensation
  • Corporate tax reporting
  • Taxation and capital structure
  • Corporate tax policy
Emily Griffith
Research interests:
  • Auditor judgment and decision-making
  • Use of specialists in auditing
  • Auditing complex estimates
Karla Zehms
Research interests:
  • Decision-making in financial accounting, auditing, and managerial accounting
  • Corporate governance
  • CFO compensation
  • Auditor client acceptance
  • Fraud
  • Client-auditor negotiation
  • Audit budget-setting process
  • Accounting curriculum effectiveness
Stacie Laplante
Research interests:
  • Intersection of financial and tax reporting
  • Influence of tax and financial reporting on capital markets
  • Importance of tax and accounting information on business decisions
Thomas Linsmeier
Research interests:
  • Role of accounting information in securities markets
  • Valuation-relevance of earnings component information
  • Economic effects of changes in accounting regulation
Dan Lynch
Research interests:
  • Financial reporting issues related to income taxes
  • Corporate tax avoidance
  • State and local taxation
  • Taxation and capital structure
Ella Mae Matsumura
Research interests:
  • Managerial accounting and strategic cost management
  • Corporate governance
  • Performance measurement
  • Incentives
  • Sustainability
Brian Mayhew
Research interests:
  • Auditing
  • Audit quality
  • The role of reputation in markets
  • Experimental economics
  • Impact of agency costs on firm valuations and performance
  • Related party transactions
  • Audit markets
Tyler Thomas
Research interests:
  • Managerial and cost accounting
  • Performance measurement
  • Motivation
  • Incentives and compensation
Dan Wangerin
Research interests:
  • Accounting Standards
  • Financial accounting standards board pronouncement
  • Financial reporting
  • Taxation and capital structure
Terry Warfield
Research interests:
  • Financial reporting, including behavior of financial markets relative to accounting disclosures, accounting choice, disclosure, and regulatory policy
  • Financial institution financial reporting
John Wild
Research interests:
  • Financial accounting and reporting
  • Earnings quality
  • Informativeness of accounting measures
  • Financial markets
  • Audit reports
  • Corporate governance
  • Managerial ownership
  • International financial markets

Connect with Current Students

We encourage you to contact our doctoral students in accounting and information systems to hear their perspectives on the Wisconsin PhD Program.

View current student profiles

See Our Placement Results

Graduates of our PhD specialization in accounting and information systems have accepted tenure-track positions at top research universities.

View recent placements