Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

From Practice to the Classroom: By the Ph.D. Route or Professionally Qualified, CPAs Have Much to Offer

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

From Practice to the Classroom: By the Ph.D. Route or Professionally Qualified, CPAs Have Much to Offer

Article excerpt


* Becoming a tenure-track, or academically qualified (AO.) faculty member of a college or university usually involves obtaining an advanced terminal degree, such as a Ph.D. The route for professionally qualified (PC) faculty is more direct, with less academic preparation but usually with a wealth of professional experience to draw upon.

* That experience is one factor in growing attention to the role of PQ faculty. The Pathways Commission, which is now implementing recommendations of its final report, has called for greater appreciation of PQ faculty and their integration into significant functions of accounting education programs. The commission also calls upon the accounting profession to develop practitioners to become PQ faculty.

* Findings of the authors' survey of PQ faculty include that women outnumbered men and that most were between 40 and 60 years old. Their average salary was slightly more than half the figure for AQ faculty reported by an accrediting agency for business schools.

* However, many PQ faculty reported strong job satisfaction and in survey comments spoke of the intangible rewards of teaching and working in an academic setting.



At some point in their careers, many CPA practitioners have said, "I wonder what it would be like to teach." The traditional path to a teaching or research appointment as a tenure-track faculty member (academically qualified, or AQ, faculty) usually involves obtaining a Ph.D. Another path, professionally qualified, or PQ, faculty, however, is more direct, allowing entry into the academy with much less risk and academic preparation.

The opportunity for accounting professionals to serve as educators is a key item of consideration by the Pathways Commission (The Commission on Accounting Higher Education: Pathways to a Profession), which recently issued its final report (see related article, "Commission Issues Seven Recommendations for Bolstering the Future of Accounting Education," on page 38, and the full report, which is available at bud6twg). This article contains information about why the current environment in higher education provides enhanced teaching opportunities for PQ accounting instructors, general information about AQ and PQ faculty, and results of a survey of PQ faculty.


Educators recognize that CPAs with relevant professional experience offer much value to the classroom. Whether higher education rewards professional experience properly is a controversial issue that has been examined by the Pathways Commission, which made a number of recommendations. For example, see the first objective of its first recommendation: "Integrate professionally oriented [the term the commission uses for professionally qualified] faculty more fully into significant aspects of accounting education, programs, and research."

As two related "action items," the commission proposes that the profession "identify, attract, and develop practitioners to become professionally oriented faculty" and that colleges and universities include them as "full and valued members of the accounting faculty." A professional who combines experience with a desire and aptitude for teaching embodies a great opportunity for successful learning outcomes.

Another factor is a well-publicized looming shortage of new AQ accounting faculty (see related article, "The Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program: A Status Report," page 46). The most-often cited reasons for the shortage are increasing enrollments in undergraduate accounting programs, the wave of anticipated retirements of accounting faculty, economic costs to obtain a Ph.D., and fewer available slots for accounting doctoral education.

The most recent report on trends in supply and demand for accounting graduates published by the AICPA indicates that 60% of program leaders think that enrollment in their Ph. …

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