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    Mark Higgins
    Pathways Update, 2013
    report posted August 2, 2013 by Mark Higgins, tagged commission 
    2668 Views, 2 Comments
    Pathways Update, 2013

    pathways update 2013

    report date:
    August 2, 2013

    This Udpate is being released at the August 2, 2013, annual meeting of the American Accounting Association. Click below for your own copy.



    • Robert E Jensen

      Market looks tight and getting worse for PhD job seekers in English, foreign languages, history and philosophy ---

      Who and want decides Ph.D. program acceptances versus rejections?
      "'Inside Graduate Admissions'," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, January 6, 2016 ---

      . . .

      Many committee members said they simply had too many applications to review, and that they needed a simple measure with which to compare applicants and to exclude some. Prestige of undergraduate program counted for a lot. But grade point average? Not so much. One astrophysicist Posselt quotes said, “Grade point, most people said it doesn't affect them very much because basically everybody in the pool -- everybody in the final pool -- has such high GPAs that it's not meaningful.”

      A sociologist said this was especially a problem with the many finalists from top colleges. “Grades are increasingly a lousy signal, especially at those elite places that just hand out the A’s. So you don't even have that anymore,” he said.

      One professor told Posselt: “I have impressions that some of my faculty -- senior members -- were simply looking for the GRE. They have a threshold such as, ‘If it's not over 700, I won't read anything.’ And that cuts usually two-thirds of applicants.”

      Posselt writes of asking committee members why they were so focused on GRE scores and whether applicants attended elite undergraduate institutions, even when these criteria minimized diversity of the accepted applicant pool. She heard in response much talk about how much graduate admissions is “gambling,” and how important it is to admit students who will succeed. With small admissions cohorts and faculty members who depend on graduate students to work with them on research and other tasks, any attrition is viewed as a disaster, and committee members want to avoid the risk.

      Committee members also seemed to generalize from the experience of past graduate students who failed, wanting to avoid anyone like them in the future. They spoke of “being spooked” by seeing such applicants.

      The admissions committee members generally assumed applicants were getting Ph.D.s for careers like theirs -- faculty jobs at research universities. So they were looking for signs of research potential. And they were also unabashed elitists.

      “This is an elite university and a lot of the people at the university are elitists,” one professor said with a laugh. “So they make a lot of inferences about the quality of someone's work and their ability based on where they come from.”

      Bias Against a Christian College Student?

      In most cases Posselt observed, the committee members used banter and “friendly debate” when they disagreed with one another. They didn't attack one another or get too pointed in criticizing colleagues. She describes one discussion she observed -- in which committee members kept to this approach -- that left her wondering about issues of fairness.

      The applicant, to a linguistics Ph.D. program, was a student at a small religious college unknown to some committee members but whose values were questioned by others.

      “Right-wing religious fundamentalists,” one committee member said of the college, while another said, to much laughter, that the college was “supported by the Koch brothers.”

      . . .

      Talking About Diversity

      When Posselt probed on diversity, she found that many professors said they felt an obligation to diversify their graduate student bodies and thus -- eventually -- the collective faculty of their fields. In some fields, there was discussion about seeking more women, not just underrepresented minority groups. For example, Posselt found this to be the case in philosophy, a field that has of late been struggling with a perception (many say reality) of being hostile to women.

      Many faculty members, however, appeared more comfortable considering race and ethnicity as a slight tip among otherwise equal candidates who had advanced to a finalist round.

      One professor said, “I try not to pay too much attention. I try to admit students that are the best in my intellect with no regard for gender and race.” Only with two applicants who are “equal on intellectual merit, then I will prefer a minority,” the professor said.

      Others spoke of diversity in terms of “opportunity.” They said they wanted to admit minority applicants, but they regularly spoke about fear of seeing their yield -- the percentage of admitted applicants who enroll -- go down, as they assumed that the best minority candidates would end up at just one or two programs. Posselt writes of hearing comments such as, “Who are we going to get? It's a gamble,” and “We'll lose him to Princeton and Caltech.”

      One economist put it this way: “Gender is an issue that we get good -- we get top-notch women as well as top-notch men. Black -- we get fewer blacks. It's true. But we do try -- in the past we've tried to attract them. But then they get the same attractive offers from Columbia and Yale and Stanford and Berkeley and so forth. So it's a small group typically who get a lot of attention.”

      Merit and International Students

      Many graduate departments -- particularly in science fields -- rely on international students. The departments observed by Posselt appear to practice a form of affirmative action for everyone who is not an international Asian student in that professors de-emphasize the (typically extremely high) GRE scores of such applicants to avoid admitting what they would consider to be too many of them. This is in contrast to the attitudes of many professors with regard to considering American applicants of various ethnicities -- and who insisted on a single (high) standard there.

      Referring to international applicants, one scientist told Posselt, “The scores on the standardized tests are just out of sight, just off the charts. So you can basically throw that out as a discriminator. They're all doing 90th percentile and above. The domestic students are all over the place so there was actually some spread, some dispersion … so you could use that more as one of the quantifiers.”

      A philosopher said, “There certainly is a kind of stereotypical …” and then he paused, appearing to catch himself, before saying, “Chinese student who will have astronomical scores.”

      The professors said their view of international applicants’ test scores was not discriminatory, but based on the preparation of students in countries that place more of an emphasis on testing than does the United States.

      Many professors also expressed fears that Chinese applicants are also inflating test scores through cheating. One professor, Posselt writes, lowered his glasses during an interview to ask her, “You know about the cheating, don't you?”

      The concerns about cheating are “pervasive,” Posselt writes, with regard to tests designed to demonstrate English proficiency. The faculty members on admissions committees pay a lot of attention to this issue, and report feeling burned in the past by applicants whose scores indicated proficiency but who arrived in the United States with very poor English skills. Several departments that do not interview all applicants require interviews of international applicants.

      Chinese applicants appear especially challenging to many American professors, who report that they “seem alike” and hard to distinguish, when the admissions process is designed to do just that. One humanities professor told Posselt, “How do you compare six students from China, who all have the same last name?” (It is true, Posselt notes, that the 100 most common last names in China are the names of 87 percent of its population, and presumably of much of the Chinese applicant pool, while the 100 most common last names in the United States account for only 17 percent of the American population.)

      While departments are trying to do a better job of understanding Chinese applicants and are certainly admitting many of them, Posselt writes of a “troubling tendency to think of students from China not as individuals, but a profile of group averages.”

      What Do the Observations Mean?

      Posselt said in an interview that she wanted to study graduate admissions because it is so little understood and is so important. While admissions leaders constantly talk about the value of holistic admissions, Posselt said, it is rare to see up close just what that means. She saw much to admire, she said, in the devotion of faculty members to their disciplines and their intellectual traditions. And she believes holistic review has the potential to help graduate programs (and other parts of higher education) to identify and admit more minority talent.

      Continued in article

      Jensen Comment
      In accounting doctoral programs most everything is on a smaller scale. The large Ph.D. degree mills like the University of Illinois and the University of Texas that 50 years ago each cranked out 10-20 Ph.D. graduates per year now graduate 2-5 per year. The number of graduates in North America is this year (maybe 150) is barely over half of what it once was and contains a much larger percentage of foreign students, especially students weak in accounting who are strong in mathematics, statistics, and/or computer science from Asia and India.

      In my opinion GMAT or GRE scores are dominant in accounting Ph.D. admission decisions except in the case of affirmative action admissions where GMAT or GRE scores still are important among selection from the pool of minority applicants. Among white applicants who grew up in North America limited professional experience in the accounting profession is a often a necessary condition, but experience is of lesser importance among foreign applicants. According to the pathways commission, one of the problems is that Ph.D. programs do little to enhance accounting knowledge beyond that knowledge before entering the program.

      Political conservatism and religion are, in my opinion, less constraining in accounting and business doctoral programs relative to humanities where admission committees are more likely to be biased against conservatives and candidates from religious colleges. My guess is that it's easier for a Mormon to get into the accounting doctoral programs at Stanford and UC Berkeley than it is for Mormons to get into those humanities doctoral programs. BYU has a masters of accounting program in quantitative methods solely designed for getting graduates into accounting doctoral programs. My understanding is that graduates of this program are competitive in getting to virtually all top accounting doctoral programs.

      The point here is that skills in mathematics trump skills in accounting beyond the minimum accounting skills required for accounting doctoral programs. Often accounting students are admitted conditionally and cannot fully matriculate without advanced mathematical skills. Note this requirement for the University of Florida as summarized at

      As a result, some graduates of accounting programs are really not prepared to teach any of the undergraduate or masters courses in accounting. Ability and interest in teaching professional accounting, auditing, and tax varies a great deal among those graduates. Many prefer to eventually teach only information systems courses, economics courses, and doctoral seminars.

      The Pathways Commission of the American Accounting Association is working hard to put more accounting substance back into accounting doctoral programs such that Ph.D. research will be more of interest to the profession and graduates will be better able to teach accounting, auditing, and taxation ---

      My point is that admission criteria vary greatly between accounting doctoral programs versus masters programs. Masters of accounting students nearly all had the equivalent of undergraduate accounting majors. Those admitted from top accounting schools can get in with much lower GMAT scores than the scores required for doctoral students. Doctoral students can be admitted with much less accounting knowledge. Students seek accounting masters programs largely to improve their qualifications and knowledge to pass the CPA examination. Students seek accounting Ph.D. degrees largely to improve their knowledge for conducting accountics research required for tenure in accounting academe ---

       In science and humanities it's common for undergraduates to proceed directly into doctoral programs. This is less common in business and accounting.

      In humanities Ph.D. applicants are expected in most instances to finance rather long (read that seven or more years) of doctoral study. Many humanities students have spouses or significant others who financially support their long efforts to graduate. In science and business most doctoral students pay nothing in tuition and also receive modest living expenses. Science students can often complete their degrees in 3-4 years. Accounting and business students take 5-6 years, which is one of the things that greatly limits the number of applicants to Ph.D. programs, especially programs that require prior accounting and business professional experience before applying. For example, a typical accounting Ph.D. graduate spends 1-2 years getting a masters degree, 3-5 years in a CPA firm, and 5-6 years in a doctoral program. Add the years up. Now you know one of the big constraints on the number of applicants to accounting and business doctoral programs vis-à-vis science.

      It's common for economics Ph.D. graduates to be 25 or 26 years old. Accounting and business Ph.D. graduates are seldom this young.

      "What Will Doctoral Education Look Like in 2025?" by Leonard Cassuto, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 3, 2016 ---

      . . .

      Michael Bérubé and Jennifer Ruth argue in their new book, The Humanities, Higher Education, & Academic Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), that we must create a second, teaching-oriented tenure track. Should we? My hope for the next decade is that we start that conversation. Because we need to have it, both publicly and within departments.

      Tenured or not, more of us now teach online. Colleges rely more and more on distance learning, and much of it is prefabricated. The historian John Larson, of Purdue University, worries that such courses are incompatible with graduate training. "We teach graduate students to generate original content," he told me, but they are asked to teach multiple online courses in all different areas. To do that, he said, "You need off-the-shelf materials."

      "You don’t need to write a dissertation" to teach prefabricated courses, says Larson. "If you study for six years to get a Ph.D. and your job is a continuation of graduate-school TA work, that does not produce happiness. And if your teachers are discontented, that won’t recruit the next generation."

      A lack of coherence in teaching throughout the university is nothing new. Even for an incompetent futurist like me, it’s a safe bet that the incoherence will persist. But still I hope for more. Teaching, after all, is part of the graduate-school mission. In the humanities, observes Larson, it’s "our way of delivering scholarship."

      I talk with a lot of graduate students these days, and most of them would appreciate more focus on pedagogy in their training. They want it integrated into the curriculum, not just as an add-on. Graduate students also want their education to acknowledge more career paths. A graduate student at a state university recently told me that she wished her teachers wouldn’t make these alternatives "shameful to contemplate."

      Such concerns point toward the possibility of a more flexible dissertation requirement, which can bend to suit different student needs. The students want it. Their teachers aren’t so sure. So, will there be a change in the dissertation in the next decade?

      (Pause. Writer clears throat, looks out window.) I can’t predict that.

      Do I hope for it? Yes, cautiously. Graduate schools move slowly, but they’re beginning to stir. Larson points out that foundations and grant agencies are encouraging such changes. A case in point is the recent announcement of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ "Next Generation" grants to reconsider graduate education and "promote greater integration of the humanities in the public sphere." Such rewards nourish my cautious hope.

      But we have a long way to go. For one thing, graduate programs (and all of higher education, for that matter) have a bad habit of adding features but never letting go of any. We need to say "at the expense of" more often than we do.

      Strong graduate-school leadership is another hope. The budget of a graduate dean is typically among the most overstretched in the university. If we want graduate schools to meet the future and not get overwhelmed by an earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, or some other geological disaster, we need to empower their deans in tangible ways.

      Here’s the greatest cause for hope: The conversations about changing graduate school are finally happening. The problems I’ve described here have been with us for a long while, but for years we weren’t ready to face them. Yes, things have gotten worse — especially since the recession of 2008 — but we haven’t collapsed yet. Let’s fix our house before it falls over


    • Robert E Jensen

      Pathways Commission of Higher Education in Accounting ---

      How to Effectively Integrate Professionally Oriented Faculty to Achieve the Department's Mission
      ssues in Accounting Education, Article Volume 32, Issue 2 (May 2017)


      North D. Scott Showalter, Carolina State University

      James Bodtke, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign


      The purpose of this commentary is to describe the successful assimilation of Professionally Oriented Faculty into the department of accounting through the use of the Pathways Commission Professionally Oriented Faculty Integration Principles. Further, building upon the Integration Principles, we provide recommendations for attracting and retaining Professionally Oriented Faculty. We accomplish this by describing the varied journeys of six different Professionally Oriented Faculty as compared with the POF Integration Principles. We also summarize the Professionally Oriented Faculty Integration Principles and encourage adoption by member institutions of these principles with an affirmative statement.

      Clinical Professor ---

      Jensen Comment

      I'm in favor of having tenure tracks for clinical accounting faculty. This need not eliminate publish or perish criteria, only the focus of the publishing would be on scholarly articles aimed at the profession's practitioners. An indirect benefit might be to restore relevancy of academic publication among practitioners who lost interest in TAR, JAR, JAE, and most other academic research journals years ago. Exhibit A is the decline in practitioner subscriptions to AAA journals and submissions of practitioner manuscripts to those journals.