From a Doctoral student to an Assistant Professor of Accounting
Doctoral Programme / 21 December 2021
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Doctoral Student Class of 2021
Menghan Zhu is currently an assistant professor of accounting at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

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I had an incredible journey as a doctoral student at FS, and the program helped me tremendously in pursuing a career as a professor in Accounting. I benefited a lot from the program’s rigorous coursework, high-quality research seminar series, and support from the faculty.

Rich and rigorous in-house coursework

One important feature that attracted me to do a doctorate at FS is the structure of the program. It consists of 2 years of coursework/master thesis phase (120 ECTS) and 3 years of dissertation phase. The two-year coursework phase ensures that students take their time to learn and sharpen their research toolbox and find research topics that interest them the most. Apart from mandatory Economics, Econometrics, and Accounting Research courses, students are also strongly encouraged to take in-house courses taught by professors from other related disciplines to broaden their (research) horizons, such as information economics theories and asset pricing theories.

Generous support for external courses abroad

Apart from in-house courses, students also get a generous budget for (typically two) external courses in other institutions abroad. I took part in two research seminar courses offered by Limperg Institute in the Netherlands with Prof. Peter Easton (University of Notre Dame) and Prof. Shiva Rajgopal (Columbia University). Moreover, as Frankfurt School is a member of the TRR266 research community, students are encouraged to take PhD seminars at other schools within Germany, such as the Humboldt University of Berlin. My fellow doctorate classmates also used the budget for interesting summer courses such as research in Blockchain (Rotterdam School of Management) and social network analysis (University of St. Gallen), to name a few. These courses allow students to interact intensively with established scholars, help them socialize with peers from other institutions, and build their research networks early on.

High-quality seminar series

Looking back at the past years, I must say that I benefited a lot from the high-quality seminar series we had in the accounting department. It is especially true before the Covid-19 pandemic when all the students can meet the speaker (face-to-face) and discuss the paper in detail (for around 1.5 hours) over business lunch meetings. Taking the last academic year before Covid as an example (the academic year 2018-2019), we had speakers from top institutions across the globe, such as Chicago, Yale, LSE, and HKUST (if you are interested, check here for the complete list of the speakers).

Strong support from faculties

Faculty members at the FS Accounting Department are all very supportive and willing to work closely with Doctoral students. For example, I had the opportunity to choose the research topic myself, and I worked with two professors within the department and two professors outside FS (LBS and NHH) for my dissertation. Another feature of the program is that the faculty and the students are very well connected. Apart from regular research meetings with supervisors and other faculties, doctoral students also have different opportunities for casual chats about research and life, such as weekly routine lunch & coffee get-togethers, and ad-hoc sports events such as hiking and table tennis matches.

Are you interested in doing research in Accounting?

If you are curious about the structured doctoral program and doing accounting research in an international environment, take a look at the accounting doctoral program at Frankfurt School.