PhD Program at Smith

Accounting & Information Assurance

Welcome to the Accounting and Information Assurance (AIA) Department at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. The AIA Department offers courses and programs leading to BS, MS and PhD degrees. In addition, the AIA Department plays a significant role in providing accounting and information assurance courses with the Smith School’s MBA program. These programs are designed, and have proven, to provide the foundation for our graduates to reach the top echelons of careers in accounting, management, and academia. According to the most recent recruiters survey by the Wall Street Journal, the Smith School’s undergraduate accounting major ranked No. 7 in the U.S.

The Smith School’s AIA faculty holds advanced degrees from such leading research universities as Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Indiana, Michigan, MIT, Northwestern, Oxford, Pittsburgh, RPI, Wharton, and Wisconsin. They have served as editors or editorial board members for leading accounting research journals and have published in a wide range of leading academic research journals including The Accounting Review, ACM Transactions on Information and System Security, American Economic Review, Contemporary Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting, Business and Finance, Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Journal of Accounting Research, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Computer Security, Journal of Economic Theory, Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Philosophy, Management Science, MIS Quarterly, and Review of Accounting Studies. The AIA faculty members address a broad array of issues related to the use of financial information systems which are critical in making economic decisions. The following questions are representative of the research issues currently being addressed by the AIA faculty:

  • Do managers try to help or hinder the public's understanding of financial statements?
  • How can managers effectively communicate to investors the intangible value associated with strategic initiatives?
  • Would it be good for investors of US firms and for developing countries, if accounting rules were standardized across the globe?
  • What is the right amount for firms to invest in cybersecurity?
  • What is the impact of new SEC Disclosure Guidance on Cybersecurity risks and Cyber Incidents?
  • What are the characteristics of firms that manage cost more efficiently?
  • How do optimistic beliefs create stock market bubbles and can accounting information help to correct such beliefs?

The accounting faculty offers a four-course sequence in financial accounting principles (introductory and intermediate) and also teaches courses in managerial accounting, auditing, accounting systems, income tax accounting, accounting ethics and professionalism, international accounting, and advanced accounting. Faculty members possess a rare mix of "real-world" experience, excellence in research and scholarship, and a commitment to teaching and developing students for careers in the accounting field. Many of the faculty members work in partnership with members of the accounting profession to ensure that their teaching reflects the profession's needs. Two faculty members co-edit the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, a major academic accounting journal.

Information assurance is concerned with protecting the integrity and confidentiality of organizations' databases, reports, and computer systems along with ensuring the availability of the information to authorized users. Thus, it is not surprising that information assurance is an integral part of the discipline of accounting. For example, the accuracy and integrity of information is critical to accurate financial reporting and the generation of timely and relevant internal accounting reports for decision-making. Additionally, accountants, including auditors, have a responsibility for ensuring that proper internal controls are in place to protect the key strategic asset of information. External independent auditors have the responsibility of commenting on the fairness of accounting information and their actions are subject to a code of ethics. While accounting has always been concerned with information assurance, this concern, however, has been growing rapidly since the development of the Internet. Moreover, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 has clearly solidified the interconnectivity between accounting and information assurance. The ethical performance of the work of the independent auditor is now monitored by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Indeed, the importance of information assurance has transformed the research, teaching and practice of the discipline of accounting. Accounting faculty members at the Robert H. Smith School of Business have taken the lead in this area.

Accounting faculty members at the Smith School of Business are actively engaged in various research projects related to economic and risk management aspects of information assurance. In this latter regard, the Cybersecurity Risk Management (CRM) Research Group was formed in 2006. From a teaching perspective, information assurance is now an integral part of most accounting courses at the Smith School, including: auditing, managerial accounting, ethics and professionalism in accounting, business ethics, accounting systems, financial statement analysis, taxes, international accounting, and financial planning and control systems for managers and consultants. Several Smith School accounting faculty members are also actively engaged in information assurance research. For example, two faculty members have published an entire stream of research on the economic aspects of information security. Their research has been supported by the National Security Agency through a grant with the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. Other faculty members conduct research on corporate governance and business ethics. Faculty members at the Smith School are also working with corporations on the practical implementation of information assurance.