“Accounting is a relatively small community, and people here are thought leaders. If you want to do research, Wharton is perfect. I can’t think of a better place.”

Henry Friedman got a taste of academic research as an undergrad at Penn, and he was hooked. He says there’s nothing as exciting as the moment when a problem comes together, whether he’s sitting in front of a computer or walking down on the street.

When Henry was finishing his bachelor’s degree, he did a senior thesis with one of the professors in the Accounting department and had a very positive experience. He got a glimpse of what people were doing in this field and found it interesting.

“If you want to do research, Wharton is perfect. I can’t think of a better place,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities to do good work, and that’s what people judge you by later, so it’s really useful. Also, the placement record at Wharton has been great.”

Take Advantage of the Open-Door Policy

In the first and second years, doctoral students in the Accounting program take an empirical seminar that’s taught by almost the entire Accounting faculty, so they have the opportunity to learn more about the type of work that everyone does.

“Everyone has an open-door policy, so when I have a question, I wander into the Accounting suite, and look around to see who’s there. Because of the empirical seminar, I know who does what, so it’s easy to pop in, ask a question, and chat for 20 minutes,” he said.

“The quality of ideas and thought, and academic rigor is very high. Accounting is a relatively small community, and people here are thought leaders.”

Learning to Do Research the Right Way

Now at the end of his third year, Henry has completed his coursework and is trying to figure out what to do for his dissertation and another working paper. “I’m hoping to go on the job market for a tenure-track position at a solid university in about a year and a half,” he said.

During the first two years, students learn how to research “the right way” and spend a lot of time critiquing how other people have done it. “At the end of the second year, suddenly you have to start doing it yourself, which is when you realize this is hard,” he said.

Henry is looking at how accounting standards are related to systematic noise trade in stock markets internationally. “Stock prices are a big deal, and there’s been tons of research on them, so the best economic data we have is on stock prices,” he said. “It’s daily, it’s frequent, it’s deep, and it’s obviously politically important. So I’m carving out a little niche right now.”


Posted: November 13, 2014

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