For Jennifer McGarry, helping
train tomorrow’s accountants does more than pay the bills. As a CPA with
15-plus years of experience, McGarry enjoys engaging students in the classroom
and helping them become the qualified future accountants companies will
“I think accounting is a popularly misunderstood profession,” she says.
“Dispelling some of those stereotypes has become my passion, as well as helping
students understand the opportunities that exist for them.”
McGarry is one of eight students within the 2018 cohort of DePaul University’s Doctorate
in Business Administration (DBA) program. The
Kellstadt Graduate School of Business launched the part-time, three-year
program in 2016, with the goal of helping experienced business professionals
take their business careers to the next level. The program’s unique curriculum
also prepares professionals, like McGarry, transition to academic careers.
McGarry, who has taught as an adjunct instructor for Western Illinois
University and St. Ambrose University for the last four years, recently
accepted a tenure-track position at Loras College in Iowa. Earning a DBA
allowed her to become qualified for her new position.
DBA candidates advance through the program by participating in nine,
two-and-a-half day residencies led by Kellstadt faculty on a Friday-Sunday
schedule that allows participants to continue working during the week. The
curriculum and face-to-face interaction with fellow cohort members has prepared
McGarry for the rigors of teaching and research.
“Being in the industry for as long as I’ve been, I’m very process-oriented,”
she says. “I’m a CPA, so when I say ‘research,’ I’m researching tax issues for
my clients, but academic, evidence-based research is a different beast. The
faculty in the program are giving us the tools we need to be successful with our
Program Director Bob Rubin, who is a professor in the college’s Department
of Management & Entrepreneurship, says the DBA curriculum prepares business
professionals to become applied researchers who can work in both academic and
During the first year of the program, candidates take courses in research
methods and are broken up into small groups to work with a faculty advisor to
develop a research project. The coursework also covers qualitative research,
data analysis and statistics, business strategy and organizational development.
Students use the research tools and methods acquired along with their area of
specialization to complete a traditional dissertation.
“We want to demystify the research process,” Rubin says. “In our group research
projects, faculty advisors are moving students from the conception of an idea
to the completion of an entire research project, so they’re accessing
literature, writing a literature review, asking testable questions, collecting
and analyzing data and writing it up in an academic paper and making a
presentation, all in one year.”
The program attracts business executives across all areas. The 2018
cohort includes students with backgrounds in marketing, finance, data
analytics, operational management and more. Rubin says the mixed cohort
provides a stimulating learning environment.
DBA candidate Brian
Thompson, who recently completed his first year in the program, teaches
finance and economic courses as an adjunct professor at the Driehaus College of
Business. He also manages two consulting and investment businesses, Black &
Essington Solutions and Black & Essington Capital.
more about DePaul’s Doctorate in Business Administration.
“The program has really allowed me to see things from a different perspective
and has given me the ability to bring evidence-based research to the investment
process or to solving a problem for a client in a much more thorough way,”
Thompson says. “I think I’ve had a much more critical eye when looking at
things than I did a year ago.
Rubin says the DBA program trains students to use both their research skills
and real-world experience to enhance classrooms within business schools.
“By helping people take their corporate experience and match it up with
evidence and theory, students pursuing academic careers become powerhouse
instructors,” Rubin says. “I think these are the folks who are going make the
best business school faculty.”