Finance Program Requirements

The PhD finance concentration requires a strong mastery of economic theory. Students spend the first year taking a doctoral-level sequence in microeconomic theory and a sequence in econometric analysis. They are also required to take four, two-credit finance PhD seminars in the first year. The program encourages students with a more limited technical background to select appropriate courses in mathematics or statistics, and students with no previous finance coursework are encouraged to audit MBA program finance courses

In the second year, coursework includes doctoral seminars on current topics in finance along with elective courses generally in accounting, economics, or mathematics. Some students, depending on their course of study, may take the microeconomics written preliminary examination at the end of their first year.

Students also write summer papers at the end of their first and second year of coursework and complete the finance written preliminary examination at the end of their second year. Students who successfully complete their summer papers and pass the written and oral preliminary exams begin work on a dissertation leading to the PhD in Business Administration.



Students are required to take six Finance PhD seminars (8802, 8803, 8812, 8813, 8822, amd 8823) plus the micro-economics sequence (Econ 8101-8104), and an econometrics sequence. It is recommeded that students also complete the macroeconomics sequence and other finance PhD seminars offered. Students should take a minimum of 8 elective credits in fields such as economics, statistics, and accounting, and must have at least 40 credits of degree program coursework to progress to the prelim exams.

Course descriptions:

Fina 8802: Theory of Capital Markets I: Discrete Time

The course covers the essentials of modern asset pricing theory using static and discrete time frameworks. The fundamental asset pricing equation is introduced that uses the stochastic discount factor to price securities. The course develops a general approach that is then used to examine several classical models in finance-CAPM, consumption-based CAPM, and the APT. The course also introduces students to essential concepts of complete markets, representative agent and Pareto optimality. Some of the advanced topics discussed include overview of the present challenges to the theories and some modern approaches such as habit formation and heterogeneous agents (incomplete markets) model.

Fina 8803: Theory of Capital Markets II: Continuous Time

This course is an introduction to the theory of continuous- time financial economics. The emphasis is on the main mathematical and statistical tools on which the theory is built. Course content includes Ito processes, Girsanov’s theorem, and risk-neutral pricing. Upon completion of the course, students should be sufficiently familiar with these tools to be able to formulate and analyze continuous-time models.

Fina 8804: Advance Continuous Time Finance

This course continues where Fina 8803 ended. Some of the topics investigated include the pricing of fixed income securities, optimal capital structure, and general equilibrium. From there, classic papers in this field will be read and replicated by the students.

Fina 8810 : Topics in Asset Pricing 
This course investigate current topics in the asset pricing literature. The goal is to have students read these papers, rederive the main results, identify the main assumptions, and thus identify ideas on how to improve upon the current literature.

Fina 8812: Corporate Finance I

This course covers theoretical work in four major areas of corporate finance: corporate control, managerial incentives, corporate governance, and capital structure. The perspective taken is that understanding corporate finance decisions is impossible without a solid understanding of the theory of the firm-what assets are collected within the firm and what determines the boundaries of the firm. Empirical evidence in support of theoretical models is also discussed. The course will begin with a review of modern theories of the firm based on incomplete contracts. Each of the subsequent topics will then show how corporate finance decisions either expand or limit the scope of the firm.

Fina 8813: Corporate Finance II

This course covers varied topics in theoretical corporate finance like initial public offering, dividend policy, financial distress and its resolution, financial intermediation and applications of auctions in finance. The course will also cover some topics in market microstructure.

Fina 8820: Topics in Corporate Finance

This readings course will focus on recent contributions in corporate finance. Goal is to produce ideas for new research. Course offered yearly, alternating between theory and empirics.

Fina 8822: Empirical Methods in Finance

This course will introduce students to many of the empirical methods used in modern financial economics. The course focuses on the empirical techniques used most often in the analysis of financial markets and how they are applied to actual market data. The list of topics includes: a) statistical properties of asset returns and the efficient markets hypothesis, b) empirical tests of asset pricing models (CAPM, APT, Intertemporal CAPM, Consumption CAPM), c) tests of conditional asset pricing models, and d) other relevant topics.

Fina 8823: Empirical Corporate Finance

The course focuses on current empirical research on corporate finance, mergers/acquisitions, equity offerings, event studies, tests of market efficiency, impact of corp. governance, etc.

Fina 8890: Seminar: Finance Topics

Topics vary.

First Year Exam

First Year Exam

First year students will be tested on two intro and two intermediate courses that have been taken during their first year. Students must take and pass this exam in the summer between their 1st and 2nd years in the program. A retake of this exam may be permitted, depending department approval. Those who retake the exam must pass it before the end of their 2nd year in the program. Failing this exam twice will result in the student’s removal from the program.

Research Papers

Research Papers

Students are expected to work on research during the summer. Their 1st summer paper is due by Sept. 15th of the 2nd year. The goal of the 1st summer paper is to get the students started on independent research. The topic and the scope of the paper must be approved by the PhD coordinator in consultation with the student’s adviser. The requirements for the 2nd summer paper are more stringent. It should be original research. The 1st draft of the paper is due on Sept. 15 of the 3rd year. To satisfactorily meet the requirement, the paper has to be approved by 2 readers and the presentation has to be deemed satisfactory by the department’s faculty. Students are expected to incorporate feedback and submit the final draft by Dec. 15th of the 3rd year. After the final draft is turned in, students can progress to the oral exam, which is based on this research paper.

Written Prelim

Written Prelim

Second year students will be tested on the two intermediate courses taught in their second year. Students will take the written exam in early summer after completion of the second year. Though subject to change, the exam is usually given over a series of days during a 2-week time period in June.

Oral Prelim

Oral Prelim

The oral exam is often based on the summer research paper that students complete by the beginning of their 3rd year in the program, though this format is not mandatory. The exam will normally occur during spring semester of the student's third year.

Proposal Defense

Proposal Defense

Should be completed in spring semester of the fourth year.



In the third and the fourth years, students will independently teach 3 credits per year. The timing of the courses can be adjusted depending on departmental need.

Program Demographics 2015

  • Average Age = 27
  • Average GRE (before August 2011) = 1439
  • Average GRE (after August 2011) = 324
  • Average GMAT (Total) = 710

Program Statistics 2015

  • Number of Applicants = 75
  • Admissions = 2 (3%)
  • Matriculants = (100%)
  • Total program size = 14