Finance PhD Program

The Lundquist College of Business Doctoral Program in Finance develops scholars who become productive researchers and effective teachers at leading colleges and universities.

The program emphasizes analytical training in financial economics and quantitative methods and equips students to conduct original research on important problems that are of interest to both academics and practitioners in the field of finance.

Our faculty members are active researchers who publish regularly in scholarly finance journals. Many have served in editorial positions with prominent journals and are widely recognized for their empirical research in the areas of corporate finance and investments.

Finance PhD Program Coordinator
Associate Professor Youchang Wu


Program Structure

The PhD program requirements include courses and a qualifying examination in the major area of finance, courses in economics and statistics, two (2) research papers, and a thesis. Prior to the first term in the program, most students take a short course on the mathematical tools of economic analysis.

Major Area Requirements

Students are required to take at least two (2) PhD seminars in each of the first two years. In preparation for the PhD seminars, they are also encouraged to take upper-level finance courses in the MBA program, such as Concepts of Investments and Advanced Financial Management. In addition to courses offered in the finance department, students also take courses and seminars in economics, statistics, econometrics, and accounting. Individual programs of study are tailored to students' interests and prior coursework.

The qualifying examination in finance, given in two four-hour sessions over two consecutive days, is taken during the summer following the second year of the PhD program. Students who fail the first time have an opportunity to re-take the qualifying exam.

View Course Catalog

Courses in Economics and Statistics

Students must complete three (3) courses in economics and five (5) courses in statistics or econometrics. Typically, students take a sequence of statistics and econometric courses and a sequence of microeconomics courses offered by the economics department. Statistics, decision sciences, and accounting departments also offer courses on empirical methods.

First-Year Research Paper

The first-year research paper is due by the end of the student's first summer in the program (September 15). This paper gives students the opportunity to do independent research at the beginning of the doctoral program. In addition, the paper helps students identify specialized interests, develop writing and research skills, and offers them the chance to interact with faculty. Most of the work on this project is completed during the summer following the first year. Students present the results of their research to all faculty and other PhD students no later than October 15. Two faculty advisors evaluate both the submitted paper and the presentation and determine if the student passes this requirement.

Second Research Paper

The second research paper must be submitted to the program coordinator by December 15 of the student’s third year and be presented before the departmental faculty and other PhD students no later than January 15 of the following year. The second research paper must demonstrate the development of the student’s ability to conduct original and rigorous research. Two faculty advisors evaluate both the submitted paper and the presentation and determine if the student passes this requirement.

The Thesis

The thesis is an original project that adheres to high standards of exposition, contributes to knowledge in the field of financial economics, and demonstrates an ability to conduct independent research. Students are responsible for identifying their area of research and work informally with faculty in developing their topic and project. When the project is well-defined, the student forms a thesis committee that typically consists of a faculty advisor, two other faculty from the Lundquist College, and one faculty from another department within the university. The student presents a thesis proposal to the faculty and other PhD students after the thesis committee agrees that a suitable topic has been chosen and substantial progress has been made toward completion of the project. Ideally, the thesis proposal is defended by the beginning of the fourth year of the program.

A successful defense of the thesis proposal results in a written agreement between the student and the committee that acknowledges the project can be successfully completed. A defense of the thesis is presented when the student and the thesis committee agree that the thesis is essentially completed. A student making steady progress should complete all of the degree requirements within four years of entering the program.

Finance PhD Seminars/Proseminars

Formal PhD coursework in finance takes place in the PhD seminars. The objective of the seminars is to teach students the fundamental theories, analytical techniques, and empirical methods that are employed in finance research. The seminars typically involve lively discussions and debate, and are designed to enhance the students' ability to critically evaluate others' research and to develop their own research projects.

Given the small number of faculty in the finance department, it's not possible to cover in-depth all the subfields of finance. The goal of the seminars is to provide sufficient depth in training in a few areas such that students develop the facility to study and master other fields independently.

Finance PhD seminars cover the core topics of: fundamentals of valuation, utility and portfolio theory, asset pricing, options and futures, capital structure, and empirical methods. The seminars also cover such topics as corporate governance, dividends and repurchases, term structure of interest rates, fixed income securities, and financial institutions.

There are also weekly proseminars organized by the PhD program coordinator, in which PhD students discuss research topics/papers of interest, present their ongoing work, and provide feedback to each other.