Ph.D. in the Finance Area



Financial economics studies how investors determine the value of assets in financial markets (asset pricing), how firms allocate their resources and make financial decisions (corporate finance), and how financial institutions and markets facilitate financial transactions (financial intermediation). Topics in finance include: portfolio management, pricing of assets and contingent-claims, the theory of the firm, financial risk management, the role of financial markets and institutions, corporate investment and financing decisions, and others. The main goal of the finance doctoral program is to train students to do high-quality research in any of these areas and to prepare them for careers as professors of finance at top academic research institutions. To achieve this goal, Ph.D. students are required to take courses in economics and finance, and to write research papers examining important and relevant issues in financial economics.



In addition to the requirements described in Chapters 1 and 6 of this guide, doctoral students who have chosen finance as their area must satisfy the following requirements for a Ph.D. degree.

Course, Research Work and Dissertation Advisor

  1. The student’s course work must be approved by the area faculty advisor.
  2. During the student’s first year, he or she must take a minimum of four courses per semester and must achieve at least a 3.0 (B) grade point average in the first year.
  3. The student is expected to attend all research seminars organized in the finance area during the student’s tenure in the Ph.D. program. Moreover, during each semester of the second and third years, the student must write a short summary and critical comments on two papers presented in the research seminar during the semester. These reviews are to be submitted to the area advisor and will be graded by a subset of area faculty for a Pass/Fail grade..
  4. Students are expected to be fully engaged in research during all the summers, including the summer of their first year, of their tenure in the Ph.D. program.
  5. Students must have a Jones School finance faculty member who has agreed to serve as their dissertation advisor by January 1 of their third year in the program.

Exam Requirements

  1. Students must successfully pass comprehensive exams in economic theory and econometrics administered by the economics faculty at the end of the first year.
    Students must successfully pass a comprehensive exam administered by the finance faculty at the end of the Fall semester of the second year. The exam will be administered and graded by finance faculty, under the supervision of the finance area advisor. The exam focuses on corporate finance and empirical methods in finance.

Third-Year Research Paper
Each student must write and present a sole-authored original research paper during their third year in the program. The paper must be presented by October 15 of the student's third year in the program. The specific procedures are as follows:

(1) By March 1st of the student’s second year in the program, two JGSB faculty members must agree to serve as readers of the paper.

(2) A student must submit a detailed outline of the paper and a copy of the Third-Year Paper Outline Approval Form, signed by the two faculty readers, to the Finance area advisor by June 1 following the student's second year in the program. The outline for an empirical paper should include: (1) the research hypothesis, 2) motivation for the research hypothesis, (3) description of the data, (4) description of the empirical tests, and (5) the expected contribution to the literature. The outline for an analytical paper should include: (1) the basic phenomenon under study, (2) the economic setting, (3) the modeling approach, (4) the fundamental assumptions, and (5) the expected contribution to the literature. The outline should also include references to the related literature investigating the research topic and to any studies underpinning the analytical methods to be used.

(3) A student must submit a copy of the completed third-year paper to the Finance Faculty advisor and to the two faculty readers by September 15 of the student's third year in the program.

(4) A student must present the third-year paper at a research workshop at a date chosen by the faculty during the first half of October of the student's third year in the program and at least one of the faculty readers must be present and sign the Third-Year Paper Presentation Form, stating that the presentation is acceptable.

Failure to complete the Third-Year Paper requirement, as outlined above, will mean that the student is not making satisfactory academic progress in the Ph.D. Program and is grounds for dismissal from the doctoral program.


Sample Course Sequence
The course curriculum is designed around a challenging course of study in both the theory of financial economics and in cutting edge empirical work. Here is a sample course sequence for a doctoral student in finance. BUSI 524, 525, 526, and 527 are half-semester courses on special topics in finance taught biennially. Students should consult the finance area advisor regarding whether to substitute a more advanced math course for Math 321 in the Fall of the 1st year.

Year 1 - Summer (July 1 - August 15)
Math Camp and Stat Camp

Year 1 - Fall

ECON 501 - Microeconomic Theory I
ECON 502 - Macroeconomics I
Math 321 Introduction to Analysis I
ECON 510 - Econometrics I


Year 1 - Spring

ECON 508 - Microeconomic Theory II
ECON 511 Econometrics II
BUSI 521 Asset Pricing Theory
ECON 504 Computational Economics


Year 2 - Fall

BUSI 524 or BUSI 525
BUSI 523 - Empirical Methods in Finance
BUSI 522 - Corporate Finance


Year 2 - Spring

BUSI 526 or BUSI 527
ECON 503 Topics in Financial Economics


Year 3 - Fall

BUSI 524 or BUSI 525

Year 3 - Spring

BUSI 526 or BUSI 527



Course Descriptions

BUSI 521: Asset Pricing Theory
This course is an introduction to portfolio choice and asset pricing theory. Topics include expected utility maximization, stochastic discount factors, arbitrage, mean-variance analysis, representative investors, and beta-pricing models. Single-period and dynamic models are studied.

BUSI 522: Corporate Finance
The purpose of this course is to provide a background for understanding the major research directions in corporate finance. Topics include theory of the firm, capital structure, external financing decisions, payout policy, agency problems, corporate control and governance, investment decisions, and the role of financial institutions in corporate transactions.

BUSI 523: Empirical Methods in Finance
This course is an introduction to empirical research in finance, covering the techniques most often used in the analysis and testing of financial economic theory. The course covers both time-series and cross section methods. Topics include event studies, empirical tests of asset pricing models, forecasting relationships, return predictability in the time-series and cross-section, asset pricing anomalies, and specification and identification issues in corporate finance.

BUSI 524, 525, 526, 527: Advanced Topics in Finance
These are half-semester courses covering various topics in financial economics.



Certification of Candidacy indicates that a student has reached the advanced stage of the Ph.D. Program, permitting him/her to devote full time to writing a dissertation.  At least eight months must elapse between admission to candidacy and conferral of the degree. The requirements for candidacy are:

(1) Successful completion of the course work requirements,
(2) Successful completion of the examination requirements.