About the PhD in finance

Learn more about admission, funding, and curriculum.

Getting in

First, you need to meet the minimum PhD admission requirements. Other criteria for admission include:

Academic record
An undergrad concentration in finance or economics isn't required to be admitted. The minimum GPA is 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. We also consider the rigor of your undergrad or master's institution(s), and grades you earned in finance, econ, stats, and math courses. The recommended background is coursework in finance and economics through intermediate micro and macro, math through one year of calculus, and introductory mathematical statistics.

GMAT or GRE score
Our admitted students average around 700 on the GMAT. The quantitative scores in particular are considered.

Statement of purpose
Content and overall seriousness are considered.

Letters of recommendation
We're interested in their assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, motivation, and ability to succeed.

English proficiency
This applies only to international applicants whose native language is not English. Automatic waivers of the English Proficiency Requirement are granted if you've completed a bachelor's degree (or higher) at an accredited university in the United States. We accept TOEFL and IELTS. The Graduate College minimum score requirements are:

IELTS: 7.0 with no subscore under 6.0*
DuoLingo: 105 minimum score*

*All IELTS and DuoLingo test-takers will be required to take the on-campus English Proficiency Evaluation when they arrive.

Financial support

Our financial aid package includes:

  • All tuition payments
  • A 12-month stipend for living expenses (approximately $28,000)
  • Health and dental insurance

PhDs earn the stipend by serving as research or teaching assistants. See details on the base funding package.

Other benefits

  • Departmental scholarships for outstanding students

Curriculum and plan of study

The PhD in finance requires 72 semester hours of credit, in addition to a dissertation. The typical time to complete the degree is five years.

The first year, finance PhDs take three or four courses per semester, depending on their background in finance, and three courses per semester in year two. The finance electives in year one are normally MBA-level courses, but if you've already covered this material, we may give you an exemption (these exemptions are at the discretion of the PhD director). We sometimes give exemptions for statistics as well.


Year one

  • Fall semester: Mathematics/statistics, macro and microeconomics, finance elective
  • Spring semester: Finance theory, statistics, microeconomics II or another course in minor area, finance elective
  • Summer semester: Complete a survey paper using existing research and data

Year two

  • Fall semester: Advanced corporate finance, finance theory, econometrics
  • Spring semester: Advanced empirical finance, applied econometrics; prepare an original research paper under guidance of a faculty member
  • End of year: Major qualifying exams in finance; PhD candidates choose a minor area of study from a list including economics, accounting, and stats

Year three

  • Fall semester: Preparation of an original research paper to be completed by end of semester
  • Spring semester: Presentation on proposed thesis topic by end of semester

Year four

  • Fall semester: Thesis proposal defense
  • Spring semester: Progress toward thesis completion

Year five

  • Submission of completed dissertation
  • Final oral dissertation defense
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