In business, the big questions are usually finance questions

Prompted by the Great Recession, and the government’s response to it, some of the greatest questions facing businesses and policymakers today are questions of finance.

Can asset bubbles be predicted and avoided? How do markets respond to political policies? More sophisticated financial modeling than ever before is opening up new avenues of study, thanks to huge volumes of data and technology-driven mathematical tools.

As you pursue your PhD in finance, you’ll work shoulder-to-shoulder with our world-renowned faculty, perfecting your research, writing, and teaching skills. By the time you hold that PhD in your hand, you’ll have everything you need to explore answers to the big finance questions—and many more of your own.

Respected and renowned

Our faculty are among the best in the world in researching and teaching. Our dream team is composed of faculty like Professor Erik Lie, one of the world’s most influential thinkers on managerial compensation, and Professor David Bates, a renowned researcher on the stochastic process of stock returns and option pricing. Our finance faculty members are actively doing research on a diverse set of topics, including corporate finance, asset pricing and investment management, risk management and insurance, and real estate.

You’ll work closely with these and many more finance faculty, and among them you’ll find mentors and dedicated scholars alike.

See faculty research

“I applied to schools all over the world, including some very famous schools in Asia and Europe, but I finally chose the University of Iowa. I made a very good choice.”


Since 2001, Tippie finance PhDs have accepted tenure-track faculty positions at an impressive list of universities as their initial placements:

  • Bilkent University, Turkey (2)
  • Bradley University *
  • California State University-Fullerton (2)
  • City University of Hong Kong
  • Drexel University
  • Fordham University
  • Higher School of Economics, Russia
  • Iowa State University (2)
  • Kansas State University
  • Lehigh University (2)
  • Louisiana State University
  • Miami University (Ohio) *
  • Michigan State University
  • Singapore Management University
  • St. Louis University
* 2023 placements
  • Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea
  • University of Alabama-Huntsville
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Binghamton
  • University of Buffalo (2)
  • University of Illinois-Chicago *
  • University of Missouri (2)
  • University of New Hampshire (2)
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • University of Texas-El Paso
  • University of Toledo
  • Washington State University
  • West Texas A&M University

But it’s not just academia clamoring for finance PhDs. Financial service industries and financial market regulators are leaning on finance PhDs to steer their strategy. Our PhD program is STEM-designated, which offers flexibility to students interested in "alt-ac" job opportunities. Since 2001, our finance PhDs have joined non-academic institutions such as:

  • Brattle Group
  • Ibbotson Associates
  • Jacob Levy Asset Management
  • Promontory Financial Group
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • State Street Global Advisors

Finally, our finance PhD program has a very long history—it goes back to the 1980s. Before the recent two decades, the initial placements of our finance PhDs already included a very impressive list of universities, such as:

  • Case Western University
  • Iowa State University
  • National Taiwan University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Oklahoma
  • University of Texas-San Antonio
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Yuan Ze University

“Academics in general is a close community and the relationships I’ve made at Iowa will last a long time. It’s competitive, but it's also small and collaborative."

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.

Letters of recommendation

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

English proficiency

This requirement applies only to international applicants whose native language is not English. We follow the Graduate College's English proficiency requirements

Statement of purpose

Content and overall seriousness are considered.

Curriculum and sample 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.

Finance Department Handbook

Year 1
  • 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 2
  • 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 3
  • 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 4
  • Fall semester: Thesis proposal defense
  • Spring semester: Progress toward thesis completion


Year 5
  • Submission of completed dissertation
  • Final oral dissertation defense