How do I get a PhD in Finance?

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  • Written By: Elva K.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 01 March 2020
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Finance is a career field which covers a variety of areas. For instance, if interested in finance, one could pursue a career in areas such as commercial banking, financial planning, insurance, hedge funds, investment banking, corporate finance, private equity, money management or real estate. Individuals who seek careers in finance often seek a PhD in finance due to the fact that having the doctorate increases the number of career options they have. Granted, getting a doctoral degree in finance is not a one-step task. Rather, it first requires getting a college degree and subsequent work experience.

In order to attain the PhD in finance, you would typically major in finance as an undergraduate. Then after a finance undergraduate degree, you would either pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in finance or you would simply apply directly to a doctoral program in finance during the final semester of the undergraduate degree. Of course, it can be advantageous for you to gain a few years of work experience after completion of the undergraduate degree because having work experience will supplement your undergraduate classroom learning and will give you some confidence and awareness of the business world before you seek doctoral study in finance.


To begin your search for a doctoral finance program, you could look at the listing of top finance programs at US News and World Report's annual listing of "best business schools." Reading business journals or magazines can also increase your awareness of the doctoral finance programs that are available. Also, talking with individuals who have successfully completed a PhD in finance and talking to former professors can be useful since they will tend to have some idea as to which doctoral finance programs could be best for your particular goals.

Application for the doctorate will include submitting references from previous employers and professors or supervisors. In addition, you will be required to submit your scores from the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), which assesses your skills in analysis, math, and verbal skills. Also, you will have to complete formal applications and go through an interview process with any schools you are interested in attending.

Keep in mind that doctoral programs vary when it comes to matters such as professor research emphases, cost, availability of scholarships, and the types of companies or businesses which tend to recruit the doctoral students. It is important that you carefully consider what your career goals as you think about which doctoral finance programs you want to apply to. Also, keep in mind that if you have been able to save a substantial amount of money while working, that means that you could pay for at least part of your doctoral program costs and that can help matters greatly, particularly if the school can offer you a scholarship or assistantship to help cover your doctoral costs. Of course, if you haven't been able to save much money while working, then you need to either get student loans, seek a doctoral program that offers full scholarships to its students, or seek some other funding option.

After beginning the PhD in finance, you will go through four to six years of rigorous coursework which will include courses such as market microstructure, corporate finance theory, tax seminar, and empirical finance. To successfully complete the PhD, you must do the required finance coursework, do any required pre-dissertation research projects, successfully complete a doctoral finance internship, and then successfully complete a dissertation. If you can do these things, you will successfully attain the PhD in finance.



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