Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. Program in Finance provides students with the tools and techniques to push the frontiers of research in financial economics.  It is not an advanced MBA.  It is rigorous and technical and specifically aimed at students who aspire to become faculty members at leading universities and to contribute to the research discourse at these institutions.  Students completing the finance program receive a Ph.D. in Business Administration.


Since 2006 students trained and advised by the Finance faculty at Duke have placed as Assistant Professors of Finance at Yale (2 students), New York University, Wharton (2 students), University of Michigan,  Cornell (2 Students), Stanford, UCLA, University of British Columbia, among others, and as economists at leading policy institutions such as the Federal Reserve Board. Prior placements include Princeton University, Columbia University, and the University of Hong Kong, among others.  Click here to find out more or read about other Fuqua alumni.

Application Procedure

Although a strong background in economics or business, as well as an ease for college-level mathematics, are desirable, they are not necessarily required.  We invite you to explore this website for more information about what it’s like inside the PhD, requirements, research topics, to meet our PhD students and to contact us.

Inside the Ph.D.

The PhD program usually requires four to six years of work, with an average of roughly five years. The student and the faculty in his/her area determine the specific program of study in accordance with each student’s goals and interests. Each student must:

  1. Gain expertise in an area of special interest via coursework or independent study
  2. Take a comprehensive exam in this area, usually during the second or third year
  3. Present a dissertation

The Fuqua School of Business policy is to provide stipends, tuition and registration, and health fees for all new PhD students. The school provides tuition, registration, and health fees throughout the program and provides stipend support for 10 semesters, as long as the student continues to make satisfactory progress toward the PhD.

For more details, please see the Requirements tab to the right and the Financial Aid page (see Program Facts tab)

Typical course schedule

Fall of First Year
Economics 301: Microeconomics I
Economics 341: Econometrics I
BA 551: Empirical Asset Pricing

Spring of First Year
BA 552: Empirical Corporate Finance
BA 553: Theoretical Asset Pricing
Economics 302: Microeconomics II; or Economics 342: Econometrics II

Fall of Second Year
Economics 322: Macroeconomics II
Finance seminar
Two elective courses, in finance or other fields

Spring of Second Year
BA 554: Theoretical Corporate Finance
Finance seminar
Two elective courses, in finance or other fields

Possible Elective Courses

Electives can be taken from Fuqua or from other departments at the University, including mathematics, economics, statistics, decision science and accounting. Examples of elective courses include Time Series, Simulation Modeling, Applied Microeconomics, Game Theory, Financial Econometrics, Non-Linear Statistical Models, Bayesian Inferences and Decisions, Computational Finance, Stochastic Modeling, and Accounting seminars.


Required Courses

Because finance and economics are closely related fields, the recommended course sequence in the finance PhD program includes several courses from the economics department.
Required courses include:

  • Core sequence courses in the PhD program in economics, including microeconomics and econometrics
  • Four finance core courses taught at Fuqua:
    • asset pricing
    • corporate finance
    • finance theory
    • empirical methods in finance
  • Elective courses – typically in economics, mathematics, statistics, decision sciences, accounting and finance, but very few constraints are placed on the student choices

Students are also strongly encouraged to take a number of finance seminars in which they can present and discuss research papers on a variety of topics.  For more information, see a typical course schedule in the “Inside” tab to the left.

Qualifying Exam

Students are required to pass the finance qualifying exams at the end of their second year.

The qualifying exam shows that students are ready to concentrate on producing their own research.

Research Papers

During the first two years in the program students write original papers which facilitate the transition to research, often lead to a dissertation topic and, in some cases, to publishable work. These papers are normally produced during the summers.

Research Topics

The field of finance studies the pricing of capital assets and the financial decisions of individuals and firms. Generally speaking, the field devotes most, but not all, of its attention to two main subfields:  asset pricing and corporate finance.  There is also a third burgeoning field in behavioral finance.

Asset Pricing Theory

Faculty members are actively engaged in both analytical and empirical asset pricing theory.  See more about the following abstracts of recent work in:

  • Asset pricing
  • Dynamic portfolio choice
  • Term structure of interest rates
  • International investment
  • Analysts forecasts and market reaction
  • The impact of hedge funds strategies on asset prices

Corporate Finance

Similarly, faculty members are actively engaged in research in theoretical and empirical corporate finance.  See more about the following abstracts of recent work in:

  • Information asymmetry and heterogeneous trading
  • Leasing and debt capacity
  • Capital structure
  • Mergers and acquisitions

Behavioral Finance

Behavioral finance is an emerging and fast-growing field of inquiry in finance research and the Finance faculty at Fuqua is leading the way.  See more about the following abstracts of recent work in:

  • Overconfidence, investment policy, and CEO compensation
  • Managerial overconfidence and corporate policies

Apply Now!

Please see more information on the PhD Program in Business Administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business