The field of finance covers the economics of claims on resources. For example, money is a claim on goods and services; stocks and bonds and futures contracts are all claims on money or on commodities.

Financial economists study the valuation of these claims, the markets in which they are traded, and their use by individuals, corporations, and the society at large.

At Stanford GSB, finance faculty and doctoral students study a wide spectrum of financial topics, including the pricing and valuation of assets, the behavior of financial markets, and the structure and financial decision-making of firms and financial intermediaries.

Investigation of issues arising in these areas is pursued both through the development of theoretical models and through the empirical testing of those models. The PhD Program is designed to give students a good understanding of the methods used in theoretical modeling and empirical testing.

Preparation and Qualifications

All students are required to have, or to obtain during their first year, mathematical skills at the level of one year of calculus and one course each in linear algebra and matrix theory, theory of probability, and statistical inference.

Students are expected to have adequate programming skills using languages such as Fortran, C, MATLAB, or GAUSS, or to correct any deficiencies before enrolling at Stanford.

The PhD Program in finance involves a great deal of very hard work, and there is keen competition for admission. For both these reasons, the faculty is selective in offering admission. Prospective applicants must have an aptitude for quantitative work and be at ease in handling formal models. A strong background in economics and college-level mathematics is desirable.

It is particularly important to realize that a PhD in finance is not a higher-level MBA, but an advanced, academically oriented degree in financial economics, with a reflective and analytical, rather than operational, viewpoint.

Recent Journal Articles in Finance

Jonathan B. Berk, Jules H. van Binsbergen
Financial Analyst Journal. May
2017, Vol. 73, Issue 2, Pages 25-32
Charles M. C. Lee, Eric C. So
Journal of Financial Economics. May
2017, Vol. 124, Issue 2, Pages 331-348
Shai Bernstein, Arthur Korteweg, Kevin Laws
Journal of Finance. April
2017, Vol. 72, Issue 2, Pages 509-538

Recent Insights by Stanford Business

May 8, 2017
New research examines fair market value of startups worth over $1 billion and finds huge discrepancies in their purported worth.
 A reveller dressed as a unicorn. |  Reuters/Kieran Doherty
April 13, 2017
Nearly a decade after the junk-mortgage crash, tech-savvy and lightly regulated lenders are thriving.
Hundred dollar bills | iStock/Savushkin
January 23, 2017
An analysis of 85 years’ worth of patents shows that technological innovation boosts total wealth.
Man with surprised look on his face | Reuters/Lucas Jackson