The field of finance covers the economics of claims on resources. 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

Priyank Gandhi, Hanno Lustig, Alberto Plazzi
The Review of Financial Studies. September
2020, Vol. 33, Issue 9, Pages 4231–4271
Joshua D. Rauh, Irina Stefanescu, Stephen P. Zeldes
Journal of Public Economics. August
2020, Vol. 188
Sumit Agarwal, Wenlan Qian, Amit Seru, Jian Zhang
Journal of Financial Economics. August
2020, Vol. 137, Issue 2, Pages 430–450

Recent Insights by Stanford Business

August 27, 2020
A forensic analysis reveals that Chinese banks deployed credit cards as a form of “disguised corruption.”
An illustration of a man’s suit with a credit card sticking out of the breast pocket. Credit: Tricia Seibold and iStock/youngID
August 13, 2020
Stanford business professors share what they’re reading at home right now.
An illustration of a book. Credit: iStock/axllll
May 7, 2020
In this panel, professors agreed that something needed to be done, fast, to help the economic fallout, but disagreed on federal government’s strategy.
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in the financial district of lower Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in New York City. Credit: Reuters/Andrew Kelly