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

Barney Hartman-Glaser, Benjamin Hébert
Journal of Finance (forthcoming). February
Paul Pfleiderer
Economica. January
2020, Vol. 87, Issue 345, Pages 81-107
Lin William Cong, Steven Grenadier, Yunzhi Hu
Journal of Financial Economics. January
2020, Vol. 135, Issue 1, Pages 1-15

Recent Insights by Stanford Business

December 6, 2019
Stanford GSB professors recommend the books they’re most likely to give as presents over this year’s holiday season.
A stack of books being unwrapped. Credit: iStock/Thinglass
October 31, 2019
A study finds that almost half of the state’s 2012 income tax increase was eroded by people who moved away or lowered their taxable income.
Moving vans headed east out of California. Credit: iStock/eyecrave
October 24, 2019
Banks earn big profits by paying minuscule interest on deposits and charging large credit card fees. Digital currencies are about to disrupt that.
Hands are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the picture of various currencies of money in this illustration. Credit: Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Illustration