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

Saumitra Jha, Moses Shayo
Econometrica. December
Arvind Krishnamurthy, Zhiguo He, Konstantin Milbradt
American Economic Review . April
2019, Vol. 109, Issue 4, Pages 1230-1262
YiLi Chien, Hanno Lustig, Kanda Naknoi
Journal of Monetary Economics (in press). February

Recent Insights by Stanford Business

April 3, 2019
A new study of financial crises going back to 1870 shows that they make for unusually nasty recessions.
People protest outside the entrance for the Real Estate Disposition Corp Foreclosure Home Auction in New York, March 8, 2009. The auction of foreclosed homes in New York City on Sunday drew protesters who blamed banks for an epidemic of home losses and called for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
March 15, 2019
Expert panelists put corporate wrongdoing in its broader context.
Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf arrives to testify before a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the firm’s sales practices on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 20, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron
March 8, 2019
A new study documents how companies shop for sympathetic arbitrators, and how the arbitrators compete for their business.