Ph.D. Program


Ph.D. in Finance

Finance is an applied branch of economics dealing with the problems of allocating financial resources, with particular attention given to the art of decision making under conditions of uncertainty. At UCLA Anderson, a specialization in finance includes a survey of empirical and theoretical research in investments, corporate finance and behavioral finance.

The highly selective finance program at UCLA Anderson attracts several hundred applicants from around the world each year. Approximately 10 offers of admission are made each year.

The finance doctoral program places heavy emphasis on original research. In addition to completing course work in finance, the student is expected to attend extracurricular finance seminars and is encouraged to participate in informal workshops.

On average it takes approximately five years for a student with a master’s degree in a cognate subject to complete the Ph.D. program in finance. Approximately 10 percent of UCLA finance Ph.D. graduates have been placed in tenure-track positions at top five universities and an even greater percentage have received offers from them. Recent graduates of the program have accepted faculty positions at leading business schools that include the University of Chicago, Harvard Business School and the University of Texas.

Students seeking a Ph.D. in finance from UCLA Anderson enjoy the highest quality academic experience in a congenial environment where top-ranked faculty are readily accessible. Each student is assigned an individual faculty member as a mentor. In addition, the entire finance faculty places high importance on the progress of doctoral students and expects to have close contact with them. Students are encouraged to seek out faculty to discuss research ideas. Receptions after the weekly seminars provide a natural setting for establishing initial contacts.

Director of the Finance Doctoral Program
Students should seek approval of their “Proposal of Study” and dissertation topic from the director of the finance doctoral program, who has primary responsibility for advising and monitoring students’ progress.

Financial Support
Typical financial aid offers are four-year commitments that include fees, tuition and an allowance for living expenses. Students have no teaching responsibilities in the first year of the program. In subsequent years, students work 25 percent time as a teaching assistant or research assistant. In conjunction with the Doctoral Program Office and the Laurence and Lori Fink Center for Finance & Investments, the finance department also makes available summer research grants to Ph.D. students. In addition to earning approximately $6,000, the student has an invaluable opportunity to interact with faculty on their current research projects.

Coursework and Program of Study
The UCLA Anderson doctoral program requires that all students satisfy a research requirement and a breadth requirement. The research requirement consists of five courses and a research paper. The breadth requirement consists of eight courses that are outside the student’s major field of study.

All students must complete during their first year a “Proposal of Study” sheet that indicates the five research courses, the eight breadth courses and the major field courses that the student will take.

In drawing up their Proposal of Study students in finance should take note of the following finance area requirements:

  • All students must complete the economic theory sequence (Econ 201A, 201B and 201C) during the first year, and must successfully pass, at the doctoral level, the microeconomic theory examination given by UCLA’s Department of Economics. The economic theory sequence courses can be applied to the doctoral breadth requirement.
  • In their first and second years, students complete the doctoral finance sequence (Mgt 239A, 239B, 239C and 239D) in order to prepare for the finance major field examination.
  • Students are expected to take during their first two years three courses in econometrics and statistics (chosen among Econ 203A, Econ 203B, Mgt 213B, Mgt 213C, Econ 231A and Econ 231B), which count toward fulfillment of the doctoral research requirement.
  • The remaining two research courses may be selected from courses offered at UCLA Anderson (for example, Applied Stochastic Processes), from the UCLA Economics Department (Economic Modeling, Applied Game Theory, Bayesian Econometrics and Time Series Analysis) or from UCLA’s Mathematics and Statistics departments (Analysis, Calculus of Variations and Optimal Control Theory, Advanced Probability and Statistics).

Evaluation, Examinations and Research Paper
The progress of each student is evaluated by the area faculty at the end of the first year. Students who fail to make satisfactory progress may be asked to withdraw from the program. In addition to the economic theory examination at the end of their first year, students are expected to pass the finance major field examination by the end of their second year in the program.

Major Research Paper
By the end of their third year in the program all students are expected to have completed a major research paper that should report the results of their original scholarly research. In many cases the research paper forms the basis for the student’s dissertation work. Students are strongly encouraged to work closely with a faculty member during the research project, both to help ensure the project’s acceptability and to improve the quality of the learning experience. In normal sequence, the research paper is submitted during the spring quarter of a student’s second year or in the fall quarter of the third year. It must be approved by the spring quarter of the third year. The paper is reviewed by two faculty members chosen by the director of the finance doctoral program. Many research papers written by UCLA finance doctoral students have been accepted for publication by prestigious journals in their fields, or have been the basis of presentations at national conferences of professional associations.

The Dissertation
Within four years of admission to the program students are expected to form a committee and advance to candidacy, which entails passing the oral qualifying examination for the dissertation. At this examination, the student is expected to present a proposal and plan of work for his or her dissertation, which must be approved by the student’s committee.