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Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Finance

Doctoral Program

Degree Requirements

The Indiana University Graduate School requires 90 graduate hours for a PhD with a maximum of 30 hours transferred from other programs. Students in the finance program are expected to know basic accounting, linear algebra, and calculus (Phase I requirements).

The finance PhD program requires 18 credit hours for the finance major, 9 credit hours for the methods/analysis requirement, and 9 to 15 credit hours for a minor. The finance major includes the following finance doctoral courses: F600, F605, F625, F635, F644, and F798. All of these courses are offered annually. Alternatively, a graduate-level elective course may be substituted for F798 with the approval of the finance doctoral advisor. Possible courses that satisfy the methods/analysis requirements are listed in the Kelley Doctoral Handbook and must be approved by the school doctoral program. Finance majors normally minor in mathematics, economics, or business economics. Please consult each department for their specific minor requirements.

  1. Program Structure
  2. Research
  3. Qualifying Exam
  4. Dissertation
  5. Job Market
  6. Dismissal
  7. Minor in Finance
 A. Program Structure
First Year

Business schools are placing increasing importance on the ability to teach well. Students are required to attend a seminar (1.5 credit hours) in teaching pedagogy during their first semester. This course enhances students’ teaching effectiveness by attuning them to various pedagogical issues and alternatives. 

  • E520 Optimization Theory
  • E521 Microeconomic Theory I
  • Elective Bus Econ, Econ Dept, or Statistics course for the Methods/Analysis requirement
  • Elective Math, Econ, or Statistics course for your Minor
  • X630 Teaching Development (1.5 credit hours)
  • F600 Asset Pricing Theory
  • E621 Microeconomic Theory II
  • Elective Bus Econ, Econ Dept, or Statistics course for the Methods/Analysis requirement
  • Elective Math, Econ, or Statistics course for your Minor


A literature review on a finance topic
Second Year

Occasionally a workshop course (F798) involving written critiques and discussion of the papers presented in the finance department’s outside seminar series is offered in the second-year fall semester.

  • F605 Corporate Finance
  • F644 Topics in Finance
  • Elective Bus Econ, Econ Dept, or Statistics course for the Methods/Analysis requirement
  • Elective Math, Econ, or Statistics course for your Minor
  • F798 Research Seminar in Finance, Part I




June: Comprehensive exam

July - October: Work on research paper

Third Year
  • F798 Research Seminar in Finance, Part II
  • Presentation of research paper in early November
  • Begin work on dissertation
Continue work on dissertation
Fourth Year
  • Presentation of dissertation proposal at the department level
  • Presentation of dissertation proposal at the school level
  • Continue work on dissertation
Continue work on dissertation

Presentation of final dissertation defense (upon completion)

Typical Elective Courses for Minors or for the Methods/Analysis Requirement (check the Schedule of Classes for Fall vs. Spring availability, especially for two-course sequences)

Business Economics courses:

  • G651 Econometrics I
  • G750 Economic Modeling
  • G751 Game Theory
  • G752 Information Economics
  • G753 Agency Theory
  • G754 Structural Econometrics

Economics Department courses:

  • E571 Econometrics I
  • E572 Econometrics II
  • E671 Econometrics III

Math courses:

  • M413 Introduction to Analysis I
  • M414 Introduction to Analysis II
  • M643 Probability Theory I
  • M464 Probability Theory II
  • M466 Introduction to Mathematical Statistics
  • M560 Applied Stochastic Processes
  • M471 Numerical Analysis I
  • M472 Numerical Analysis II
  • M561 Nonparametric Statistics
  • M563 Theory of Probability I
  • M564 Theory of Probability II

Statistics courses:

  • S620 Introduction to Statistical Theory
  • S625 Nonparametric Theory and Data Analysis
  • S631 Applied Linear Models I
  • S632 Applied Linear Models II
  • S637 Categorical Data Analysis
  • S639 Multi-Level Models
  • S640 Multivariate Data Analysis
  • S645 Covariance Structure Analysis
  • S650 Time Series Analysis
 B. Research
Summer Papers
  1. A Literature Review of a Finance Topic (First Summer)

    Each student selects a faculty member to supervise a focused area of reading from the finance literature. (Students can choose the faculty member and area.) Generally, the student and the faculty member negotiate a set of papers the student will read. The student then writes a literature review and synthesis over the reading. When the supervising faculty member is satisfied with the paper, he/she notifies the department’s PhD advisor that the student has completed the requirement.

  2. Original Research Paper (Second Summer)

    This paper demonstrates a student’s ability to initiate and complete an original research project. Research in any area of financial economics is acceptable. The main requirement is that the paper represents a contribution to the literature judged as adequate by the finance faculty. While the student is expected to select and use a faculty advisor, this is the student’s paper and it is not to be co-authored with the faculty advisor.

    • Students are encouraged to use the faculty as sounding boards and to present early versions of their work in informal brown bag seminars.
    • The student presents the completed paper to the finance faculty in early November, at a date set by the PhD committee. The paper must be made available to faculty at least one week prior to the scheduled presentation date.
    • If the faculty members find the paper unacceptable, the student is given four months to present a revised version. The student may elect to rework the original paper along the lines suggested during the seminar or may initiate work on a completely new paper.
    • If this second presentation is viewed as unacceptable, the student is dismissed from the program.
    • If the faculty members believe the student has not made a good faith effort to complete the paper or that the student will not be able to successfully implement the suggested changes in the paper in one semester, the student will be dropped from the program immediately.

    This paper starts after the student successfully sits for the qualifying exam and must be completed by early November of the third year (or within four months after the successful completion of the qualifying exam, whichever is later).

Research Semesters

In addition to the summer research papers, students with financial aid are assigned to faculty as research assistants (RA) for a minimum of four semesters. These RA assignments are for one-year terms, and assistant professors are given priority. Students are expected to assist faculty in their research projects and are encouraged to utilize these semesters to initiate their own research programs under the close faculty supervision that these apprenticeships make possible. The purpose of these research semesters is to acquaint students with the process of research and to foster a close working relationship with faculty.

Finance Workshops

The finance department runs two types of workshops:

  • The Regular Seminar Series brings prominent international scholars in financial economics to campus almost every Friday. These scholars expose students and faculty to leading-edge research.
  • The Brown Bag Seminar Series, where faculty and doctoral students present their preliminary research to other faculty and graduate students every other week.

Students are required to attend both seminar series. Teaching duties and class conflicts are the only acceptable excuses for a student’s absence from any research event, including finance department workshops, students’ summer paper or proposal defenses, finance department symposia, and so on.

 C. Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam is a five- or six-hour, “closed book” written exam consisting of five or six questions, respectively. It is administered in June at the end of the student’s second year in the program.

  • It consists of one question from each instructor of the courses F600, F605, F625, F635, and F644 that the student has taken.
  • Students must obtain an overall average score of marginal pass or better over all questions and obtain a grade below marginal pass on no more than one question.
  • Students who fail the exam are required to take all or part of the exam again. If a student retakes only the part of the exam they failed, they have to pass all the questions they retake.
  • In no event is a student required to wait more than a year to retake the exam. A second failure results in dismissal from the program.
 D. Dissertation

Upon successfully passing the qualifying exam and completing the minor and methods/analysis requirements, the student is admitted to candidacy and can begin work on a dissertation. A student must be admitted to candidacy within five years of entering the doctoral program.

Dissertations are typically in a three-essay format. The three essay must have some degree of relatedness (admittedly a vague requirement). A maximum of one essay may be co-authored. The appropriate time to do a department proposal defense is when 1.5 essays are done. This means that one essay is in good shape, a second essay has preliminary results, and the third essay is just a sketch. In addition, students must do their department proposal defense by the end of Fall semester of their fourth year. An alternative dissertation format that is permitted is the "book format," which is one large thesis with multiple chapters.

Students must complete the following for a successful dissertation:

  • Defend the dissertation proposal at the department level.
  • Defend the dissertation proposal at the school level.
  • Defend the completed dissertation
  1. Department Proposal Defense

    The initial departmental defense will occur in the fall term of the fourth year. The finance faculty will judge whether the research idea and proposed methodology are worthy of a dissertation coming out of their department.

    Please note: As the faculty will not judge the execution of the research idea, the student is not expected to present a finished product at this time. The project, however, should be far enough along that student is confident of being able to successfully accomplish the proposed research but still able to respond to suggestions by faculty. We do not want the proposal to be so vague that the faculty cannot judge its contribution, nor do we want the student to have so much invested in a particular methodology that the student is reluctant to take suggestions regarding change. The balance is a fine one and the student is expected to rely on the proposed thesis committee to provide guidance as to the appropriate time for presentation.

    All tenure-track faculty members are invited to the defense and are eligible to vote on the acceptability of the proposal. Acceptability is judged on the adequacy of the likely contribution of the thesis to the finance literature and the soundness of the proposed methodology. Students do not fail a proposal defense. They receive as many opportunities as they need to successfully complete the requirement subject to overall completion deadlines. 

  2. School Proposal Defense

    After successfully defending the proposal before the finance department faculty, the student defends the proposal at the Kelley School of Business level. These defenses are administered by the doctoral program’s office, not the finance department, and can be scheduled only after the requisite amount of advance notice. The requirements for this proposal are similar to those for the finance department proposal, but this proposal is subject to several formal deadlines—one being that the student has to attempt a proposal defense at the school level within 10 semesters of entry to the doctoral program. The proposal document is restricted to a maximum of 50 pages.

  3. Final Defense

    After successfully defending the proposal at the Kelley School of Business level, the student defends the final dissertation. These defenses are administered by the doctoral program’s office, not the finance department, and can be scheduled only after the requisite amount of advance notice. Please contact the doctoral program’s office to see the formal rules.

    Please note: The student must successfully complete a thesis defense at the school level within four years from the date of formal admission to candidacy. There are almost no exceptions to this last deadline.

 E. Job Market

The finance job market begins every fall (September/October) with the Financial Management Association (FMA) meeting, continues in January with the American Finance Association (AFA) meeting, and concludes with campus interviews through March. The finance faculty expects all students actively seeking employment to have been admitted to candidacy before taking any steps to put themselves “on the market.” Students who elect to enter the job market without having defended a department level proposal should not expect to receive endorsements from the faculty.

The department strongly suggests that the student pass the finance department’s proposal defense prior to the FMA meeting and pass (or at least schedule) the formal school proposal defense prior to the AFA meeting. Students who intend to enter the market should inform the thesis advisor and the PhD advisor as early as possible. The advisor, in consultation with the thesis chair, may schedule mock interviews. Finally, before taking a campus visit, the student should present a regular finance workshop seminar (a “practice run”) before the faculty and students.

 F. Dismissal

The Graduate School requires that students maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0. A GPA of less than 3.0 may be construed as lack of adequate progress and constitutes grounds for dismissal. The finance department’s doctoral committee conducts annual reviews of students’ performance. Written feedback is provided. These evaluations are intended as acknowledgments of superior performance and as guides for corrective action. Students are subject to dismissal for lack of adequate progress toward completing the degree.

To ensure normal progress, students are expected to have completed the following:

  • End of first semester: 9 hours of courses with 3.0 GPA
  • End of second semester: 18 hours of courses with 3.0 GPA
  • End of third semester: 27 hours of Phase II courses with 3.0 GPA; first summer paper
  • End of fourth semester: 36 hours of Phase II courses with 3.0 GPA; qualifying exam
  • End of fifth semester: 42 hours of Phase II courses with 3.0 GPA; second summer paper; admission to candidacy
  • End of seventh semester: Preliminary proposal defense before department
  • End of tenth semester: Formal proposal defense before committee; final thesis defense before committee
 G. Minor in Finance

G651, G604, and M413 or equivalent background in probability/statistics, microeconomics, and mathematics


F600 Asset Pricing Theory; six (6) credit hours selected from: F605 Corporate Finance; F625 Empirical Asset Pricing; F635 Market Microstructure; or F644 Topics in Finance.