Finance Specialization

Want to find out more about the finance specialization?

Contact program coordinator Murali Jagannathan at or 607-777-4639.

Finance Specialization Overview

The primary goal of the finance specialization is to train students to become high-quality academic researchers. Only a handful of individuals are accepted into the program each year in order to ensure faculty can work closely with each student and provide necessary mentorship. A significant part of the program requirements involve pursuing and presenting original research, even during the first years of study.

Most students complete their PhD within four years. Below are the major milestones we expect our students to achieve in order to successfully progress from year-to-year through the program:

  • Year 1: Pass background qualifying exam and present original paper.
  • Year 2: Pass microeconomics field exam and finance qualifying exam (including written exam and journal ready paper).
  • Year 3: Successfully defend research dissertation proposal.
  • Year 4: Successfully defend research dissertation.


Year 1: Fall, Spring

  • FIN 5XX/6XX - Current Topics in Finance
  • ECON 501 - Macroeconomic Theory
  • ECON 611 - Advanced Microeconomic Theory I
  • Research Method Elective I
  • FIN 600 - Theory of Finance
  • ECON 612 - Advanced Microeconomic Theory II
  • ECON 615 - Probability and Statistics for Economists
  • Elective I

Year 2: Fall, Spring

  • FIN 620 - Corporate Finance
  • ECON 616 - Econometrics
  • ECON 617 - Applied Economics
  • FIN/ACCT/ECON Seminar in Finance III
  • FIN/ECON 6XX - Doctoral Seminar
  • Elective II, III, IV 

Year 3: Fall, Spring

  • MGMT 698 - Predissertation Research

Year 4: Fall, Spring

  • MGMT 699 - Dissertation Research

Qualifying Exams and Papers

Students advance to candidacy by passing a series of qualifying exams and producing two research papers during their first two years in the program. In the remaining years students will devote their time primarily to their dissertation.

Background Qualifying Exam. Prior to arrival, incoming finance PhD students receive a syllabus to read on (a) MBA level finance topics: corporate finance, derivatives, investments, and fixed income, and (b) Introduction to research methods. A "Background Qualifying Exam" based on this material is administered as part of the FIN 600 – Theory of Finance course. Students have two chances to take the exam and get a passing grade by the end of first summer.

First Year Paper. Present to faculty by the end of first summer. The paper should have original work and not merely replicate prior work.

Second Year Microeconomics Field Exam. Administered by the Economics Department.

Second Year Finance Qualifying Exam. A written test administered at the end of the second year. Students may take the exam multiple times in order to achieve a passing grade. As part of the exam students must also present a paper to faculty by the end of the second summer. This paper must be "peer-reviewed journal ready" quality. Students must independently pass both the written test and the second year paper by the fall semester of their third year.

Finance Faculty 

Our current finance faculty conduct empirical research in two broad areas: Corporate Finance and Investments. Topics of research interest include Capital Structure, Payout Policy, Corporate Governance, Voting, Treasury Auctions, Mutual Funds, Hedge Funds, Short-Selling, and Empirical Asset Pricing. Faculty have published articles in leading finance journals such as the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Review of Financial Studies, etc.