First Year

Details of Stages in Ph.D.-Finance Degree Program

The following is an outline of the coursework students can expect to complete during the first year of the Finance Ph.D. program. The coursework is subject to change due to the availability of classes. The Typical Course Sequence provides a sample schedule for an entering student.

For details of the first year curriculum in our 
Ph.D.-Finance degree program, please scroll down or link below:

Prior to the Start of the Program

Three weeks prior to the first semester of study (generally starting the last Monday in July), entering Finance Ph.D. students will be required to take Economics 519, Math for Economists, a boot camp designed to help prepare students for the mathematical rigors of the program. This course will continue through the first half of fall semester.

Following the start of the Math for Economists course, generally in mid-August, students will also be required to complete a SAS workshop hosted by the Accounting Department and designed to demonstrate the use of SAS in financial research. 

The First Year focus is on developing a foundation in economics and on acquiring the necessary skills to be a first-rate scholar in finance.

First Semester

Courses students take in the first semester include:

  • Economics 501A, Microeconomic Theory I. A Ph.D. level microeconomics course focusing on individual and firm-level optimization.
  • Economics 501B, Microeconomic Theory II. An economics course focusing on general equilibrium and competitive analysis as well as market failure. These subjects are becoming increasingly important in the study of finance.
  • Economics 519, Mathematical Economics. Introduction to the theory and methods of mathematical economics and its applications. Designed primarily for entering graduate students majoring in economics.

  • Economics 520, Theory of Quantitative Methods in Economics. A statistics course designed to prepare students to study econometrics.

To do well in Economics 501A, 519 and 520, students should be very comfortable with calculus and the principles of optimization, as well as know some linear algebra and analysis. Students with below this level of mathematics background are strongly encouraged to plan to attend courses at The University of Arizona in the summer prior to their enrollment to cover the necessary mathematics topics.

Second Semester

Courses the second semester will include:

  • Finance 601, Financial Decision Making. Theoretical and applied financial economics relating to uncertainty in markets, information, and choice.
  • Economics 522A, Econometrics I. The first course in the econometrics sequence studying the theory of econometric estimation of single and simultaneous equation models. 
  • Optional elective: Accounting 682, Advanced Financial Accounting. This course surveys the literature in financial accounting research, and requires students to conduct their own archival data analysis. 

    Other classes might include:

  • Finance 542, Fixed Income. To introduce students to fixed income portfolio management. The course objective is to provide students with a set of tools to analyze fixed income markets.
  • FIN 544. Interest Rate Models. This class builds an understanding of why the yield curve is shaped the way it is and why the yield curve changes over time.
  • FIN 545. Credit Risk Modeling. This course covers the topic of credit risk with particular emphasis on mathematical models that can price bonds or portfolios of bonds. The course will cover both structural and reduced form models, as well as the foundations required to build such models.
  • Math 522, Advanced Applied Analysis. Review of multivariable calculus, series solutions of differential equations, Laplace transforms, Fourier series, introduction to partial differential equations.
  • Accounting 696A, Taxation. The development and exchange of scholarly information related to accounting theory, usually in a small group setting.
  • Accounting 696D, Accounting Theory. The development and exchange of scholarly information related to accounting theory, usually in a small group setting.
  • Available Economics, Finance or Accounting seminars (695, 696 and 697 courses).

Required Economics Minor

Each student is required to meet the requirements of a minor in Economics, which includes the required first year coursework in economics as listed above (ECON501A, ECON501B, ECON520, ECON522A) and passing the first year written qualifying examination administered by the Economics Department faculty.

Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination is taken by Ph.D. students at the end of the first year in the program, typically in early June. It is a written examination in either theory or quantitative methods and is based on the material taught in the Economics courses taken during the first year of the program. The theory examination covers the material in the microeconomic core courses (ECON 501A and 501B). The quantitative examination covers the material in the statistics and econometrics courses (ECON 520 and 522A). Copies of the questions on earlier preliminary exams can be obtained from the Economics Department Graduate Coordinator.

The goal of the exam is to ensure that students have developed an appreciation for how all of the material fits together in a broader framework of economic reasoning. In addition, the exam will help students solidify their knowledge about the core of economics. The qualifying examination is a requirement for continuation in the program.

If the student does not pass the exam at the end of the first year of the program, the department may elect to dismiss the student from the Ph.D. program, withdraw financial assistance awarded in prior semesters, or allow the student to retake the exam in August (around the start of Fall semester of the second year of study, per the Economics Department schedule) at which time the first year qualifying examination must be completed with a passing grade.

Major Advisor

In the student’s first year, the Faculty Ph.D. Advisor serves as student's advisor. By the summer after their first year, the student will arrange for another faculty member to serve as “major professor” and provide advice and guidance on the second year paper. The Faculty Ph.D. Advisor and major professor are jointly responsible for approving the student’s Plan of Study (to be submitted to the Graduate College no later than the third semester). Eventually, the student will arrange for a tenure-track faculty member to serve as dissertation supervisor. The student and dissertation supervisor work together to form a dissertation or examining committee, which provides timely input to the student and ultimately is responsible for approving the dissertation. The dissertation committee should be formed no later than the end of the third year.

For more information, please contact us.