Doctoral students in the finance division typically specialize in financial economics.

The first year of the program is dedicated to core courses that include a two-semester microeconomics sequence, a two-semester econometrics sequence, and one-semester courses in accounting and finance. During the second year the students take required courses in corporate finance and asset pricing – and a one-semester course in macroeconomics.

Students are encouraged to begin developing thesis proposals during their second year. During the second and later years they are also encouraged to participate in a wide range of workshops and seminars on current research. Faculty research interests cover most aspects of financial economics. They include asset pricing, corporate finance, continuous-time models in finance, information economics, economics of resources and the environment, econometric models in finance, international finance, the intersection of macro economics, and finance and banking. For more information on courses please see our sample coursework page.

The economics department offers a math camp intended for the entering doctoral class a month prior to the first year.  Participation is an excellent preparation for the first year course work.

Elective courses will be offered to augment the required ones.  The offerings may change from one year to the next.

Additional Requirements

In May of their first year the students will take the certification exams in microeconomics and in econometrics.  To take the certification exams the students will have to complete at least six courses. 

A student who performs well in the first year courses but fails a certification exam will be given a second chance to pass it in late August or early September.  A student who fails the certification exam for a second time will be asked to leave the doctoral option.  He will be given an option to complete a second year of coursework at the end of which he will receive a Master degree if he performs well in his courses.

At the end of their second year the students take the field exam in finance.

In late May or early June of their second year the students will take a finance field exam.  A student who fails that exam will be given a second chance in late August or September.  A student will be given at most two opportunities to write the finance field exam.

To take the field exam the students will have to take at least twelve courses in their first two years of studies.  To receive a Columbia degree (a Master or a PhD) the students will have to complete successfully sixteen courses if he entered the program with a Master degree.  If he did not enter with a Master degree he will have to complete at least twenty courses.

The finance field exam typically covers the following courses:

  • Foundations of asset pricing
  • Corporate finance
  • Asset pricing theory
  • Empirical asset pricing
  • Empirical corporate finance

For more information, visit the Finance Division.