Phd Program of Study

PHD IN FINANCE – PROGRAM OF STUDY

The PhD in Finance requires a minimum of 18 graduate level courses, of which 6 at most can be transferred from relevant graduate courses at other schools or universities. Up to 4 courses per semester may be counted toward the overall requirement of 18 courses.
The 8 courses taken in the first year usually consist of one micro economic theory course, two economics courses or statistics courses as well as the first five finance core courses. In general, students complete all eight core courses during their first year.
The Finance Preliminary Examination is given once each year. All students enrolled in the PhD Program in Finance are required to take the preliminary examination immediately following their first year in the program. If a student fails the exam, the student may retake the exam the following year. If the student does not pass the exam the second time, the student will be asked to leave the program.
Preliminary examination questions pertain to the material covered in four of the finance courses taken during the first year (FNCE 911, FNCE 912, FNCE 921 and FNCE 924). The Finance Preliminary Examination is meant to test basic material and will be substantially related to these courses.

TWO PHASES OF THE PROGRAM

The program is divided into two distinct phases – Pre-Candidacy and Candidacy. Upon satisfying all pre-candidacy requirements, the student applies in writing to their Departmental Coordinator for admission to candidacy. The Coordinator will review the student’s record and make a recommendation to the Vice Dean. Upon approval by the Vice Dean, the student is admitted to candidacy.

PRE-CANDIDACY

During the pre-candidacy phase, the student completes the required course-work, preliminary examination, and research papers..

ECON 897 – Offered during Penn Economics’ Summer Math Institute – (July through August – Five days per week)

New students to the program are strongly encouraged to register for ECON 897 before their first fall semester in the program. A proficiency in calculus and linear algebra is required. There are two ways of demonstrating proficiency. One is to take the waiver exam that is usually given in August prior to the fall semester.

Two is to take ECON 897 and pass the final examination that also serves as the waiver exam.
Any student opting out of ECON 897 must discuss this decision with the PhD Program Coordinator when they accept admission to the program.

For more information please see Summer Math Camp.

Wharton Math Camp (July through August)

Wharton Math Camp is an alternative for those who cannot attend ECON 897. Students will need to discuss this alternative with the PhD Program Coordinator before registering.
Wharton’s Summer Math Camp covers the basic principles of mathematical analysis, optimization theory and probability theory. The course is meant to introduce the necessary mathematical tools that are needed for a successful completion of the core courses in economics, operations and statistics.

Eighteen-Course Requirement

Transfer of Credit

Of the 18 course units of graduate work required for the doctoral degree, at least 12 units must be taken at the University of Pennsylvania. Students may receive up to 6 course credits for graduate work at other universities. A student who desires credit for previous course work should submit a written request to the PhD Program Coordinator during their first year in the program. The PhD Program Coordinator will decide whether to grant credit based on the standards of the previous work and its relevance to the student’s program.

Grades

In order to graduate, a student must maintain at least a Grade Point Average of a “B” or better. A student that receives an “F” can be asked to leave the program.
You are required to have 18 courses to graduate. You will not be able to graduate if a GR/NR/I appears as a grade for any one of the 18 required courses. Please see the Academic Affairs Coordinator if you have any questions.

Fall Semester – First Year

ECON 681 – Microeconomic Theory
This course can be substituted with ECON 701 for students who wish to study microeconomic theory at a deeper level. Prior approval from the PhD Coordinator is required.
FNCE 911-Financial Economics
This course will cover basic theories in finance: Asset pricing and portfolio choice.
FNCE 928 – Methods in Finance Theory
This course will cover topics in micro theory: basic game theory, moral hazard, and adverse selection and basic tools in continuous-time finance.
*ECON 705 – Econometrics I (Fundamentals) or STAT 520 – Applied Econometrics I

Spring Semester – First Year

FNCE 912 – Corporate Finance and Financial Institutions
This course will cover basic theories in corporate finance, financial institutions and financial markets.
FNCE 921 – Introduction to Empirical Methods in Finance
This course will cover empirical asset pricing and empirical corporate finance.
FNCE 924 – Intertemporal Macroeconomics and Finance
This course will cover topics at the intersection of finance and macro.
*ECON 706 – Econometrics II (Methods) or STAT 521 Applied Economics
* A one-year graduate level sequence in ECON 705/706 or STAT 520/521 is required. Both courses must be passed with a “B Minus” grade or better.
Finance Electives – 4 Course Requirement Over Second and Third Year
Each student is expected to develop proficiency in specialized areas in preparation for dissertation and research work. To this end, 4 or more finance electives are required from among the following courses:
1. FNCE 922 – Continuous-Time Financial Economics
2. FNCE 923 – Financial Economics under Imperfect Information
3. FNCE 925 – Topics in Asset Pricing
4. FNCE 926 – Empirical Methods in Corporate Finance
5. FNCE 932 – Topics in Corporate Finance
6. FNCE 933 – International Finance
7. FNCE 934 – Empirical Methods in Asset Pricing
8. FNCE 937 – Applied Quantitative Methods in Finance
9. FNCE 939 – Behavioral Finance

With 8 core course and 4 elective courses in finance, students will need 6 additional course credits to satisfy the course requirement for their PhD in Finance. Students can satisfy these additional course credits in the following ways.
1. Transfer Credits
2. Electives from Other Departments: Economics, Statistics, Accounting, Mathematics, etc.
3. Seminar Courses (FNCE 950): Students should limit seminar courses to a maximum of 3. These credits require students to attend the weekly seminar and write referee reports. A permit is required. The PhD Program Coordinator must approve before a permit is issued.

Preliminary Examination

The finance preliminary examination is given once each year, usually in June after the student’s first year in the program. All students enrolled in the Wharton PhD Program in Finance must take the preliminary examination. If a student fails the examination, the student may retake the exam the following year. If a student fails the examination twice, the student will not normally be allowed to continue in the program as a PhD student. The student may at the discretion of the examination committee, however, continue to complete the requirements for the Master’s Degree in Finance.

Master’s Degree in Finance

As a PhD student you may apply for the Master’s Degree in Finance if the following requirements are met:
1. Preliminary Examination passed at the Master’s level or above.
2. Successful completion of a substantial paper can substitute for a Master’s Thesis. Passing the second-year paper (Approved by two Finance Faculty Advisors) fulfills this requirement.
3. Eight core course requirement must be met with a “B” Grade Point Average or better with no non-grades of I, I*, GR, or NR.

Research Fellowship

Students are required to complete 2 research fellowships. The first may be performed in the first summer after the student’s first year in the program. This may result in their first-year paper. The second may be performed in one semester in the second year. Research fellowship involves a semester-long work as a research assistant for approximately 10 hours per week.
Research assistant positions that are paid, do not count toward the student’s research fellowship requirement.
All research fellowships and assistant positions must be approved by the PhD Program Coordinator.

Teaching Fellowship

Students are required to complete 4 teaching fellowships. They are generally completed in the student’s third and fourth year in the program. A teaching fellowship involves approximately 10 to 15 hours per week.
Teaching assistant positions that are paid, do not count toward the student’s teaching fellowship requirement.
All teaching fellowships and assistant positions must be approved by the PhD Program Coordinator.

First-Year Paper

All first-year students are required to write and turn in a first-year paper by September 30th of their second year. This may result from a research fellowship or a course taken in the first year.

Second-Year Paper Proposal
Students are expected to write and turn in a second-year paper proposal by May 15th of their second year in the program.

Second-Year Paper Presentation
The presentation of your second-year paper must be completed by September 30th of your third year in the program. In order to better assist our students with the writing of their second-year paper and future papers, second-year papers are required to be reviewed by a writing coach that has been retained by the Wharton Doctoral Program Office.
Once you have given your presentation, you have between September and December 15th of your third year to request the writing coach review, give feedback and approve your paper. The second-year paper presentation cannot be passed without the writing coach’s review and approval.

Third-Year Paper Proposal
Students are expected to write and turn in a third-year paper proposal by May 15th of the students third year in the program.

Third-Year Paper Presentation
The presentation of your third-year paper must be completed by September 30th of the student’s fourth year in the program.

Paper Requirements

The Finance Department sets a high standard for the papers, proposals, and dissertations we require to be written and presented. This is our main tool for assessing the progress of our students and their research potential, so we demand a high threshold for passing the requirements. Papers, presentations, proposals, and dissertations are evaluated as follows:
1. Pass – the paper successfully demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct and report on original and independent research.
2. Conditional Pass – the paper shows potential and the student has done quite a lot already, but there is room for minor revisions. Students will be given the required date for revision submission.
3. Major Revision Required – the paper shows potential and the student has made some progress, but there is room for thorough revisions. Students will be given the date required for revision submission and to present again.
4. Fail – the paper does not show a promising path forward. In some cases, this might trigger dismissal from the program. In other cases, the student will be asked to start identifying a new topic and will be given the date required to submit a new paper and present. The PhD Coordinator will provide detailed instructions and guidance based on the particular case.

 

Required Teaching Assistant Training

All students in the Wharton Finance PhD Program are required to participate in Teaching Assistant Training. This training must be taken prior to a PhD student becoming a Teaching Fellow or a Teaching
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Assistant. The Wharton Doctoral Office will send out information concerning signup. You will be required to complete the three-day TA training at the beginning of the academic year
2. You will not be required to complete the four-module Teacher Development TDP workshop
3. In addition to TA Training, you will be required to complete a one-time session on effective lecturing that is not covered in the TA training if you have not already completed TDP.
4. If you have already completed TDP but not TA training, you MAY be waived out of TA training unless TA training is specifically required for a course you are TA-ing. Please consult with your PhD Coordinator regarding this requirement.

CANDIDACY

The candidacy phase comprises the preparation and defense of the dissertation proposal, doctoral dissertation and final defense of the dissertation.
Upon advancement to candidacy, each student is required to have a Dissertation Committee consisting of at least three faculty members (including at least two members of the Wharton graduate group), which may include the Supervisor/Advisor. The Dissertation Committee meets at least once annually with the student to review the student’s progress. The student prepares an Annual Dissertation Progress Report. A copy of the signed progress report is submitted to the Supervisor/Advisor and Graduate Group Chair.
Dissertations based on joint work with other researchers are allowed, provided that, in such cases, a unique and separate dissertation is presented by each degree candidate. The candidate must include a concise account of his or her contribution to the whole work. Authorship of a dissertation by more than one degree candidate is not allowed.

Dissertation Proposal Defense – Fifth Year Funding
To be eligible for consideration for a fifth-year merit-based grant, a student must successfully present a dissertation proposal prior to May 15th of the student’s fourth year in the program. The PhD Program Coordinator and the Department Chair will determine the allocation of funds among eligible students. While it is possible that funds will be equally divided among qualified students, this outcome is not guaranteed.
Any compensation for teaching assistance is unrelated to this merit-based grant. Students who receive a merit-based grant may, in addition, receive compensation for teaching assistance.

NOTE: Students that do not successfully propose by September 30th of their fifth-year, will not be allowed to provide teaching assistance from that time forward unless written approval is received from the PhD Program Coordinator.

 

Dissertation Proposal Defense and Dissertation Defense Paper Requirements
The Finance Department sets a high standard for the papers, proposals, and dissertations we require to be written and presented. This is our main tool for assessing the progress of our students and their research potential, so we demand a high threshold for passing the requirements. Papers, presentations, proposals, and dissertations are evaluated as follows:
1. Pass – the paper successfully demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct and report on original and independent research.
2. Conditional Pass – the paper shows potential and the student has done quite a lot already, but there is room for minor revisions. Students will be given the required date for revision submission.
3. Major Revision Required – the paper shows potential and the student has made some progress, but there is room for thorough revisions. Students will be given the date required for revision submission and to present again.
4. Fail – the paper does not show a promising path forward. In some cases, this might trigger dismissal from the program. In other cases, the student will be asked to start identifying a new topic and will be given the date required to submit a new paper and present. The Phd Coordinator will provide detailed instructions and guidance based on the particular case.

Time Limitations
Students must complete all course work, preliminary examinations, and the dissertation requirement within 16 semesters, (excluding summer) from the date of their matriculation, excluding leaves of absence. Except in unusual circumstances, students will be expected to gain admission to candidacy status prior to the end of their fourth year in the program (excluding leaves of absence).
If a student has not completed all requirements for the PhD (including deposit of the dissertation) at the end of the fifth year after beginning dissertation candidacy, he or she must submit to the full dissertation committee, within two months of completing that fifth year, a copy of all written work completed to date on the dissertation. If the student is unable to construct such a committee, he or she can be dropped from the doctoral program.

Employment While In The Wharton Finance PhD Program
Students in the Wharton Finance PhD Program are not allowed to accept employment without first receiving approval from the Wharton Finance PhD Program Coordinator. The implications of not requesting and receiving approval can be severe. The student could lose their good standing status in the program and this could result in their being asked to leave the program immediately.

Revised April 13, 2017