PhD Program

The Finance PhD program at UNC is a rigorous, five year program designed to train scholars to produce high quality research as faculty members at top universities.  The PhD program is specifically designed for students who wish to become Finance faculty members at research universities.
The program is highly quantitative in nature, and as such, new PhD students often have a background in economics, engineering, math, and/or statistics.  Although some students have completed graduate work prior to entry into the PhD program, it is not necessary to have any graduate training.
During the first two years of the PhD program, students are taught the theory and the empirics of modern Finance.  Typically, students take PhD courses in a wide variety of subjects including:

  • Accounting
  • International Markets
  • Asset Pricing
  • Investments
  • Corporate Finance
  • Financial Intermediation
  • Econometrics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Game Theory
  • Market Microstructure
  • Information Economics
  • Microeconomics

Program Timeline

  • During the first two years of the PhD program, students focus on course work in order to develop the tools necessary to produce high quality research.  Upon entry, each student is assigned to a faculty member who acts as an advisor.
  • In the summer after the first year, each student writes an original research paper under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • By the end of the second year, students take their comprehensive exam.  The exam consists of a written exam covering all of the Finance courses taken in the first two years of the PhD program and an oral presentation of the student’s current research.
  • After passing the comprehensive exam, students begin the second part of the program where they spend the majority of their time working on research.
  • In the third year, students focus most of their time on their dissertation.  During this process, students benefit from close collaboration with faculty members and students have the opportunity to present their research during faculty research seminars.
  • The rest of the program is spent finishing the dissertation and preparing for the job market process.
  • Upon completion of the program, students are awarded a PhD in business administration.

Why Choose UNC?

While none of the major business publications provide rankings of Finance PhD programs, UNC is consistently ranked among the top business schools in the world by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and U.S. News & World Report.
A key feature of the PhD program at UNC is its focus on collaboration between PhD students and faculty.  At UNC, each PhD student is assigned to a faculty member and students learn the research process by working closely with faculty members on current research.  Moreover, the environment at UNC encourages close collaboration between students and as a result, PhD students benefit from the mentoring provided by their classmates.
In addition, PhD students at UNC have the opportunity to take a wide range of classes, including courses at Duke.  As a result of the large size of the UNC Finance department and the value it places on the PhD program, UNC is able to offer a large number of Finance courses that are specially designed to meet the needs of PhD students.  Finally, UNC PhD students have the opportunity to attend regular research seminars given by some of the top faculty in the world.  During the school year, research seminars are typically scheduled on Friday afternoons, and guest speakers regularly include faculty members from top business schools including Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Harvard, NYU, and Wharton. 

Research Areas

Finance research can be broadly split into two main groups: asset pricing and corporate finance.  Within these groups, research is often further divided into theoretical and empirical work.  One of the unique features of UNC’s PhD program is that the Finance department at UNC has strong faculty support in all major research areas.  As a result, PhD students have a wide variety of research areas to choose from and they can count on faculty support regardless of their chosen research focus. 


UNC Finance PhD graduates have gone on to tenure track positions at a wide variety of U.S. and international universities including:

  • Arizona State University
  • Rice University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Georgetown University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Texas at Dallas
  • Indiana University
  • Tulane University
  • University of Utah​
  • University of Georgia
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Ohio State University
  • Purdue University
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington University in St. Louis


Amy Dittmar

Amy Dittmar

PhD in Finance, UNC (2000)
Professor of Finance, University of Michigan

"UNC stands out for its commitment to and its ability to motivate and direct its PhD students. The PhD program at UNC offers a unique opportunity to work closely with its faculty, the PhD students are treated as colleagues not students. UNC’s commitment doesn’t stop once you leave UNC; I am still in close contact with my advisors for advice and research suggestions."


Karl Lins

Karl Lins

PhD in Finance, UNC (2000)
Professor of Finance, University of Utah 

"The Kenan-Flagler PhD Program is unique. When recalling my days at UNC, two themes come to mind: collegiality amongst my student peers at all stages of the program and intense involvement with the faculty on research. What makes the difference in achieving success in a very competitive environment is the mentoring provided by dedicated students and the collaboration with faculty during one’s time in a program."

Current PhD Students

Matteo Binfare

Tyler Bowles

Giovani Cocco

Elyas Fermand

Fotis Grigoris

Sunwoo Hwang

Preetesh Kantak
Start Date: 2012

Tim Lui

Sunjin Park
Start Date: 2012

Samuel Rosen
Start Date: 2013

Mehrdad Samadi
Start Date: 2011

William Waller
Start Date: 2009

Kailei Ye