PhD in Business Administration

Finance specialization


Judging by the standards of research achievement, graduate placement, publications and research grants received, the PhD program in Finance at UBC stands at the top of Canadian business schools and among the first rank of North American programs. 

Recent placements of students in the program have included schools such as Carnegie Mellon University, The University of Texas at Austin, The University of Toronto, and The University of Colorado at Boulder. Entrants into the program can expect to join a stimulating research environment where interaction with fellow students and faculty members plays a key role in creating outstanding research.

An active group of skilled junior and senior researchers is a distinguishing feature of the finance faculty at UBC. This translates into a rich and heterogeneous portfolio of research interests ranging from game-theoretic models of corporate finance, to applications of Bayesian analysis in empirical finance, to theoretical modeling of equilibrium asset pricing. The wide research interests of the Division allows substantial flexibility for the PhD student in selecting a thesis research topic. 

Undergraduate and perhaps graduate training in economics, mathematics, engineering, or other quantitative disciplines is a typical background for qualified applicants. Students are accepted only if the Division believes that they have the ability to succeed in the program. Once a student is admitted, the faculty members are intensely interested in guiding the new researcher through the stages of the doctoral program and in assisting him or her in creating independent research. Except for those funded from outside sources, at least three years of funding is guaranteed to all admitted students. 

Current research

The Finance Division maintains an active working paper series where you can find examples of the research currently being conducted by faculty and PhD students.

Program of study

Students are required to take a cross-divisional course in research methods, a course in teaching methods, and the following five courses in the finance division: 

  • COMM 671 Theory of Finance
    Theories of decision making under uncertainty, valuation, continuous time models in finance, portfolio theory and options. 
  • COMM 672 Advanced Topics in Theoretical Corporate Finance
    Advanced analysis of decision making at the corporate level. Topics include, investment evaluation and implementation, the issuance of corporate securities, corporate governance, capital structure, and dividend policy. Special attention will be paid to the importance of asymmetric information, taxes, and contract enforcement costs in corporate decisions. Some market microstructure will be covered, time permitting. Prerequisites: COMM 671 
  • COMM 673 Advanced Topics in Theoretical Asset Pricing
    Theoretical asset pricing with an emphasis on continuous time asset pricing. Prerequisites: COMM 671 
  • COMM 674 Advanced Topics in Empirical Asset Pricing
    Topics include empirical testing of static and dynamic asset pricing models, including the CAPM, the APT, consumption and production based dynamic general equilibrium models, and dynamic models of the term structure. Prerequisites: COMM 671 and an advanced level econometrics course. 
  • COMM 675 Research Seminar in Finance
    A weekly seminar series where top faculty from UBC and around the world present current research. The seminar schedule contains the listing of speakers for this year. 
  • COMM 695 Advanced Topics in Empirical Corporate Finance
    Topics chosen emphasize econometric procedures for testing various restrictions delivered by competing theoretical models of corporate behavior. Topics that may be covered include the impact of accounting and other regulations on corporate financial decision making, capital structure choice and corporate control. Prerequisites: COMM 671

The remaining coursework is selected from other divisions and departments such as Accounting, Management Science, Economics, and Mathematics, with the guidance of the PhD advisor. 

You begin active research in the first year of your program by completing a summer research project. Most students write their comprehensive examination after your second year of coursework and spend the remainder of the program working on your dissertation research. 

Sample program sequence

A typical schedule for a PhD student in Finance may look as follows. (Selection of elective courses will depend on your interests and background.) 

Year 1 -  Fall: COMM 671 (Theory of Finance), COMM 693 (Research Methods), COMM 581 (Statistical Methodology), ECON 500 (Microeconomics)
Year 1 -  Winter: COMM 672 (Theoretical Corporate Finance), COMM 695 (Empirical Corporate Finance), COMM 583 (Time Series)
Year 1 -  Summer: Summer research paper 

Year 2 -  Fall: EPSE 606 (College and University Teaching), ECON 522 (Game Theory), MATH 605 (Mathematics in Finance), ECON 546 (Monetary Theory
Year 2 -  Winter: COMM 673 (Theoretical Asset Pricing), COMM 674 (Empirical Asset Pricing), COMM 651 (Information in Markets)
Year 2 -  Summer: Comprehensive exam 

Year 3 -  Preparation and presentation of thesis proposal 

Year 4 -  Preparation and defense of thesis 

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