The finance Ph.D. program is designed to prepare students for academic careers in financial economics. Financial economics is the study of how individuals and firms raise and invest resources, and how financial assets are priced. Specific topics in asset pricing include the determinants of asset returns, pricing of risk, behavior of investors, and trading mechanisms. Specific topics in corporate finance include capital structure, payout policy, financial intermediation, internal capital markets, venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance.

During their years of study, students work closely with faculty members in the Department of Finance and Business Economics (FBE), both as students in classes and as assistants on research projects. The FBE faculty includes a wide array of internationally known experts in finance who publish regularly in the top journals and hold leadership positions in the top journals and professional organizations in finance.

A central premise of the program is that the most effective way to learn how to do research is to do research. Based on this idea, the program revolves around production of scholarly papers by students, typically one in each year. The first two years of the program also include a large classroom component in which students develop foundational skills in economics and statistics, and then complete full-year sequences on asset pricing and corporate finance. The curriculum features a set of revolving half-semester classes on cutting edge topics taught by USC faculty members and expert visiting scholars. Students also attend weekly seminars featuring presentations by leading experts at other universities.

Graduates of the program typically seek academic positions as faculty members at research institutions. Recent graduates have found jobs at a variety of strong research universities, including the University of Chicago, University of Michigan, Emory University, and University of Utah, as well as at leading universities outside the United States.

Faculty Coordinators

Kenneth Ahern, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics

John G. Matsusaka, Charles F. Sexton Chair in American Enterprise


Learn More

Learn more about the study schedule, placements, job market candidates and students in the Finance PhD Program. Review the Finance PhD Manual. Learn more about the Department of Finance and Business Economics and research by FBE faculty.