The curriculum of the PhD program in Finance comprises two phases: a preparatory year of intensive coursework followed by three to four years of advanced studies and research. The program covers a wide range of subjects including microeconomics, financial economics, asset pricing, corporate finance, mathematical finance, and econometrics.
First phase: Core Courses & First Research Paper
The program starts with a curriculum of core PhD courses during one year. The aim of this intensive course-work is to provide all students with a broad and complete education covering the basic building blocks and conceptual tools of finance and to help orienting students towards a thesis supervisor. Each core course is followed by an examination. The faculty member in charge can decide to attribute the final grade for the course based on project assessments, on class participation as well as on graded interim homework. Students usually choose their thesis advisor after the first year, along with the topic for their dissertation.
An extensive selection of Master-level courses is available to PhD students wishing to complement their education during the first phase of their curriculum. In addition, partner academic institutions in the Swiss Finance Institute PhD program offer a large number of courses in related fields. These courses can be integrated into the course program of Swiss Finance Institute PhD candidates with the approval of the PhD coordinator.
Admission to the second phase (i.e., dissertation writing) is determined on the basis of the grades obtained on the core courses as well as the successful completion of a first research paper. The first research paper is written during the second year in the PhD Program and should be the first draft of a potentially publishable academic paper. It should contain original theoretical or empirical work developed independently by the student. The faculty evaluates the quality of the first research paper and provides in-depth advice and guidance on how to improve the students’ work.
Second phase: PhD Research
Upon admission to the second phase of the program, the PhD students select a thesis topic in agreement with their thesis advisor. Typically, students can become part of the research projects carried out at one of the partner institutes and work within this project as a research or teaching assistant. The Swiss-wide research network also guarantees intensive contact with PhD students from other Swiss universities and provides an excellent and stimulating research environment.
In this second phase of the PhD program, PhD students foster their research potential by participating in the annual PhD workshop at the Gerzensee Study Center, the faculty’s Research Seminar in Finance, and the internal “Brown Bag” Lunch Seminar. In addition, the partner academic institutions offer a large variety of specialized courses. Our students can also benefit from the Advanced Courses offered at the Gerzensee study center by leading scholars from world renowned institutions. The goal of these advanced courses is to provide students with the opportunity to acquire the specialized skills that are most relevant to their thesis work. The selection of the appropriate specialized PhD courses for each candidate is made jointly with the dissertation supervisor.
The completion of the PhD Program in Finance requires two successful evaluations: a first evaluation after the first phase of the program and a final defense of the PhD dissertation. At the end, the University of Lausanne awards the degree “PhD in Finance”.