Finance PhD Frequently Asked Questions

Finance PhD Frequently Asked Questions


Below are frequently asked questions from students interested in our doctoral program. Questions are grouped by topic with links to answers below.

Admissions and Applications

Applicants are admitted exclusively for the fall semester when the initial core courses of the doctoral program are offered. Students are expected to complete economics mathcamp homework prior to arrival on campus in late July and to complete both the Accounting and Finance SAS bootcamps in July/early August.

No. The format of letters of recommendation is left to the discretion of the author. The Graduate College online application system will ask you to input the recommenders name and email address. The recommender will receive an email to upload the letter to the secure website.

Since our Finance PhD program is relatively small, we are normally able to admit two to four students each Fall semester. As a result of the few open seats, competition is very tough and incoming PhD students normally have a master’s degree in finance, economics or a related field. The first year of study is all in Economic Theory and Econometrics (Quantitative Methods).

However, when evaluating applicants the Graduate Admissions Committee looks at the whole picture:

  • Past academic performance and previous coursework
  • GMAT scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Your statement of intent
  • A strong quantitative background

The doctoral program is designed to take four years to complete. However, students typically takes five years to complete the program to make progress on a number of working papers in addition to their dissertation. The typical student has finished coursework and begun dissertation work during the third year of the program.

We receive about 40-50 applications per year and admit two to four students, generally with full funding through the University of Arizona.

It varies from year to year, but generally 40-60 percent of our students in residence are international students. Nationality is not a factor in our admission decisions, just the strength of the overall application.

Financial Information

There are two types of fees to attend the University of Arizona: tuition and registration fees. Additional costs to take into consideration are health insurance and living expenses. For more information on tuition costs, please reference the Bursar's Office web page and the UA Graduate College Estimated Student Budget. There is also information on the Finance Department website Doctoral Admissions webpage.

Assistantship stipends are awarded to applicants on a competitive basis. Stipend amounts average just over $29,400 per year (based on 2023-24 academic year) and waive tuition and registration fees. Students are responsible for approximately $650-1000 per semester of miscellaneous University fees. There is an additional UA fee for processing visas for international students. 

Typically, we fund all of our new, first-year students as well as all continuing students making good progress up through the fifth year of the program. On rare occasion, we will admit a student without funding, provided space is available. If the student progresses satisfactorily, the department may be able to offer funding during the first year of study.

All applicants are considered for an assistantship. There are no other specific requirements; however, assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis.

The University of Arizona does not grant waivers of the application fee. There are no exceptions to this requirement.

Doctoral Program Requirements

Due to the rigorous nature of our program, we expect applicants to have a strong background in math. Below are the courses that make-up a sound preparation for our program. For ease of reference, courses are listed by number and name as they appear in the UA schedule of classes.

MATH 124–Calculus I with Apps
MATH 129–Calculus II
MATH 215–Intro to Linear Algebra
MATH 223–Vector Calculus

A minimum grade-point average of 3.00, based on a 4.00 scale, is required for admission to the Graduate College. Calculation of the grade-point average is based on the final portion of an applicant's undergraduate record, the graduate record or a combination of both. The Department can ask the Graduate College to make an exception in cases where all other aspects of the application are very strong.

There is not a minimum score requirement for the GMAT, although we do expect applicants to perform well. The average GMAT score of our last incoming class was more than 700. That said, we assess applicants in the context of their overall qualifications and within the context of the applicant pool as a whole. The GMAT code for the UA Finance Doctoral program is: School Code 4832.

GMAC will report scores for up to five years. Because that’s as long as we are able to receive official score reports, your GMAT scores are accepted for five years.

The GRE can be accepted in lieu of the GMAT, but average scores are not available. Generally, the Admissions Committee will look for a quantitative score of more than 90 percent and a verbal score of more than 70 percent on the GRE. The University of Arizona institution code for the GRE is 4832. 

The minimum TOEFL score required by the Eller College of the University of Arizona is 100 on the iBT. The University of Arizona institution code for the TOEFL is 4832. 

The UA Graduate College requires an overall score of 7.0 or higher on the IELTS exam, with a score of 6.0 or better in each section. The institution code for the IELTS is 4832, though your official results may need to be mailed to the Finance Department Doctoral Program office.

The English proficiency requirement (TOEFL or IELTS) is waived if you have completed a degree program in the U.S.

The official UA policy on TOEFL scores is that the exam date must be within two years of the term of enrollment.

No, you do not need to submit an English speaking proficiency test score at the time of application. However, as an international graduate student working with undergraduate students, you are required to demonstrate proficiency with spoken English by reporting a score of 26 or better on the speaking portion of the iBT (internet-based) TOEFL exam taken within the past two years. 

If you have not already successfully completed the speaking portion of the iBT TOEFL or completed your last degree in the U.S., you will be required to take the pass an English speaking proficiency test upon your arrival in Tucson. This English speaking proficiency test is currently administered by the Finance Department PhD faculty advisor.  

SAS Camps: Before starting the program, you will be expected to complete three boot camps, including two SAS camps. The Accounting Department will offer a five day SAS boot camp (usually starting in mid-July), which we expect you to complete. This is followed by the two day Finance Department advanced SAS boot camp. 

Economics Math Camp (ECON519): The Eller College Economics Department holds the Math for Economists course each summer, starting in late July or early August. Some or all of the course material may be completed online, as established by the Economics Department in a given year, and there will be homework required to be completed prior to the actual start of the course. This course is a requirement for entry into the PhD-Finance program. The course will focus your math skills specifically for the econometrics courses you will be taking the first two years of the PhD-Finance program. The course is expected to run for three weeks prior to Fall semester and meets Monday through Saturday for the three weeks. The course continues through fall semester. All of the incoming PhD-Finance students will be taking the course together. 

The International Student Orientation: This orientation is mandatory for international students and takes place two days during the second week of August on campus. Once you are admitted, you can visit the International Student Programs and Services website for registration information.  

Mandatory Teaching Assistant/Associate Training Online (TATO): This orientation is a collection of self-paced modules about teaching and learning. All students appointed as Teaching Assistants/Associates (TAs) must complete the module "Staying Out of Trouble: UA Policies" and pass the test with a score of 95 percent or higher no later than two weeks after the start of classes. More information is available on the UA Grad College website

Optional UA Graduate Orientation: For students new to campus, you may also wish to attend the Graduate College Orientation on one day in the middle of August, the week prior to the start of Fall semester. This orientation is hosted by the Graduate College and the Graduate and Professional Student Council. Registration will be available on the Graduate and Professional Student Council website. 

Housing and Transportation

The UA offers housing on campus to graduate students at La Aldea, a graduate student dorm approximately 1/2 mile from McClelland Hall, where all doctoral finance courses are held.

The most current information about off-campus housing is available through the UA Student Union. It provides an up-to-date list of housing options and availability.

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On-Campus Parking

Eller students can park in the Park Avenue Garage next door to McClelland Hall. Parking is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Metered parking and visitor pay parking is also available.

Visit the Parking and Transportation website for further information.

Lot 1157, located one block east of McClelland Hall, is another convenient parking area available to students. Permits can be purchased at Parking and Transportation.

UAPD patrols all campus garages and parking lots throughout the day. Parking permits are reserved by the Academic Services department and are issued on an individual request basis. Permits are mailed in July.

On-Street Parking

Parking is available from the City of Tucson. City parking can be purchased at:

Residential Parking Permit Program
4320 South Park Avenue 

UA Carpool Program

The UA Carpool Program consists of three or more individuals sharing one permit on the majority of their campus commutes. Each member of the carpool also receives a number of free scratch-off permits per year, for use in designated parking areas (Zone 1 surface lots) on days when carpooling is impractical. Carpool members pay the permit price and have the reserved space fee waived.

For more information on UA carpools, contact Customer Relations at 520-626-7275 or visit the Parking and Transportation website.

Public Transportation

The UA and the City of Tucson partner to offer students discounts on Sun Tran, the city's bus system. This is an economical option if you live near a bus route and need a low-cost option to travel to and from the University.

Cat Tran Shuttles

Free shuttle service is available throughout campus, including a stop directly in front of McClelland Hall. For shuttle routes and Sun Tran bus passes, please visit the Parking and Transportation website or call 520-621-3137.