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General Information

Finance is the study of portfolio decisions of individual investors, investment and financing decisions by firms, and the implications of those decisions for the pricing of capital assets in the market place. Finance includes the study of corporate financial decisions, corporate control, the role and management of financial institutions, new venture financing, mutual funds and other investment vehicles, market microstructure, asset pricing and portfolio choice, international finance, and the behavior of interest rates and foreign exchange rates.

The Finance department at the Foster School has a long and distinguished record of excellence. It is the birthplace of the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), the Western Finance Association (WFA), and the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis (JFQA). The finance department is the longtime home of the JFQA, widely regarded as one of the four leading journals in Finance. Our faculty serve as editors and associate editors at all four of the top journals in finance – at the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Review of Financial Studies, and the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis – and at other leading finance journals.

The main objective of the finance PhD program is to produce outstanding researchers who can be placed in the world’s top academic finance departments. Our faculty are open to a large variety of research styles and methods. At the same time, we have a strong department identity, which stresses the joint application of equilibrium reasoning and empirical analysis to understanding financial economics. We have a very active seminar and summer visitor program which attracts leading academics to Seattle and provides many opportunities for interaction. Our heavy representation at top journals ensures that PhD students will be exposed to cutting edge research, and will have the opportunity to learn first-hand how leading journals evaluate papers submitted for publication.

Course work in the area of finance covers the basic tools, theory, and empirical evidence necessary to give students a solid foundation upon which to generate and disseminate new knowledge throughout their careers. Students regularly enter into research projects jointly with faculty in addition to the dissertation requirement. Students also obtain valuable teaching experience during their Ph.D. program of studies at the University of Washington.

Finance Department web site
Upcoming Finance Department seminars
Recent Finance PhD placements

View Finance Department Faculty
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Admission Requirements

Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree at an accredited university and should have a reasonable training in mathematics and economics. An admission committee of faculty members reviews all completed applications. While the committee considers all relevant factors in its recommendations, important factors include past academic performance and GMAT scores. The GRE exam can be substituted for the GMAT but the GMAT is strongly preferred. In some cases we may request a personal interview.

Recommended Preparation Prior to Entry

Students entering the Ph.D. program as finance majors should be comfortable with the important concepts of calculus, linear algebra, and microeconomics before they arrive on campus. It is strongly recommended that all new finance majors carefully review this material during the Summer before entering the program.

Finance Area Faculty Coordinator

Prof. Mark Westerfield, Finance Area Faculty Coordinator, would be glad to answer your questions. Contact him by phone 206-543-4578 or by email at

The Finance Area Faculty Coordinator advises new students until they establish a Supervisory Committee by the end of the Spring quarter of their first year (the committee consists of a major area advisor and a faculty representative from each supporting area). The supervisory committee assists the student in choosing appropriate courses, approves the course of studies, and monitors the student’s progress.

Course Requirements for Finance Major
A Typical Course Schedule
Course Requirements for Finance Minor
Other Requirements