Ph.D. in Finance Online

Degree Options & Potential Careers

Students earning a doctorate in finance online explore concepts such as risk management, macroeconomics, and global markets. Knowledge in these areas can help graduates determine financial strategies, review financial records, and prepare tax forms for companies.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects high growth rates for finance positions. For example, the BLS projects financial manager positions to increase by 19% from 2016-2026, due in part to globalization's impact on revenue. The BLS also projects budget analyst positions to grow by 7% over that time frame, largely due to the continued increase in government funding.

Well-suited candidates for these professions excel at logical reasoning and problem-solving, and they boast strong mathematical abilities.

Should I Earn an Online Doctorate in Finance?

Earning a doctorate in finance online can expand your career options. Earning a doctorate can help professionals advance to positions in higher education — including roles as postsecondary teachers — and provide credibility for writers of nonfiction finance pieces.

Many businesses and organizations prefer candidates for certain positions to hold an advanced degree. Some companies may only require financial managers to have a bachelor's, but many mandate a master of business administration or a doctorate. A doctorate indicates that an individual holds advanced field knowledge, and this advanced degree often leads to additional employment opportunities.

Doctoral programs also help learners enhance their research skills, which can be useful for careers in finance and in other fields. For example, market research analysts, survey researchers, and economists all conduct extensive research. The skills honed during finance doctoral programs can help professionals conduct, interpret, and present effective research. However, some of these careers may require additional education, licensure, or certification.

Finance students who currently work in business can apply program information to enhance their company's efficiency. Professionals may use learned skills to shape financial plans, build budgets, increase revenue, make purchasing decisions, and extend their company's reach. Business owners can apply these concepts to achieve goals related to entrepreneurial success.

Obtaining a doctorate can also increase a worker's salary potential. The BLS reports that doctoral degree-holders earn a median salary of $1,743 per week, while master's degree-holders earn a median of $1,401 per week and bachelor's degree-holders earn a median salary of $1,173 per week. According to the BLS, the unemployment rate among doctoral degree-holders is 1.5%, while unemployment is 2.5% for bachelor's degree-holders. Overall, a doctoral degree tends to improve a worker's earning potential and employment odds.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Finance?

Candidates who earn a doctorate in finance online can pursue careers in various industries. Colleges and universities usually require postsecondary teachers to hold a doctorate, and these careers can lead to dean or provost positions.

A graduate-level degree in finance also prepares learners to become instructional coordinators for related courses. However, these careers may require a license and field experience. The BLS projects instructional coordinator positions to increase by 11% from 2016-2026.

Individuals who earn a doctorate in finance online can write scholarly articles and books related to their field. According to the BLS, technical writers earn a median annual salary of $71,850, and these positions are projected to increase 11% from 2016-2026.

Graduates can also obtain government jobs with organizations such as the U.S. Census Bureau. The BLS reports that, of any industry, the federal government offers the highest median pay for math staticians. Graduates can work for the Internal Revenue Service, filling roles such as tax analysts and financial management analysts. A finance doctorate can also lead to financial advisor jobs for government organizations.

Businesses often hire financial experts to prepare taxes, create budgets, and plan long-term strategies. Career options in this area include positions as financial analysts, financial managers, and fundraisers. According to the BLS, these professionals earn median annual salaries of $85,660, $127,990, $56,950, respectively. The BLS projects faster-than-average growth for each of these occupations.

Graduates can also become personal financial advisors, providing financial guidance to individuals. These workers earn a median salary of $88,890 per year, according to the BLS.


Economists gather information, using methods such as conducting surveys, to identify solutions to financial issues. Candidates may suggest strategies to increase revenue and create charts and reports that illustrate their research. Economists need an understanding of finances to predict changes and build extended plans. These positions often require a graduate degree related to mathematics, such as a doctorate in finance.

Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and staticians solve problems for companies in various fields, such as healthcare and business. Their responsibilities may include creating polls and experiments and using gathered information to craft solutions to problems. These professionals may create visual aids, such as charts, and write reports on their findings. Mathematicians and statisticians often need a graduate degree, depending on their industry.

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers create syllabi and deliver lessons to college-level students. These educators often teach several courses each term, and they may also assist learners with class selection and registration. Most schools require postsecondary educators to hold a doctorate in the field they teach. For example, individuals who earn an online doctorate in finance can teach finance courses.

Survey Researchers

Survey researchers review survey topics, create relevant questions, and test surveys on people. Researchers interpret survey data and may present information through illustrations and reports. Surveys may explore topics such as employment trends, public opinions, and customer concerns. These positions often require a graduate degree related to statistics or mathematics.

Accountants and Auditors

Accountants and auditors oversee the finances of companies by reviewing records, filing tax forms, and determining methods for increasing revenue. These professionals may also tend to financial bookkeeping. While many companies hire candidates with a bachelor's, organizations often prefer accountants and auditors to hold an advanced degree in a related field, such as finance.

Finance Doctoral Program Overview

Individuals interested in pursuing a finance doctorate should consider factors like degree type and curricula, which impact program outcomes and graduation time. For example, the number of required credits in a program can influence its duration and overall cost. Additionally, some programs offer concentrations to prepare learners for specific careers.

Learners should consider their academic needs when researching prospective programs to ensure they choose the best school for their budget, schedule, and career goals.

Types of Doctoral Degrees in Finance

Students interested in earning a finance doctorate can pursue a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) or a doctor of business administration (DBA). Both degrees equip learners with foundational knowledge in finance, along with basic research skills. However, each degree includes different coursework and research methodologies. Students should consider their career goals when choosing a degree type. Students pursuing a Ph.D. in finance online typically focus more on scholarly research, while those in DBA programs generally learn more about practical applications.

Ph.D. programs help enhance learners' research abilities and culminate in a dissertation, during which students conduct original research. The theoretical focus prepares students for careers as higher education teachers and published scholars. Ph.D. coursework often includes math-based classes, such as asset pricing, financial markets, and economics. Ph.D. programs do not typically emphasize practical business applications.

DBA programs prioritize research but often focus on more practical applications. Coursework generally addresses business concepts, such as organizational structure and corporate growth. Many DBA students are current or aspiring business professionals, and graduates often apply research skills to find solutions to company problems. DBA students often hold advanced business positions. Because working business professionals typically have busy schedules, DBA students often take longer to complete their doctorate than students earning a Ph.D. in finance online.

DBA programs may also culminate in a dissertation. However, DBA students generally use this project to address practical business concerns, rather than conducting theoretical research.

Application Requirements and Admission Criteria

Applicants to finance doctoral programs typically need to have a master of business administration or a master's degree in a finance-related field. However, some programs do not specify a discipline for undergraduate or graduate coursework. Generally, schools prefer applicants who have completed significant coursework in math areas, such as calculus, statistics, linear algebra, and economics. Departments may also require a minimum GPA, typically ranging from 3.0-3.5.

Applicants may need to earn minimum scores on the Graduate Management Admission Test or the Graduate Record Examination. International learners may also need to submit scores from an English proficiency exam, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Additional application requirements may include a statement of purpose or an essay addressing professional and/or academic goals. Departments may require three recommendation letters, detailing an applicant's personal, academic, and professional traits. Many schools also require a resume, transcripts, and an application fee.


Coursework for finance doctoral programs varies by school. However, most programs require 60-72 credits, which students generally complete in 3-5 years. Finance students must often take courses in economics, statistical methods, and core finance topics. Some curricula include finance electives or concentration options, such as asset pricing or corporate finance. Concentrations typically comprise 12-18 credits.

Programs frequently require students to pass qualifying or comprehensive examinations. These assessments occur at certain points throughout the program, such as after the first year or right before graduation.

Most finance doctoral programs also require a dissertation, which can include as many as four courses in research and writing. The dissertation process often involves submitting a proposal and defending the final project in front of a committee of faculty members. Students may also take seminar courses related to their dissertation.

Students often write smaller papers throughout the program to prepare for their dissertation. Some schools require doctoral students to submit a paper each year. Students may need to present these papers at academic or professional events, such as seminars and conferences.

Doctoral finance programs may also require fieldwork, such as teaching experiences or research internships supervised by college faculty.

This course explores topics like elasticity, market types, and supply and demand. Students learn to build business plans that reflect consumer needs and market trends.
Empirical Asset Pricing
This class prepares learners to perform research to determine asset pricing. Coursework emphasizes models such as CAPM and CCAPM, and students may learn to consider linear regression when making portfolio choices.
Corporate Finance
Students learn to make management decisions, while considering factors such as risk, valuation, investors, and asset pricing. This course may also address the selection of marketing and budgeting strategies for long-term company success.
This class explores regression types and theories for assessing statistics. Learners may apply this information to research practices, common tools for analysis, policy, and factors that impact systems.
International Finance
Learners explore international markets and relevant policies, and they examine the significance of international trade. This class addresses currencies and exchange rates, along with risk factors that influence international trade.
Students learn about business and finance concepts that transcend individual businesses, such as interest rates, unemployment, and inflation. This course may also cover international policies on trade and intercultural communication regarding finance.
Financial Markets
This class examines the purpose, framework, and workings of various market structures, including the stock, bond, and foreign exchange markets. Students may explore concepts such as interest rates, capital flow, and risk assessment.
Behavioral Finance
Students explore financial trends and choices that deviate from traditional models, along with potential reasons for these variations. Coursework often incorporates social science topics and includes common examples of nontraditional financial choices.

Program Outcomes

Earning a doctorate in finance online prepares students for positions related to theoretical research and financial management. Doctoral programs prioritize research so students can explore new ideas in the field. Programs often require a dissertation defense and presentations that develop communication abilities. Learners gain the skills necessary to deliver business presentations and academic lectures and carry out intercompany relations.

Doctoral programs cover topics including investments, risks, and asset pricing. This knowledge helps graduates advise companies on financial decisions, make economic choices for their own organizations, and educate others on financial concepts. Curricula may also explore global, ethical, and legal concepts to prepare learners to behave appropriately while conducting business.

These programs may also provide students with a working knowledge of business and financial models, along with the skills needed to build effective portfolios.

Accreditation for Online Finance Doctoral Programs

Accrediting agencies set academic standards for institutions and offer accreditation to schools that meet these standards. Many employers do not recognize degrees from unaccredited institutions, and only students at accredited schools can obtain federal aid.

At the institutional level, schools can hold regional or national accreditation. National accreditation typically applies to vocational programs. Alternatively, regional accreditation is generally considered to be more prestigious, and regional accrediting agencies evaluate schools in a certain geographic area. Regionally accredited institutions typically only accept degrees and transfer credits earned from other regionally accredited schools.

Individual programs may also hold specialized accreditation from a field-related agency. Finance students, for example, can look for programs with accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.