The Doctor of Finance degree is considered a terminal degree or an advanced degree that represents the highest and finest academic credential in the finance sector. Doctoral students engage in an intensive program of study culminating in advanced knowledge and skills in business research, particularly in finance-related matters.
While the learning outcomes in a doctorate in finance degree programs differ, their courses train students in the practical applications of economic theory in financial markets. Students use theoretical models and empirical testing methods in the exploration of contemporary issues in personal and corporate finance, business management, and other related subjects.
There are two major types of doctorate degrees in finance – a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Both finance programs require prospective students to possess a comprehensive background in finance, economics, and mathematics. Both finance programs have similar coursework, major examinations, and a research component culminating in a doctoral dissertation.
A Doctor of Finance program provides graduates exclusive access to some of the best executive-level, often research-intensive, opportunities in the finance and business industries. That said, selecting the most appropriate doctoral school truly matters!
Our recommended Doctor of Finance graduate schools makes excellent choices because:
- Offers the Finance doctorate largely as a hybrid program that features a rigorous academic environment while providing convenient learning for students and candidates,
- Core doctorate courses that feature the principles of management, marketing, analysis, leadership, and all other Finance-related concepts, theories, and applications, to prepare students for highly challenging Finance work,
- Sharpens the numerous skills required of a Finance professional, including problem-solving, critical thinking, and research skills, as well as knowledge of the ethics and laws associated with Finance from a local or global perspective,
- Online teaching staff or personnel consisting of Finance doctorate holders and Finance professionals, who impress with their experience and credentials,
- Financial assistance, career guidance, and other student and graduate services that benefit the student or graduate,
- Proper and updated accreditation status.
Please read the Methodology we employ in our ranking process.
The Best Online Doctor of Finance Degree Programs
The Doctor of Business Administration – Finance program at Liberty University has the prestigious accreditation awarded to the best business schools and programs worldwide – the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Accreditation is a guarantee that students receive the best doctorate-level education in finance.
The 100% online DBA in Finance program features 8-week courses that make it possible for students to maintain a good work-life balance. Students expand their master’s level education, particularly their business research and financial management skills. The Doctor of Business Administration in Finance curriculum emphasizes leadership and excellence, too.
Students complete 60 credit hours in the doctoral degree in finance online program. Finance students may also transfer up to 30 credits. The business administration-centric program features core courses in:
- Managerial Finance
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Business Valuation
- Investments and Derivatives
The Doctor of Business Administration – Finance program can be completed in three years, on average. Graduates acquire practical business knowledge and skills considered valuable in the corporate world, particularly in financial decision-making. Many become top-level financial managers and executives.
Prospective doctoral students in the online DBA in Finance program must possess a master’s degree in business administration, business management, or finance, among other related disciplines. The minimum GPA requirement is 3.0 and in good standing.
Liberty University, a private evangelical university, is a regionally accredited institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
The Doctor of Business Administration – Finance, offered at Walden University, has earned programmatic accreditation from the ACSBP. Students learn advanced business administration principles and practices that enable them to assume leadership positions. Working capital management, international finance, and capital asset pricing model are among the skills gained.
The DBA in Finance program has an 8-year maximum time-to-completion except in approved petitions for an extension. Students are usually registered on a continuous basis until the completion and approval of their capstone project.
Doctoral students in the finance program tackle courses in business administration and strategy, research methods, and doctoral writing courses. Completion of the doctoral degree program requires two on-campus residences.
Online students in the Doctor of Business Administration in Finance program pay a technology fee in addition to the per-credit tuition fees. The tuition fees are separate for coursework and research credits.
Financial aid options make the Doctor of Business Administration in Finance degree more affordable. Federal financial aid, institutional scholarships and grants, military discounts, and partnership savings are available.
Walden University, a well-known private online for-profit university, has active regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
If you’re looking for a Ph.D. in Finance program with an emphasis on academic research, you should consider Northcentral University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Financial Management program. Students gain advanced financial research knowledge and skills while in the program.
Doctoral students in the online Ph.D. program benefit from the professional experience and guidance of NCU’s faculty members. The Ph.D. program boasts that 100% of its faculty members with doctorate degrees, too. The Ph.D. students benefit from one-on-one engagement with their professors, too, and each student is usually assigned a finance professor as a mentor.
The finance Ph.D. program consists of 20 courses for a total of 60 credit hours. Students can complete the Ph.D. program in 45 months, on average.
Graduates are eligible for leadership positions in financial institutions, colleges, universities, and government agencies, as well as nonprofit and community organizations. Their business and financial research skills are among the best in the country, too!
Northcentral University, a non-profit online university that accepts students from across the United States, is regionally accredited by the WASC – Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).
Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick’s Department of Finance & Economics offers a world-class Ph.D. in Finance program. Students get opportunities to participate in research projects in the Whitcomb Center for Research in Financial Services and Rutgers Financial Institutions Center, among others.
Prospective doctoral students in the Ph.D. program may be required to enroll in non-degree courses in English and teacher training. Students complete 72 credits to earn a Ph.D. degree.
Once admitted, Ph.D. students should take a minimum of three courses every semester for the first two years. There’s a qualifying exam at the conclusion of their sophomore year, followed by two years of dissertation work. The doctoral degree program requires the successful defense of a dissertation proposal.
- Microeconomic Theory
- Optimization Models in Finance
- Corporate Finance
- Accounting Theory
- Advanced Econometrics
Elective courses include macroeconomics and game theory. The first fall semester requires a technical paper written with a faculty member. Students in the online Ph.D. program must also attend a faculty seminar series.
Applicants should have a strong financial background, and those with a master’s degree in math, computer science, or economics may have an advantage.
Rutgers University, a prestigious public land-grant research university, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Kansas State University
The personal financial planning doctorate program at K-State is touted as the first in the nation with a largely online format. This is also one of just four doctorates in finance degree programs registered with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. Most of its students are working professionals.
Note that the personal financial planning doctorate program has a hybrid format. Students take online classes in the fall and spring semesters and then attend 10-day seminars in the summer semesters. The seminars are intended to build camaraderie and connections between students, faculty members, and K-State.
This is a unique finance program, too, because students travel abroad during their final summer semester. Students learn the impact of international financial markets and their workings.
The partly online doctorate degree program has affordable tuition, too, at about $635 per credit hour. Students complete coursework totaling 90 credits to earn the degree. But up to 30 credit hours can be transferred.
- Research Application
- Ph.D. Research
- Survey of PFP Research and Theory
- Retirement Planning
- Financial Planning Case Studies
Elective courses include Introduction to Financial Therapy, Financial Ethics and Mediation, and Applied Behavioral Finance.
Admission to the doctoral degree program is on a competitive basis, with a comprehensive assessment of applications being performed.
Kansas State University has regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
About the Doctor of Finance Program
The difference between a Doctor of Business Administration and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) lies in their underlying philosophy and approaches toward finance and its related topics.
The Ph.D. in Finance degree programs are more focused on academic research and, thus, on contributing original ideas to the current body of business knowledge. Every Ph.D. program has its specialized research areas, too. Graduates usually pursue careers as finance faculty members.
The DBA in Finance degree is considered a professional degree that focuses on practical knowledge in finance, economics, and business. Students learn practical applications of theory, including research studies to real-world scenarios in the finance and business industry. Individual programs also have their specific research interests.
Most, if not all, doctorate in finance programs require the following academic credentials and documents for admission purposes:
- A bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in finance, business administration or management, or economics (Applicants without the recommended academic background may be required to complete prerequisite courses before admission)
- Minimum cumulative GPA on the highest degree earned, usually 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
- Satisfactory GRE scores
- Letters of recommendation
- Personal statements, including a statement of research interests
- Current résumé
Applicants to finance degree programs must possess a solid foundation in mathematics, too. Finance programs usually have a competitive admissions process.
Full-time doctoral students in finance degree programs can earn an online DBA or Ph.D. in Finance in 4-5 years. Part-time doctoral students can take an extra 3-4 years.
Take note of the maximum time-to-completion, a program-specific requirement ranging from eight to 10 years. Leaves of absence are allowed.
Format, Curriculum, and Courses
Doctoral students in online DBA and Ph.D. in Finance degree programs must familiarize themselves with the features and functions of their learning management systems (LMS). Collaboration and productivity tools are embedded in these online learning platforms, too.
Graduate students must earn satisfactory scores on three major examinations, namely:
- The qualifying exam, which can have written and oral components, is intended for formal admission
- The preliminary exam covers the dissertation phase and signifies candidacy status
- The final exam is for the oral dissertation defense
Students pursuing doctoral degrees must conduct research in finance-related matters and produce original dissertations. The finance Ph.D. degree has more emphasis on theoretical research, while the DBA doctoral degree focuses on practical applications.
Students usually work with financial faculty members as their advisors. Many also collaborate with financial institutions to complete their dissertation. Research areas include corporate finance, labor and finance, big data, and social impact investments.
The coursework that doctoral students tackle includes core, research, and elective courses. Earning a doctorate in finance degree requires competency in calculus, optimization, and linear algebra, too, among other subjects.
Students explore the theories of microeconomics, including competitive analysis, general equilibrium, and individual optimization.
Theory of Quantitative Methods in Economics
Students learn advanced statistical methods in the study of economics.
Financial Decision Making
Students explore financial economics in its applied and theoretical aspects. Research projects may be part of the course, too.
Teaching Methods in Finance and Economics
Students develop their teaching skills in preparation for academic careers in colleges and universities. The coursework also includes topics in portfolio management, asset management, and international finance.
Online finance students may also be required to participate in on-campus program activities. The most common finance degree programs are the research and teaching fellowships with activities primarily performed on the school’s campus. These fellowships train students to perform professional-level research, present their research findings, and teach post-secondary courses.
Every finance program has its specific policies on research and teaching fellowships. These can include a number of hours, approved workplaces, and timing.
Skills and Competencies Gained
Finance students pursuing doctoral degrees usually have more advanced knowledge and skills than undergraduate students. But their skill sets get a boost from their education and training in doctorate programs! Successful professionals in the finance sector possess these skill sets.
- Corporate finance and valuation
- Financial analysis and modeling
- Leveraged buyout modeling
- Mergers and acquisitions analysis
- MS Excel application use
- Problem-solving and analytical thinking skills
- Organizational leadership skills
- Project management skills
- Communication skills
Note that these skill sets are interrelated instead of independent of each other.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Prospective finance students must be aware of the average cost of a doctorate in finance degree. This can range from $98,000 to $114,000 and above for the entirety of the finance program.
Fortunately, financial aid is available for doctoral students! Federal financial aid is the first option, as well as institutional scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Indeed, there’s a higher number of scholarships and grants available for students in doctorate degree programs than in master’s degree programs.
DBA and Ph.D. students should consider finance certifications, too, if they don’t possess these professional credentials yet. The popular certification choices are Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA), and Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA).
Overview of Doctorate of Finance Prospects: Duties, Pay, and Career Advancement
With a terminal degree comes high expectations! Professionals with a DBA in Finance or a Ph.D. in Finance degree are expected to possess advanced knowledge and skills in a wide range of finance-related matters. Thus, their most popular occupations are as financial managers and analysts in financial institutions in the private and public sectors.
Roles and Responsibilities of Finance Professionals
Every finance professional with a doctorate degree has their own set of roles and responsibilities depending on their position and industry. In general, however, financial managers and analysts perform these functions.
- Study business and economic trends with possible impact on their clients or organizations
- Evaluate past and present financial data, including financial statements and projections
- Recommend financial actions for their clients or organizations (i.e., portfolio management or asset management)
- Lead a team that oversees the financial health of their clients or organizations
- Prepare written reports
Professors teaching finance subjects obviously have different roles and responsibilities. But every finance professional possesses technical and transferable skills that distinguish them from other professionals.
Average Salary and Occupations
Being a holder of a Doctor of Business Administration in Finance or a Ph.D. in Finance degree can open doors of opportunities that may have been closed before. These career advancement opportunities come not just with leadership roles but also with better pay!
The median annual wage for financial professionals with work experience and advanced education can range from $91,000 to $100,000 and above! The overall growth in employment is also high – the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9% increase during the 2021-2031 period for financial analysts.
The stable demand for finance professionals is due to a confluence of factors, including recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and big data and technology advancements in the financial sector.
Being a finance professor with a successful academic career is a popular choice due to its rich rewards. College professors not only teach students but also conduct, publish and present research projects; attend conferences; and promote finance as a discipline.
Yet another popular career path for professionals with a Ph.D. in Finance degree is becoming a research scientist. Their work requires the presentation of research findings during conferences and in publications.
If you’re interested in pursuing public sector work, consider becoming an economist in government. The main duties of government economists include the collection and analysis of socioeconomic and financial data, the conduct of research into economic issues, and the recommendation of possible solutions.
Chief Financial Officers
The best degree for aspiring chief financial officers (CFO) is the Doctor of Business Administration in Finance degree. The CFO position is involved in corporate governance, which includes financial reporting and analysis – and it’s considered the highest financial position in the business world.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you consider an online PhD in Finance or a DBA in Finance degree?
Yes, you should since an online degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning is recognized by the finance industry and its employers.
What can be done to afford a Ph.D. in Finance or a DBA in Finance degree?
You should consider public universities first since these institutions tend to have more affordable tuition. You must look into the financial aid options, too, and other ways to save (e.g., transfer credits and employer reimbursement).
What can you do to increase your chances of earning a Ph.D. in Finance or a DBA in Finance degree?
Aside from your personal commitment, you should also adopt effective organization and time management habits. Your network of support, such as your family and friends, academic advisors, and classmates, is also crucial to your academic success.
- Getting accepted into a DBA in Finance or a Ph.D. in Finance program is only half the battle! Students must also tackle rigorous coursework, pass major exams, and submit an original dissertation as part of the program requirements.
- Earning the online doctorate degree isn’t just about adding another feather to your cap – it’s also about gaining advanced knowledge and skills that will advance the finance sector and your career in it.