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The curriculum of Swiss Finance Institute’s PhD program in Finance comprises two phases: a preparatory year of intensive coursework followed by, on average, three years of advanced study and research. The program covers a wide range of subjects including economics, financial economics, corporate finance, mathematical finance, and econometrics.

First Phase: Core Courses

The program begins with a series of core PhD courses. This intensive coursework aims to provide all candidates with a broad and complete education covering the basic building blocks and conceptual tools of finance, and help orient students toward a specific field of research and thesis supervisor

Each of the three campuses has established a program of core courses that reflects the strengths of its faculty. These courses provide a sound working basis that enables students to successfully complete the PhD program, generally three years after completing the first phase. Each core course is followed by an examination. The faculty member in charge attributes each student a final grade for each course based on project assessments, in-class participation, and interim coursework submitted. Admission to the second phase (dissertation writing) is determined on the basis of the grades obtained from the core courses and on the successful completion of a summer research paper (for Léman and Zurich campuses) or a comprehensive examination (Lugano campus).

Second Phase: Dissertation Writing

Upon admission to the second phase of the program, Swiss Finance Institute PhD candidates select a thesis topic and choose their thesis supervisor. Typically, students participate in research projects carried out at a partner university and work within their chosen project as a research or teaching assistant. These research projects’ networks also guarantee intensive contact with PhD students from other Swiss universities and provide an excellent and stimulating research environment. 

In this second phase all candidates are required to attend the SFI Research Days at Gerzensee Study Center, the faculty’s research seminar in finance, and the internal “brown-bag” lunch seminar. In addition, the research projects’ networks offer a wide variety of advanced courses. The goal of these advanced courses is to enable students to acquire the skills that are most relevant to their thesis work. The selection of the appropriate advanced PhD courses for each candidate is made jointly by the candidate and the dissertation supervisor.

The completion of the PhD in Finance program requires two successful evaluations: the first phase evaluation and a final defense of the PhD dissertation. Participating partner universities award a Doctorate in Economics with Specialization in Finance–EPFL awards a “Doctorate in Finance”.