Phases of the PhD Program
The PhD program at LSU, similar to most research-oriented schools, has three distinct
phases: (1) coursework, (2) general exams and (3) the writing of a dissertation and
passing its oral defense. Each of these areas is covered in more detail below.
Program of Study
At the beginning of the program the student completes a "program of study." This official
document outlines the intended coursework. Its purpose is to inform the student of
exactly what courses will be required and how long the entire program will take to
Establishing a Program of Study
The program of study is initiated in the student's second semester. The program of
study is determined by the doctoral advisor and the student. Once the student and
the doctoral advisor have agreed on a program of study, an advisory committee, which
oversees this program, is formed. Normally, the doctoral advisor chairs this committee
and a representative from the student's minor field is also a member of this committee.
Making Changes in the Program of Study
Frequently, changes in a program of study become necessary for a variety of reasons:
scheduling conflicts, program changes, course numbering changes, etc. When such changes
become necessary, the student must get the permission of the doctoral advisor in finance
and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.
The second major phase of the PhD program is the general examination. A request for
the general examination must be submitted to the Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School
by the chairman of the examining committee at least three weeks prior to the proposed
examination date. At this time any changes in the program of study are noted and a
'Request for Change in the Program of Study for the Doctoral Degree' form is submitted
by the college.
Timing of the General Exam
Students who have completed all coursework in their major are eligible to take the
general exam. This would normally be after the end of the fall semester of the third
year of the program. The exam may not be taken while a student is currently taking
a major course in the program of study or if an "Incomplete" grade is outstanding
on major coursework. Under unusual circumstances and upon approval of the department
and Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School, a student may take the exam while taking coursework
in an area outside of finance or while taking a finance course not in his/her program
The department requires a student to take the exam at the first opportunity of eligibility.
Students seeking to defer the exam must petition, in writing, the chair of the finance
department for permission. The petition must clearly state the reason for the requested
deferral. An unexcused absence from a scheduled general exam is counted as a failure.
Permission is not normally granted for postponement except in extraordinary circumstances.
The general exams are customarily given during January. Under special circumstances,
the exam may be offered at other times, by student petition.
What the General Exam Covers
The general exam covers the entire field of finance and is not course specific. It
is quite common for material not covered in the classroom to be included on the general
exam. Students are expected to be familiar with the current literature and to be able
to integrate their knowledge of finance.
General Examination Procedures
The general examination is a written rigorous test of the student's grasp of the field
of finance. Although the exact procedures for administering the exam may change from
time to time, currently the General Exam is a six-hour in-class exam. Specific instructions
are handed out prior to each General Examination.
The department chair assembles an examining committee of from 4 to 6 members, and
designates a committee chair. All members of the examining committee are members (associate
or full) of the graduate faculty. The role of the examining committee is to evaluate
and vote on each exam. Only committee members have a vote on the exam, although all
finance department members may submit questions for the exam, grade the exam and participate
in discussions regarding performance on the exam. The general exam is blind-graded
by the examining committee.
There are three possible outcomes of the general exam. One, the student may be deemed
by the committee to have passed. For a student to pass the examination there may not
be more than one dissenting vote. Two, for students who pass marginally, or for those
students who perform poorly only on a certain portion of the exam, the committee may
impose an additional examination. In these cases, the additional requirements are
considered an integral part of the general exam and the student is not considered
to have passed or failed until the additional requirements have been met. Three, the
student may fail the general exam.
Consequences of Failing the Examination
Students who fail the general examination are not permitted to take it again until
the next scheduled offering. Sufficiently poor performance on the General Exam results
in the revocation of the student's assistantship/fellowship. No one is permitted to
take the general examination more than two times.
No less than one academic year must elapse between the passing of the general examination
and the completion of all requirements for the PhD degree. Programs for the doctoral
degree must be completed within seven years from the time a student is classified
as a doctoral student (GRAD7). This time limit may not be exceeded except by special
permission of the dean of the Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School. Despite this Graduate
School time limit, it is unusual for assistantship support to extend beyond four years.
The third and final requirement for the PhD degree is the writing of a dissertation
and the passage of a final, oral examination. The dissertation must be a contribution
to knowledge in its particular area and must demonstrate a mastery of research techniques,
ability to do original and independent research and skill in formulating conclusions
that in some way enlarge upon or modify accepted ideas.
The Dissertation Advisory Committee
A dissertation advisory committee must be formed prior to the start of writing of
the dissertation. This committee consists of at least four members (at least two of
these must be full members) of the graduate faculty from the finance department and
at least one member from the student's minor field. The advisory committee is formed
by the student with the assistance of the PhD advisor. Normally the chair of this
advisory committee must be a full member of the graduate faculty; however, under special
circumstances including the approval of the department chair, the advisory committee
may be chaired by an associate member of the graduate faculty.
The Dissertation Proposal
Before officially beginning the dissertation, the student must prepare and successfully
defend a written proposal. This proposal includes a description of (a) the intended
research, (b) its place in the literature, and, (c) if empirical, sources of data,
method of analysis and expected results. The formal defense is before the student's
dissertation advisory committee and is open to the public. The purpose of the formal
defense is to provide feedback and guidance to the student regarding the topic, method
and quality of the proposed dissertation. Customarily the committee will have amendments
and other requirements that must be added to the proposal before its final approval.
The chairman of the committee indicates to the student the results of the proposal
defense and, if the topic is approved, all additional requirements. A completed dissertation
is one that, in the opinion of the committee, satisfies the plan of work described
in the approved proposal, incorporating all amendments.
Composition of the Final Examining Committee
The Dean of the Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School appoints the final examining committee,
consisting of the student's dissertation advisory committee, and one or more additions,
as representatives of the university graduate faculty.
The final examination is the formal defense of the completed dissertation. Although
the exam is normally conducted as an oral test primarily concerned with the dissertation
and related problems, the examining committee determines procedures. Content may extend
into subject matter related to major and minor fields even though well-removed from
topics suggested by the dissertation. For the student to pass the final exam there
shall not be more than one dissenting vote.
|ECON 7610: Math for Economics
|ECON 7700: Price Theory I - Minor
|FIN 7520: Seminar in Finance Research Methods - Research
|FIN 7550: Theory of Finance
|ECON 7630: Econometric Methods I - Minors
|FIN 7750: Seminar in Corporate Finance
|FIN 7855: Seminar in Options and Futures
|ECON 7631: Econometric Methods II - Research
|FIN 7850: Seminar in Investments
|ECON 7720: Price Theory II - Minor
|ECON 7632: Econometric Theory III - Research
|FIN 7650: Seminar in Financial Markets and Institutions
|ECON 7633: Econometric Theory IV - Research
|MGT 7xxx: Breadth of Study
|MKT 7xxx: Breadth of Study
|ACCT 7xxx: Breadth of Study
|Electives: 7000 level courses in math or experimental statistics
Total: 54 Hours
The procedures for admission to the PhD program differ depending on whether the student
is currently enrolled in a graduate degree program at LSU or not. Students currently
enrolled at LSU in a graduate degree program have already been admitted by the Pinkie
Gordon Lane Graduate School, and these students need only apply for admission through
the College of Business and the Department of Finance. All other students must make
a formal application for admission through the Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School.
The admissions procedures require that each student submit credentials to the Pinkie
Gordon Lane Graduate School. The critical decision regarding admission is made by
a departmental committee. Please note that the departmental committee will not consider
students whose file with the Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School is incomplete.
The PhD advisor for the program will not “pre-screen” an applicant’s credentials to
estimate the likelihood of admission into the program should the applicant decide
to formally apply. See the “Admission Standards” section below. Students are admitted
to the program each semester. Although it is possible to apply for admission beginning
in the spring term, most students begin in the fall, and the program of study is designed
around a student entering for this term. Generally a student must have his/her admission
file complete by February 15 for admission the following fall. Some students may be
admitted after this date; however, most assistantship awards are made shortly after
Admission to the PhD program is awarded on the basis of evidence of academic achievements
and promise. Admission decisions are made only after receipt of all credentials, which
include the following items:
- The completed application for admissions form. This form is available online (preferred)
and from the Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School.
- Official transcripts of all college work done outside LSU.
- Scores of either the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record
Exam (GRE); these scores must be sent directly from the Education Testing Service
to the Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School. The GMAT is preferred. The code for LSU
- Scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International
English Language Testing System (IELTS) for students who have completed degree requirements
outside of the U.S. and whose native language is not English. The code for LSU 6373.
A campus visit to meet with the PhD advisor and finance faculty is strongly encouraged.
This visit is at the applicant's expense and is arranged through the PhD advisor.
Note: Do not send registered mail that requires a signature form from the post office.
Either send by regular mail or by an express carrier.
Regular admission is considered for applicants who exceed the following minimum requirements:
- A four-year bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent
from an international institution.
- A grade point average of at least 3.00 (on a 4-point system) on all undergraduate
work and a 3.40 GPA or better on any graduate work already completed.
- Acceptable GMAT or GRE scores. The department generally requires a GMAT score of 650
or higher (or comparable performance on the GRE). Those awarded assistantships typically
have GMAT scores above 700. Performance on the quantitative sections of the exams
is given greater weight than performance on the verbal sections.
- Satisfactory TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students. A TOEFL score of at
least 550 on the paper-based exam, 213 on the computer-based exam, or 79 on the internet-based
exam is required for consideration for a graduate assistantship. An IELTS score of
at least 6.5 required for consideration for a graduate assistantship. The TOEFL/IELTS
is waived if the student has completed a degree in the U.S.
It should be noted that these are minimum admission criteria and the satisfaction
of these standards does not necessarily imply admission is assured. Other factors,
such as the applicant's research interests and successful completion of graduate courses,
the composition of the graduate faculty, the availability of support resources, and
the ability of the program to support additional students also weigh in the admission
Upon arrival on campus and before registration, international applicants (except those
who are citizens of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, certain Caribbean islands, or
the United Kingdom) must take the LSU Comprehensive English Language Test. If the
test indicates a deficiency in English, the student is required to register for the
appropriate courses. In the case of a major deficiency in English, the Pinkie Gordon
Lane Graduate School may require postponement of enrollment in graduate courses until
proficiency is demonstrated. Graduate assistants are also required to participate
in a speech interview.
Philosophy Concerning Assistantships
Assistantship duties are an integral part of the PhD program and are treated as such.
When the assistantship involves research work, the student uses this opportunity to
develop and hone research skills. These skills are critical to a successful academic
career. When the assistantship involves teaching, the student uses this opportunity
to develop classroom skills and to enhance his/her understanding of finance. Because
of the importance placed on the skills earned through assistantships, it is not common
for a student to be admitted into the program without either a fellowship or an assistantship.
Those students that are not awarded an assistantship are strongly encouraged to form
a mentoring relationship with a faculty member.
Application for Assistantships
All assistantship decisions are made after a student's full application package has
been received. If the selection committee decides to pursue a particular student,
a representative from the Department of Finance will contact the student via email
with an assistantship application.
Size of Assistantship Awards
Awards are competitive and their continuation depends on satisfactory assistantship
performance as well as acceptable academic performance. Performance includes, but
is not limited to, grades, research papers, progress toward the degree, and sitting
for the general exam when eligible. Currently the awards are $20,000 for the academic
year. Supplementary stipends up to $3,000 per academic year may be awarded in exceptional
cases. Summer support of approximately $2,500 may also be available, but is not guaranteed.
Students on assistantship pay no tuition or non-resident fees.
Responsibilities of Graduate Assistants
Assistantships are typically twenty (20) hour per week assignments. Graduate assistants
with teaching duties usually teach two sections of one undergraduate course. Graduate
assistants with research duties are assigned to one or two faculty. In addition to
these duties, graduate assistants may be assigned other duties by the PhD advisor
or department chairman, such as work during the week of registration. All PhD students
are expected to teach at least one semester during their program of study.
At the end of each semester the doctoral advisor conducts a review of the performance
of each doctoral student. The review consists of an evaluation of the student's classroom
and assistantship performance. Any student who is not performing satisfactorily is
notified and if performance does not improve, the assistantship may be revoked. It
should be noted that, although the Graduate School considers a student with a 3.00
grade point average to be in good standing, the Department of Finance encourages students
to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5. A year-end performance review is
in writing and becomes part of the student's record.
Board of Regent Graduate Fellowships
Applicants who are U.S. citizens may be eligible for a Board of Regents Graduate Fellowship
(BRGF). A BRGF award entitles a student to $16,000 per year plus an amount equal to
tuition and fees for up to four years of study. Students holding fellowships are not
required to perform normal assistantship duties. However, all students are encouraged
to work closely with faculty in the development of research projects. As with an assistantship,
fellowship holders are expected to teach at least one semester during their program
of study. More information can be obtained from the Department of Finance PhD student