Ph.D. in Finance


Program Description


We offer fully-funded Ph.D. positions to ambitious and dedicated students who are interested in a challenging and inspirational learning experience in the field of finance. The Ph.D. program is a 5-year, full-time program organized jointly by the University of Vienna and WU Vienna.

Stefan Voigt and Christoph Scheuch

Job Market Candidates 2020

Entering the job market is a unique (and potentially intimidating) experience, and we are grateful for the support of the VGSF faculty and our colleagues!

Five top reasons why you should choose VGSF

#1 STANDARD Ph.D. FORMAT: Structured Ph.D. program

Our program matches the US and international standard format: the first two years involve coursework to equip you with the tools necessary to conduct innovative research in finance and perform independent work on research projects.

This format provides you with solid foundations in the theory and empirical methods that are applied in finance to conduct your research.   

#2 MENTORSHIP: Strong supervision and mentorship

You will receive continuous and extensive support from the faculty. VGSF has an open-door approach that intends to encourage dialogue and help you in choosing your supervisor(s).

Most students choose their supervisor(s) in their second year after they explored different research areas and been fully acquainted with the faculty.   

#3 EXPERTISE: Research excellence

The VGSF faculty members are leading experts in their fields and collaborate regularly with renowned experts and academics who are often invited to VGSF as guest lecturers or for seminars.

The faculty works with students to achieve state-of-the-art research. VGSF wants you to focus on your research, for this reason only little teaching is required.   

#4 CAREER NETWORK: Top international placements

We have built a worldwide network with our graduates who hold positions in top academic and industry institutions like Chicago Booth, Bocconi University, and many more. Our students secured top-level jobs in excellent institutions after graduation and VGSF regularly invites them for seminars so that they can pass on their valuable experience and knowledge to the current students.

#5 FUNDING: Fully-funded

You do not need to find additional funding to subsidize you Ph.D., as you will be employed by one of the universities. We offer you competitive funding, which includes a monthly salary and subsidies to attend conferences. Your salary includes health insurance and you receive a net salary, entailing that you would not need to file your taxes.

Bonus: #6 reason: Vienna - State of the art living

Don't forget, you would be living in Vienna - the most livable city in the world for the ninth year in a row according to the Mercer's Quality of Living survey!

The city has a lot to offer and it can accommodate everyone's taste: café, museums, theatre, events, and vineyards just at the door of the city. Among others, the city provides a safe and stable environment, great public utilities and transportation facilities, and plenty of recreational facilities.


The Ph.D. program is a 5-year, full-time program that is structured into coursework and research. The aim of the coursework is to equip students with the tools necessary to develop innovative research in finance.

VGSF students are fully funded, allowing them to completely focus on their Ph.D.

Core & elective courses

In the first three years of their Ph.D. studies, students take a range of courses, which include core and elective courses. To find out more about courses, please click here.


In their third year, students start focusing on research. Our students are required to write three research papers, including one single-authored paper.

Choice of research area(s) & supervisor(s)

Students generally choose their supervisor(s) in their second year, after developing their research interests. Our faculty's research areas include corporate finance, asset pricing, financial intermediations, and market microstructure, among other fields. To find out more about our faculty, please click here.

Weekly research seminars

Every week, VGSF organizes the Finance Research Seminar, hosting top international researchers presenting their current work. This weekly event introduces our students to innovative research ideas and to a wide network of finance scholars.

Additionally, students and faculty can join the seminars organized by WU’s Department of Finance, Accounting and Statistics and the University of Vienna’s Faculty of Business, Economics and Statistics.

VGSF Conference

This annual conference provides students with the opportunity to present their research and progress to the entire VGSF faculty and receive valuable insights and feedback. The two-day conference includes a networking dinner.

Travel grants for conferences

Students whose papers are accepted for presentation at major conferences are eligible for travel grants. In addition, students can attend local seminars and events organized by the supporting institutions.

Job market training

In the fifth year, we help students prepare for the job market with job market training sessions, mock interviews, and a seminar on presentation skills.


Core Courses

  • Quantitative Methods covers the basic analytical tools required to conduct research in finance (essentially stochastic calculus and optimization methods).
  • Financial Econometrics covers empirical corporate finance and applied cross-sectional econometrics (e.g. endogeneity, measurement errors, simulation estimators, estimation of dynamic models).
  • Corporate Finance deals with the financing of companies and in particular with the determinants of corporate capital structure choice.
  • Asset Pricing covers the essentials in asset pricing like market efficiency, state prices and arbitrage, CAPM and APT: theory and evidence as well as multi-period, consumption-based models.
  • Continuous-Time Finance presents the fundamentals of arbitrage theory for pricing contingent claims in continuous time (e.g. incomplete market, the martingale approach to arbitrage pricing, interest rate theory).
  • Finance Paper Reading deals with key literature in financial economics, required for understanding more recent papers, and to facilitate the process of reviewing the literature for students’ own research.
  • Ph.D. Research Seminar provides a platform for students to present their own research (proposals). Students have to present their papers twice a year and discuss two papers by their fellow students. The seminars are supervised by VGSF faculty members.
  • Paper Writing focuses on replicating and expanding papers published in major finance or economics journals.

Toni Whited, VGSF Affiliated Faculty

University of Michigan

"I have been teaching applied econometrics in this program for over a decade. Why do I keep coming back? The students are great. The curriculum is comparable to those in top Ph.D. programs in the world. Most importantly, the faculty really care about the program and are closely involved with the students."

Elective courses

Students are required to complete at least six elective courses. Electives can include courses like:

  • Advanced Time Series and Financial Econometrics - Nikolaus Hautsch from the University of Vienna
  • Advanced Asset Pricing - Jacob Sagi from Vanderbilt University
  • Advanced Corporate Finance - Christopher Hennessy from LSE
  • Credit Risk Management -David Lando from the Copenhagen Business School
  • Empirical Corporate Finance - Rüdiger Fahlenbrach from EPFL
  • Financial Econometrics and Empirical Portfolio Choice - Rossen Valkanov from the University of California San Diego
  • Financial Fragility - Itay Goldstein from Wharton Business School
  • Financial Intermediation - Gyöngyi Loranth from the University of Vienna
  • Game Theory - Larry Blume from Cornell University
  • Interaction of Finance and Industrial Organization - Gordon Phillips from the University of Maryland
  • Liquidity and Asset Pricing - Nicolae Garleanu from the Haas School of Business, Berkeley
  • Market Microstructure - Thomas Gehrig from the University of Vienna


All students are fully funded on admission to the program. Our students are employed by one of the partner universities and receive a gross monthly stipend of approximately € 2,000 (14 times a year), which includes health insurance. Funding is guaranteed for five years subject to satisfactory academic performance.

Salary in Austria

The Austrian wage scheme includes 12 monthly salary payments and 2 special payments (also known as the “13th and 14th salaries”). Special payments are paid on a quarterly basis and are taxed at a lower rate.

Income taxes, social insurance, contributions, and other deductions are deducted from your gross pay and withheld by the employer, who then transfers them to the respective institutions. Your net salary as it is paid out to you is then yours to spend on your personal living expenses (food, rent, entertainment, etc.).

Admission & Requirements

Our Ph.D. in Finance is a selective program for excellent students who want to pursue a Ph.D. degree. Admissions are highly selective and competitive. A maximum of four students may enroll each year. Students are selected by the VGSF faculty in a rigorous and thorough process.

Deadlines and Selection Process

We offer up to four positions in our Ph.D. program in Finance. Application time starts in Autumn of the previous academic year. Positions usually start in the fall (September).


Postgraduate degree

  • Successful completion of a master's program or an equivalent program at a postgraduate institution (according to § 64 (4) of the Universities Act 2002).
  • Applicants who expect to finish their master by the beginning of the Ph.D. program (September) are also welcome to apply.


  • Candidates should submit a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score that is no more than five years old.

English language proficiency

  • Candidates whose native language is not English are required to demonstrate their English proficiency by submitting a valid English test or by holding a degree from an institution where English is the language of instruction.


  • Candidates are expected to submit two recommendation letters supporting your application to the program.


  • Candidates should be strongly motivated to pursue a Ph.D. program in finance. Such motivation will be assessed by your statement of purpose.

Supporting Material

Please submit all the documents listed below. Please include the name of the document and your own name when saving documents, e.g. “IELTS_John Smith.pdf. Upload files in pdf format, if possible.

  1. Statement of purpose
    • Your statement of purpose should outline why you are interested in completing a Ph.D. program and should include the following information:
    • Your motivation for applying for a Ph.D. program, your longer-term career plans, and any special reasons for applying to VGSF specifically. Describe which form you think your research might take and your interests. Please also give details of any research experience you may have.
  2. Degree certificates and official transcripts
    • Please provide us with diplomas and transcripts of your bachelor’s and master’s programs, and make sure your documents are in English (or German). If your degree was issued outside of Austria, please include grading scales or similar information (otherwise, grades/transcripts may have little or no meaning).
    • If you are still pursuing a master’s degree, please provide us with a letter from your program coordinator confirming that you are currently enrolled in the program, and provide us with your diploma and transcripts of your bachelor’s program. Please include current transcripts for your master’s program, as well. If these transcripts were issued outside of Austria, please include grading scales or similar information.
  3. Curriculum Vitae
    • Please provide a detailed résumé.
  4. GMAT or GRE
    • GMAT or GRE (code number 9618); results should not be older than five years.
  5. Proof of English competence (only for non-English native speakers)
    • Applicants who are not English native speakers should submit proof of English Competence.
    • English tests
      • Please submit either valid test results from one of the English tests listed below or proof that you have earned a degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction. Test results should not be older than two years.
      • We accept the following English test results:
        • TOEFL (code number 9618): paper-based at least 600 points; computer-based at least 250 points; online at least 100 points
        • IELTS: at least 7.0 points (no band below 6)
        • CAE
        • TOEIC: at least 800 points
        • CPE
        • BEC Higher
    • Degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction
      • Provide us with a letter from your program coordinator confirming that the language of instruction was English.
    • Other documents
      • If you have other documents proving your English proficiency, please contact us by email prior to submitting them (office(@)vgsf(.)ac(.)at).
  6. Reference Letters
    • Please provide at least two recommendation letters supporting your application to the program.
    • Letters of reference cannot be uploaded online but must be emailed to us directly by the person providing the reference. During the online application process, you will be asked to provide the name and email address of your references. Reference letters must be received before the application deadline.
      • Send them to the email: office(@)vgsf(.)ac(.)at
      • Preferred letter format: .pdf
      • Size file: not larger than 2 MB

Apply Now

Only applications submitted using the WU online application tool will be accepted. The application tool is available online only during the application period.

Please note:

  • All correspondence will be by email, using the email address you specified when logging in to the online application tool
  • All information provided in the online application must be correct. If you must make any important corrections, please contact us at
  • All documents, including reference letters, must be received by the application deadline
  • Incomplete applications will not be considered
Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

The Vienna Graduate School of Finance (VGSF) is a center of excellence for finance. Located in Vienna (Austria), it was founded by the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), the University of Vienna, a ... Read More

The Vienna Graduate School of Finance (VGSF) is a center of excellence for finance. Located in Vienna (Austria), it was founded by the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), the University of Vienna, and the WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business). These three institutions joined forces, and their expertise, to create a hub in Vienna aiming to produce internationally recognized research and provide a competitive PhD education. Read less