Welcome to the Smith Finance PhD program!

Our PhD program aims to produce scholars who contribute to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge in finance. Our goal is to develop students who can develop into independent thinkers and advance knowledge at the frontiers of finance. We offer students several resources. None is more important than the ongoing research interactions with faculty who are engaged in research and all of whom are committed to a successful PhD program.

This is a wonderful time to be a Smith finance PhD student. We have more than doubled in faculty size. We have benefited from a $12.3 million infusion into the Smith School PhD program and our students have been placed in tenure track positions at schools such as Georgetown, Indiana, Minnesota, and UCLA. The resources available to students include:

  • Faculty: 20+ faculty with interests in both theory and empirical work in all areas of finance, including asset pricing, corporate finance, intermediation, derivatives, mathematical finance, corporate governance, microstructure, and so on.
  • Other complementary fields: strength in supporting areas such as economics, computation, mathematics, and statistics.
  • Data: we provide an extensive set of research-quality databases and a financial market laboratory with state-of-art research capabilities.

We welcome you to explore these pages and consider becoming part of our program.

Master of Finance

Master of Science - Finance

The financial crisis on Wall Street and around the globe has forever changed the way we think about finance. The world of modern finance is now shaped by evolving regulation, globalization and a renewed focus on corporate responsibility. Now more than ever, financial planning and decision making depend on understanding and using the new ideas and tools required in sophisticated financial management. In the Smith the Master Finance (MFin) program, you’ll gain the leading-edge knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in today’s complex and networked world of finance.

You’ll also learn from some of the best financial minds in the world. Smith finance faculty have held active roles in advising large financial institutions, multinational corporations, and government and multi-lateral agencies. In addition to prestigious academic journals, their research has also appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other international business publications.

Core courses provide excellent fundamentals and a large number of electives allow students the flexibility to become specialists or highly qualified generalists. You’ll learn how to analyze and direct the financial decisions of an organization, and gain a fresh understanding and a deep appreciation for the theoretical foundations of finance today.

Classes are held at our Washington, D.C. campus in the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, and in College Park, which are both easily accessed from all points throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region, which spans from Baltimore to northern Virginia. The Ronald Reagan Building is located within walking distance of the White House, U.S. Department of Treasury headquarters, and other important national landmarks. 

Click here to learn more about the Master of Finance program.

Finance in the MBA Program

The Master's level finance courses provide an understanding of how companies, institutions, and individuals make investments, raise capital, and manage risk in a dynamic financial environment. The investments courses provide rigorous analytical tools for the measurement of risk-return tradeoffs in financial markets, the pricing of financial securities, and the allocation of capital in the financial economy. Corporate finance and institutions classes provide an understanding of how capital is raised, risk is managed, and companies are governed in the corporate sector. The finance curriculum also provides opportunities to better understand ways in which derivative securities can be used in managing risk in corporations as well as in investment portfolios.

The Master's level finance courses can be taken as individual electives tailored to student interests or into sequences of electives relevant for career tracks often chosen by MBA students. For instance, students aspiring to be financial engineers can take quantitative courses that transform a scientific understanding of the finance field into mechanisms, products and management policies that better serve the strategic needs of business entities. Our courses also include hands-on experience in managing funds. For instance, through the Mayer Fund, select students obtain hands-on experience in securities analysis and portfolio management while earning course credit, bridging classroom theory and actual finance practice. 

Career Tracks and Electives 

Master's Level Courses

BUSI 640, Financial ManagementThe finance core. Focuses on the valuation of the real assets of firms, how they are financed, and the valuation of stocks and bonds, the primary financial assets in an economy. The core stresses the three conceptual foundations of valuation: time value of money, no-arbitrage, and systematic risk.

BUFN 740, Capital Markets Designed to deepen the foundations necessary to finance focused students. This a gateway course that is necessary for those intending to take classes in or specialize in the quantitative areas of finance including investments, fixed income, and financial engineering, BUFN 761 to BUFN 770.

BUFN 750, Valuation in Corporate FinanceAn advanced topics course in Corporate Finance dealing with valuation. Main topics will be, building pro forma statements, cost of capital, using ratios and comparables to value projects and firms, discounted cash flow valuations, WACC and APV methods of valuation and Real Option Valuations.

BUFN 751, Financial Strategy For Corporations An advanced course in corporate finance, focusing on the issues that firms face when they plan to raise external capital from financial markets. The focus is on the financing problems faced by mid-market to large firms and on capital raised from public markets. The forms of external finance vary from simple debt or equity to more complex securities that bundle financing with an element of risk management.

BUFN 752, Financial RestructuringFocuses on identifying ways to increase firm value through corporate restructuring. Specific topics include: mergers and tender offers, spin-offs, carve-outs, divestitures, takeover defense strategies, leveraged buy-outs, and international acquisitions. Additionally, the theory, practice and empirical evidence related to each of these topics will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on valuation analysis and strategic considerations.

BUFN 753, Corporate GovernanceDeals with corporate governance and its impact on shareholder value. Divergence of interests between corporate insiders and providers of funds leads to agency problems which can impair corporate performance and shareholder value. Various instruments of corporate governance - internal as well as external mechanisms - that can help align managerial incentives with those of outside investors, and hence help restore shareholder value will be studied.

BUFN 754, Corporate Risk ManagementSurveys the theory and practice of financial risk identification, measurement, and mitigation at financial and non-financial firms. Topics will include hedging with options and futures, interest rate risk management, Value-at-Risk (VaR), Cashflow-at-Risk (CaR), Earnings-at-Risk (EaR), credit risk, equity risk, commodities risk, exchange rate risk, and lessons from risk management disasters.

BUFN 755, Entrepreneurial Finance and Private EquityAn advanced topics course in Corporate Finance. The major emphasis is how financiers help growing firms - and in particular young start-ups - using different types of securities at different points in the industry's and firm's life. Financing arrangements and securities studied will include private equity funds and private financings placements, venture capital and preferred equity, investment banks through initial public offerings, private equity funds, debt and leveraged buyouts. Students will learn additional techniques that will help them understand how financiers value firms and how to understand, plan and value different financing strategies.

BUFN 760, Applied Equity AnalysisStudents will learn to analyze equity securities using the basic EIC (Economy/Industry/Company) framework used in the financial industry, paying special attention to financial statement analysis. Students also will learn the primary valuation techniques used to estimate market values for equity securities.

BUFN 761, Derivative SecuritiesStandard types of derivatives contracts are presented, and illustrated as to how they are used in practice. The theory of pricing these contracts is then presented in detail. The use of static and dynamic replication strategies, and the concept of no-arbitrage strategies is illustrated in numerous ways. Standard valuation techniques are covered, and standard formulas are presented. The theory is then applied to develop specific pricing and hedging strategies for various types of derivatives on different underlying assets. The management of the exposure of various risks is covered in detail as well.

BUFN 762, Fixed Income AnalysisDescribes important financial instruments which have market values that are sensitive to interest rate movements. Develops tools to analyze interest rate sensitivity and value fixed income securities. Defines and explains the vocabulary of the bond management business.

BUFN 763, Portfolio ManagementProvides training that is important in understanding the investment process - the buy side of the financial world. Specifically, the objective is to provide graduate-level instruction in the following topics, both in theory and in using financial markets data to test the basic theory and practice of portfolio choice and equilibrium pricing models and their implications for efficient portfolios.

BUFN 765, Fixed Income DerivativesSurveys fixed income assets and related securities such as Exchange-traded bond options; bonds with embedded options; floating rate notes; caps, collars, and floors; floating rate notes with embedded options. Also surveys advanced tools for interest-rate and fixed-income portfolio management, including the use of derivative securities, and the application of binomial trees for analysis of options, and a sound understanding of stochastic yield curves.

BUFN 766, Financial EngineeringDevelop Excel and Visual Basic (VBA) models to solve problems related to portfolio management, options valuation, fixed income securities, interest rate processes, and risk management. This course thus bridges theory with the design of algorithms and models that can be directly applied in practice.

BUFN 770, International InvestmentAddresses international stock markets, portfolio theory, international interest rates, exchange rates and exchange rate derivatives (options, forwards, and futures), exchange rate swaps and exchange rate exposure (operating, translation, and transaction), foreign investment strategy.

BUFN 771, International Corporate and Project FinanceIssues addressed will include capital budgeting, project financing, exchange rate exposure (operating, translation, and transaction), foreign investment strategy, and risk management.

BUFN 772, Bank ManagementAnalyze and discuss readings in bank management, with primary focus on the measurement and management of risk, including credit, market, and interest rate risk. Look at the management of liquid reserves. Examine the special nature of financial institutions, incorporating their functions, policies, services, and regulation. Study the evolving nature of the financial services industry, by reading the financial press and by having outside practitioner speakers. Focus is on U.S. banks.

BUFN 773, Institutional Asset ManagementExamines how money is managed by organizations such as university endowments, pension funds, mutual funds, hedge funds, and private equity funds. Involves a mixture of finance and economics and emphasizes the incentives professional money managers face within the context of the organizational structure in which they operate. Particular attention is paid to compensation structures and monitoring mechanisms.


The undergraduate finance curriculum is designed to familiarize the student with the institutions, theory, and practice involved in the allocation of financial resources within the private sector. It is also designed to incorporate foundation study in such related disciplines as economics and the quantitative areas. Finance provides an educational foundation for careers involving financial management, investment analysis and portfolio management, investment banking, risk management, banking, and international finance. The four year finance major requirements are here.

Finance majors have the opportunity to participate in one of six competitive Finance Fellows programs. Sophomore Fellows is a sophomore level program for students who want to begin their finance studies early. The three junior/senior level programs are Emerging CFOs for students interested in corporate finance, Financial Services for students interested in traditional and personal banking, and Quantitative Fellows for students who want to pursue mathematical finance. Students may also participate in one of two highly competitive senior level funds: Senbet Fund, whose students manage donor money and Private Equity and Venture Capital Clinic where students serve as analysts for an actual private equity fund.

The Smith School has two Netcentric Financial Markets Laboratories to facilitate teaching and research related to financial markets. Developed in partnership with Reuters, the lab emphasizes hands-on learning and utilizes the latest in technology. The lab resembles a New York Stock Exchange specialist post surrounded by floor broker booths. Real-time data and analytical tools are provided by Reuters and displayed on Daktronics' electronic display boards and a 20-foot electronic stock ticker. In the lab, students are analyzing real-time and historical data to understand financial instruments. They are also building and testing investment portfolios using professional software packages.

The undergraduate finance program is also a partner school with the CFA Institute. The CFA Institute is a global organization comprised of the world’s largest association of investment professionals. The CFA program is a graduate level study program. Investment professionals can become CFA charter holders by taking a series of three exams, covering ethical standards, investments, corporate finance, global issues, economics, accounting, and statistics. CFA Institute partners with a limited number of globally diverse, select institutions whose degree programs cover a significant portion of the CFA Program Candidate Body of Knowledge, including the high ethical and professional standards. These universities are recognized leaders and serve as role models for other institutions. As a partner school, the finance department will participate in CFA Institute conferences, and will be able to nominate students for CFA scholarships.

Financial Markets Labs Sponsors

professor and students in the Fiance Lab

The University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business is extremely grateful for the continuing in-kind support of these organizations. They have contributed greatly to the success of the Financial Markets Labs.

  • Thomson Reuters LLC
  • Bloomberg Finance LP
  • Standard & Poor's
  • Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP)
  • IBISWorld, Inc.
  • IHS Global, Inc.
  • Morningstar Inc.
  • MSCI, Inc.

Cutting Edge Technology

professor and student in the Finance Lab

Currently the portfolio of products available on all 50 PCs in the Financial Markets Labs (17 in the 1318 VMH Lab and 33 in the VMH 3505 Lab) includes the following:

Thomson Reuters Products:

  • Thomson Reuters Eikon
  • Thomson Reuters Eikon Excel
  • Thomson ONE with the Thomson Reuters Spreadsheet Link (TRSL) Microsoft Excel Add-in
  • SDC Platinum Databases (accessed via the smithapps portal):
    • SDC Platinum Worldwide Mergers & Acquisitions
    • SDC Platinum Global New Issues
    • SDC Platinum VentureXpert
    • SDC Platinum Joint Ventures/Alliances
    • SDC Platinum Municipals

Bloomberg Professional Terminals with the Bloomberg Microsoft Excel Add-in

Morningstar Products:

  • Morningstar Direct
  • Morningstar EnCorr (accessed via the smithapps portal)

Mergent Products:

  • Mergent Online
  • Mergent Web Reports

Standard & Poor's (S&P) Capital IQ Products:

  • ExecuComp
  • Capital IQ (1318 VMH Lab only) with the Capital IQ Microsoft Excel Add-in

IHS Global Insight DataInsight Web


Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS)
(This list is only some of the principal data products available via WRDS)

  • AuditAnalytics
  • Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) Database Products:
    • US Equity Daily and Monthly starting in 1925
    • US Equity, Treasury Indices and Portfolio Assignments
    • Monthly US Government Bills, Notes, and Bonds Files
    • Survivor Bias Free US Mutual Fund
    • CRSP/Compustat Merged
  • S&P's Compustat Database
  • Thomson Reuters Database Products:
    • I/B/E/S (Institutional Brokers Estimates System)
    • Mutual Funds Holdings
    • 13f Institutional Holdings
    • Insiders Filings and Holdings
    • Dealscan
  • WRDS SEC Analytics Suite
  • OptionMetrics Database
  • MSCI Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) RiskMetrics Products:
    • Historical Directors Data
    • Historical Governance Data
  • MFLINKS Database
  • MSCI KLD Social Ratings Database

Finance Lab's Purpose and History

Financial Markets Lab

Mission Statement:

Russ WermerThe Financial Markets Laboratory will provide world-class teaching and research opportunities in financial markets for the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

- A Message from the first Financial Markets Lab Director, Dr. Russ Wermers

Our vision was to design and build a lab structure with technology to support financial research and to help educate business students for the financial environment of the 21st century. The lab enables access to leading edge financial analysis software and real-time international financial data feeds to provide Smith School students with the hands-on modeling experience that will give them an edge in competing for the most promising careers in various subfields of finance. We view the impact on student education and employment opportunities as the number one priority for this lab.

A second priority for the lab is to enable research in the areas of market microstructure, risk management strategies, derivatives pricing, financing and valuation of knowledge-based companies, and other technology-driven financial research areas. The lab enables participants to conduct analyses in real-time, using the most advanced analytical software available. In addition, we wish to evaluate, in a research setting, various software products that become available for the teaching mission of the lab before fully implementing them in a teaching setting.

Thus, our vision for the lab was to create one of the most advanced research and teaching environments in the world. The lab:

  • Provides cutting-edge training in financial modeling and analysis for undergraduate and MBA finance courses, as well as enabling the development of certificate programs in contemporary issues in finance, such as risk management, derivatives strategies, and structured products;
  • Supports and enhances academic research through the availability of extensive data;
  • Stimulates opportunities for collaborative research and teaching alliances among fields such as logistics, operations research, accounting systems, information systems, and finance; and;
  • Serves as an information repository for live feed data and financial databases needed for both research and teaching.

Seminars / Conferences

Fall 2014




September 12

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. - Noon

Michael Jensen, Harvard Business School

September 15

VMH 2505

Sheridan Titman, University of Texas at Austin

September 26

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. - Noon

Mitchell Petersen, Northwestern University

October 3

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. – Noon


October 10

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. - Noon

Kevin Murphy, University of Southern California

October 17

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. – Noon

Joshua Coval, Harvard Business School

October 24

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. – Noon

Lucian Taylor, University of Pennsylvania

October 31

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. - Noon

Nicolae Garleanu, University of California, Berkeley

November 7

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. – Noon

Pierto Veronesi, University of Chicago

November 21

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. – Noon


December 5

VMH 1333

10:30 a.m. - Noon


Spring 2014




January 7 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 2505
Oliver Boguth, Arizona State University
January 14 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 2505
Arthur Korteweg, Stanford University
January 16 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1202
Lai Xu, Duke University
January 22 2 - 3:30 p.m.
VMH 1202
Igor Salitskiy, Stanford University
January 22 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1418
Nikolai Roussanov, Pennsylvania State University
January 24 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1303
Shrihari Santosh, University of Chicago
January 27 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 2505
Jillian Popadak, University of Pennsylvania
January 28 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 2505
Jakub Jurek, Princeton University
January 29 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 2511
Taylor Begley, University of Michigan
January 31 2 - 3:30 p.m.
VMH 1511
Xiaolan Zhang, University of California, Los Angeles
February 4 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 2511
Shengxing Zhang, New York University
February 5 Noon – 1:00 PM
VMH 2505
Jordan Siegel, Harvard University
February 6 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 2511
Erik Vogt, Duke University
February 7 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1330
Olivier Dessaint, HEC Paris
February 12 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 2511
William Mullins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
February 17 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 2511
Jerome Tallaird, Boston College
February 28 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1333
Efraim Benmelech, Northwestern University
March 7 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1333
Kevin Murphy, University of Southern California
March 28 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1333
Andrew Patton, Duke University
April 4 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1333
Urban Jermann, University of Pennsylvania
April 18 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1333
Lorenzo Garlappi, University of British Columbia
April 25 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1333
Rene Stulz, Ohio State University
May 2 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1333
Jay Ritter, University of Florida
May 9 10:30 a.m. - Noon
VMH 1333
Bill Wilhelm, University of Virginia

Fall 2013

September 13 Lukas Schmid, Duke University
"Testing Dynamic Agency Theory via Structural Estimation"
September 20 Youchang Wu, University of Wisconsin
"Industry competition, winners advantage, and cash holdings."
September 27 Hongjun Yan, Yale University
“Collateral-Motivated Financial Innovation”
October 18 Peter Christoffersen, University of Toronto
"The Factor Structure in Equity Options"
October 28
Maria Cecilia Bustamante, London School of Economics
“Product Market Competition and Industry Returns”
Note:  This seminiar will take place in VMH 2505 at 2 p.m.
November 1 Sumit Agarwal, National University of Singapore
Did the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Lead to Risky Lending?
November 15 Ashwini Agrawal, New York University
November 22 Malcolm Baker, Harvard
“Do Strict Capital Requirements Raise the Cost of Capital? Bank Regulation and the Low Risk Anomaly”
November 25 Alexei Tchistyi
Note: This seminar will take place in VMH 2505 at 1 p.m.
December 2 Zhaogang Song
December 3 Elena Loutskina

Spring 2013

March 8 Xavier Giroud, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Download Paper
March 15 Amy Dittmar, University of Michigan
Download Paper
April 5 Stefano Giglio, University of Chicago
Download Paper
April 12 Zhiguo He, University of Chicago
Download Paper
April 26 Dimitri Vayanos, London School of Economics
May 3 David Matsa, Northwestern University
Download Paper

Fall 2012

September 21 Charles Trzcinka, University of Indiana
Download Paper
September 28 Itay Goldstein, Wharton
Download Paper
October 5 PhD Student Presentations
October 19 Itzhak Ben-David, Ohio State University
Download Paper
November 2 Dana Kiku, Wharton
November 9 Philip Valta, HEC Paris
Download Paper
November 16 David McLean, University of Alberta
Download Paper
November 28 Denis Sosyura, University of Michigan
Download Paper
December 7 Hong Liu, Olin Business School
Download Paper

Financial Databases & Software

The Robert H. Smith School of Business provides its faculty and students easy access to the world’s leading online real-time financial data and software.

In partnership with the University of Maryland McKeldin Library, the Robert H. Smith School of Business provides its faculty and students with a world-class set of research financial and other business databases, and the software to access them.

Thomson Reuters

Reuters 3000 Xtra – 62 concurrent accesses

Reuters 3000 Xtra is a high-speed, integrated information and transaction service. It gives users a commanding view of the global real-time financial arena and provides a combination of news, information and insight as well as access to the global Reuters trading community. Its integrated price discovery and trading capabilities across all asset classes mean that decisions can be made and executed from a single desktop. Reuters 3000 Xtra reflects Reuters vast experience in global financial markets; functionality is continually upgraded and content enriched.

Datastream Advance

Thomson Datastream Advance offers you access to the world's largest and most respected financial statistical database. It contains more than two million financial instruments, securities, and indicators for over 175 countries in 60 markets. With up to 50 years of history and over 8,000 different fields, it provides access to over one hundred million time series. Thomson Datastream Advance combines easy-to-use, pre-formatted charts and tabular reports with truly flexible charting to help reveal new insights and relationships.


Bloomberg Professional – 6 full function terminals

The BLOOMBERG PROFESSIONAL® service seamlessly integrates real-time and historical information on about 5 million bonds, equities, commodities, currencies and funds. The electronic library also comprises data on almost every publicly traded company and biographies of more than 1 million people. And because everything is provided in single source, information can be accessed, analyzed or archived with just a few keystrokes or clicks.

Historical Databases and Retrieval Software

Click here for a list of databases. Full access is available to members of the University of Maryland community and on the Maryland campus.


We subscribe to the Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS), a web based data service that provides instant access to several research quality financial databases. More details


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