Intangibles, Inequality and Stagnation

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Università della Svizzera italiana - USI

Program Structure

Similar to US programs, the PhD program in Finance consists of two phases: rigorous and intensive coursework in the first two years, and independent work on research projects to complete their dissertation in the last two to three years. The working language of the program is English. Knowledge of Italian is not necessary. The program can be completed in four to five years, depending upon prior training and student progress.

The program starts with a curriculum of mandatory courses during the first year. The aim is to providing candidates with a broad and complete education covering the basic building blocks and conceptual tools of finance. Each course is followed by an evaluation. At the end of the first year, eligible candidate must pass a comprehensive exam to be admitted to the second year. The mandatory first year courses are:


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During the second year, successful candidates take elective courses on advanced topics (offered in Lugano or in other SFI campuses) and start developing their research ideas by working on a first research paper under the supervision of local faculty. The first paper should contain original theoretical or empirical work developed independently by the candidates. It has to be presented and approved by the faculty by the end of the second year. The advanced courses offered in Lugano are:


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In the remaining two (or three) years, students write their dissertation in agreement with their advisor. The dissertation typically consists of several essays in one or several fields of financial economics. The essays are expected to be suitable for publication in international scientific journals – the main channel for communicating research results.

During that research period, candidates can also foster their research potential by presenting their work at conferences (funding is available), local internal seminars, and the annual SFI PhD workshop. The Swiss-wide research network of the SFI also guarantees intensive contact with PhD students from other Swiss universities and provides an excellent and stimulating research environment. Candidates can also benefit from the advanced courses offered at the Gerzensee study center by leading scholars from world-renowned institutions. The goal of these advanced courses is to provide students with the opportunity to acquire the specialized skills that are most relevant to their thesis work. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of funding offered by the Swiss National Science Foundation to spend time visiting top US institutions (for a semester or a year). Recent visits include Harvard, New York University, Northwestern University or Duke University.

The completion of the PhD Program in Finance requires a defense of the thesis in front of a jury, which includes external faculty members. Upon approval, a PhD in Finance is awarded by the University. Candidates also obtain an SFI Finance PhD label if they comply with the SFI curriculum requirements.

For more information, please read the memorandum.