PhD in International Economics & Finance

A PhD in international economics and finance offers students the chance to study two academic fields and develop their own specialized research niche. Graduates can rise to respected positions as economists, financial advisors and researchers. Schools offering Economics degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Earn a PhD in International Economics and Finance

A PhD joint degree program in international economics and finance prepares graduates for careers as researchers, higher education teachers, policy makers and consultants. To apply, students need a bachelor's or master's degree that included high-level mathematics courses like multivariate calculus, statistics, regression analysis and linear algebra. Programs generally take 4-5 years to complete and include coursework in microeconomics, econometrics, accounting and finance.

Macroeconomics and Microeconomics

In the first two years of the PhD program, candidates must complete core coursework in macroeconomics and microeconomics. A solid understanding of these two subjects underpins an economic and finance student's entire course of study. Macroeconomics emphasizes how the entire economy works as a whole while microeconomics zeroes in on how particular segments of the economy function.


Another common subject for universities to include on their required first-year course lists is econometrics. In an econometrics class students learn the mathematical skills necessary to describe the economy with numbers. The syllabus may include units on probability distributions, multilinear regression, statistical inference and other data analysis tools. By the end of the course students should be able to create models to forecast future economic conditions.

Financial Theory

In the second year of many PhD in international economics and finance programs students focus on preparing for a comprehensive finance exam. A financial theory class includes a survey of up-to-date research and current academic theories regarding finance practice. Students practice working with single period and dynamic models.

Asset Pricing

In this class students practice using econometric and finance tools to analyze large sets of data. In particular, this class focuses on two pricing principles, general equilibrium pricing and rational pricing. Students use econometric techniques like maximum likelihood, GMM, Bayesian methods and various time-series models.

Corporate Finance

Corporate finance is another important topic PhD students must master to pass the comprehensive finance test. In a corporate finance class students study capital structure and dividend policy. At the PhD level, students become familiar with the latest academic research related to corporate finance. They also learn how to conduct their own research using theoretical techniques from the economics of information and game theory.

Specialization Classes

After completing core economics courses and successfully passing the comprehensive finance exam, students must begin to develop a specialization in one area of economics. In their third year, PhD candidates choose electives related to their unique research topic. Common specializations include industrial organization, labor economics, public economics, developmental economics, econometrics, international trade, macroeconomics or microeconomic theory.

Thesis Research or Comprehensive Exam

To graduate, PhD candidates must complete an independent research project within their chosen area of specialization. Candidates generally write proposals for their research in their second or third year of study. For the next few years they conduct original economic and finance research and present their findings in a thesis paper. They must defend their thesis before a panel of academic experts before graduating.

Jobs for Candidates with a PhD in International Economics and Finance

Investment Fund Manager

An investment fund manager designs, directs and carries out the investment strategy for a group of institutional or individual investors. It is a position that comes with the authority to make major financial decisions for important clients and investors. Most investment fund managers have graduate degree experience in economics and finance, so a joint PhD in international economics and finance is a great foundation for this career path.


An economist can work in a range of environments, from major companies to government bureaus. They advise on economic policy based on their research, data analysis and economic modeling and forecasting. A PhD in international economics and finance prepares graduates with the mathematics skills and background knowledge necessary to succeed in this demanding position.

Economics Professor

If you enjoy the research side of economics, consider a career as an economics professor. Economics professors balance training the next generation of economists with pursuing their own research projects. To qualify for tenure-track teaching positions at universities, you need a PhD in economics or finance.

Possible Careers with a PhD in International Economics and Finance Median Salary (2018) Job Growth (2018-28)
Investment Fund Manager $107,480 (managers, all other) 6% (managers, all other)
Economist $104,340 8%
Economics Professor$101,4808%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A PhD in international economics and finance is a vigorous course of study that allows students to become expert economists with a research specialization of their choice. Graduates can go on to rewarding careers advising government agencies, creating policy for massive corporations or teaching at universities.

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