Most Affordable Online Ph.D. in Finance in 2021

Most Affordable Online Ph.D. in Finance in 2021

Erin Gobler picture
Erin Gobler
Updated September 26, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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A Ph.D. is the most advanced and one of the most highly-respected degrees that someone can earn. If you have a financial background or are interested in specializing in topics like finance, economics, and statistics, a Ph.D. in finance can help you open up many career doors and increase your earning potential.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for someone with a doctoral degree is $94,900 per year. That number is even higher for those with doctoral degrees in finance. Someone with a Ph.D. in finance is likely to exceed $100,000 per year. 

Despite the high earning potential, you can earn your Ph.D. for a relatively low tuition amount. Based on the schools we’ve ranked in this article, the average tuition cost is roughly $50,000. Read on to learn more about the most affordable programs, courses, earning potential, and financial aid.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or Ph.D. programs.

Most Affordable Online Ph.D.s in Finance in 2021

  • Capella University

    Minneapolis, MN



    Capella University actually offers two Business Administration Ph.D programs that graduate candidates may want to research. The first is the Doctor of Business Administration, which is an academic degree that sees students engage in research and business theories within a concentrated point of view within the industry. This is perfect for students who are interested in becoming academics and enjoy research. The Ph.D in Business Management is a practical degree that focuses a student's education on the pragmatic aspects of the business world. This degree is perfect for students who wish to go into the business industry after graduation. Both degrees can be earned online; however, residencies may be required depending on a student's chosen concentration.

    • Graduation rate: 42%
    • Estimated years of completion: 14 months
    • Credits: N/A
    • Admissions requirements: Master’s degree from an accredited institution, minimum GPA of 3.0
    • Program Website
  • City University of Seattle

    Seattle, WA



    The City University of Seattle offers an online option for completing the DBA, or the Doctor of Business Administration. This degree was created for graduate candidates interested in becoming leaders within businesses or work as businesses consultants. The degree takes around three to four years to complete and the online option has no residency requirements. Students taking the online path will notice that their education is bolstered by new technology that allows professors to chat live with them during lectures and online office hours. Sample courses include Industry Analysis and Market Innovation, Financial Decision Making, and Organizational Development Theories and Trends.

    • Graduation rate: 45%
    • Estimated years of completion: 3-4 years
    • Credits: 90 credits 
    • Admissions requirements: Master’s degree from an accredited institution, Introduction to the Doctoral Program course completion
    • Program Website 
  • Kansas State University

    Manhattan, KS



    Kansas State University has an incredible opportunity for students interested in pursuing a Ph.D in Personal Financial Planning. This cohort program offers students the chance to do most of their coursework at home while requiring each student make a trip to the school for ten days every summer for three consecutive years. This program format gives students the feeling of actually knowing their classmates and professors while also enabling them to continue to pursue their career and their education. This degree requires 90 credit hours of coursework in four different competency areas: research, professional, supporting, and electives. Sample courses include Personal Income Taxation, Money and Relationships, and Introduction to Financial Therapy.

    • Graduation rate: 60%
    • Estimated years of completion: 5 years or less
    • Credits: 90 credits 
    • Admissions requirements: Undergraduate and graduate GPA of 3.0 or higher, GRE or GMAT scores from within the last five years
    • Program Website
  • Northcentral University

    San Diego, CA



    Northcentral University offers a finance Ph.D. online that has no residency requirements, making it an ideal option for any student who is hoping to find a cheap Ph.D. finance degree that can also be completed entirely online.The DBA can be completed in as little as 39 months with no residency requirement. Students will benefit from learning from a group of professors who all hold terminal degrees in their area of specialization as well as have real-world work experience. Students also have access to an online portal that was built specifically for their needs; everything from an online bookstore to one-on-one tutoring services is available for online doctoral students.

    • Graduation rate: 34%
    • Estimated years of completion: 3.75 years
    • Credits: 54 credits 
    • Admissions requirements: Master’s degree and/or work experience in finance
    • Program Website 
  • Rutgers University

    New Brunswick, NJ



    Rutgers University is known to be a great institution for finance professionals. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that this university has a finance doctorate online option. The school does require a semester-based residency requirement, but nearly all of the coursework can be completed online. Rutgers is known for its comprehensive programs and its competitiveness for spots in its doctoral program, so students who are interested in applying for this are advised to apply as soon as possible. This degree suggests that students focus on coursework for the first two years of the curriculum plan and work on their dissertation for the last two years. This degree requires 60 credit hours of coursework, a research paper, and a dissertation. Sample courses include investments, corporate finance, and special topics in finance.

    • Graduation rate: 72%
    • Estimated years of completion: 4 years
    • Credits: 72 credits 
    • Admissions requirements: Master’s degree, preferably in economics, computer science, or mathematics
    • Program Website
  • Trident University

    Charleston, SC



    Trident University offers a Ph.D in Business Administration that is conferred entirely online. This program was designed for the scholars and professors of tomorrow; it is a research and academic degree that is best sought after by students who are interested in becoming researchers or teachers. With five concentrations to choose from, this degree opens up worlds of possibility in terms of academic research, especially for the finance sector. The degree requires 45 credit hours of coursework, a research project that is supervised by the department, a qualifying exam, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Auditing, Financial Management, and Economic Growth and Development.

    • Graduation rate: Not disclosed
    • Estimated years of completion: 3-5 years
    • Credits: 45 credits 
    • Admissions requirements: Master’s degree from an accredited institution, GPA of 3.0 or higher, five years of professional work experience
    • Program Website
  • University of South Carolina

    Columbia, SC



    The University of South Carolina offers a hybrid Doctor of Business Administration with a concentration in finance. This degree was designed specifically for students interested in building a career in the government or teaching industries; it is not a practical degree for finance professionals. Research is also a large part of the degree, with many students building an academic portfolio based on the research projects they take on while at USC. While residency must be established at the beginning of the degree, nearly all of the courses for this degree can be earned online.

    • Graduation rate: 69%
    • Estimated years of completion: 5 years
    • Credits: N/A
    • Admissions requirements: Professional work experience, statement of purpose, GRE or GMAT score, master’s degree preferred but not required
    • Program Website 
  • Walden University

    Minneapolis, MN



    Walden University is a well-known online university that has made its mark with its business degrees. The Doctor of Business Administration is no different. The school's hybrid program enables students to continue learning from their area of residence with only a few trips need for intensive residencies throughout the degree plan. Walden also holds a concentration in finance for students who have already begun specializing their education in this field. This degree requires 60 semester credit hours of coursework, a dissertation, and two four-day residencies, which provide students with real-world experience, at the school's campus. Sample courses include Fiscal Leadership in a Global Environment, Organizational Leadership, and Seminar in International Finance.

    • Graduation rate: 21%
    • Estimated years of completion: 2-3 years
    • Graduates: 49 credits 
    • Admissions requirements: Online application and transcripts
    • Program Website

How many years is a Ph.D. in finance?

Most online Ph.D. in finance programs require between three and five years to complete. Some can be completed on a part-time basis, which would take longer.

How much does a Ph.D. in finance make?

Someone with a Ph.D. in finance is likely to earn at least $100,000, though salaries can easily exceed $200,000.

Can I do a Ph.D. after an MBA in finance?

Yes. Most Ph.D. programs require a master’s degree for admission. An MBA or master’s in finance would help to meet that requirement. A P.h.D. in finance would help you land a promising career in academia as a professor or researcher. It's not uncommon for professionals to pursue a P.h.D. to prove the ability to do research and specialize in a particular field.

How do I get a Ph.D. in finance?

To earn a Ph.D. in finance, you generally must first earn a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in related fields and have some professional work experience. Once admitted to a Ph.D. program, you’ll have to complete coursework, followed by a dissertation.

Pursuing a Ph.D in finance is a difficult and time-intensive process, but opens you up to many career opportunities. To be admitted into a finance Ph.D. program, you’ll first need to meet the prerequisites, which include both a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

Ph.D. programs take an average of five years to complete. The first several years of the program will be spent on coursework. The final years will be spent preparing your dissertation.

If you’re wondering why to earn a doctoral degree in finance, know that this type of degree can drastically increase your earning potential, especially in a high-paying field like finance.

Career and Salary Outlook for Finance Ph.D. Graduates

Here’s an overview of some of the top paying jobs in finance.

There is excellent earning potential for someone with a Ph.D. in finance. According to the BLS, the median weekly salary for someone with a doctoral degree is $1,825 per week, which comes to $94,900 per year.

But in a high-paying field such as finance, starting salaries are likely to be much higher. In fact, according to the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, starting salaries for finance Ph.D. graduates are often closer to $180,000-$200,000.

A significant factor in determining your salary is the career path you choose to follow. There are many career doors open to someone with a Ph.D. in finance. Many people with doctoral degrees go into academia, but that’s not always the case. Jobs someone with a P.h.D. in finance may pursue include:

Job Title  Medial Annual Salary Employment Growth Rate
Assistant Professor or Professor $80,790 9%
Financial Manager $134,180 15%
Economist $108,350 14%
Finance Analyst $83,660 5%
Chief Financial Officer $185,950 4%

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Accreditation for a Doctorate in Finance Online

There are two types of accreditation for colleges and universities, and each is important. Both institutional and specialized accreditation provides students and potential employers with the knowledge that a particular school holds up to a national or regional standard. In fact, accreditation means more on an application than most students realize, so it’s time to pay attention to the labels these schools carry.

In fact, no accreditation could mean that the school does not have high enough academic achievements, or could be on probation for a multitude of violations.

Specialized accreditation, however, differs from institutional accreditation in that it focuses on one field of study, setting some programs apart from others. It is done by independent accrediting bodies. There are three main accrediting bodies students should look out for when looking up online finance Ph.D. degrees. They are:

  • AACSB – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International
  • ACBSP – Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
  • IACBE – International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education

Doctoral programs are not exempt from the necessity of accreditation. In some cases, the accreditation gives that program its reputation. It’s always a good idea to check for accreditation prior to applying to a school.

Common Courses in an Online Ph.D. in Finance Degree

Before moving onto the dissertation portion of your Ph.D. program, you’ll first have to complete coursework. Common courses you may take include:


The study of the economy as a whole, macroeconomics is a central part of any finance of economics program.


Microeconomics is a type of economic study that looks at individual market behavior rather than the economy as a whole.

Risk Management

Students learn to understand and weigh an individual’s or business’s financial goals with potential risks.

Investing and Wealth Management

Investing is a core part of the financial field. This course teaches students about portfolio management, portfolio analysis, and more.

Financial Research and Analysis

Students will learn to collect, analyze, and interpret data to make well-informed financial decisions.

DBA in Finance vs. Ph.D. in Finance

A Ph.D. and DBA are two paths available to someone interested in a doctoral degree in finance. The two differ primarily in terms of program focus and career path after school.

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is typically more research-focused. This type of degree is well-suited to someone who plans to work in research or academia. A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is another type of doctoral degree, but more designed for working professionals who plan to put their expertise into practice in a business setting.

For example, someone with a Ph.D. in finance may pursue a career as a finance professor at a university, while someone with a DBA in finance may one day work as a fund manager or chief financial officer.

Admissions Requirements

The admission requirements needed will vary depending on the school you apply to. In general, most schools will require applicants to have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and relevant professional work experience. Programs also require competitive GMAT or GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose that can help you stand out from other applicants. 

Scholarships, Grants, and Financial Aid for Ph.D. in Finance Students

A Ph.D. can be a considerable investment. The programs on our list have an average tuition cost of $50,000. Luckily, there are many resources to help students cover the cost of their Ph.D. in finance. Here are several scholarships you can consider:

AICPA Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

Designed to increase the number of minority students with doctoral degrees, this scholarship is available to minority candidates accepted into a full-time doctoral program.

Learn More

American Educational Research Association

AERA grants are available to advanced doctoral students and are intended to support the student while analyzing data and writing their doctoral dissertation. 

Learn More

Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship

This scholarship provides full tuition and other financial benefits to individuals in exchange for a period of post-graduation civilian service in a Department of Defense facility. 

Learn More

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

HSF Scholar funding is available to students with Hispanic heritage and a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher who are pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degrees.

Learn More

Fully-Funded Programs

Another way to make your Ph.D. more affordable is to find a fully-funded program. With this type of program, the university waives the cost of tuition and fees, and may even provide a living stipend and health insurance. Keep in mind that these programs are highly-competitive and are likely to only be available to the very top students in each field.

Erin Gobler picture

Erin Gobler


Erin Gobler is a contributing writer who covers higher education, online graduate programs, college planning, and more for Grad School Hub. Her writing has also appeared in The Simple Dollar, Robinhood, and The Balance.

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See All Posts is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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