Business Administration with a Concentration in Finance (Ph.D.)

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The Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship (VCOBE) PhD Program in Business Administration is designed to prepare students of diverse backgrounds to become productive teachers and researchers at the university level by providing academically rigorous training in business administration. The program seeks to create an intellectual climate that embraces scholarship, diversity, and global awareness. Drawing from its strategic location as a “Gateway to the Americas” and the strength of the University of Texas System, the program trains students to impact the business community through the creation and dissemination of knowledge.


  • To provide students with an intellectual environment conducive to the development of analytical and problem-solving skills;
  • To provide students with wide array of theoretical and methodological tools required for conducting high quality research that creates innovation and discovery of knowledge among business organizations.
  • To provide students, through a process of continuous review, a state-of-the-art curriculum that fosters critical thinking, ethical decision making and an understanding of the relationship between business and the global society;
  • To cultivate a learning environment that fosters scholarly inquiry, exchange of ideas and the development of excellent research skills;
  • To provide students with opportunities to utilize the bicultural environment in which the University is located to study diverse global business practices, interrelationships and interdependencies


The doctoral degree in business administration at a minimum consists of 63 academic hours. Each student selects a functional area major from finance, management, marketing, or information systems. In consultation with his or her advisory committee, the student selects courses to create an individual degree program. All students are expected to complete quantitative methods and major field courses designed to provide an understanding of the theoretical and empirical foundations of their discipline.

Students complete core course work requirements within the first two years of their training. After required coursework is completed, students take comprehensive examinations followed by the writing and defending of the dissertation. Each dissertation is expected to make a significant contribution to the field of knowledge encompassing global business administration.

Admission Requirements

To be admitted to the doctoral program, prospective candidates must first meet all requirements for graduate admission to UT Rio Grande Valley, as well as the other requirements listed below:

  1. Earned baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or a recognized international equivalent in a similar or related field.
  2. Undergrad GPA of at least 3.0 in the last 60 semester credit hours.
  3. A minimum score of 500 on the GMAT exam or GRE test with scores submitted by February 1st.
  4. Submission of three letters of recommendation from academic sources.
  5. Submission of a personal statement describing goals, experiences, scholarly accomplishments, reasons for pursuing the degree, and possible research questions or topics of interest.
  6. Submission of a resume or curriculum vitae. 

Application for admission must be submitted prior to the published deadline. The application is available at

Admission decisions for the doctoral program are made by a college-level admissions committee in consultation with the respective doctoral faculty in each area of concentration. The committee members make a determination with respect to the probability of success. Thus, the student should provide materials that will be helpful in making this decision.

Applications are for entrance to the program in the fall semester. For fall admission, all documents should be received by the doctoral program by February 1st preceding the fall of entrance desired. No students are admitted to begin in spring or summer. Part-time admissions to the program are not allowed.

Statistical Foundation Coursework

To assess competency in statistics, all incoming students will be required to complete an online non-credit statistics training prior to registering for fall classes. This online non-credit statistics training requirement is equivalent to the standard of completing the QUMT 6303 Statistical Foundations course. Students who fail this initial online non-credit statistical training requirement will be required to take QUMT 6303 Statistical Foundations in the fall semester on entry to the program.

Foundation (Leveling) Coursework

Students entering the Ph.D. Program in each of the five concentrations (i.e. accounting, finance, information systems, management, and marketing) without a graduate degree in business are required to complete a minimum of nine (9) hours of graduate leveling courses. Students who pass the online non-credit statistical training course can use it to substitute for QUMT 6303 Statistical Foundations.

The nine hours leveling course policy is only a minimum requirement. Applicants to the program are encouraged to work closely with their advisors to develop a personalized list of leveling courses that can better prepare them for the doctoral program. Depending on the individual student’s academic background, more than nine hours of leveling coursework may be recommended. The student will work with his/her area PhD program representative in determining the list of leveling courses he/she needs to take to complete.

Preliminary Examination

Beginning PhD students are required to pass a preliminary examination at the end of their first year. The preliminary exam is administered in the month of June and will cover both theoretical and methodological topics. The format and contents of the exam is determined by doctoral faculty in the respective concentration areas. The exam will have a pass/fail grade as determined by area faculty. A student who fails the June preliminary exam will have the opportunity to retake the exam before the beginning of the fall semester. A student who fails the retake exam will be dismissed from the Program. If a student presents a valid reason for delaying a scheduled preliminary exam, his/her request will be presented to the PhD Committee for approval. If approved, the student will be allowed to take the exam in the following January. A valid reason includes, but is not limited to, medical emergencies, leave of absences, or academic suspensions in the semester preceding the summer exam.

The area representative on the PhD committee will coordinate the exam administration. The coordinator will solicit exam contents from doctoral faculty members within the respective area. The exam coordinator from each respective area will then form a committee of doctoral faculty from that concentration area who will have the responsibility of formulating and grading the exam for that area.

Coursework Transfer and Substitution 

Up to nine hours of doctoral course credit may be transferred toward the degree at UT Rio Grande Valley. However, hours are not automatically transferred. Students must apply to the Ph.D. Program director (PPD) to have specific courses evaluated for inclusion in their degree plans. In general, courses transferred must have been taken in a time frame that permits the student to complete degree requirements at UT Rio Grande Valley within a 10-year span from the date of first enrollment in transferred courses.

No substitutions of courses are permitted without authorization from the PhD committee. Any substitution request should be processed prior to taking a course. To process a substitution, a Request for Substitution form should be submitted to the Program Director.

Scholarship Seminar

Upon completing the first two long semesters in their first year, students are required to begin working on their scholarship seminar research project. This is a 3 SCH seminar with the purpose of improving student competency in research and writing at a level to publish in top journals. The student will work with a faculty member of their choice starting at the beginning of the Summer following her/his second regular semester—regular semesters being the Fall and Spring semesters—to prepare a high quality publishable paper under the faculty member’s guidance. This paper will be presented to a group of doctoral faculty in her/his field during the student’s third regular semester. The area doctoral faculty attending the presentation will decide whether the student has produced a publishable paper. If yes, the student has completed the requirements for the 3 SCH. If not, the student will be given the chance to improve the paper and will present it again to a group of faculty during her/his fourth regular semester. The student will register for this seminar during the fourth regular semester and a grade of ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ will be assigned by the supervising instructor following the completion of the research paper.

Comprehensive Examinations

All students must take and pass a comprehensive examination (in their specialization area) prior to progression to the dissertation stage of the program. Students must take the written comprehensive exam as soon as they have completed the core coursework prescribed for the degree. The written exams will be scheduled in the month of June, right after the 4th semester of the student in the program. An oral examination may be required if the student's performance on the written exam is marginal and will be scheduled within three weeks after the written exam. Successful completion of the exam is required before the student may enroll in dissertation hours. The Comprehensive Examination will take place over two consecutive days for a total of twelve (12) hours. The first day will cover the major field exam questions in the candidate’s area for a period of eight (8) hours. The second day will cover the statistical analysis and research methods questions for a period of four (4) hours. If a student does not pass the exam in June, the student may retake another comprehensive exam in August. A failure for the second time results in the student’s expulsion from the program. Students should complete the comprehensive examination within 3 years of starting the program.


The dissertation is a report on original research that is a contribution to knowledge in the selected field. Upon successful completion of the Comprehensive Examinations, students must enroll for hours of Dissertation-Residency and Dissertation-Extension as needed over a period of time that will allow the student to complete the final defense of the dissertation within the 10 year time-to degree limit. The proposal defense process will be completed within 2 years of successful completion of the comprehensive exams. There are no extensions to the 2 year limit outside of a formal “leave of absence” that a doctoral student may take through regular procedures. The content and format of the proposal are determined by the Doctoral Dissertation Committee (DDC). Satisfactory defense of the proposal will authorize the student to complete the dissertation. Beyond 12 Dissertation-Residency hours, the student must enroll in a minimum of 3 hours of Dissertation-Extension in each semester until the dissertation is completed and defended or the student leaves the program or the student is suspended or dismissed. Each year the DDC will evaluate the progress of the candidate's dissertation. Upon judgment by the committee that the dissertation is complete and ready for defense, the DDC will schedule a public forum for the defense to which all doctoral students and graduate faculty are invited.

Academic Standing

Students are expected to make consistent, satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree.

The PhD Program Director in consultation of with area doctoral faculty will conduct an annual student evaluation.

Upon receipt of a grade of “C” the student will be on academic probation. In such a case the student must make an appointment with his or her academic advisor and the PPD to discuss future courses and expectations. In collaboration with the advisor and the PPD, the student will develop a written plan for improvement. Upon successful execution of the terms of the plan, the student will be released from academic probation.

Upon receipt of a second grade of “C” the student will be suspended from the program for one full semester, effective immediately upon receipt of the grade. The student will be unable to participate in any part of the doctoral program, including comprehensive exams, unless approved by appeal. The suspension also includes forfeiture of any doctoral study financial aid. Returning to the program does not carry a guarantee of reinstatement of financial aid. The student may be asked to follow a program of improvement to be decided by the academic advisor in consultation with the PPD.

Receipt of a third “C” or a grade of “F”, will result in the student’s dismissal from the program. A student desiring to appeal such dismissal may first discuss his/her concern with the seminar instructor. If the concern is not satisfactorily addressed, he/she will then appeal to the department chair. If the student appeal is denied, he/she can then appeal to the PhD committee. The appeal must be in writing and should be received within 10 days of notification of dismissal. A final appeal may be made to the Dean of the College of Business Administration and Entrepreneurship.

If a student’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.25, he or she will forfeit any financial aid from the doctoral program. Raising the GPA to above 3.25 in subsequent semesters does not guarantee reinstatement of financial aid.

Maximum Period for Completion

A student has a maximum of 10 years from the date of first entry into doctoral-level courses to complete the degree. Under special circumstances, an extension for an additional year may be granted by the student’s Doctoral Dissertation Committee. If a student exceeds the 10-year limit, the Doctoral Dissertation Committee will determine if the student will be permitted to continue in the program and what additional coursework or activities will be required to complete the degree.


The college has limited funds available exclusively for Ph.D. students. Assistantships are assigned on a competitive basis, and the judgment of the admissions committee regarding distribution of assistantships is final. Incoming applicants requesting assistantships from the college should submit their request with their application materials. The allocation of graduate assistantship positions to newly admitted and existing PhD students is determined by the PhD committee in consultation with the PhD Program Director (PPD).

In order to receive and maintain a graduate assistantship position, PhD students should have good academic standing and meet all requirements as specified in the PhD Student Handbook. Every admission cycle, each department admitting new PhD students submits to the PhD committee a list of its recommended applicants eligible for the available graduate assistantships. The PhD committee determines which applicants in each specialization will receive graduate assistantship and notifies PPD, who in turn allocates graduate assistantships. In the event there are eligible new (incoming admitted students) and existing (first, second and third year) applicants, the priority in graduate assistantship allocation will be with the former group. In cases where a graduate assistantship position becomes vacant and there is no eligible existing student requesting assistantship, the PPD will present the issue to PHDACC for decision as to whether to assign the assistantship to another program area. Academic performance will be reviewed each year to ensure that the student is making satisfactory progress. The Ph.D. Program director will notify continuing students of the time lines for renewing or applying for assistantships.

At a minimum the student must be in good academic standing, enrolled in nine hours as a graduate student during the fall and/or spring semester. The maximum amount of time allowed for assigned teaching and research duties is 20 hours per week. Assessment of student performance during the assistantship will be made by the PPD in consultation with the PhD committee. Students should contact Student Financial Services to determine if other sources of financial aid are available.

Professional Conduct Expectations

Doctoral students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional, collegial, and ethical manner. Students are here to develop as professionals and to learn to teach and conduct research. Behaviors that disrupt the learning process, create destructive conflict, or bring undeserved discredit to the program are considered to be unsatisfactory and may be grounds for consideration for dismissal from the program. The Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship faculty is committed to abiding by, teaching, and enforcing the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity. Academic dishonesty of any type violates the UTRGV disciplinary codes and will not be tolerated. Students suspected of academic dishonesty will be referred to the Dean of Students for investigation and possible disciplinary action. Students found guilty of academic dishonesty may be suspended or expelled from the university.

Program Requirements

Required Courses - 21 Hours

BADM 9313Academic Research and Teaching Career Preperation and Planning


FINA 8350Math for Finance


FINA 8360Theory of Finance


FINA 8365Theory of Investments


FINA 8370International Finance Management


FINA 8375Corporate Finance


FINA 8380Financial Markets and Institutions


Leveling Courses - 9 Hours

Students entering the Ph.D. in Business Administration Program without a graduate degree in business are required to complete a minimum of nine (9) hours of graduate levelling courses. Students who pass the online non-credit statistical training course can use it to substitute for QUMT 6303 Statistical Foundations.

ECON 6350Managerial Economics


FINA 6303Introduction to Finance


QUMT 6303Statistical Foundations


Research Method Courses - 15 Hours

ECON 8370Econometrics I


ECON 8375Econometrics II


FINA 8322Scholarship Seminar


QUMT 8310Applied Multivariate Data Analysis I


QUMT 8311Applied Multivariate Data Analysis II


Electives - 12 Hours

ECON 8351Seminar in Economic Topics


ECON 8360Macroeconomic Theory


ECON 8365International Trade


FINA 8341Seminar in Finance Topics


Graduate course(s) as approved by academic advisor

ECON 8351 and FINA 8341: Can be repeated for credit with varying topics. 

Dissertation - 15 Hours

BADM 9391Dissertation Extension


BADM 9690Dissertation Residency


BADM 9690 must betaken twice.

Total Credit Hours: 63