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Apply to Gies, form your future in finance academia

The Finance PhD program seeks to admit students with the highest possible aptitude and potential for academic careers. Admission is based on the applicant’s background and accomplishments, potential for academic and professional success, stated educational and professional goals, and letters of recommendation. Decisions are made by a faculty committee and depend upon available space and the qualifications of the other applicants.

Admission Requirements

Minimum requirements for admission are as follows:

  • Completion of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited U.S. institution or its equivalent from a university in another country.
  • The minimum acceptable grade point average for admission is a 3.0 average (A = 4.0) in the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework and in all graduate coursework.
  • Acceptable scores on the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). While there is no required minimum score, the average score of students admitted in recent years is over 700. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE), with an average quantitative score being 160, is accepted as a substitute for the GMAT. GRE scores are reported electronically by the Electronic Testing Service (ETS).  Please self-report your score on your application and request ETS to report your score electronically to the University of Illinois (Institution Code 1836, Department Code 4102).
  • International applicants from countries whose first language is not English are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Certain international applicants are exempt from the TOEFL requirement. Please see English Proficiency Requirements for details.
  • The minimum requirement of a TOEFL score for full admittance is 103. IELTS is also accepted. Please be aware that if you are admitted into the program you will be required to provide a TOEFL score in order to fulfill the Teaching Assistant requirement. Please request that Educational Testing Service send scores to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign using our institution code number 1836 and department code 4102.
    • IELTS is jointly owned by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL), British Council and IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia.

Application Deadlines

For 2024-2025 Academic Year: October 1, 2023 through January 15, 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for the Spring semester?

No. Admission to the Ph.D. program is only offered for the Fall semester.

Are all international applicants required to submit TOEFL scores?
  • International applicants are required to submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), unless they satisfy one of the conditions for exemption listed below. Applicants are exempt from the TOEFL requirement if one or both of the following conditions are met:
    • The applicant has completed at least two academic years of full-time study (as defined by the home institution) within five years of the beginning of the proposed term of enrollment, or the applicant has completed a graduate degree, in a country where English is the primary language and at a school where English is the primary language of instruction. That is, English must be both the language of the country and the language of instruction at the school.
    • The applicant is from a country in which English is both the primary language and the official language. Please be aware that if you are admitted into the program you will be required to provide a TOEFL score in order to fulfill the TA requirement
Do you accept GRE scores in place of GMAT scores?

Yes, we accept GRE scores in place of GMAT scores.

How long does it take students to finish the program?

For most students, the program takes five years to complete.

Do I have to take the SPEAK test as part of the admission requirements?

The SPEAK test is not required for admission. However, international students must take the SPEAK test after they arrive on campus. (The University of Illinois requires that graduate students whose native language is not English pass the SPEAK test before they can be appointed as Teaching Assistants.) The Department of Finance makes arrangements for students to take this test on campus during the first year of the program.

Do you admit students who do not have a Master’s degree?

Yes, we admit students who do not have a Master’s degree. If admitted into the Finance PhD program, a Master’s degree can be earned, but students desiring a terminal masters degree are not admitted to the PhD program and should consider applying to the M.S. in Finance or the Masters of Business Administration.

Am I eligible to apply to the program?

If you have an undergraduate degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, or the equivalent from a university in another country, you are eligible to apply.

In a typical year, how many people apply and how many are admitted?

In recent years, around 100 people applied for an entering class of 3 students.

Do you provide financial support?

All admitted students are offered a tuition waiver plus a living stipend for 5 years that is conditional on making normal academic progress and fulfilling their obligations as a research assistant (RA) or a teaching assistant (TA). First year students are assigned as 10-hour per week RAs. Typically, second, fourth, and fifth-year students are assigned as 20-hour per week RAs. Third-year students serve as TAs to fulfill the program requirement that they obtain teaching experience.

Are international students eligible for scholarships or financial aid?

Admitted students receive financial support, regardless of nationality.

How long will it take before I am notified of the committee’s decision?

Applications are not reviewed until after the deadline date to apply. Please allow 3-4 weeks for a decision to be made. We will notify you of our decision via email.

May I submit unofficial or non-certified copies of my transcripts and degree certifications?

Official transcripts and degree certifications are only required if admitted into the PhD program.

I received my admission letter and I am admitted on limited status. What does that mean?

You may be admitted on limited status for a variety of reasons. The admission letter will clearly indicate the admission terms and the steps that need to be completed before full-admission status can be obtained. Some possible reasons for limited-status admission are:

  • admission has been granted as long as a minimum grade-point average is maintained,
  • non-native English speakers admitted with TOEFL scores below 103 or below 7.0 on the IElTS are required to complete an English Placement Test prior to their first semester of classes. Based on their performance on this test, they may be required to take English as a Second Language course(s) as part of their degree requirement.

If you are admitted on limited status you will be allowed to enroll for the first semester. You must satisfy whatever restriction is indicated in your admission letter to continue in the program.

Do I have to provide the proof of funding?

No, applicants do not need to provide the proof of funding. Students admitted into our Finance PhD Program receive a waiver of tuition and most fees, along with a living stipend. Students are still responsible for a small portion of fees, typically less than $1,000.

Do you recommend preparatory math classes?

Our program is heavily quantitative, so our admissions committee will want to see competency in this area.

Can I waive the GMAT/GRE requirement?

No. The GMAT/GRE test scores are a strong indication of the quantitative and verbal skills of an applicant. While the committee considers the composite application of each applicant, an official GMAT or GRE score must be included.

How can I order my official test score reports?

You can request your official test scores for the TOEFL and the GRE from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Applicants to the PhD program should request their scores be sent to Institution Code #1836; Department Code 00 or 02 – all department codes populate the campus score database. Please note, this is an undergraduate code; however, it does populate all campus test score databases.

GMAT scores are provided by PearsonVue. Scores should be sent to the PhD program using the code VKR-TK-03.

May I come in for an interview?

Interviews are conducted on an invitation-only basis. Please refrain from calling or emailing the PhD office to request an interview. You will be contacted by the PhD committee if an interview is necessary to make a decision on your application.

Who should write recommendation letters?

Your recommendation letters should come from academic and business sources. These recommendations should emphasize your strengths in the following areas: quantitative and analytical analysis, written and oral communication, research potential, and relevant work experience.

How do I make a change on my application once it has been sent?

Once your application is submitted you cannot make changes online. Email to let us know if any changes that need to be done or documents that need to be uploaded to your file.