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Establishing a Pecking Order for Finance Academics:

Ranking of U.S. Finance Doctoral Programs

Jean L. Heck
Saint Joseph’s University
Haub School of Business
5600 City Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Electronic copy available at:

Establishing a Pecking Order for Finance Academics:

Ranking of U.S. Finance Doctoral Programs


Ranking of colleges, programs, departments and faculty has reached a feverish pitch in recent

years. Missing from the vast list of rankings is research covering doctoral programs in finance.

This study ranks 91 U.S. finance doctoral programs based on productivity of current finance

department faculty, graduates of those programs, and a survey of doctoral program

directors/chairs. The resulting rankings should be of value to those seeking to earn a finance

doctorate in the future as well as satisfy the natural curiosity of finance faculty regarding

bragging rights on their respective doctoral programs.


There is an obvious interest in the ranking of colleges, programs, departments and faculty

as evidenced by the number publications providing such rankings. In addition to the numerous

ranking articles published in academic journals, popular news magazines like U.S. News and

World Report and Business Week have become well-known for their rankings. In the finance

area, ranking studies started in the 1970s with a study that ranked doctoral programs based on

research publications of program graduates (Klemkosky and Tuttle, 1977). Subsequent studies

include the ranking of departments based on publications in various journal categories by faculty

of finance departments (Cooley and Heck, 1981), the ranking of departments based on

publications in the Journal of Finance over its previous 40 year history (Cooley and Heck, 1986),

Electronic copy available at:

and ranking based on a set of core 16 and top 3 finance journals (Chan, et al., 2002).

In the Chan, et al. (2002) paper, the authors ranked departments worldwide using adjusted

page counts of articles in a set of 16 core and 3 top finance journals. Though one item of focus

with this paper was labor mobility, using page counts for schools of authors appearing in the

journals failed to account for any such mobility, i.e., once a school has a faculty member publish

they will get credit for that publication despite the faculty member have long ago moved on to

another institution.

Similar ranking studies of faculty and departments abound in economics. Conroy and

Dusansky (1995) used an impact-adjusted equal-apportioned page count in core economics

journals to rank economic departments. Using a unweighted published page count over a ten-year

period, Scott and Mitias (1996) ranked economic departments. Their study used two different

measures of publications that examined a “stock” of faculty publications (current faculty) and a

“flow” of publications (university where research was published).

Using a survey of faculty methodology, the National Research Council ranked various

doctoral programs (Goldberger, Maher and Flattau, 1995). In this study, the authors asked survey

respondents to rank programs on both the “scholarly quality of the program faculty” and on “how

effective programs were in preparing research scholars.” Among the often cited rankings are

those of the U.S. News and World Report. This news magazine used survey responses similar to

the National Research Council study to rank doctoral programs in 12 different disciplines.

All of the above studies ranking faculty and/or departments are based on a single

dimension - either publications of current faculty, current and past faculty, or a survey

instrument. The goal of this research is to rank U.S. finance doctoral programs using multiple

criteria. In the next section, the three criteria used for ranking the doctoral programs is described,

followed by a section defining the criteria weighting scheme and rankings based on the

individual criterion, and concluding with sections providing the actual overall rankings and a

brief discussion of limitations of the methodology of the present research.

Finance Doctoral Ranking Criteria

In the rankings of various programs in the popular business press, the criteria used are

often factors such as faculty/student ratio, graduation rates, SAT scores and class ranks of

entering freshman, and a survey of college deans or university presidents. Arguably, when it

comes to doctoral programs, the most obvious factor affecting a program’s reputation is the

productivity of those associated with the program with respect to publication in the leading

journals of the field. This is evidenced by the fact that nearly all the previous ranking studies

published in academic journals focused on publication records. Rarely do you hear academics

expressing concern or praise for the teaching quality of a doctoral program or the class size. The

bottom line for many academics is “what and where have you published?” that ultimately

determines their perception of a doctoral program. Equally important are where have a program’s

graduates published as well as the reputation of the program in the minds of academics.

The first factor chosen for this study is the number of publications by current faculty of

the doctoral programs in the four leading finance journals - the Journal of Finance, Journal of

Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Journal of Financial Economics and Review of Financial

Studies. These four journals are often cited as the leading finance journals, and it is these journals

that likely have the greatest impact on a doctoral program’s reputation. Using current faculty

addresses the issue of faculty turnover. When study rankings are based on the institutional

affiliation of authors at the time of publication, some of the authors may no longer be affiliated

with that institution. Thus, it might be argued that the prestige of that publication more

appropriately resides with the author and his/her new academic affiliation rather than the

affiliation at the time of the publication.

The publication record of graduates of the doctoral programs in the same four leading

finance journals is the basis for the second criteria. This criterion was chosen because where a

leading researcher/publisher earned their degree is likely to be viewed as a positive reflection on

that institution. One would expect to find a relationship between the publication prowess of a

program’s faculty and the program’s graduates; thus, an examination of that relationship is

undertaken in the analysis section of this study.

Finally, a survey of finance doctoral program directors/chairs was conducted to gain their

opinions on how the many doctoral programs should be ranked as well as what criteria they felt

was important in determining program rankings. This survey is intended to capture important

ranking criteria factors that might be missed by the two publication criteria previously described.

The Data

The focus of this study is determining which finance doctoral programs are likely the

“best,” not a comprehensive ranking of all Ph.D. programs. Therefore, only those finance

departments that had at least one current faculty member or one doctoral program graduate

appearing as an author on a regular article in any one of the four leading finance journals over the

past 15 years were included in the study. It was felt that if a department didn’t have at least one

faculty member or one graduate appearing in one of the leading finance journals, it was unlikely

that program would appear among the more highly regarded programs. The list of doctoral

programs in this study includes 91 universities, which are listed in the appendix.

The author(s) of every article appearing in the four leading finance journals from 1991

through 2005 were collected from the journals. The resulting data yielded 5,839 total

appearances in the four leading journals, representing the works of 2,434 individual authors. To

determine the current affiliation of each author, the finance faculty directories of each of the 91

universities in the study were collected from the respective school web sites. For each author

appearing in those articles, every effort was made to determine the origin of their doctorate. The

University of Michigan Doctoral Abstracts, as well as information from Hasselback’s Finance

Faculty Directory, were used to determine where authors earned their doctorates. In those

instances where the doctoral origin couldn’t be found in these two reference sources, the web site

of the author’s listed employer was searched. Not every doctoral origin could be ascertained

since some of the authors likely earned their doctorates outside the U.S. while others didn’t

register their dissertation. The doctoral origins of 80.4 percent of the 2,434 authors were

identified. Of those authors whose doctoral origins couldn’t be determined, approximately 89

percent appeared only once in the top four journals and approximately 45 percent were from non-

U.S. universities or had industry affiliations, perhaps explaining the difficulty in determining

their doctoral origin.

For the third criteria, a survey instrument was sent to either the finance department chair

or the finance doctoral program director. The survey listed the 91 schools in alphabetical order

and asked the respondents to rate each finance doctoral program on a scale of one (lowest) to five

(highest) as compared to all other programs listed in the survey. The survey required the

respondents to give a rating of five to at least five of the programs, a rating of four to at least five

programs, a rating of three to at least five programs, and so forth. This requirement prevented

survey respondents, from giving one school a five and the remainder a lower rating, thus creating

distance between one favored program and all remaining programs.

The survey also asked the respondents to rate, on a scale of one to five (with 5 being

highest), a list of criteria they felt was most important in determining how they tended to rate the

programs. The rating criteria included in the survey, with the overall rankings given by the

respondents in parentheses, included:

My perception of the current finance faculty of the doctoral program (1)

My perception of the quality of students admitted or degree of difficulty in being
admitted to the program (2)
Publications in top finance journals by current faculty (3)
My perception of the rigor of the doctoral program curriculum (4)
Publications in top finance journals by the doctoral program’s graduates (5)
Publications in top finance journals by faculty over the entire history of the program (6)
My perception of the quality of the university housing the doctoral program (7)

There are some interesting relationships between the various criteria. For example, the survey

respondents ranked their perception of current finance faculty as the number one factor in

determining their program rankings, while they ranked publications in the top finance journals by

faculty over the entire history of the program at number five. Apparently, respondents agree with

the conclusion drawn earlier that the prestige associated with publishing in a top journal leaves a

school and goes with the author when the author changes affiliation.

Since two of the top three criteria, as rated by the survey respondents, include perceptions

based on current finance faculty, the criteria used in this present ranking study should capture the

main components of what drives perceptions of doctoral program quality. The survey

respondents appear to believe the quality of doctoral students admitted to a program is more

important in determining the quality of a doctoral program than how frequently the graduates

ultimately publish in top journals, since they ranked the former factor number two and the later at

number five. This broader perception of the quality of doctoral students would be difficult to

actually measure, however; despite respondents’ varying opinions of what defines doctoral

student quality, the publication record of program graduates can serve as a reasonable proxy for

the quality of students admitted to respective programs.

Ranking of U.S. Doctoral Programs by Each of the Three Criteria

As described above, the doctoral programs were ranked based on publications of current

faculty in the leading finance journals, publications of graduates of the programs, and by a survey

of doctoral program directors or department chairs. In this section, each of these three criteria is

examined. For all rankings, only the top 50 schools are shown in the tables since we are

interested in showing which programs are likely the best, not in embarrassing those programs

that might fall lower on the lists.

Finance doctoral programs were ranked based on the total number of appearances of

current faculty in the four leading finance journals; the rankings are shown in Table 1. The

number of appearances was not adjusted for the incidence of co-authorship since it was felt that a

program’s reputation would benefit the same from the actual appearance, regardless of whether

the paper was sole- or multi-authored. The top five ranked programs are NYU (226 appearances),

Harvard (164), Pennsylvania (153), UCLA (144) and Chicago (141).

Table 2 lists the rankings of finance doctoral programs based on publications in the

leading finance journals by graduates of the programs. Again, the appearances were not adjusted

for the incidence of co-authorship. The top five ranked programs are Chicago (564 appearances),

MIT (304), Harvard (252), UCLA (219) and Stanford (217).

The ranking of finance doctoral programs by a survey of department chairs or program

directors is shown in Table 3. Of the 91 programs included in the survey, a total of 64 of the

institutions responded to the survey, for a response rate of 70.3 percent. The top five ranked

programs, based on survey results, are Chicago (5.000), Stanford (4.984), MIT (4.919),

Pennsylvania (4.902) and UCLA (4.656). The University of Chicago had the distinction of being

the only program receiving a rating of five by every survey respondent.

Three of the programs ranked in the top five for both publication records of current

faculty and publication records of graduates, including Chicago, MIT and UCLA. Only the

University of Chicago and UCLA managed to make the top five in all three individual criteria


Since the first two rankings (current faculty publications and graduate publications) are

based on criteria assumed to be important to determining a program’s reputation, and the third

ranking (survey results) should incorporate those criteria (plus other criteria), it seems

appropriate to examine the relationship between the three rankings. A Spearman’s rho statistic

for ranked/ordinal data was calculated between the various pairs of rankings (faculty

pubs/graduate pubs; faculty pubs/survey rankings; and graduate pubs/survey rankings). The

respective correlations are:

Variables Spearman rho

Faculty Publications/Graduate Publications 0.296
Faculty Publications/Survey Ranking 0.739
Graduate Publications/Survey Ranking 0.609

As expected, there is a fairly strong relationship between both faculty publications and survey

ranking as well as graduate publications and survey ranking. These correlations provide evidence

of the appropriateness of using these two criteria in ranking finance doctoral programs.

Interestingly, there appears to be a much weaker relationship between publications of current

faculty and publications of program graduates. Maybe this suggests that the fruit doesn’t fall as

close to the tree as might be expected. This weaker correlation might help explain why survey

respondents ranked quality of students admitted higher than publications of graduates. That is,

the better programs are more difficult to get into rather than the graduates’ success determining

the reputation of their programs.

Overall Rankings of U.S. Finance Doctoral Programs

The final, overall, ranking of U.S. finance doctoral programs is based on an average of

the three criteria discussed above and is shown in table 4. The three criteria are equally weighted.

To adjust for possible scale bias, as each of the three criteria used have very different means,

each program’s ranking score for each of the three criteria was adjusted to their respective z-

scores. For example, for the University of Chicago, its overall ranking (10.708) is the sum of its

current faculty appearances factor of 2.471 (226 appearances minus the current faculty

appearances mean of 35.05 and divided by the standard deviation of 42.06), its graduate

appearances is 6.716 (564 appearances minus the appearances mean of 46.69 and divided by the

standard deviation of 83.76), and its survey factor is 2.060 (5.0 score minus the survey mean of

2.70 and dividend by the standard deviation of 1.115). The top five overall ranked U.S. finance

doctoral programs are Chicago, NYU, Harvard, Pennsylvania and UCLA.


The rankings of U.S. finance doctoral programs in this study are believed to be based on

the best available information. Though some might argue that publications in top journals and

opinions of doctoral program chairs/directors are not the only factors that determine the quality

of a doctoral program, these criteria certainly yield good information on which to base a decision

when choosing a doctoral program to attend or a program in which to be employed. Two factors

that some readers might want to include in the rankings are quality of publications and an

adjustment for faculty size. But frankly, publications in the four leading finance journals are

certainly a good proxy for article quality and adjusting for the size of the faculty may well create

an opposite problem from what it is intended to correct. Since readers’ perceptions of the quality

of a doctoral program are largely based on breadth of schools’ publication records, we surely

wouldn’t consider ranking a small program having a larger per capita output while having a few

faculty or graduates with some publications to be among the best doctoral programs.

For those who may not agree with the overall average ranking, it is left to those readers to

use their own weighting scheme, as the raw data for each of the three ranking criteria are

included in the tables. For example, those looking for a faculty position might want to use just

the current faculty rankings while those looking for a program to attend might use just graduate

rankings. In the final analysis, personal biases and methodological criticisms aside, the doctoral

programs at the top of these ranking lists deserve our admiration.


Chan, Kam C., Carl R. Chen and Thomas L. Steiner. “Production in the Finance Literature,
Institutional Reputation, and Labor Mobility in Academia: A Global Perspective,
Financial Management, 2002, v31(Winter), 131-156.
Conroy, Michael E. and Richard Dusansky. “The Productivity of Economics Departments in the
U.S.: Publications in Core Journals,” Journal of Economic Literature, 1995, v33(4), 1966-
Cooley, Philip L. and J. Louis Heck. "Significant Contributions To Finance Literature," Financial
Management, 1981, v10(2), 23-33.
Goldberger, Marvin, Brendan A. Maher and Pamela E. Flattau, eds. Research Doctorate
Programs in the United States: Continuity and Change, National Academy Press:
Washington, D.C., 1995.
Hasselback’s Finance Faculty Directory, James R. Hasselback, editor, Prentice Hall, Upper
Saddle River, NY, 2002-2203.
Heck, J. Louis, Philip L. Cooley and Carl M. Hubbard. "Contributing Authors And Institutions
To The Journal Of Finance: 1946-1985," Journal of Finance, 1986, v41(5), 1129-1140.
Klemkosky, Robert C. and Donald L. Tuttle. "The Institutional Source And Concentration Of
Financial Research," Journal of Finance, 1977, v32(3), 901-908
Scott, Loren C. and Peter M. Mitias. “Trends in Rankings of Economics Departments in the U.S.:
An Update,” Economic Inquiry, 1996, v34(April), 378-400.
University of Michigan Doctoral Abstracts, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Table 1. Ranking of 50 Top Finance Doctoral Programs Based on Total Appearances
of Current Faculty in Four Leading Finance Journals*

Current Current
Faculty Faculty
Rank School Appearances Rank School Appearances
1 NYU 226 26 Utah 51
2 Harvard 164 27 Arizona State 49
3 Pennsylvania 153 28 UC Berkeley 48
4 UCLA 144 29 Wisconsin 47
5 Chicago 141 30 Virginia 45
6 Cornell 116 31 Michigan State 41
7 Duke 116 32 Tulane 40
8 Michigan 89 33 Penn State 36
9 Illinois 89 34 Washington U. 34
10 Texas 77 35 Vanderbilt 34
11 Northwestern 76 36 Minnesota 29
12 Columbia 76 37 LSU 29
13 Maryland 72 38 U. Washington 28
14 Ohio State 71 39 Iowa 28
15 Southern California 70 40 Rutgers 28
16 Emory 69 41 Texas A&M 27
17 MIT 66 42 Indiana 26
18 North Carolina 59 43 Georgia 26
19 Florida 59 44 Baruch College 23
20 Stanford 58 45 Virginia Tech 23
21 Boston College 58 46 UC Irvine 23
22 Rochester 57 47 Oregon 22
23 Purdue 57 48 Arizona 21
24 Yale 57 49 Colorado 21
25 Carnegie Mellon 54 50 Case Western 19

* Four leading journals include the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial and Quantitative
Analysis, Journal of Financial Economics and Review of Financial Studies.

Table 2. Ranking of top 50 Finance Doctoral Programs Based on Total Appearances
of Ph.D. Graduates in Four Leading Finance Journals*

Ph.D. Ph. D.
Graduate Graduate
Rank School Appearances Rank School Appearances
1 Chicago 564 26 Iowa 45
2 MIT 304 27 Minnesota 35
3 Harvard 252 28 Pittsburgh 32
4 UCLA 219 29 Utah 32
5 Stanford 217 30 Washington U. 30
6 Pennsylvania 184 31 Maryland 29
7 Rochester 181 32 Arizona State 26
8 Northwestern 147 33 LSU 25
9 Ohio State 142 34 Georgia 21
10 NYU 139 35 Oregon 21
11 Cornell 128 36 Virginia Tech 21
12 Purdue 126 37 Alabama 16
13 Yale 121 38 Michigan State 16
14 UC Berkeley 111 39 South Carolina 16
15 Carnegie Mellon 103 40 Boston College 15
16 Michigan 96 41 Florida State 15
17 Texas 94 42 Georgia State 15
18 North Carolina 76 43 George Washington 13
19 U. Washington 66 44 Penn State 13
20 Columbia 65 45 Arizona 12
21 Duke 62 46 Case Western 12
22 Illinois 61 47 Missouri 12
23 Florida 60 48 Virginia 11
24 Wisconsin 59 49 Baruch College 9
25 Indiana 58 50 SUNY Binghamton 9

* Four leading journals include the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial and Quantitative
Analysis, Journal of Financial Economics and Review of Financial Studies

Table 3. Ranking of Top 50 Finance Doctoral Programs
Based on a Survey of Doctoral Program Chairs or Directors

Average of Average of
Ratings by Ratings by
Rank School Chairs* Rank School Chairs*
1 Chicago 5.000 26 Wisconsin 3.339
2 Stanford 4.984 27 Minnesota 3.339
3 MIT 4.919 28 Purdue 3.310
4 Pennsylvania 4.902 29 Southern California 3.271
5 UCLA 4.656 Arizona State 3.203
6 UC Berkeley 4.617 Florida 3.167
7 Carnegie Mellon 4.583 33 Vanderbilt 3.155
8 Northwestern 4.548 34 Penn State 3.052
9 NYU 4.516 35 Utah 2.949
10 Harvard 4.516 36 Iowa 2.949
11 Yale 4.450 37 Emory 2.932
12 Duke 4.361 38 Pittsburgh 2.776
13 Columbia 4.361 39 Arizona 2.763
14 Rochester 4.311 40 Michigan State 2.746
15 Cornell 4.271 41 Georgia 2.724
16 Michigan 4.082 Oregon 2.700
17 North Carolina 3.847 44
UC Irvine 2.661
18 Ohio State 3.817 45 Virginia Tech 2.474
19 Texas 3.780 46 Virginia 2.466
20 Maryland 3.508 47 Georgia State 2.466
21 Illinois 3.500 48 Georgia Tech 2.458
22 Washington U. 3.500 49 Colorado 2.431
23 Indiana 3.467 50 Texas A&M 2.424
24 Boston College 3.450 Boston U. 2.367
25 U. Washington 3.350 Florida State 2.288

* Ph.D. Programs were rated by either Department Chairs or Program Directors of the doctoral
programs on a scale of 1 to 5, with a 5 being the highest rating.

Table 4. Ranking of Top 50 Finance Doctoral Programs Based on a
Composite of Publications of Current Faculty, Publications of Ph.D. Graduates
and Survey of Program Chairs/Directors

Composite Composite
Rank School Rating Rank School Rating
1 Chicago 10.708 26 Southern California 0.748
2 NYU 7.221 27 U. Washington 0.596
3 Harvard 7.096 28 Indiana 0.557
4 Pennsylvania 6.368 29 Arizona State 0.486
5 UCLA 6.351 30 Washington U. 0.443
6 MIT 5.748 31 Emory 0.420
7 Stanford 4.577 32 Utah 0.377
8 Cornell 4.254 33 Minnesota 0.240
9 Northwestern 3.779 34 Iowa -0.014
10 Duke 3.547 35 Penn State -0.114
11 Rochester 3.520 36 Vanderbilt -0.176
12 Michigan 3.061 37 Michigan State -0.234
13 Ohio State 2.944 38 Virginia -0.450
14 Yale 2.928 39 Georgia -0.550
15 Carnegie Mellon 2.762 40 Pittsburgh -0.563
16 UC Berkeley 2.744 41 Oregon -0.667
17 Columbia 2.631 42 Arizona -0.742
18 Texas 2.480 43 LSU -0.824
19 Illinois 2.121 44 Virginia Tech -0.846
20 Purdue 1.966 45 Tulane -0.848
21 North Carolina 1.898 46 UC Irvine -0.893
22 Maryland 1.342 47 Texas A&M -0.951
23 Florida 1.097 48 Colorado -1.099
24 Wisconsin 0.954 49 Georgia State -1.139
25 Boston College 0.790 50 Rutgers -1.248

* Based on an equally-weighted average of the ratings for publications of current faculty, Ph.D.
graduates and survey ratings of the 91 schools in this study. The counts for publications of
current faculty, publications of graduates, and the surveys ratings were normalized before
calculating the totals of the three rankings.

Appendix: Alphabetical Listing of the 91 Institutions that were included in the Study*

Alabama Iowa, U. of South Carolina

Arizona Kansas South Florida
Arizona State Kentucky Southern California
Arkansas Louisiana State Southern Illinois
Baruch College CUNY Maryland Stanford
Boston College Massachusetts SUNY Binghamton
Boston U. Memphis SUNY Buffalo
Carnegie Mellon Michigan Syracuse
Case Western Reserve Michigan State Temple
Central Florida Minnesota Tennessee
Chicago Mississippi Texas - Austin
Cincinnati Missouri Texas A&M
Colorado MIT Texas Arlington
Columbia Nebraska Texas San Antonio
Connecticut North Carolina Texas Tech
Cornell North Texas Tulane
Drexel Northwestern UC Berkeley
Duke NYU UC Irvine
Emory Ohio State UCLA
Florida Oklahoma Utah
Florida Atlantic Oklahoma State Vanderbilt
Florida International Old Dominion Virginia
Florida State Oregon, U. of Virginia Commonwealth
George Washington Penn State Virginia Tech
Georgia Pennsylvania Washington, U. of
Georgia State Pittsburgh Washington State
Georgia Tech Purdue Washington U.
Harvard Rhode Island Wisconsin
Houston Rochester Wisconsin Milwaukee
Illinois Rutgers Yale
* To be included in the survey, an institution must have at least one current faculty member or
one program graduate who has published at least one article in either of the four leading
finance journals during the period 1991-2005.