The PhD in finance is an excellent choice for people who are interested in university teaching careers. Some PhD holders work in research, think tanks or public policy organizations. Job opportunities in this area are plentiful, even in corporations and non-profit organizations. You can enter a PhD program directly from undergraduate school, after working for a few years or after completing a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) degree.

Read the free job opportunities section of the "Chronicle of Higher Education" online edition. Get an overview of demand in academia for finance PhDs. This respected publication also lists positions in industry for advanced degree holders.

Review the US News and World Report ranking of the nation's top business schools to narrow the list of choices by location, program length, faculty and student body characteristics.

Select a minimum of five schools that closely match your degree choice. Request application forms and information about financial support. Almost all PhD students are supported by fellowships and teaching assistantships during their first year.

Choose at least three schools and complete the application process. If you have doubts about your qualifications or don't have your Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) scores, start by applying to middle and lower tier schools. These schools are more flexible than first tier schools and they do admit candidates with less than perfect academic qualifications and test scores.

Register and prepare for the GMAT. Buy exam study guides or check them out from your local library. Take online practice tests you have time. The GMAT is now a computer-based exam. Download free exam practice software at the MBA website. Take practice tests before the exam.

Finish the admissions process for the fall semester by early December of the current year. Order all your transcripts as soon as you have selected the schools. Most graduate programs application deadlines fall between December and January. Many colleges close for the holidays at this time.

Complete the required courses. Conduct research, prepare and defend your dissertation. Estimate a minimum of five years for all courses and other requirements. The national average is seven to eight years.