Pursuing a Doctorate at Stern

NYU Stern’s Ph.D. Program has a community like no other

Research and Academic Exploration at Stern

Current Ph.D. Students and Alumni Reflect on Their Experiences as Part of the Stern Doctoral Program

NYU Stern’s Ph.D. Program has a community like no other. The student body, the faculty they interact with during their time at Stern, and their placements in academia and industry after departure are incomparable.  Current Stern doctoral students hail from 27 countries, have an immense variety of research and industry experience prior to their arrival, and have unparalleled perspective into the way Stern creates the bright minds that it does. Two alumni and two current students weighed in on why they decided to pursue a doctoral degree, how their experience at Stern impacted them, and what they intend to do moving forward.


MATTEOmatteo-crosignani CROSIGNANI, Finance Department alumnus (Class of 2016), is Economist in the Monetary Affairs Division at the Federal Reserve Board.

I started my undergraduate degree in Economics in 2007, right before the U.S. financial crisis. By reading about the contagion effect triggered with the collapse of Lehman, I became interested in the role of broker-dealers’ leverage and related systemic risk. I felt I was going to study the most interesting and topical questions, many of which had been overlooked before the crisis.

There is no other school that has as many leading researchers in such different areas, particularly in Finance, as Stern. Some schools are known for their asset pricing group, others for their microstructure group, and so on. At the most high-profile research conferences, Stern-affiliated faculty are producing the most influential papers across a wide spectrum of subfields.

I was able to overcome many obstacles thanks to the time that my dissertation committee devoted to me. Moreover, the school is also very supportive when it comes to funding conference travel and dataset construction. I learned how to accept criticism and incorporate feedback in my research at Stern. I progressively realized the value of comments by other students and faculty in both seminars and informal settings.

I am now at the Federal Reserve Board Monetary Affairs Division as an economist. I will be responsible for producing cutting-edge academic research and supporting the Fed monetary policy decisions with directed research output.

My experience at NYU helped me develop a framework for conducting high-quality research and provided me with a foundation for better understanding financial intermediation and transmission of monetary policy.


todri_vilmaVILMA TODRI, Information Systems Department alumna (Class of 2016), took a job with Emory University’s Goizueta Business School as an Assistant Professor.

My desire to widen my horizons and my appetite to constantly learn new things shaped my interest in obtaining a Ph.D. In various industry positions, I noticed that a job was exciting during the first few months and then quickly became repetitive and intellectually not challenging – I found this true even for positions at companies voted “best places to work,” like Google. I’ve always had interest in creating new knowledge and finding solutions to problems. Embarking on a journey to pursue a Ph.D. seemed like the best next step after gaining industry experience.

My research focuses on how digital advertising affects consumers’ attitudes and their economic decisions in technology-mediated environments. I am particularly interested in measuring advertising effectiveness, employing individual-level big data and identifying mechanisms through which we can attribute credit to different advertising channels. My research interests lie at the intersection of quantitative modeling, experimental designs, and machine learning.

Stern offered a rigorous curriculum and the ability to learn from renowned faculty, even those outside of my discipline. NYU Stern has strong connections with industry, which enables empirical researchers to gain access to great data sets and answer important questions with significant managerial implications. Also, NYU offers access to high-performance computing, which has greatly facilitated my research.

I am very excited to have joined Emory Goizueta Business School as an assistant professor. The experience and knowledge I have gained at NYU will be crucial as I embark on the journey to pursue an academic career. I’ve been exposed to different approaches and have applied valuable methodologies I will use to attempt to answer new research questions.


mgopalphotoMANASA GOPAL, Current Student in the Finance Department, joined the Stern Ph.D. Program in 2014.

I have always been a very curious person and doing a Ph.D. seemed like a natural next step. I want to make an interesting and significant contribution to the field and, hopefully, find some answers to the many questions that still baffle us. But mainly, obtaining a Ph.D. leads me to my longer terms goals of being involved in academic research.

I was interested in NYU’s finance department a number of reasons. I was attracted to the large number of professors working in my area of interest. The location is another factor – being in NYC makes us closer to both the industry as well as research institutes.

My primary areas of interest are in banking and macro-finance, specifically macro/monetary policy, macro-prudential regulation and banking regulation. I am currently working on a project to identify changes in total firm value around mergers and the returns to various types of stakeholders in the firm.

I think the open-door policy here at Stern has helped me tremendously. Faculty are extremely open to discussing your ideas and research agendas, even during the preliminary stages.

My favorite part is really how friendly most people are – the students to the faculty to the administrators. People are very helpful and friendly and that just makes Stern a nice place to be at.

I love traveling and try find some time to do that during the breaks. As for the rest of the year, given that I am in NYC, there are tons of things to do here. I love trying out new restaurants and visiting museums and theatres. I also like to paint when I have the time.

I would like to go into an academic job. The prospect of being around extremely smart people working on similar interests fascinates me.


jeff-thomas-biopageJEFFREY THOMAS, Current Student in the Management Department, joined the Stern Ph.D. Program in 2011.

Ph.D. students are explorers. Earning a Ph.D. is a two-step process. In the first step, you learn what scholars know about topics of interest, like competition, communication, and organizational change. Then in the second step, you explore unanswered questions.

The process of exploring unanswered questions and breaking new ground by discovering new answers makes Ph.D. research fun.

I study the psychology behind rival cooperation. Although past research has established reasons why rivals are intense competitors, there is less understanding of when and why rivals cooperate and help one another. There are powerful examples of rival cooperation in the real world, like the cooperation between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as leaders of Apple and Microsoft.

I also investigate questions about when and how employees speak up to supervisors to discuss problems and ideas. Challenging a boss can be a risky and politically dangerous process, however it is necessary for employees to raise challenging issues for the sake of organizational welfare.

One of the greatest assets at Stern is the collective expertise of faculty, who study a diverse set of topics. Stern has helped me to identify interesting questions, and form efficient strategies for investigating those questions.

NYU’s Ph.D. program has taught me how to develop ideas and theories that have practical relevance. The process of curating, framing, and exploring new ideas can be challenging, but also rewarding.

My favorite aspect of NYU Stern is the community of faculty and students, who interact with a spirit of collaboration.


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