Graduate Finance Certificate Program

Curriculum Overview

The economic landscape shifts and changes every day. Consequently, financial acumen plays an increasingly important role in the competitive marketplace. How will you enhance your knowledge and financial expertise so you can advance your career?

At SMU Cox, you can sharpen your skills by learning from real-world finance experts who are eager to share their knowledge and experience. Our Graduate Finance Certificate Program (GFCP) is specifically designed for corporate professionals with demanding schedules who wish to learn about financial markets, statement analysis, international corporate finance, insurance and risk management, investment anomalies and corporate growth, as well as fundamental financial concepts and techniques.

Taught by SMU Cox MBA professors, the GFCP enables you to attain these skills by attending class just one night a week for 18 weeks. And, like a graduate degree, the skills you gain and business relationships you make during the course will last a lifetime.

Here at SMU Cox, we’ve helped thousands of working professionals advance their careers and achieve their goals. We look forward to helping you do the same.

Don Shelly
Director, Graduate Certificate Finance Program Professor of Practice, Finance Department

  • Course Description

    • Three course modules should be taken consecutively beginning in September.
    • Course modules consist of six sessions each. 
    • Sessions are Tuesday evenings from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. at the Cox School of Business on the SMU Dallas campus.
    • Audio of each class and hand-outs will be posted on-line.

    To qualify for the Certificate, participants must attend five out of six sessions in each module. If your business circumstances will not permit you to take successive modules you may spread the program over two or three years. The modules need to be taken in consecutive order.

    Courses may be taken either with a pass/fail or letter grade option. The requirement for pass/ fail is attendance. The requirement for a letter grade is an exam for each module. Given the unique character of the Graduate Finance Certificate Program, no course credit may be applied to any graduate program.

    There are no entrance requirements for this program. We do not require GMAT testing as a condition for admission. The GFCP is adult/continuing education allowing you to acquire a certificate of completion based on attendance.

    The Graduate Finance Certificate Program is NOT a degree program.

  • Curriculum




    1 & 2

    Introduction to the GFCP the First Principles of Valuation.

    Topics include: “why do we study finance” and “what are the most important questions in finance.” We will also discuss the first analysis of the time value of money (discounting and compounding single cash flows, annuities, and perpetuities), computing investment returns, discounted cash flow valuation, and NPV. Class 2 will cover the time value of money (discounting and compounding single cash flows, annuities, and perpetuities), computing investment returns, discounted cash flow valuation, and NPV.


    Introduction to Financial Reporting and Financial Statements

    This session is designed to support the financial managers ability to analyze financial statements. Topics will include an overview of the accrual accounting process, the nature of specific assets and liabilities, taxes and the definition of operating cash flows.


    Basics of Business Statistics

    This session will cover statistical measures including sample and ex ante (1) means, (2) standard deviation, (3) variance, (4) correlation, (5) coefficient of variation, (6) covariance, etc. associated with risk and return of securities.


    Introduction to Strategic Financial Statement Analysis

    This session will focus on using accounting data to assess the financial health of the firm, doing pro-forma analysis and forecasting the firm's financial needs requirements.


    Risk, Return, and Portfolio Theory

    This session will focus on understanding risk and return in capital markets. Topics include the portfolio risk and return measures, diversification, portfolio theory, and asset pricing models.


    Capital Asset Pricing Model & the Cost of Capital

    In this session we will understand the basics of what the Cost of Capital (COC) is, where it comes from, why it is important, and how to estimate it. To achieve this endeavor, one of the most important models to understand is the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), which follows directly from portfolio theory. We will understand the importance of risk and, more importantly, the type of risk that matters, in understanding what businesses have to pay for capital in a competitive marketplace (which is termed the Cost of Capital).


    Valuing Stock

    This session will provide an introduction to equity valuation methods, including the dividend growth model, the discounted cash flow model, and the valuation by multiples.


    Valuing Fixed Income Financing

    This session will provide an introduction to fixed income securities, their valuation, and their reporting with special reference to bond financing and money market instruments.


    Capital Budgeting

    This session will examine the criteria used in making investment decisions. Students will learn how to evaluate projects and investment proposals. Investments of capital are important decisions made in organizations, and this session will critically examine how to make investments that increase shareholder value. Students should bring a calculator or laptop to this session to work on several investment examples.


    Financial Leverage & Capital Structure Policy

    This session will discuss the capital structure question, the impact of taxes and bankruptcy costs on capital structure choice, making the theory work in the real world.


    Trading Securities in the Secondary Markets

    This session will discuss the trading problems of institutional traders (i.e., immediacy, price pressure, adverse selection risk, predatory trading, etc.), how traditional markets solved the problem using specialists and floor brokers.


    International Finance

    This session examines foreign exchange markets and exchange rates, purchasing power parity, currency swaps, international capital budgeting, and exchange rate risk.


    Options & Corporate Finance

    This session examines the basic features of option contracts, option pricing using the Black-Scholes option pricing model. Further, stocks and bonds as options, options and corporate decisions including mergers and capital budgeting decisions, and real options analysis (e.g., option to expand, abandon, or defer a capital budgeting project) will be discussed.


    Marker Efficiency & Anomalies

    This session will focus on empirical evidence from securities markets on market efficiency and its implication for investors in portfolio management.


    Value Creation & Risk Management in Global Energy

    The Chad Cameroon Petroleum Development and Pipeline Project is a qualitative case study about how Exxon raised the financing for an oil project to try to reduce political risk.


    Managerial Responsibility over Financial Reporting & Corporate Ethics

    This session will discuss empirical evidence that suggests information contained in financial statements and helps predict future earnings and stock returns of the respective companies, on average.


    The Valuation of Corporate Investments: A case study

    In this session we will apply standard discounted cash flow tools to assess the value created in 2000 by Airbus as it launched its giant A380 double-decker commercial airplane.
    Graduation Reception, Class Photo, Dinner & Awarding of Certificates
    There will be a reception and dinner, certificates will be awarded and a class photo will be taken. This marks the 27th Graduate Finance Certificate Program graduation.