Q&A with a PhD Student

Read candid descriptions of current PhD students' experiences at Desautels & gain from their words of wisdom.


Evan ZhouPhD Student, Finance

Why did you choose the McGill-Desautels PhD program?

As opposed to traditional North American programs where students first finish course work and then find a supervisor to start research, McGill Desautels matches its students with supervisors the moment we are admitted. 

I started working with my supervisor 3 months before the program even began! This early and persistent focus on research helped put my studies into perspective. When I took classes, all the ideas and tools I learned were immediately put to work to inspire and improve my research.

What do you like most about your experience at Desautels? 

I developed a new course with my supervisor, and taught undergraduate, MBA, and finance master's students. This opportunity to experience how a course goes from conception to execution and to learn through teaching students at different levels was above and beyond what I expected from the program. The questions and discussions I got from students prompted me to look at my research in new ways. I believe learning how to teach made me both a better student and a better researcher.

What would be the one piece of advice that you would give to new or prospective students based on your own experience?

Do not take on too many projects. It is fine to explore a wide range of interests, but focus on a few key projects and bring them to the finish line.

What would have you liked to know before you started the PhD program? How would that have made a difference to your studies?

Students can apply for certain fellowships (e.g.: SSHRC, NSERC) the year before they start the PhD program.  The extra round of applications would have been great practice for the following years.


Evan Zhou has been at PhD candidate at McGill since 2014. His research interests in empirical asset pricing is to study how frictions in financial markets affect the aggregation of heterogeneous preferences in the economy. He developed and teaches the course "Quantitative Methods in Finance" with Prof. Jan Ericsson. He received SSHRC's Joseph-Armand Bombardier scholarship.