Skip to main content

Stocks and Bonds: Risks and Returns

Enrollment is Closed


This course has ended and is closed to new enrollments.

About This Course

Stocks and bonds have always been a critical part of any investment portfolio, but what do investors actually get in exchange for their investment? Why do publicly traded stocks and bonds have value?

This course will present an overview of stocks and bonds, with a focus on the finance fundamentals behind these instruments. We’ll start out with an overview of the bond market, paying special attention to corporate and municipal bonds. Next, we’ll review interest rates and their impact on the valuation of treasury bonds. Then we’ll take a look at the fundamentals of the stock market, and finally we’ll dive into an analysis of how to make smart decisions as an investor.

Since the course is self-study, you can take as much time as you need. Short lecture videos introduce the concepts in manageable chunks. Following each video are practice exercises to help cement your understanding of the key concepts. Finally, a recorded panel discussion featuring a Nobel Prize-winning economist will allow us to delve into the finer details of asset management.

Whether you’re an experienced shareholder, a novice investor, or simply interested in how our financial markets work, join us as we study the financial principles behind stocks and bonds.


There are no formal prerequisites, but students will ideally have had some exposure to college-level courses in economics or finance, even if that exposure was not especially recent or extensive. An understanding of the following key concepts will be helpful:

  • diversified stock portfolio
  • interest rates
  • inflation
  • present value formula
  • statistical concepts like mean, median, standard deviation, and percentiles

Important Information

This course contains general information about financial matters for educational purposes only. You should always consult with a competent financial services/legal professional licensed in your state with respect to your particular situation before making any decision.

The information provided in this course is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information in this course is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Stanford University makes no representations or warranties in relation to the legal, financial, or any information in this course.

Course Instructor

Josh Rauh photo

Joshua Rauh
Professor of Finance, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Joshua Rauh is a professor of finance at Stanford Graduate School of Business, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He studies corporate investment and financial structure, private equity and venture capital, and the financial structure of pension funds and their sponsors. Rauh’s research on state and local pension systems in the United States has received national media coverage in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, and The Economist. Before joining the Stanford faculty in 2012, he taught at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the time commitment for this course?

This course is self-study, so you may participate at whichever level works best for your schedule. The course consists of five sections, each of which contains approximately 45 minutes of video content and 1-2 hours’ worth of practice exercises.

Are any additional textbooks or software required?

No textbooks are required, but you will need to use some kind of spreadsheet software with the ability to view and edit Excel files.

Does this course carry any kind of Stanford University credit?

No, this course does not carry any Stanford University credit.

What are the technical requirements for taking this course?

We recommend taking this course on a standard computer using Google Chrome as your internet browser. We are not yet optimized for mobile devices.

Will this course offer a statement of accomplishment?

No, the course will not be offering a Statement of Accomplishment.