Finance Degree Program: Breaking Down the Benefits
A Finance degree equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to pursue careers in the financial industry.
In today’s contemporary world, it’s hard to overlook the importance of money. From everyday expenses to large-scale investments, money plays a critical role in every aspect of our lives.
As such, finance degree programs are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people recognize the need for financial literacy.
It should come as no surprise that you are interested in getting a finance degree.
Before we delve into the specifics, let’s answer one fundamental question:
What is a Finance Degree?
A finance degree is an educational degree that focuses on studying money management, investment strategies, and financial markets. Its curriculum centers around making sound decisions about investments, budgeting, and managing finances for individuals or organizations.
Finance is an industry that covers many facets, so with a finance degree, you have access to options depending on your interests, such as banking, investments, corporate financial management, taxation, or consulting.
A finance-related degree not only provides skills related to financial operations and analysis but also prepares you for success in entrepreneurial endeavors like starting businesses or taking on leadership roles in established companies.
What are the Finance Degree levels?
A crucial step to beginning your career in finance is getting a degree. To do so, it’s important to be aware of the range of finance degree-level choices available at universities–from associate degrees all the way up to doctoral programs.
However, choosing the right path can be overwhelming as each degree level offers its own unique advantages and drawbacks. Knowing what level of education best suits your goals is key to successfully achieving them.
To help you get informed, we’ve compiled a list of the finance degree levels below. You’ll find out what is required for enrollment and how these degrees can benefit your future goals.
Certificate in Finance
A finance certificate program is a short-term course that focuses on foundational financial concepts and skills. It usually takes less than a year to complete and is designed to help students gain practical knowledge and skills in finance.
- A high school diploma or equivalent (GED)
*It’s essential to differentiate between a certificate and a certification. Certificates are awarded by schools for completing an academic program, whereas certifications come from professional agencies that recognize meeting specific qualifications.
Associate Degree in Finance
An associate degree in finance is a two-year program that provides a comprehensive understanding of finance concepts and skills. The program is designed to prepare you for entry-level positions in finance, such as a financial clerk or insurance sales agent. Moreover, you’ll be able to transfer your credits into a bachelor’s program and graduate in half the time.
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Placement tests (such as SAT or ACT)
Bachelor's Degree in Finance
Finance is one of the most in-demand business degrees, so it’s no wonder many students pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance. This four-year program provides a comprehensive understanding of finance fundamentals and equips you with the necessary skills to succeed in the field.
As a graduate, you can take on roles such as financial analyst, financial planner, investment banker, and portfolio manager.
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Placement tests (such as SAT or ACT)
- Minimum GPA requirements
Master's Degree in Finance
A master’s degree in finance is a graduate-level program that offers advanced education in finance concepts and principles. The program is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue advanced careers such as management-level positions and higher-paid salaries.
Entry Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field is required for admission to a master’s degree program in finance.
Doctoral Degree in Finance
Earning a doctorate requires advanced preparation and specialized knowledge of corporate finance, financial management, and international finance.
To become an expert in the field of finance, a Ph.D. degree is an excellent choice to elevate your knowledge and performance to its highest level. It is a research-based degree that typically takes 3-6 years to complete, involving the completion of doctoral exams and a dissertation.
- Master’s degree in finance or in a related field
- Minimum GPA requirements
- Professional work experience is preferred
Disclaimer: The entry requirements for a degree in Finance may vary depending on your university and state. However, here we have outlined the general qualifications that are frequently asked for.
What types of specialties and concentrations can you find in Finance Degree programs?
Now, we know that finance is a complex field that often requires a deep understanding of complex mathematical and analytical concepts.
As a result, many students who pursue a finance degree program may end up feeling overwhelmed and discouraged by the rigorous coursework and academic expectations.
However, researching and choosing the adequate concentration for you will make that process much less intimidating.
There are numerous specializations and concentrations in finance degrees that can cater to different career aspirations and skill sets. Picking the right one can make all the difference and make the learning process easier and more fulfilling while ensuring better results in the future.
Let’s explore in further detail the most sought-after specializations within the finance degree.
The Cashflow Performance concentration focuses on maximizing cash flow within an organization or business. You will learn how to increase profits and reduce costs while managing activities such as accounts receivable and accounts payable.
This concentration is ideal for students pursuing careers in business finance, investment management, banking, accounting, or similar fields.
International Finance specialization will teach you more about global markets, currencies, investments, and other international business activities.
This concentration is excellent for those interested in exploring international business opportunities or working for multinational companies. It will also prepare you for jobs in corporate finance or international banking fields after graduation.
If you decide to specialize in Investments, you will develop skills such as risk management, portfolio analysis, asset allocation strategies, and financial modeling and forecasting techniques.
With this concentration, as a graduate, you can become a financial analyst or advisor at banks or investment firms. You may also pursue a career as an independent investor or consultant in the financial industry.
By selecting Financial Analysis as your focus of study, you can master the art of portfolio management and investment analysis. With their courses, you will delve into how to assess decision-making ideas and tactics, then use them in financial circumstances.
What’s more, you’ll be one step closer to preparing for the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) exam.
Courses & Curriculum in Finance Degrees
In today’s digital economy, understanding the principles behind successful financial management has become essential for any business or individual looking to succeed financially.
And you might have heard of the misconception of not understanding complex financial concepts or struggling to grasp complicated theories. But the only way to get through this struggle is to familiarize yourself as much as possible with the material and constantly work on mastering your knowledge.
To do that, we’ve selected some sample courses on what’s ahead of you if you decide to major in finance.
These courses aim to give you comprehensive knowledge of analyzing business data and understanding various investment models.
Business Math and Statistical Measures
This course teaches a comprehensive understanding of basic financial practices and terminology used in business. You will solve relevant financial problems and engage in meaningful statistical analyses by applying math skill sets. With expert guidance to design sample solutions related to banking, credit, investments, and more, this course will surely provide helpful insight into gaining an edge on financial literacy.
Business Statistics and Quantitative Analysis
Get a fundamental understanding of business statistics and quantitative analysis to solve everyday problems businesses face. By combining relevant readings, interactive exercises, stimulating discussions, and software packages, this course will equip you with an introductory knowledge base and essential skills needed for successful decision-making processes.
Corporate Finance is an advanced finance course that provides the foundation for comprehending and analyzing a corporation’s investment and financial decisions. A comprehensive knowledge of how to price monetary assets is essential to make sound investments on behalf of the organization. Completing this program will give you a theoretical understanding and practical skills useful in any investing context.
Financial Statement Analysis
In this course, you will hone in on financial statement analysis and valuation model skills to understand how they can gauge a company’s value. You’ll focus on defining reliable estimates of fundamental corporate earnings power, understanding earning risks, and learning the fundamentals of accurate corporate valuations.
On-campus vs. Hybrid vs. Online Accounting Degrees
By now, you may be confident that a finance degree is the way for you. The next step would be to decide what finance degree program you’ll attend.
With the rise of technology and the changing landscape of education, choosing the best option for your needs can be challenging.
Fortunately, all three methods offer unique benefits to different learning styles, schedules, and budgets.
It is critical to analyze the benefits and drawbacks of each choice carefully. By weighing the advantages and disadvantages, you may better know what each option includes and make a more informed decision.
On-Campus Degree Programs
The traditional on-campus finance degree program gives you the opportunity to learn from experienced finance instructors in person. While they may require more time commitment than other options, they also provide a chance to benefit from the resources of a college or university, such as libraries and labs.
Additionally, many on-campus programs have more access to internships and other job opportunities while still in school.
The downside is that these degree programs can be expensive due to tuition costs as well as living expenses if you don’t live close enough to commute every day.
Hybrid programs combine aspects of both traditional on-campus education with online learning components. They typically involve some physical presence on campus for lectures or exams but also allow students to access course material online at any time convenient.
The main benefit of this program is that you can enjoy the best of both worlds; you get the benefits associated with in-person instruction while having more flexibility than traditional on-campus courses would provide.
However, one potential downside is that hybrid courses require more organization than either traditional or online courses do since they involve managing both physical attendance requirements as well as keeping up with course material available online.
Online Finance Degree Programs
Suppose you want flexibility when it comes to scheduling and cost savings. In that case, you should opt for an online degree program since they usually do not require commuting or housing costs associated with attending classes on campus.
However, this option has some drawbacks, including reduced interaction with instructors and peers and a greater potential for procrastination since there is no physical presence or accountability factor involved in most cases.
Additionally, some employers may view an online finance degree with skepticism since most employers prefer traditional credentials over distance learning methods such as online courses.
Ultimately, choosing a financial degree program depends on your needs and preferences. If you value face-to-face interaction with classmates and professors, then an on-campus might be best for you.
If convenience is key, or the cost is your primary concern, then a fully online option might be the right choice.
At the end of the day, when deciding, you must consider all factors such as cost, flexibility, resources available through each program, and career prospects post-graduation, to name a few.
What to consider when choosing a Finance Degree?
Deciding which degree to pursue and how to pursue it is a weighty decision that can impact your future. It’s natural to feel the pressure of this decision weighing on you.
That’s why gathering as much information as possible beforehand is essential.
Do your due diligence so you can comprehend what kind of education is offered by each university or college, as well as its reputation within the field.
The time invested into researching the various degree paths available will prove crucial in ensuring an ideal finance degree for yourself.
Let’s delve deeper into each factor that requires careful consideration.
1. Research Schools and Programs
When choosing a finance degree program, researching different schools and programs offered is crucial. Look into which colleges offer majors or minors in finance and any graduate programs that offer specialized degrees in this area.
Make sure to look at what each school offers—such as classes, faculty members, research opportunities, and more—to ensure it matches what you’re looking for in a program.
2. Course Curriculum
The course curriculum is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a finance degree. Every school will have unique offerings, so it’s essential to compare the courses offered between schools and ensure that they align with your interests and goals.
Additionally, some programs may offer internship opportunities or require an internship as part of the program; if this is something that interests you, make sure to look for those options when researching schools.
3. Career Services
Another key element to consider is career services. Does the school offer job assistance? Do students have access to networking events? Are there alumni mentorships available?
These are all questions that can help you gauge how well-connected the school is and how well they prepare their students for success after graduation.
4. Understand Your Career Goals
It’s also important to understand your career goals before committing to any one program or school. Think about what type of career you want after graduation; do you want a traditional role in banking or investments? Do you want to work with startups? Is corporate finance more your style?
Answering these questions will help narrow down your selection process and ensure that your chosen school or program is best suited for your career aspirations.
5. Look Out For Specializations
Many schools offer concentrations or specializations within their finance degree programs, so you should also research these options. Certain specialties may be more attractive than others, depending on your interests and skill set. Some common ones in finance include corporate finance, portfolio management, financial analysis, and risk management.
Make sure that whatever specialization you choose aligns with your long-term career goals and offers hands-on experience through classes or internships so that you gain relevant experience while still in school.
6. Accreditation makes a difference
Accreditation is an important consideration when selecting an accounting degree program. It is a process by which educational institutions are evaluated and certified for meeting quality standards set by accrediting bodies in their respective fields.
So, when searching for a business school and degree program, confirm that your program is accredited by one of the most esteemed organizations, such as AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs), AMBA, or EQUIS.
AACSB stands out as the premier level in business education, with its recognition being granted only to those institutions of the highest caliber.
ACBSP is another accrediting body you should keep in mind. It rates business programs based on their teaching quality, academic rigor, and student performance.
What can you do with a Finance Degree?
In the past decade, the number of finance degree holders has increased dramatically. This is mainly due to the Great Recession and its aftermath, which showed people the importance of sound financial planning.
There are countless opportunities available to graduates with a finance degree, from traditional banking and lending jobs to insurance, investment banking, real estate, and corporate finance roles.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment of financial analysts will grow 9% from 2021 to 2031—much faster than the average for all occupations.
Finance Degree Salary
Those pursuing a finance degree can expect to earn higher salaries than those without such credentials.
According to the BLS, the median salary for someone with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance is $$76,570 per year.
Those who have achieved CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) certification may also be eligible for higher wages depending on their employer and organizational role.
Top Accounting Degree Jobs you can get:
Financial managers are crucial for the success of an organization, as they take charge of ensuring it runs smoothly and efficiently. They create financial reports to track profits and losses accurately, direct investment activities to maximize return on capital investments, and develop long-term strategies to propel their business forward.
$131,710 per year
Chief Financial Officer (Top Executive)
As the principal fiscal figure in an organization, the Chief Financial Officer is responsible for directly reporting to their CEO and forming part of the leadership team. Primarily, they focus on monetary affairs, such as creating budgets, controlling cash flow and investments, and developing financial and taxation tactics.
$98,980 per year
Financial analysts guide companies and people in monetary decisions, ensuring success and high returns. They can evaluate investments such as stocks and bonds to assess profits generated from these ventures.
$95,710 per year
Financial examiners are an essential part of the financial system, verifying that institutions comply with laws regarding monetary transactions. They take a detailed look at balance sheets and evaluate loans to assess their level of risk as well as bank management strategies.
$81,410 per year
Financial examiners guarantee compliance with laws that govern organizations dealing with monetary transactions.
By scrutinizing balance sheets, assessing the associated risk of loans, and evaluating bank management performance, they ensure financial stability for consumers and other entities.
$81,410 per year
Organizations, ranging from governments and private companies to universities rely on Budget Analysts to inform them of their financial matters. Not only do they prepare reports, but they also evaluate proposed budgets based on the analysis of data regarding related costs versus benefits.
$79,940 per year
Loan officers conduct a thorough underwriting process to assess whether individuals meet the criteria for loan eligibility. They meticulously collect and authenticate all necessary financial documents before considering them carefully to weigh an individual’s need for a loan and their potential capacity to repay it.
$63,380 per year
Financial clerks provide essential administrative services to a variety of organizations. From maintaining records and helping customers to handling monetary transactions with ease – these professionals are vital in ensuring the successful day-to-day operations of businesses across industries.
$44,760 per year
*Please be advised that the average salary provided by the BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and occupation to occupation, depending on various factors.
Popular colleges with Finance Degree Programs
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT’s finance program is housed in the Sloan School of Management, widely considered one of the world’s top business schools. The finance curriculum at MIT is comprehensive, covering topics such as financial markets, corporate finance, investments, and financial engineering. MIT’s proximity to Wall Street and Boston’s financial district provides students with ample opportunities for internships and networking.
Harvard’s finance program is offered through the Harvard Business School (HBS), which is widely regarded as one of the best business schools in the world. The finance curriculum at HBS is rigorous and covers a wide range of topics, including financial accounting, corporate finance, and investment management. Students have access to a wide range of resources, including the Harvard University Endowment, one of the largest university endowments in the world.
Stanford’s finance program is offered through the Graduate School of Business (GSB), which is consistently ranked as one of the top business schools in the world. The finance curriculum at Stanford focuses on applied finance, covering topics such as private equity, venture capital, and financial analysis. Students can access various resources, including the Stanford Management Company, which manages the university’s endowment.
Yale’s finance program is offered through the Yale School of Management, known for its interdisciplinary approach to business education. The finance curriculum at Yale covers a wide range of topics, including corporate finance, investments, and financial markets.
University of Chicago
The finance program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business is known for its rigorous analytical approach to finance. The curriculum covers financial markets, corporate finance, and asset pricing. Students can access a wide range of resources, including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, one of the world’s most extensive options and futures exchanges. The program is known for its strong emphasis on research, and many faculty members are finance leaders.
FAQ about Finance Degree Programs
Yes, a finance degree is definitely worth it – but only if you’re really interested. A degree in finance will open up opportunities in the corporate world and provide you with valuable skills that can help you advance your career. Additionally, with the excellent earning potential associated with finance degrees, you can achieve financial security sooner rather than later.
A Finance Degree typically covers a wide range of topics related to finance and accounting, such as financial statement analysis, investment analysis, risk management, corporate finance, and financial markets.
In addition to gaining technical skills in those areas, a Finance Degree may also help you develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership. These skills can be valuable in various industries, including finance, accounting, consulting, and management.
The time required to complete a finance degree depends on the school and program selected. Generally speaking, though, most undergraduate programs take four years to complete, while some may only require two or three years of coursework if credits are transferred in from another institution or if an accelerated program is chosen.
Graduate-level programs typically require anywhere from one year (for those with an undergraduate background) up to three years, depending on whether an internship or special project is required for completion.
After earning a Finance Degree, you can pursue various professional development opportunities to enhance your skills and knowledge. You can enroll in professional certification programs, such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), or Certified Financial Planner (CFP), which can improve your job prospects and earning potential. You can also pursue a Ph.D. in Finance to pursue a career in research or academia.
Another way to continue your education is to attend industry-specific workshops and seminars to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the finance field. These events also provide excellent networking opportunities.
The primary difference between a finance degree and an accounting degree is that accounting focuses more on analyzing and reporting financial information, while finance focuses more on managing and investing money.
Additionally, accounting degrees are typically more focused on processes related to analyzing and reporting results, while finance degrees tend to be more geared toward decision-making and strategy development.
A Master’s in Finance is a specialized degree that focuses solely on finance-related coursework and has a more technical and quantitative curriculum with a career path toward specialized finance roles.
An MBA in Finance, on the other hand, covers a broader range of business topics, including finance, and can lead to a more comprehensive range of business roles, including consulting, entrepreneurship, or general management positions.
A Finance Degree can prepare you for various careers beyond finance and accounting. Some alternative career paths include consulting, entrepreneurship, sales and marketing, real estate, and law. The skills and knowledge you gain with a Finance Degree can be valuable in various industries that require financial analysis, strategic planning, and risk management.
To conclude, if you are thinking of getting a degree in finance, you should reflect on all components before settling upon a decision:
- A finance degree provides an understanding of money management, investment strategies, and financial markets to prepare students for various career opportunities.
- Degree levels include certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs.
- There are numerous job opportunities for finance degree holders with a high median salary of $76,570 per year. Those with CFA certification may qualify for higher wages.
If finance is your true passion, go ahead and pursue that field. However, select a subject you find interesting no matter what; when you are genuinely passionate about something, it will open up many job opportunities.
Now that you have the necessary knowledge, are you prepared to jumpstart your financial career?
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