How to Major in Finance
Majoring in finance gives you the knowledge and skills necessary to enter a wide range of jobs focused on managing money and understanding economic developments. Whether you plan to become a certified public accountant, an investment banker, a financial manager, or even a chief executive, a degree in finance prepares you to make key financial decisions.
Regardless of the state of the economy, the world needs finance experts to navigate the trade, exchange distribution, and accumulation of money and wealth. Finance majors are always in high demand to meet this need. If you’re interested in gaining a better understanding of finance, and if you’re excited by market fluctuations and investment, completing a major in finance might be the right choice for you.
If you’re ready to earn your degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Finance.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as a finance major.
5 Reasons to Major in Finance
1.Finance majors are in demand
Whether you’re an individual, a corporation, or a government, you need to know what to do with your money, and that’s where finance majors come in. Finance professionals are employed in all kinds of advisory, consultation, and leadership roles, making key decisions about how money should be handled. Many employment opportunities are available to those with a finance degree in hand.
2.Finance majors learn how to manage money
It’s a given that finance majors know how to handle money. Fortunately, this isn’t limited to the professional realm. With the knowledge you gain as a finance major, you can successfully manage your own finances, and make safe and profitable decisions that enrich your life and the life of your family.
3.Finance majors can cause positive change
When working in finance, you have plenty of opportunities to enact positive change. Whether guiding senior citizens on how to make the most of their retirement plan, helping young families navigate grant and loan programs to secure their first home, or guiding key governmental budget decisions to provide necessary services, finance majors can help make the world a better place.
4.Finance majors have dynamic and exciting careers
The financial landscape is always shifting and changing, and finance professionals have to be on their toes to keep up with these changes. If you like challenges, solving problems, and continually learning, finance is a rewarding field.
5.Finance majors are influential.
Money makes the world go round, and those who know how to handle money can give us direction. Today, top influencers in finance are bringing greater illumination to such topics as the behavior of emerging economies, the fight against global poverty, trade theory, and much more.
Find out who the Most Influential People are in Finance today!
What Kinds of Finance Degrees Are There?
Finance degrees are available at all levels of study, and come in a variety of options. Sometimes they are offered as a degree, such as a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science, with concentration options. However, just as often they are offered as a concentration of a business administration degree, such as a BBA. As always, before entering a program, scope it out and think about what it offers and what is right for your personal and professional goals.
- Associate in Finance (AS, AA, or ABA): An associate in finance typically requires two years and 60 credits to complete, though sometimes accelerated options are available. These programs develop the foundational knowledge necessary for entry-level roles in finance, such as financial clerk, bookkeeper, and loan officer. Coursework covers basic financial and business concepts, including principles of finance, economics, and financial management.
- Bachelor of Finance (BS, BA, or BBA): A bachelor’s in finance typically requires four years to complete and 120 credits, though sometimes accelerated options are available. These programs develop general knowledge in the field and provide the initial qualifications for those studying to become accountants, investment analysts, budget analysts, or personal financial advisors. Coursework in these programs often covers business and finance fundamentals, including financial management, corporate finance, securities analysis, and risk management.
- Master of Finance (MS, MA, or MBA): A master’s in finance typically requires two years to complete and 30-45 credits; sometimes dual degree programs are available, for more credits. At this level, specialization is expected, so be prepared to pursue a concentration like corporate finance or international finance, and to complete courses in advanced topics, such as data analytics in finance, or financial engineering. These programs also typically require a professional experience component and a thesis research project. Graduates emerge ready for advanced roles, such as financial manager, financial analyst, or compensation and benefits manager.
- PhD or DBA in Finance: The highest level degree you can earn, a PhD or doctorate of business degree typically takes three-to-five years to complete and requires a combination of advanced coursework, professional experience, instruction, and a dissertation project. A PhD is more focused on work in research and academia, and prepares you for roles as a post-secondary administrator or teacher, or as a top finance researcher. A DBA, on the other hand, is a professional doctorate, suited for top-level executives.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.
What Are Some Popular Finance Concentrations?
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, the following are among the most popular finance concentrations:
- Corporate Finance
- Public Finance
- International Finance
- Investments and Securities
- Risk Management
- Financial Management
What Courses Will I Take as a Finance Major?
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a finance major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as corporate finance and financial analysis. However, you will also have the freedom to select an array of finance courses that most interest you.
Common finance courses include:
- Principles of Finance
- Corporate Finance
- Macro and Microeconomics
- Financial Analysis
- Financial Management
- Risk Management
- Security Analysis and Valuation
- Investment Theory
What Can I Do With a Major in Finance?
Finance majors occupy a diverse array of jobs in both the public and private sectors. With a finance degree in hand, you can help people, governments, and corporations navigate economic decisions and stay on top of the bottom line. Your finance major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:
- Financial Managers
- Chief Executives
- Compensation and Benefits Managers
- Human Resources Managers
- Personal Financial Advisors
- Financial Analysts
- Financial Examiners
- Budget Analysts
- Credit Analysts
- Accountants and Auditors
- Insurance Underwriters
Curious how far you could go with a Major in Finance? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!***
Now that you know how to major in Finance, check out The Most Influential Schools in Finance and get started on your path to a finance degree.