A guide to getting your finance major
While charismatic CEOs and visionary marketing directors are key to organizational success, finance departments are the backbone of any company. A finance career often begins with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
As part of a finance major, students specialize in the management and analysis of companies’ financial and monetary performance, and are taught to guide organizations through critical financial decision making by applying mathematical and statistical principles to operational, strategic, and monetary functions.
With the best bachelor’s in finance, you can find employment as a financial expert, personal fiscal counselor, investment professionals, budget analyst, financial examiner, and more. Career paths such as these can provide rewarding salaries as well as numerous growth opportunities in related domains, such as accounting.
Is finance a good major?
A major in finance provides training in all the core business management functions, including accounting, financing, budgeting, investing, analysis, and strategic planning. This means it offers a high deal of flexibility in terms of careers you can pursue after graduation. Financial analyst and financial planner are common career paths, but a finance major can also pursue accounting, actuary, investor relations, and credit analysis roles, among many others.
Is a finance degree worth it?
Choosing a major comes down to many factors, but in terms of salary outcomes and job demand, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The typical finance major salary is around $15,000 more per year than the average for all bachelor’s degrees 3 years after graduation.
With a few more years of experience under their belt, a financial analyst with a bachelor’s degree in finance earns an average of $81,410 per year and can expect job growth of about 6% between 2020 and 2030.
For additional concrete data on whether this degree is worth it, check out the comparison below between a bachelor’s in finance and the entire bachelor’s degree market.
Bachelor’s in finance
The above table provides a snapshot of earnings 3 years after graduation. We compare the earnings of all bachelor degree recipients to those who graduated from this specific program.
The following is a longer-term picture of how earnings with a bachelor’s in finance stack up against all other degree holders across the lifespan.
Bachelor’s in finance – program basics
A bachelor’s degree in finance takes an average of 4 years to complete. Case studies and simulations are a common teaching tool, used to ground theory in practice.
Finance degree requirements vary by school but typically include courses in:
The application of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in recording, reporting, and analyzing financial information.
Key concepts in economics, including market competition and power, taxation, supply and demand, and trade.
The collection and analysis of quantitative data for the purposes of making accurate inferences. Statistical techniques include linear regression, correlation, elementary probability, and ANOVA.
Using mathematical approaches – primarily statistics – to characterize economic systems.
Focuses on making informed financial decisions on the part of an organization, including the funding of operations and investment analysis.
Also referred to as government finance, this course focuses on state interventions in the market economy, including public goods, social security, state expenditures, debt, and assets.
Takes a look at approaches to portfolio construction and management, including asset allocation and pricing models, risk management, and computing returns.
Is finance a hard major?
It can mean a rigorous workload but one that appeals to students who are strong in math, logic, and systematic thinking.
Getting a B.A. in finance vs B.S. in finance vs BBA
Wondering is finance a B.A. or B.S. program? Both options are available, and there are subtle differences between the two. The finance B.A. may offer a somewhat broader education, with breadth requirements in science and the humanities. The B.S. in finance is likely to include more math and statistics courses.
Another option is a bachelor’s in business administration (BBA) with a concentration in finance. A BBA program usually offers more advanced courses in business management functions. With a concentration in finance, the program may offer a closer look at financial policy, risk management, banking, and financial markets. Students usually learn about creating financial statements, capital budgeting, investment decisions, asset pricing, and other technical topics.
» Read: Getting down to business: What’s the difference between B.B.A. vs. B.S.?
Choosing between a finance vs economics major
Students may be confused about whether to major in finance or economics. The two disciplines are related, but have some notable differences.
Economics is the study of human behavior as it relates to finances and the purchase and pricing of goods and services, along with the role of governments in setting monetary and fiscal policy, and how societies engage with the economy.
Finance is a much more deliberate study of financial decisions at the business or organizational level.
From an earnings perspective, there is very little difference – a look at earnings 3 years after graduation shows finance majors earning about the same as economics majors.
This means your choice between a finance vs economics major can be made on the basis of which interests you more – the broader theoretical perspective of economics or the nitty-gritty of business decisions financial experts focus on.
» Read: Calculating ROI – or the earning potential of a degree
Getting an online finance degree
There are ample opportunities to earn a finance degree online. Pursuing an online finance degree allows you to take classes on a flexible schedule and at the pace that works best for you.
On the downside, online degrees are less likely to be accredited. In addition, interaction and engagement can be more challenging in a virtual space. Note that the vast majority of bachelor’s in finance degrees are delivered on campus.
Bachelor’s in finance
The above table shows the percentage of programs available either completely in person or fully online. Figures that do not add up to 100% indicate the existence of hybrid programs.
Listed above are the top three undergraduate finance schools based on economic performance.
Paying for your finance degree – cost, financial aid, and scholarships
Attending college can be expensive. Fortunately, there are options available. Typically, tuition and accommodation are less expensive at public schools than at private colleges and universities.
See above how cost and earnings vary depending on the type of institution. Payback refers to how many years it takes students to cover the median costs while earning the median salary. Payback is calculated by subtracting the median earnings of a high school graduate from the median earnings related to this degree.
Most schools offer financial aid to students that qualify. In addition, schools may provide scholarships specifically for students seeking to pursue a finance bachelor’s degree.
There are 26 scholarships totaling $72,500 in value available specifically for finance students.Explore more scholarships
Careers in finance with a bachelor’s degree
As noted, a bachelor’s degree in the field opens up a wide number of careers in finance. Some finance majors choose to go into banking careers, either in commercial banking or investment banking. Others choose work as financial planners or advisors, accountants, venture capitalists, or in real estate. Some with a bachelor’s finance degree go on to earn a master’s degree in finance or MBA, or begin studying for the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) exam.
Association for Finance Professionals
The AFP provides certifications in treasury professions and financial planning and analysis. In addition, the organization offers live and virtual conferences, publications, and career development options
This academic organization advances the study and knowledge of financial economics. They publish the Journal of Finance and host conferences and job postings
The ABA provides training, events, and advocacy for professionals in commercial and consumer banking and related roles, including risk management, technology, wealth management, marketing and communications, and leadership and operations.