While most colleges have a general finance program for undergraduate and graduate level study, prospective students can explore specializations by pairing their finance education with management, mathematics, or economics. Finance degree holders can expand their career options with a specialization, and explore professions like financial management, budget analysis, and insurance underwriting.
Student and Professional Organizations
Students entering a finance program should explore scholarship and grant options offered by honors societies and career associations. Current finance professionals can network with others in their field specialization by joining one of the following organizations. These groups often provide a space for continued education and certification.
- Association for Financial Professionals – The AFP is based in Washington D.C., providing certification for treasury and corporate finance professionals. They also provide legislative advocacy surrounding corporate tax reform, money market funds, and credit rating agencies. Members can browse an extensive database of AFP virtual training programs, which include topics such as coin ordering improvement, comprehensive payables strategies, and capital budgeting.
- Beta Alpha Psi – This honors society was founded in 1919, and has gained a membership of over 300,000 finance students worldwide. BAP hosts a wide range of competitions, giving ambitious students the opportunity to win funds for school and research projects. Members also gain access to a unique private social media platform called BAPConnect, which allows finance students, faculty, and employees to network professionally.
- Institute of Management Accountants – This association is dedicated to education and career advancement for finance and accounting professionals. Membership benefits include discounted access to courses and conferences, access to IMA newsletters, and a ethics helpline. IMA also provides Certified Management Accountant (CMA) professional credentials for accountants and business management professionals who pass the certification exam. Like the BAP, this organization also has a private social networking platform called LinkUp.
- Northwest Association for Financial Professionals – The NWAFP admits both individual professionals and companies, including Costco, Spacelabs, Starbucks, Alaska Air, and Amazon.com. Members can earn a Certified Treasury Professional credential from the NWAFP by taking a professional credentialing exam. This organization also hosts the Northwest Summit Conference, in collaboration with finance organizations in Idaho and Oregon.
- Society of Financial Service Professionals – FSP was founded in 1929, and it has grown to include a network of over 15,000 finance professionals based in the U.S. In order to join this professional organization, applicants must have already earned a professional credential, such as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Enrolled Actuary, or several other recognized credential options. The FSP offers a wide breadth of continuing education options, including web conferences, advanced professional clinics, lunch conversations, and sponsored business events.
Open Finance Courseware
Free courses online can help prospective students test drive an educational finance program, before they enroll in a part- or full-time program. These courses can also serve current professionals, who wish to develop their skills on the side. Keep in mind that these free courses do not provide you with college credits or professional credentials.
- Econ 251: Financial Theory – This Open Yale Course delve into global finance theory, examining how equilibrium is achieved through a fine balance of hedge funds, risk, assets, and rates of interest. Students can view lectures by Professor John Geanakoplos, who is a highly-regarded economics expert who has received the Bodossaki Prize and Samuelson Prize for work in his field. Course materials are available as a downloadable zip, and lectures can be viewed on YouTube or iTunes University.
- Entrepreneurial Finance – This MIT Open Course is led by Professor Antoinette Schoar, a leading voice in entrepreneurial research and finance markets. Students can explore concepts such as business valuation, venture capital funds, and startup employment. The lecture notes and assignments can be downloaded in PDF format from the MIT webpage.
- Analytics of Finance – This graduate level MIT Open Course explores advanced financial qualitative techniques, such as financial econometrics. Students should have completed Finance Theory I and Options and Future Markets before enrolling in this open course. Students will gain an in-depth look at Ito stochastic calculus, derivative pricing, and volatility models.
- Corporate Finance – New York University uploaded this Spring 2013 to iTunes University, so that anyone can download the syllabus, lectures, assignments, and course readings for free. Corporate Finance is one of the introductory courses taken by MBA students, exploring investment and dividend decisions made by corporations and small businesses. Professor Aswath Damodaran authored Applied Corporate Finance, and he is regarded as an expert in equity valuation.
Open Access Finance Journals
Finance students and professionals can get a general understanding of international market trends by keeping an eye on the following journals. These publications tend to emphasize academic developments in workflow and theory.
- Cogent Economics and Finance Research – This new journal is released by the Taylor and Francis Group, an academic publisher that specializes in a broad range of textbook and digital journal products. Their Economics and Finance Journal welcomes submission regarding international finance, agricultural economics, macroeconomics, quantitative finance, and many other finance theory topics.
- International Journal of Financial Studies – The first issue of the IJFS was published in 2013, with new issues released quarterly. The editorial staff welcomes pieces about financial markets, corporate governance, banking systems, and financial policy. The editorial board includes representatives from Greece, China, Switzerland, Italy, the United States, and Canada.
- International Research Journal of Economics and Finance – The first issue of the IRJEF was published in 2009, and new issues are released five times a year. This peer-reviewed journal welcomes all submissions dealing with economics and finance in the global sphere. The editorial team is comprised of faculty from the University of Turin, Texas A&M University, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the University of Liverpool.
- International Research Journal of Applied Finance – This global finance journal was launched in December 2010, with new issues appearing online on a monthly basis. Each issue can be downloaded in PDF format. The IRJAF welcomes articles and case studies regarding finance in professional and academic spheres. The editorial board is staffed by faculty members from the RK Business School in India, Seattle University, and Rhode Island College.
The followings books have been written by field experts, and provide students with a wealth of historical finance information. Learn from tried and true investment techniques by examining these guides, memoirs, biographies, and interviews.
- Security Analysis – This investing guide penned by Benjamin Graham remains a canonical finance read, even though it was first released in 1934. This volume is released with regular content updates and commentary from top global finance leaders, including Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management and Professor Bruce Greenwald of Columbia Business School.
- The Great Crash of 1929 – John Galbraith delves into one of the greatest economic cautionary tales of the twentieth century. Readers will get to explore the economic climate during this period, drawing parallels the most recent financial crises during 2007 – 2008. Galbraith’s historical exploration will get you thinking about the fiscal responsibility of companies and investment leaders.
- Think and Grow Rich – This is personal finance and investment guide written by Napoleon Hill contains wisdom from dozens of millionaires about wealth growth and risk taking. The chapters read like a self help and psychology book, with Hill expounding on topics such as persistence, the subconscious mind, and auto-suggestion. Essentially, Hill uncovers the mindset of the world’s most successful investors, their professional philosophies, and their attitudes toward money.
- Stocks for the Long Run: The Definitive Guide to Financial Market Returns and Long Term Investment Strategies – Cultivating your investment portfolio early is one of the sure-fire ways to increase revenue streams that will carry you into a smooth retirement. Author Jeremy Siegel works with readers to dive into mutual funds, index options, ETF comparisons, risks, and returns. Some of his ideas run concurrent to popular opinion, as he advocates for stocks as a safer long term investment than bonds. This is the perfect volume for starting investors.
- Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits – Authors Philip and Kenneth Fisher are a father and son investment duo that create a force to be reckoned with. They explore the philosophy of American investment culture, then create a how-to guide with refreshingly direct language. They walk on side of conservative investments, and the immense results that can be achieved by growth investing.
Online Finance Magazines
There is no shortage of digital finance magazines. The digital era has created a wellspring of business publications online, which are all accessible to the public. Whether you’d like to become an armchair investor or seasoned trader, these publications will keep you on top of market changes and company news.
- Bloomberg BusinessWeek – While many upcoming generations probably associate BusinessWeek with the digital era, it was actually first published in 1929 in a print magazine format. Now the platform drives articles in both digital and print formats, posting breaking finance news and business school rankings.
- Forbes – This is another business and finance publication that has stood the test of time, launching in 1917 as a print magazine based in New York City, just like Bloomberg BusinessWeek. To this day, Forbes continues to be a driving news source for business owners, C-Level executives, investors, and students. Forbes online focuses on business, investment, startup, leadership, and lifestyle articles.
- The Economist – This periodical predates both Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Forbes, since its first issue hit the stands back in 1843. Like the previously mentioned publications, The Economist is also released online and in print. Their subject focus is quite broad, posting articles in categories such as finance, economics, science, technology, culture, and debate. The website also contains an archive of old Economist articles dating back to 1997.
- The Motley Fool – This online magazine is much younger than the aforementioned publications, founded in 1993 and created specifically for online audiences. They are dedicated educating and entertaining new and seasoned investors. The Motley Fool provides a wide assortment of supplemental content, such as podcasts, newsletters, and books.
- Harvard Business Review – HBR is based in Watertown, Massachusetts, and it is released as a print periodical 10 times a year. The online magazine features news articles, case studies, webinars, book chapters, and tips that focus on business leadership, financial strategy, and organizational growth.
Finance is an extremely popular topic amongst bloggers. News outlets, students, and educators are drawn to this medium to share insights and pose questions. Add these blogs to your bookmarks to keep up with forecasts and economic trends.
- CNN Money – This major news network posts breaking stories about international and domestic corporations, investing, economy, tech, and small business. They often post “Best of” lists, which catalog ideal careers, retirement locations, colleges, and funding options available within the United States. CNN Money also works in partnership with Fortune magazine, which focuses primarily on Fortune 500 companies. A handy E-Trade widget gives readers up-to-the-minute stock listings.
- Business Insider – This digital publication was launched in 2009, dedicated to popular business, finance, and technology news. Articles at this publication tend to document new tech trends and startup funding. This blog is separated into six major subject categories – tech, finance, politics, strategy, life and entertainment. They also public op-ed pieces, such as “3 Brilliant Negotiating Tips I Learned from Steve Jobs.
- Zero Hedge – This finance blog is dedicated to uncovering news and political developments that will help the general public make wise and informed investment decisions. Zero Hedge also regards mainstream media with a critical lens, scrutinizing the motivations and spin that drive major news networks.
- Insider Monkey – Finance students can find a wealth of investment information and breaking news about key business players on Insider Monkey. This blog covers a wide breadth of topics, such as hedge funds, dividend stocks, stock analysis, commodities, and insider trading. The founders of Insider Monkey strive to bring high-quality and exclusive investment data to the public, so that investors can make better trading decisions.
Who to Follow on Twitter
Twitter allows you to rub shoulders (online) with some of the greatest investors and financial advisors of our time. This type of interaction would have been unheard of just a decade ago. The following accounts serve as great resources for industry news, career opportunities, and commentary.
- @johnsonwhitney – Whitney Johnson is one of the most visible female investment experts. She co-founded Rose Park Advisors with Clayton Christiansen, and has written several highly-regarded books on entrepreneurship and finance. Johnson tweets frequently for the Wall Street Journal, posting investment and startup news to an audience of over 40,000 viewers.
- @chrisadamsmkts – Chris Adams works as the markets editor for the Financial Times. He tweets about foreign exchange rates and international business trends several times a day, and can be an excellent news source for finance students. Adams is also an expert on global insurance and employment trends.
- @reformedbroker – Finance students can get a glimpse of the dark side of Wall Street, from the perspective of an investment advisor who is working on the ground. Joshua Brown is the voice behind ReformedBroker, slinging critiques and commentary about current investment news, and Wall Street developments. He is also a regular contributor for Forbes, delving into markets tech, and investment news.
- @MichaelKitces – Michael Kitces is the mind behind The Kitces Report, an advanced financial planning newsletter released every two months. Subscribers can also gain 1.5 hours of Certified Financial Planner continuing education credits for each issue read. Kitces interacts regularly with his Twitter followers via retweets and replies. Most of his posts focus on financial planning and business management news.