Bachelor’s in Finance Program Guide

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A bachelor's degree in finance prepares students to enter the exciting and fast-paced world of money management, banking, and economics. Graduates may go on to careers in financial planning, accounting, and financial analysis. Individuals with a bachelor's in finance earn an average yearly salary of $70,000, according to PayScale.

This in-demand field can offer a solid return on investment for your degree. Almost any business, organization, and public enterprise requires individuals who understand cash flow, assets, and accounting. The College Board reports that tuition rates range from about $10,560-$36,880 for the 2020 academic year. A bachelor's in finance program usually takes about four years to complete.

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% employment growth for business and financial occupations from 2020-2030. This amounts to about 750,880 new jobs. Market research analyst, accountant, and auditor roles are expected to retain strong demand due to globalization, complex tax laws, and the increasing use of data.

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Finance?

Students who possess a critical, analytical mind and are interested in the markets and balance sheets may find a fulfilling career in finance. Success in this field also requires good communication skills, a strong business acumen, and the ability to see setbacks as challenges.

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in finance will find that career demand varies by field. For example, the BLS projects that jobs for financial analysts will grow by 6% from 2020-2030, which is about as fast as the average employment growth rate for all occupations. In contrast, the projected employment growth for management analysts and market research analysts is 14% and 22%, respectively.

A bachelor's degree in finance requires about 120 credits and takes four years of full-time enrollment to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated tracks that can reduce the time to completion. Additionally, many programs allow students to transfer up to 90 credits from another institution.

Employers may prefer or require certification for some positions in finance. Several programs help students prepare for these certification exams. A few examples include certified management accountants (CMA), certified public accountant (CPA), certified financial planners (CFP), and chartered financial analysts (CFA). CPA candidates must complete 150 college credits to apply for licensure.

Students interested in sitting for the CPA exam may consider earning a graduate degree. Individuals who wish to pursue leadership roles, such as corporate controller or chief financial officer positions, may also find that a master's degree offers greater opportunities.

What Will I Learn in a Finance Bachelor's Program?

Students earning a bachelor's degree in finance learn about planning, forecasting, and investing. They also develop skills to evaluate financial statements, cash flows, and security markets. Learners apply these concepts to portfolio allocation and corporate, entrepreneurial, and international finance.

Students can earn a bachelor of science (BS) or a bachelor of arts (BA) in finance. A BA offers a general education that incorporates language, psychology, history, and science classes. BA programs are best suited for students considering graduate school. In contrast, a BS in finance usually includes fewer general education courses and prepares students to enter the workforce directly after graduation.

While all degree programs differ, some of the typical courses students may expect include accounting principles, financial institutions and markets, investments, and risk management. Many finance programs also offer concentrations that allow learners to direct their education toward their career goals.

Concentrations

Investment Management

This concentration teaches stock option strategies, security analysis, and international investment. Courses may include cover topics such as financial markets and institutions and strategic management. This specialization prepares graduates for roles in investment banking and asset management.

Banking and Financial Services

This concentration focuses on the financial management of banks, including financing and operations. Topics include credit underwriting, risk management, regulations, and financial market structures. Some programs require students to complete an internship in a banking institution.

Corporate Finance

This specialization prepares students for careers as financial analysts, asset managers, consultants, and roles in corporate treasury. Students develop a comprehensive understanding of financial statements and cash flow analysis, advanced corporate valuation, and financial modeling.

Risk Management and Insurance

A risk management and insurance concentration explores the fundamentals of identifying and assessing business risks and determining how to offset and mitigate those risks. Courses include insurance theory and practice, corporate risk management, and employee benefits.

Real Estate

A real estate concentration readies graduates to work in mortgage lending, real estate development, and corporate real estate analysis. Students learn about real estate investment strategies, real estate law, financial markets, and appraising properties.

Popular Online Bachelor's in Finance Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Finance?

A bachelor's degree in finance prepares students for roles in corporations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and institutional investors, such as insurance companies and hedge funds. They may also pursue careers in banking and other financial services. Almost every industry requires professionals that can advise clients and businesses on growing wealth, making investments, and diversifying portfolios.

Career paths with a finance degree include accountants, financial analysts, and financial planners. Some careers require certification. Additionally, some employers prefer candidates with graduate degrees for management and leadership roles. Students looking for advancement opportunities can consider schools that offer dual-degree tracks that lead to a bachelor's and master's degree in five years.

Popular Career Paths

Popular Continuing Education Paths

How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Finance?

Salaries for graduates with a bachelor's in finance vary based on the position, employer, and location. For example, the BLS reports that financial analysts earned a median annual salary of $83,660 in May 2020, with the top 10% of earners boasting salaries over $159,560.

Financial analysts that work in securities make a median wage of $98,850 as of May 2020. Those that work in New York make top earnings, with an average annual pay of $130,670.

Financial advisors made a median wage of $89,330 as of May 2020, with the highest 10% earning more than $208,000. Again, those that work in New York earn the highest salaries, followed by Maine and Montana. Personal financial advisors in these states made an average wage of $169,310, $155,240, and $154,630, respectively.

How Do I Get Into a Bachelor's in Finance Program?

After choosing a college, it's time for applicants to send in their application. Students may submit their application through the college's website. Many schools also accept submissions via online application platforms, such as the Common Application. This approach allows students to submit one application to multiple schools.

Submission materials include an application form and official high school transcripts. Most finance programs require a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0-3.0. Some schools also require minimum SAT or ACT scores. For example, a school might require an ACT composite score of 20 or an SAT score of 950 for math and critical reading components.

Additional requirements include 2-3 letters of recommendation, preferably from school counselors or recent teachers. Schools also require an essay or personal statement.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Finance Programs

What is finance?

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Finance is generally divided into three main categories. Public finance entails generating income, tracking revenue, and managing expenses in the government sector. Corporate finance refers to creating successful businesses by accessing funds and increasing their value. Personal finance describes money management for individuals, including building wealth, protecting assets, banking, insurance, and loans.

Finance incorporates money management, money resources, and asset allocation. It includes studying financial systems, such as banking, investments, insurance, liabilities, and assets. Another part of this sector, financial services, includes advising clients on investments, budgeting, borrowing, and saving.

Is a bachelor's in finance worth it?

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A bachelor's degree in finance can lead to a rewarding career for individuals interested in investment strategies, budgeting, and financial management. Most positions in finance require an undergraduate degree. This field also offers some of the highest-paying jobs for those with a bachelor's degree. PayScale reports that these degree-holders earn an average annual wage of $70,000.

Because finance plays an integral part in all sectors, graduates can find roles in numerous industries. Degree-holders can pursue positions in accounting, financial analysis, and risk management. Some work for government agencies, while others work for private or nonprofit sectors. Many learners choose a concentration that aligns with their career goals, such as real estate, corporate, or banking and financial services.

Is a finance degree hard?

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Like any field, some students find earning a finance degree a little more challenging than others. Coursework includes mathematics, accounting, markets, and economics. Learners interested in these subjects will find studying for a finance degree fascinating.

On the other hand, if you cringe at the sight of balance sheets and statistics, you may not be as enthusiastic about earning this degree. A few of the other skills and lessons students pursuing this degree tackle include analyzing stock market trends, creating financial plans, and evaluating investment opportunities.

How much does it cost to get a bachelor's in finance?

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The College Board reports that the average tuition and fee rates for the 2020 academic year ranged from $10,560-$37,650. Additionally, estimated room and board costs averaged $11,620-$13,120. These costs vary due to the type of school and student residency status. In-state students attending public colleges usually pay the lowest prices.

Students should consider their return on investment or the cost of their education compared to potential earnings after graduation. Online finance programs may also offer students some savings. Flexible, asynchronous programs may enable students to continue working full-time while earning their degrees. Additionally, some schools do not charge nonresident fees for their online programs. Tuition costs for online programs range from $200-$600 per credit.

Is it hard to get a job in finance?

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The level of competition for finance jobs varies by position, employer, and location. For example, the BLS projects 5% employment growth for personal financial advisors and budget analysts from 2020-2030. This is slower than the 8% employment growth projected for all occupations. On the other hand, financial manager jobs are projected to grow by 17%.

Overall, the BLS projects 8% employment growth in the business and finance sectors. Applicants with industry-specific certifications may find increased demand. Additionally, the BLS projects a growing need for financial analysts due to emerging global markets and the rise in big data and technology.

Feature Image: Shannon Fagan / DigitalVision / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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