According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth in business and finance is projected to expand by 10% through 2026, which amounts to roughly 773,800 job openings. In fact, a bachelor's degree in finance offers one of the greatest returns on investment, providing students with access to high-paying entry-level positions and preparing them for graduate programs.
According to the BLS, job growth in business and finance is projected to expand by 10% through 2026, which amounts to roughly 773,800 job openings.
People who are inquisitive, ambitious, and good problem solvers should consider a degree in finance, because it's a narrow field that offers opportunities in a wide variety of professional settings and at varying degree levels. Charismatic people who prefer constant change and interaction with others could consider becoming a personal financial adviser, while introverted professionals could pursue accounting, which would allow them to analyze financial data and immerse themselves in spreadsheets without any distractions.
This article will provide you with a brief overview of why you might pursue a degree in finance, what you will be able to achieve career-wise with a bachelor's degree in finance, and how to choose the best finance degree program for you.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Finance?
When exploring what finance degrees have to offer, you should consider the types of skills you'll need to acquire. Finance graduates should be able to analyze data, think critically, and solve problems. Students should also be able to handle financial reporting, have the capacity to innovate, and produce actionable conclusions based on their findings. A bachelor's in finance provides students with foundational knowledge in accounting, statistics, and principles of taxation and risk management. In many programs, students can choose coursework that is geared toward developing desirable skills for specific occupations and internships. Many organizations post internships on their websites or job boards for finance students nearing their graduation.
Understanding what learning format is most suitable for you is a first step in identifying if a finance program is a good fit. Students who are already working professionals may not have the time to attend class in person. Therefore, asynchronous online programs might be the best option. Furthermore, online formats have set weekly due dates for assignments, allowing students to complete the work on their own time. On the other hand, recent high school graduates who are used to face-to-face instruction may excel in a classroom setting where they can get immediate answers to their questions. Students with no prior experience or professional networks may also benefit from a college setting where it is easy to meet other emerging professionals.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Finance?
All industries need professionals who understand numbers, which provides finance graduates with many opportunities. For instance, most organizations work with accountants to examine their financial records, prepare their taxes, and ensure their financial operations are structured efficiently. Because there are so many ways finance is infused into business, outgoing graduates might even find themselves spearheading the purchase of products and services as a purchasing manager. Those not interested in a typical desk job might be happy to know that financial data analysts often work remotely, reviewing and compiling financial reports to assist management with difficult decision making. Below are a few of the options for graduates with a bachelor's in finance.
- Financial Analysts
Analysts identify investment opportunities. Typical duties include recommending portfolio investments, studying business trends, determining an organization's value through financial data, and preparing reports. Financial analysts often become subject matter experts on buying or selling and are required to have a license for selling products.
Median Annual Salary: $84,300
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
- Financial Examiners
As a financial examiner, daily tasks include monitoring financial well-being of banks and other financial institutions. Professionals also prepare reports regarding safety, examine management meeting minutes, and train new examiners. Typically, examiners focus on risk assessment or consumer compliance.
Median Annual Salary: $81,690
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Budget Analysts
These professionals in public and private institutions preparing budget reports and monitoring spending. Other duties include recommending funding requests and analyzing propositions from a financial perspective. Candidates should take coursework in accounting, economics, and statistics.
Median Annual Salary: $75,240
Projected Growth Rate: 7%
This career path requires professionals to manage the life of products, develop professional relationships with suppliers, oversee product or material allocation, and propose business strategies to improve efficiency. The majority of logisticians work in manufacturing. However, professionals also work for the government, management companies, or in wholesale trade.
Median Annual Salary: $74,590
Projected Growth Rate: 7%
Fundraisers conduct research to identify potential donors for their organization, organize campaigns, maintain donation records, assess the success of fundraising initiatives, train volunteers, and ensure that all legal requirements are strictly followed. The majority of fundraisers work for civic, grantmaking, or religious organizations. Fundraisers can also be found in educational or government settings.
Median Annual Salary: $55,640
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Finance Program
The first step in choosing a finance degree program requires students to make sure that the curriculum meets the needs of the occupation they intend to pursue. Most bachelor's degrees in finance include 120-128 credit hours. Outside of foundational coursework, students should explore available options for elective or specialty coursework. Students should also identify how much time they are willing to invest into their education and what programs match their goals. Traditional programs take four years to complete, but online programs often operate on modified semesters, which allows students to complete their degree in less time.
Paying for school is a major concern for students and can often determine which program is selected. Students may want to start by identifying the average cost of finance programs in their state, because having residency avoids out-of-state tuition costs and housing costs if a student can live at home with family. It's important that students examine cost differences between private, public, and online institutions. For example, some schools offer programs online and in person for the same price. If a student is a hands-on learner, it would be more beneficial to attend school on campus. On the other hand, an online program could be a better fit if a student is unable to relocate and specialization courses aren't offered locally.
Accreditation for Bachelor's in Finance Programs
When selecting a finance degree, students need to make sure the program is accredited. Accreditation is a validation process universities undergo to ensure the coursework they offer truly prepares students for the professions they're entering. In the United States, there are two types of accreditation -- institutional and specialized. Institutional accreditation takes the entire university into consideration, while specialized accreditors focus on a specific content area.
Currently, there is no accrediting agency specifically for finance. However, depending on the specialty area a student is considering, there are other accrediting agencies employers or graduate programs may want to consider.
Currently, there is no accrediting agency specifically for finance. However, depending on the specialty area a student is considering, there are other accrediting agencies employers or graduate programs may want to consider. For example, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is valuable for students considering a career in finance, as are the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).
Bachelor's in Finance Program Admissions
Once ideal programs have been identified, students must begin the application process. Students should focus on understanding the requirements needed to apply to each program and begin by compiling a list of the materials they'll need to submit. This typically includes a copy of the student's high school transcripts, a list of accolades and honors awards, extracurricular activities, SAT scores, ACT scores, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and entrance essays. While a lot of the required information is repetitive, the entrance essays may vary and can take time to complete. It is a good idea to begin completing application requirements in advance to ensure everything is submitted on time. Students should also check to see if their selected programs use the Common Application, which allows students to complete one application that can be sent to multiple schools.
- Minimum GPA: A student's GPA is one of the most important requirements when applying to colleges, because it represents intellectual capabilities and work ethic. An average GPA score is a 3.0.
- Application: Each school has an application for admission. Most information required consists of uploading documents, except for the essay.
- Transcripts: Schools want to see that students have completed prerequisites. Transcripts also indicate how well a student has performed. Students can request this information from counselors, and costs are usually under $10.
- Letters of Recommendation: Students are typically required to have three letters of recommendation, and these should come from teachers or professionals who can elaborate on the student's skills and work ethic.
- Test Scores: Some schools opt to use the ACT and/or the SAT. Score requirements may vary.
- Application Fee: On average, college application fees are under $40. However, some schools do charge more, while some schools do not charge an application fee. Students can also request to have their college application fee waived.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Finance Program?
Students can expect to be introduced to foundational content that will prepare them for a variety of entry-level positions in finance. However, overall program expectations can vary depending upon the rigor of the program and the student's choice of specialty or concentration.
Concentrations Offered for a Bachelor's Degree in Finance
|Corporate Finance||This concentration deals with identifying sources of funding and the way corporations finance their assets, which may include a combination of debt, equity, or broad groups of securities. The ultimate objective of corporate finance is to strategically increase the value of the client.||Students who concentrate in corporate finance are qualified to become financial analysts, treasurers, or controllers.|
|Financial Counseling||Students who take up financial counseling become experts in managing money. Counselors work with clients who often have problems with debt and assess situations individually, create budgets, and effectively communicate action plans.||Financial counselors often work for educational, nonprofit, and social service institutions.|
|Investment Management||Emerging professionals in this concentration focus on the buying and selling of investments within the portfolio of their organization. Other roles may include budgeting and managing taxes.||Most professionals with an investment management background work with large institutions such as banks or insurance companies.|
|Asset Management||Students who concentrate in asset management learn to systematically monitor and maintain value for an organization. Assets may be in the form of human capital, money, or even intellectual property. Students will also learn how to upgrade and dispose of assets efficiently.||Asset managers often find themselves working with banks or private institutions.|
|Business Analytics||This concentration prepares students to make data-driven decisions and requires the application of quantitative methods when assessing business models. Professionals infer and predict business outcomes, collect and manage datasets, and apply statistical analysis.||Graduates can pursue careers in accounting, marketing, and operations.|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Finance Program
Bachelor's degrees prepare students for entry-level positions within their field, so all programs cover foundational information. The courses listed below are commonly found in a bachelor's degree in finance:
This course reviews statistical tools used to decode empirical economic research. Students participate in research projects where they acquire skills allowing them to effectively execute action plans. Other topics covered in this course include instrumental variables, statistical inference, regression, and simultaneous equation models.
Students will about microeconomics, which deals with consumers, markets, firms, and income distribution, as well as macroeconomics, which deals with employment, inflation, and national income. Other topics include learning to analyze the role of governments, markets, and other institutions, as well as critical communication skills needed for applied business.
- Portfolio Management
In this course, students learn about the importance of managing risk to avoid financial crisis. Topics covered include the extreme value theory, equity, interest rate securities, treasury bond portfolios, violations, and the mathematical theory of liquidity risk. Students develop dynamic decision-making processes to navigate increasingly volatile capital markets.
Basic statistical concepts and methods are covered in this course. Students engage in discussions of how statistics are applied in real world situations, and they study numerical and graphical summaries for understanding distribution of variables and the relationship between those variables. Students also apply the language of probability and review inference.
- Financial Reporting
Students explore financial reporting in corporate settings and discusses fundamental issues that emerge when considering asset valuation and determining income. Financial statement analysis is a primary focus. Students learn processes to improve risk evaluations and forecast. Practical application is emphasized.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Finance?
A bachelor's degree in finance typically has 120-128 credit hours, which takes four years to complete in a traditional program. However, taking classes in the summer can help students graduate sooner. On the other hand, some students are not able to attend full time, which can push graduation dates back. Accelerated programs are often offered online and have a lot of flexibility. Many online programs operate on eight-week semesters that do not include a summer vacation, which allows students to graduate in shorter periods of time. While online programs cater to the needs of distant learners, some formats can impact graduation dates. Self-paced learning programs do not have formal deadlines, which allows students to learn when it suits them best. However, students who aren't disciplined run the danger of getting behind on their timelines.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Finance?
The average cost of a bachelor's in finance is between $24,000 and $75,000. However, students must consider their own standards and requirements to truly identify the average cost of a finance degree. For example, there is a significant difference in cost between public and private institutions. Public schools cost less because they receive money from the government, while private schools offer a flat tuition rate. Stanford, a private school, charges $67,604 for an undergraduate degree in finance while Ohio State University, a public school, charges $42,364.
Residency is another factor that influences tuition costs. When students attend schools within their states, they pay less money than out-of-state students. Additionally, students have to consider housing costs, whereas residents often have the option of commuting from home. For example, out-of-state students at Ohio State University can pay $118,636 for the same degree depending on housing costs, scholarships, or if they are transfer students.
Students who live near a good community college may want to explore transfer options. Many community colleges have sister universities in the area that accept all of their credits. Students can complete general course requirements for a fraction of the cost and then transfer to a university to obtain their degree.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Finance Prepares For
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Certification
CFA certification takes four years to complete. Many jobs that manage assets and conduct equity research require employees to it.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Certification
Professionals who plan to fulfill roles that require them to audit organizations, participate in attestation, work with financial accounting or reporting, or manage regulation benefit from getting their CPA certification. This certification is best for accounting jobs and is needed for professionals who want to become chief financial officers.
- Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Designation
Obtaining a CAIA is helpful for professionals working with asset management and hedge funds. CAIA designations indicate recipients understand how to handle private equity, structured products, real assets, risk management, and asset allocation.
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Designation
Professionals who plan to deal with investments or manage wealth should consider obtaining a CFP. It focuses on the retail and high net worth areas of financial planning. The passing rates are higher on this exam, which makes it a good investment.
- Financial Risk Manager (FRM) Certification
An FRM is good to have for professionals who want to become risk managers, risk analysts, or risk officers. This exam is also rigorous -- roughly 50% of test takers pass. Professionals should take into account that the FRM is not globally recognized.
Resources for Finance Students
The Economist is dedicated to providing insight about what is transpiring in today's economy. Finance majors have access to trusted articles, scholarships, and tutors for the GRE and GMAT.
Professors use The Wall Street Journal as a way to connect course content to events taking place in society. Students have access to case studies to help them apply theories.
This organization offers free membership, networking opportunities, a job board, volunteer opportunities, and scholarships. Their goal is to get students into the financial industry and provide them with the chance to learn and grow into their professional careers.
This network operates through the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). Student membership includes access to resources, volunteer opportunities, workshops, and mentorship. Students can also participate in a leadership academy.
Student who join have access to a vast network and mentorship opportunities. Students can also use the RMA journal and study packs. RMA also offers scholarships that range from $2,000 to $8,000.
Professional Organizations in Finance
Students pursuing finance degrees have access to many professional organizations who want to help professionals at any stage in their career. By joining, students have access to finance experts, as well as volunteer and networking opportunities. Once students enter their professional fields, many organizations support their members by offering continuing education coursework. Most programs also offer career advice and regularly post job opportunities.