Are you looking to pursue a career in finance? A bachelor’s degree in finance is the right way to get started. You can choose from multiple enrollment options available today — full-time or part-time, on campus or online, and accelerated — for bachelor’s degree programs that fit your career aspirations.
Let’s understand what a bachelor’s degree in finance includes, the different types of degree programs offered, who should pursue it, admission requirements, tuition costs, program curriculum, career options, salaries, and more.
A bachelor’s degree in finance is an undergraduate academic program that provides a comprehensive understanding of financial systems, concepts, and practices.
Finance degrees give you the expertise to navigate the business world, make informed financial decisions, and contribute effectively to various financial roles within organizations and industries.
Characteristics of a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance:
- Financial Fundamentals: Core concepts such as financial analysis, investment strategies, risk management, and financial markets form the foundation of the degree.
- Quantitative Skills: Strong numerical and analytical skills are developed to interpret financial data, evaluate investment opportunities, and manage risk.
- Corporate Finance: Understanding how to manage financial resources within organizations, including capital budgeting, cost of capital, and financial planning.
- Ethics and Regulations: Knowledge of ethical considerations and regulatory frameworks that guide financial decision-making.
- Communication Skills: Effective communication of complex financial information to financial and non-financial stakeholders.
- Practical Application: Many programs offer real-world exposure through internships, simulations, and projects that mirror actual financial scenarios.
What Does a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance Prepare You For?
A bachelor’s degree in finance prepares you for various roles in the finance industry, including financial analyst, investment banker, portfolio manager, risk manager, corporate finance specialist, and financial planner.
It also lays the groundwork for pursuing further education or certifications, such as a master’s in finance (MFin) or the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
Who Should Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance?
Individuals interested in numbers, financial markets, investment strategies, and decision-making should pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance. Here’s an overview of individuals who can pursue this degree:
- High School Graduates: This is the most common path. Students who have recently completed high school and are interested in finance can pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance as their next educational step.
- Career Changers: Individuals who have already entered the workforce but are looking to transition into finance-related careers can pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance to gain the necessary knowledge and credentials.
- Adult Learners: Adults who did not have the opportunity to attend college immediately after high school but now wish to pursue higher education and a career in finance can also consider this degree.
- Entrepreneurs: Individuals planning to start their own business or become involved in entrepreneurship can gain a strong foundation in financial management through a finance degree.
- Quantitatively Inclined Individuals: People with a strong interest in mathematics, statistics, and analytical thinking often find finance a suitable field due to its quantitative nature.
- Future MBA Candidates: Many individuals who plan to pursue a master’s in business administration (MBA) later on might start with a bachelor’s degree in finance to establish a strong business foundation.
- Those Seeking Diverse Career Opportunities: Finance is a versatile field with applications across various industries. Individuals looking for diverse career opportunities in sectors like banking, insurance, real estate, or even government finance departments can pursue this degree.
Types of Bachelor Degrees in Finance:
Bachelor of Science in Finance (BS)
Focuses on quantitative and analytical aspects of finance, suitable for those interested in in-depth financial analysis.
Bachelor of Arts in Finance (BA)
Offers a broader approach, combining finance with liberal arts subjects, suitable for those interested in diverse career paths within finance.
NOTE: The choice between B.A. and B.S. degrees depends on whether you prefer a more technical and quantitative focus (bachelor of science in finance) or a more versatile and interdisciplinary approach (bachelor of arts in finance).
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA Finance)
A BBA finance is a specialized business degree focusing on financial management. It covers investment analysis, risk management, and financial markets, preparing graduates for finance, banking, and corporate finance careers.
Finance and Entrepreneurship Degree
A finance and entrepreneurship degree combines financial expertise with entrepreneurial skills. You learn about managing finances, investments, and risk while gaining insights into starting and growing businesses. This program prepares graduates for roles in finance, startups, and innovative ventures.
Financial Services Degree
This program covers banking, insurance, investment, and financial planning. Graduates are prepared for careers in banking institutions, investment firms, insurance companies, and financial advisory services.
A finance degree average salary and career trajectory can vary based on factors such as the specific job, location, company size, industry, and individual skills and experience. Here are some of the highest paying business jobs when you pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance:
Financial analysts assess market trends, company financials, and investment opportunities. On average, financial analysts can earn around $75,006 per year, with the potential for higher earnings as they gain experience and specialize in areas like portfolio management or risk analysis.
Investment Banking Analyst
Investment banking analysts are pivotal in financial transactions, mergers, and acquisitions. Entry-level analysts often earn competitive salaries, averaging around $92,274 per year, which can increase significantly as they progress to higher roles.
Financial advisors provide tailored financial planning services to individuals, families, and organizations. The average salary for financial advisors is $81,550 per year, with the potential for earning commissions based on the financial products they recommend.
Corporate Finance Manager
Corporate finance professionals manage financial operations, budgeting, and strategic planning. They earn an average salary of around $136,834 per year, with potential for growth as they take on more responsibilities.
Risk managers analyze potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them. They earn an average salary of around $121,851 per year, with higher salaries for those in senior positions.
Credit analysts assess the creditworthiness of individuals or businesses. Their average salary is approximately $78,850 per year.
Whether you aspire to become an investment analyst, financial planner, or corporate finance professional, a bachelor’s degree in finance curriculum offers a structured path toward developing expertise, honing critical thinking skills, and making ethical decisions in finance.
You can club your major in finance with a minor in an interdisciplinary subject to strengthen your resume. For example, you can club it with a minor in behavioral economics, communications, sustainable business, or computer science.
Here’s a list of courses commonly found in a bachelor’s degree in finance program:
Principles of Microeconomics & Macroeconomics
Microeconomics focuses on individual economic units like households and firms, while macroeconomics examines the overall economy, including inflation, unemployment, and economic growth.
You learn how to analyze financial statements, manage working capital, evaluate investment projects, and make funding and capital structure decisions.
Corporate finance delves deeper into financial decision-making within corporations. It covers capital budgeting, cost of capital, dividend policy, and mergers and acquisitions. You learn to optimize financial strategies to maximize shareholder value.
Business statistics involves analyzing and interpreting data to make informed business decisions. You learn statistical tools and techniques to gather, summarize, and analyze data, helping them make better predictions and informed choices.
This course teaches you about various investment vehicles, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. You also study portfolio diversification, risk assessment, valuation techniques, and strategies for constructing investment portfolios.
International finance explores financial interactions between countries. Topics include exchange rates, balance of payments, international capital flows, and the challenges of managing financial risks in a global context.
Managerial accounting focuses on providing internal information for decision-making within organizations. You learn about cost behavior, budgeting, performance evaluation, and how accounting data assists managers in making strategic choices.
Derivatives and Risk Management
This course covers financial derivatives, such as options and futures, and strategies to manage financial risk. You learn how derivatives can be used to hedge against various types of business risks.
Portfolio management deals with creating and managing investment portfolios. You learn about asset allocation, risk-return trade-offs, and strategies for optimizing portfolios to meet specific financial goals.
Financial modeling involves creating mathematical representations of economic situations to make informed decisions. You learn to build models for forecasting, valuation, and analyzing investment opportunities, often using software tools like spreadsheets.
To pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance, you generally need a high school diploma or equivalent. While there isn’t a specific background that is strictly required, having a foundation in certain subjects—mathematics, economics, computer skills, and communication—can be beneficial for success in the program.
Here are some admission requirements to enroll in this program:
You will typically need a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED) to be eligible for a bachelor’s program. If you have pursued an associate degree in finance in the past, it can help you offset some years off your bachelor’s degree program using your earned credit hours.
NOTE: The extent to which you can transfer credits depends on several factors, including the policies of the specific college or university you plan to attend and the alignment of courses between your associate and bachelor’s degree programs.
You can provide your high school transcripts or equivalent academic records as part of your application. These transcripts demonstrate your academic performance and coursework during your secondary education.
Some universities or colleges may require standardized test scores for your application. The SAT or ACT are commonly accepted, but specific requirements can vary. Some institutions also have their entrance exams, or some may have a holistic admission process.
NOTE: A holistic admissions process considers many factors beyond grades and test scores, including extracurricular activities, essays, letters of recommendation, diversity, passions, and more.
Letters of Recommendation
Some programs require letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, or others who can vouch for your academic abilities and character.
Personal Statement or Essay
Many institutions require a personal statement or essay as part of your application. This is an opportunity for you to showcase your motivations for studying finance and explain why you’re a good fit for the program.
Some institutions might have prerequisite courses—mathematics, economics, or accounting—that you need to fulfill before enrolling in the program.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in finance offers a range of benefits that can significantly improve your career prospects and personal development. Some of the key advantages include:
A bachelor’s degree in finance opens doors to various career paths in multiple sectors, including corporate finance, investment banking, financial analysis, financial planning, risk management, and more.
Job Market Demand
Finance professionals are consistently in demand, making it a relatively stable and potentially lucrative career choice. The business and financial operations occupations account for 28.27% of the total number of jobs in the U.S., with an average salary of $96,920 per year.
Higher Earning Potential
Many finance roles offer competitive salaries and opportunities for advancement. A bachelor’s degree can increase your earning potential over a lifetime compared to having only a high school diploma.
College provides a platform to connect with professors, classmates, and industry professionals, helping you build a valuable network to assist you throughout your career.
Finance is a global field, and your studies might include international finance concepts, exposing you to the intricacies of global markets and economies.
A finance degree can be beneficial if you plan to start your own business, as it equips you with financial management and planning skills.
The skills you develop—such as data analysis, research, communication, and problem-solving—are valuable in finance and various other professions.
Earning a bachelor’s degree is often a stepping stone to pursuing professional certifications, such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP), which can enhance your career prospects.
Finance professionals can work across industries, from finance and banking to tech, healthcare, and consulting, offering versatility in career options.
Influence and Leadership
With experience, a finance background can lead to leadership roles where you can shape financial strategies and decisions within organizations.
What makes a bachelor’s degree in finance particularly appealing is its versatility. The skills acquired in finance are transferable and adaptable, enabling you to explore a diverse array of career paths.
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in finance offers well-paying jobs across stable industries. A finance degree helps you enjoy job stability and contribute meaningfully to your organization’s success.
A finance career that heavily involves the stock market is equity research. Equity researchers analyze stocks, assess their value, and recommend their findings to investors. They study financial statements, industry trends, and market data to provide insights into potential investment opportunities.
Yes, you can get a CPA with finance degree, but there are specific requirements. To qualify for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, you need to meet additional coursework criteria in accounting, ethics, and business law, which might extend your studies beyond a typical finance degree. Passing the CPA exam is crucial to earning the CPA designation.
The duration to complete a finance degree is four years if you’re enrolled as a full-time student. This typically includes completing core business courses, finance specialization classes, and any elective courses you choose.
The decision between a finance degree and a business administration hinges on your career aspirations. A business degree in finance offers a broader education covering various business aspects, suitable for general management and entrepreneurship roles.
A finance degree opens doors to numerous career paths. You can work in investment banking, facilitating mergers and acquisitions, or in corporate finance, managing a company’s financial operations. Financial analysis roles involve assessing data to aid decision-making, and portfolio management involves overseeing investment portfolios for individuals or institutions.
Yes, you can work as an accountant with a finance degree, although traditionally, accountants often hold degrees specifically in accounting. A finance degree provides a broader skill set, and if you’re interested in accounting, consider supplementing your degree with relevant accounting coursework.
Absolutely, pursuing a bachelor of arts (BA) in finance can be an incredibly worthwhile investment in your future. You’ll be well-compensated due to the critical nature of your role in managing financial resources, making strategic investment decisions, and ensuring the financial health of businesses.
The difficulty of a bachelor of science (BS) in finance can vary depending on your aptitude for quantitative analysis and financial concepts. It typically involves mastering concepts like risk management, financial modeling, and market analysis, which might require dedication and a strong work ethic to excel. However, many students succeed in this program with determination and effective study strategies.