Finance is a very broad term and can have different definitions. It can mean two things: the first, “the study of how money is managed” and the second, “the actual process of acquiring needed funds.” From these definitions, the most common conception is that finance deals with money, whether it is money of an individual (personal finance), a private company (corporate finance) or a public institution (public finance).
A degree in finance is often compared to a degree in accounting. You can learn more about accounting degrees in StudyLink’s Accounting Degree Guide.
Entrance into a finance degree program varies from institution to institution. Some universities require you to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. Classes taken in post secondary institutions may also be considered. For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to. Because it is a field of study that deals significantly with numbers, a solid background in mathematics and excellent numeracy skills are a good foundation when choosing to enter a finance degree program.
As part of most curriculums of finance degree programs, students can take courses in macro and microeconomics, statistics and accounting in addition to major classes in finance which can include financial management, international finance and financial forecasting. Business courses including marketing, management and business information systems are also available in some institutions as part of the finance degree program.
In addition to the foundation courses that are part of the degree program, specializations, tracks, electives and minors are also available in most institutions. This may be a required part of the degree program for finance or it may be optional, depending on the institution. Below is a short list of common specializations offered by universities:
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates. Please check with the institution you are interested in for their accreditation details.
Depending on the profession you are planning to pursue with a degree in finance, additional certification may be available (and in some cases required). An example of this would be the title of “certified financial planner” conferred by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in the United States. This requires experience aside from a bachelor’s degree in addition to an examination and code of ethics.
A degree in finance can take anywhere from three to four years. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located. It may also depend on what type of degree is being awarded, as bachelor degrees take longer than associate degrees.
There are also various degrees available for those interested in finance at the master’s and doctorate level. These are available at numerous business schools, with master’s sometimes being available as part of an MBA program.
Much like graduates of accounting, almost half of all graduates of finance degree programs end up in business or financial positions. The work involved can include monitoring and creating financial statements, managing a company’s budget and analyzing opportunities. A few examples of positions that finance degree holders acquire are financial trader, insurance specialist, loan officer, credit analyst, banker, risk analyst, asset manager and financial planner. Some may go on to take consultant and advisor roles at different financial firms, while some are in finance-related positions in different companies across different fields and sectors. As is the case, for most organizations, whether they are a big corporation or a small NGO, there is someone who must handle financial concerns and processes, so there are many career prospects for those who have graduated from a finance degree program.
Finance degree holders are also employable in positions that aren’t solely focused on money and numbers because of their skills. For example, graduates of finance programs are usually highly knowledgeable of business organizations’ structures and processes. Also, they are logical, making them adept at problem-solving and analysis, while also making them good arguers and negotiators.
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