Finance degree programs are offered with the option to choose an area of specialization, including corporate finance, asset management, and international finance, among many others. Finance students can enroll in associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree programs in finance and prepare for credentialing exams to become Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) or Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs).
In each of these programs, students study money management skills and examine the principles of accounting and finance, including how to analyze financial records. At the master's level, students engage in research projects as well as classroom work, in addition to a thesis and potentially an internship.
Undergraduate programs require students to have a high school education to enroll, while master's programs require a bachelor's degree with prerequisite coursework in the field, satisfactory GRE or GMAT scores, letters of reference, and professional work experience.
Associate of Business Administration in Finance
The finance specialization in a business administration degree program introduces students to financial literacy, money management, and accounting principles. The business administration curriculum includes courses in the fundamentals of management, business law, and customer service. Students learn to analyze financial records, explore the banking, insurance, and loan industries and develop an understanding of financial policies and laws in the United States. Topics of discussion include stocks and bonds, mortgages and loans, financial securities, and income and cash flow statements.
Finance courses teach students to ethically and responsibly manage and analyze the finances of individuals, organizations, and businesses. The finance curriculum includes courses in:
- Financial statements
- Mutual funds
Bachelor of Science in Finance
Bachelor's degree programs in finance are offered with the option to choose an area of specialization to add focus to students' career paths. A corporate finance specialization includes studies in investments, cash flow performance, financial statement analysis, and international finance. An investment management specialization includes an exploration of financial markets, investment banking and portfolio management. Other areas of specialization include global finance, real estate, risk management and financial services.
Students learn to invest money, analyze risk, and utilize technology in planning, organizing, and managing personal and business finances. Coursework in the program includes:
- Capital management
- Financial policies
- Fixed income securities
- Future markets
- Real estate investments
Master of Science in Finance
Business management courses are combined with the finance curriculum, which includes studies in financial economics, equity, and bond markets and fixed income markets. Topics of discussion include capital structure theory, capital budgeting analysis, quantitative portfolio management, and financial institution management. Admittance requires prerequisite coursework in calculus, economics, statistics and financial accounting
Coursework prepares students to be effective leaders in the world of finance, including managing portfolios, investment firms, and large corporations. Courses in this degree program include:
- Game theory
- Bankruptcy management
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Hedge funds
- Venture capital
Popular Career Options
Graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in the finance industry, including jobs in banks and mortgage and credit companies. Popular careers for graduates include:
- Loan officer
- Mortgage broker
- Loan processor
Finance graduates go into corporate finance, banking, investments, international finance, and real estate. Common job titles of graduates who hold bachelor's degrees in finance include:
- Credit analyst
- Mortgage banker
- Financial analyst
- Investment banker
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that financial analysts held 306,200 jobs in the U.S. in May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that jobs in this profession were expected to grow by 6% between the years 2018 and 2028. The mean salary for a financial analyst in 2018 was $100,990.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates who hold an associate's degree in finance can enroll in a bachelor's degree program in finance with several areas of specialization, including corporate finance, financial services, international finance, risk management, and commercial banking. Graduates who are interested in the mortgage and loan industry can enroll in mortgage loan officer training programs, which are offered by community colleges throughout the United States and which fulfill the education requirements to become licensed mortgage loan officers. State licensing requires passing an examination and criminal background check and fulfilling continuing education credit requirements. Licensing requirements for mortgage loan officers vary by state.
Graduates at the undergraduate level are eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination, administered by the CFP Board of Standards. Candidates for the CFP designation are required to hold a bachelor's degree and have a minimum of three years of relevant work experience. Graduates can also enroll in a master's degree program in finance with the option to choose an area of specialization.
Master's graduates who are interested in careers in research or teaching at the college level can enroll in a doctorate degree program in finance. Graduates are also eligible to sit for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Exam, offered through the CFA Institute. CFA candidates are required to hold a bachelor's degree, have four years of work experience or possess a satisfactory combination of education and work experience in order to sit for the three-part exam.
Associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees in finance prepare students for many different financial careers, with different specializations and focus in different areas depending on the degree level undertaken. Professionals can obtain professional certification from many different organizations, and may be required to earn state licensure depending on their location.