Students of an associate's degree program study financial management, budgeting and investment; they must also complete studies in the liberal arts. Admittance to this degree program requires only a high school diploma or GED certificate, though applicants may need to satisfy placement tests.
Bachelor's degree students prepare to enter the world of finance in the areas of investment, corporate finance, financial services and banking. Topics of study include international accounting, strategic planning, budgeting and capital structure, in addition to coursework in business and management. Graduates who hold bachelor's degrees can enroll in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Investment Management program. Here, students undertake a variety of financial subjects, including financial management, accounting, capital markets and portfolio management in addition to coursework that teaches methods for trading, insider trading and securitization.
Professional certification is available to those in the financial planning or financial analysis fields. Candidates must hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree, a satisfactory GMAT score, letters of reference, a personal essay and a resume. A capstone or research project may also be required.
Associate of Science in Finance
An associate's degree program in finance prepares students to make financial decisions through problem-solving techniques and mathematical analysis. A computer course teaches them to manage finances on spreadsheet, while database software programs train students to help people make financial decisions that will increase their savings and grow their wealth.
Students learn to become financial decision-makers through core coursework in areas such as accounting and cost analysis. For those who hope to enter management positions, business coursework teaches complementary interpersonal communication and leadership skills. Other courses in this degree program include:
- Business finance
Bachelor of Science in Finance
Candidates for a bachelor's degree learn consumer behavior and marketing; they also undertake lessons in business law, including contract, sales, employment and constitutional laws. Finance majors also learn portfolio management, venture capital and financial market analysis.
Prospective finance majors are required to complete prerequisite coursework (approximately two years) before beginning core financial courses (two years). Prerequisite courses include accounting, economics and statistics.
Students learn essential financial theories, investment principles and issues in international finance. Course topics in this degree program may also include:
- Financial accounting
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MBA in Investment Management
The MBA curriculum includes business management courses and finance coursework that includes studies in risk management, valuation and arbitrage. The business management core includes topics such as marketing, leadership and business operations management. MBA students complete a capstone course and a research project as part of their degree requirements.
Admittance requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and satisfactory scores on the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test). Other requirements include letters of reference, a personal statement essay and a resume.
MBA students learn about investment theories and practices and apply their management skills to the handling of personal finances and assets. Subject areas in this degree program often include:
- Global finance
- Capital markets
- Mergers and acquisitions
Popular Career Options
Graduates of associate's degree programs go on to careers in finance in a variety of settings, including private businesses, non-profit organizations and financial institutions. Popular career options for graduates include:
- Bank teller
- Loan officer
Graduates with a bachelor's degree can go into real estate, banking, corporate finance, insurance and financial management. Popular careers for finance graduates include:
- Investment analyst
- Independent financial advisor
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial analysts held approximately 268,360 jobs in the United States in 2015. The BLS also reports that jobs for financial analysts are projected to grow by 12% between 2014 and 2024. The median salary of a financial analyst in 2015 was $80,310 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Graduates who hold an associate's degree in finance can further their educations by enrolling in a bachelor's degree program. Those who are interested in becoming licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPA) should enroll in an accounting degree program.
Graduates who hold a bachelor's degree in finance are eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination, offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. Receiving the CFP credential requires three years of work experience as a financial planner. Graduates can also pursue a Master of Science in Finance or an MBA in Investment Management. Typically, 30 hours of collegiate education are needed past the bachelor's degree level to become a CPA.
Graduates can purse the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, offered through the CFA Institute. CFA designation requires a bachelor's degree, four years of work experience and passing scores on three examinations.
Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in finance or investment management are all available to those interested in becoming financial asset managers and all prepare them to work in a number of environments. Bachelor's degree program graduates and above can sit for the Certified Financial Planner examination to acquire credentials.