While enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in finance, students can learn financial and organizational management strategies through the study of portfolio analysis, budgeting, macroeconomics and other subjects. Some schools offer the option of choosing a concentration area, including investments, financial services, corporate finance and banking. Admittance requires a high school diploma or GED certificate.
Learning to oversee business and personal financial portfolios is one goal of a master's-level program in finance. Students could also learn to assess international markets and gain an understanding of tax structures.
Focusing largely on intensive research, a doctoral degree program delves into the makeup of financial markets and teaches aspiring analysts and professors about security design and asset pricing. This level of education often requires completion of a dissertation project.
Bachelor of Science in Finance
The curriculum includes financial topics such as investments, savings, personal finance, banking and issues in international finance. Students explore the role of financial analysts and planners, including developing skills for financial decision-making and analyzing financial reports and records. Business courses include studies in organizational management, ethics, accounting principles and financial management, in addition to a business law course that teaches constitutional, contract and sales laws.
Coursework prepares students to ethically and professionally manage the finances of individuals, businesses and corporations. Courses in the program include topics such as:
- Strategic planning
- Ratio analysis
- Portfolio analysis
Master of Science in Finance
The curriculum for this graduate degree program includes coursework in applied financial research with a focus on analytical models, empirical studies and international finance. An econometrics course explores statistical analysis, inferential statistics and simulation modeling, and a financial management course teaches financial modeling, corporate financial analysis and issues in global finance. Graduate students learn to manage individual and business portfolios and participate in mock cases that explore common issues in budgeting, corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions.
Admittance requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and prerequisite coursework in calculus, economics, accounting, finance and statistics. Other requirements include satisfactory scores on the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), letters of reference, an essay outlining the student's academic and career goals and a resume.
Coursework in the program includes studies in financial research, financial and management theories and the assessment of global markets. Topics of discussion in the program include:
- Tax structures
- Financial assets
- Risk management
- Capital structure
- Financial forecasting
Ph.D. in Finance
The Ph.D. in Finance curriculum includes studies in qualitative research, statistical analysis and financial and economic theories. A research-intensive program, coursework explores the structure of financial markets, theories in corporate finance, behavioral theory and strategies for trading. Ph.D. candidates conduct independent academic research and utilize empirical testing to analyze economic and financial theories. The program culminates in comprehensive written and oral examinations and a doctoral dissertation.
Admittance requires a bachelor's degree and satisfactory scores on the GRE or GMAT. Other requirements include a personal statement essay, professional or academic references and a resume. Prospective students should also have prerequisite coursework in statistics and mathematics.
The Ph.D. curriculum includes studies in theories of corporate finance, options markets, macroeconomics and econometrics. Topics covered in coursework include:
- Strategic training
- Security design
- Investor behavior
- Asset pricing
- Financial market organization
Popular Career Options
Graduates go on to a variety of careers in the financial industry, including jobs in banking, investments, securities and corporate finance. Popular careers for graduates include:
- Bank manager
- Financial planner
- Security analyst
- Portfolio manager
- Investment banker
Graduates of a PhD program go on to careers in education, research and executive positions in financial institutions. Popular career options for graduates include:
- Financial research analyst
- Treasury analyst
- Money market analyst
- Venture capitalist
Continuing Education Information
Graduates who want to further their education can enroll in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance degree program. Graduates who have at least three years of professional experience are eligible to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exam, offered through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. CFPs are required to complete continuing education credits every two years to maintain certification.
Graduates are eligible to sit for the Chartered Financial Analyst exam, administered by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (CFAI). Candidates must complete the CFA self-study program, become a member of the CFAI and have 24 months of professional experience to qualify for the CFA designation. Graduates who are interested in a career in research or teaching at the college level can purse a doctoral (Ph.D.) program in business administration with a concentration in finance.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial managers held roughly 653,600 jobs in the U.S. in 2018. The BLS also reported that jobs in this profession would grow by 16% between the years 2018 and 2028, which is about average. The annual median salary for a financial manager in 2018 was $127,990 .
Depending on the level of desired employment, students interested in financial research may pursue a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree in finance, with the Ph.D. offering more research opportunities. Graduates of these programs may be prepared to sit for professional certification examinations, including the Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Analyst tests.