Before you can earn a master of finance degree, one of the highest paying master’s degrees out there, you have to finish your bachelor’s degree. Applicants for master’s in finance degree programs aren’t usually required to have a bachelor’s degree in a specific major, according to U.S. News & World Report. Still, you should choose an undergraduate program that will prepare you for success in your graduate studies. Some of the best undergraduate programs to consider for prospective master of finance students are finance, business, accounting, economics and mathematics and statistics.
If you know from the start that a master of finance degree is in your future, then majoring in finance as an undergraduate may seem like the most obvious choice. After all, you’re getting an early start studying the concepts, theories and analytical methods that your future graduate studies will expand upon.
You can also get a high-paying job, like financial analyst, financial examiner or personal financial advisor, with only a bachelor’s degree in finance, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A bachelor’s degree in finance program will usually include undergraduate-level coursework in financial investment theory and practice, banking and financial services, risk management, corporate finance, financial analysis, quantitative reasoning and more.
Some schools even offer combined bachelor’s and master’s in finance degree programs that allow you to complete both courses of study faster. Although this type of accelerated program makes for an intensive workload, it can save students time and money.
If you want to develop both breadth and depth in your knowledge of the business and finance world, consider earning a bachelor’s degree in business and then focusing on finance when you get to the graduate level. Business administration undergraduate programs are more general and versatile, covering the foundations of all aspects of business instead of focusing more narrowly on one area like finance. In fact, you’re likely to take classes in management and leadership, economics, business communications, business law, human resources, economics, various aspects of accounting and, of course, finance.
Studying business administration first can help you gauge your level of interest in finance and in other areas of business. You can also customize your studies by choosing a program that offers concentrations within business administration or strategically selecting electives.
Like finance, accounting is a numbers-focused aspect of business. The difference is that accountants create, compile and interpret business statements, while finance professionals use financial statements to assess financial risks, opportunities and markets. If you don’t want to jump right into finance studies at the undergraduate level, learning the principles used in producing financial statements and reports by studying accounting can provide you with a relevant but versatile background. Accounting is a broader field of study and career opportunities than it may seem at first glance. Often, bachelor’s degree programs in accounting require coursework in financial accounting, cost accounting, management accounting, taxation and auditing.
With both a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in finance – and, of course, the right combination of coursework – you may meet the eligibility requirements to become a certified public accountant (CPA) as well as a senior-level finance professional.
When you study economics, you study wealth and scarcity, including how wealth is created and transferred and how resources are consumed. Since the overall economy and individual financial markets are closely related, having a solid understanding of economics theories and principles can only aid you in your future finance studies and career path. Studying economics requires introductory coursework in both macroeconomics and microeconomics as well as economic theory, economic statistics and the study of economics in specialized topic areas, such as health and environmental policy.
Most economics majors don’t go on to become economists, Forbes reported. Careers in some aspect of business are the most common professional paths for economics majors, according to the American Economic Association.
Mathematics and Statistics
Finance is one of the most math-intensive areas of business. It stands to reason, then, that brushing up on your math skills as an undergraduate would put you in a good position to meet the mathematical demands of a graduate program in finance. Undergraduate math majors take coursework in complex branches of mathematics at increasing areas of difficulty. Classes in calculus, linear algebra and analytic geometry are typically required, along with elective coursework in high-level mathematics. In statistics degree programs, coursework in probability and statistics, experimental design and regression analysis are common.
Some mathematics degree programs focus more on theoretical, or “pure,” mathematics, while others emphasize applied mathematics. If you’re interested in finance, applied mathematics or statistics may be a better fit for your career plans.