Is a career in finance in your future? To earn a degree in this in-demand field, you will need to study all aspects of business, with a particular focus on the management of money and assets. Undergraduate degrees are broader and start with introductory coursework, upon which students build out their expertise as they advance to upper-level finance classes. Graduate programs such as Master of Finance degrees include more advanced and more specialized classes.
A Background in Business
Finance is a crucial part of the field of business, but the discipline doesn’t exist in a vacuum. To work in finance, you need a solid understanding of other fields of business, as well. For that reason, most undergraduate finance degree programs include mandatory coursework in an array of different business topics. Many finance degree programs start off with introductory classes in business principles and business laws and ethics. Students should expect to complete core business coursework in topics such as micro- and macroeconomics, accounting, marketing and management. As business schools increasingly tailor their curricula to match real-world employer expectations, they are adding to their core curricula coursework in business analytics and communications to help students acquire the practical skills they need in their careers.
Not all financial specialists hold a finance degree. Some professionals come to this career path from a more general business administration background or an accounting background, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported.
Studies in Finance
Of course, as a finance major, the part of your education that you are most excited about is your major coursework. Often, undergraduate finance degree programs offer students a lot of leeway to personalize their studies to fit their career interests. Students have to take essential finance classes such as corporate finance, financial statement analysis and financial management. Beyond those courses, students may strategically select their subjects of study to develop a depth of knowledge in the finance fields they want to pursue. All finance students should develop some proficiency in understanding financial markets, basic financial tools and investments. Those classes might include studies in portfolio management, derivatives, fixed income, securities and real estate valuation.
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Often, personal financial advisors who earn a degree in finance study subjects such as investments, risk management, estate planning and taxes, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you are interested in financial marketing, you might opt to take classes in sales management, global marketing, marketing research, data analytics as they relate to consumer insights and new product development and marketing. If financial analysis is more closely aligned to your professional aspirations, then you should expect to take multiple courses in financial accounting.
Students of finance also learn about banking and financial institutions, financial modeling and probability and statistics.
Graduate Coursework in Master of Finance Degree Programs
You can become a financial analyst, financial examiner, personal financial advisor or other type of financial specialist with only a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS. However, there are benefits of advancing your education. Whether you’re looking for the chance to climb up the corporate ladder toward a financial manager role in an established company or break off and start your own financial planning firm, having a graduate-level understanding of finance can help your career.
While the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in finance used to be the only viable degree option for graduate students in this field, specialized Master of Finance programs have become more popular and more widely accepted. In fact, some employers prefer candidates with this degree due to the targeted technical skills students develop through the specialized curriculum, according to U.S. News & World Report. Your coursework in a master’s in finance program might include classes in mergers and acquisitions, applied investment management, corporate restructuring, bond markets and advanced corporate valuation. While some master’s degree programs in finance involve a thesis or research experience, other Master of Finance degree programs provide students with real-world finance work opportunities.
The benefits of choosing a Master of Finance program over a traditional MBA include a shorter time to completion and fewer experience requirements. Some students go straight from a bachelor’s degree program to a master’s program and finish grad school in a year.