Bachelor’s Degree in Finance – Everything You Need to Know


A bachelor’s degree in finance is an undergraduate program typically spanning four years, designed to equip students with the foundational knowledge and skills for a career in finance.

The degree covers a range of subjects including economics, accounting, corporate finance, investment analysis, financial markets and institutions, and risk management. Through these courses, students develop crucial skills in analytical thinking, problem solving, and technological proficiency, which are essential for interpreting and managing financial data effectively.

Graduates with a finance degree are well-prepared for diverse career paths in banking, corporate finance, investment management, consulting, and insurance. They also have the option to pursue further education such as a Master’s degree in Finance, accounting or an MBA with a finance focus, or attain professional certifications like Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

This degree not only provides a solid theoretical foundation but also emphasizes practical skills and real-world applications, making it a robust stepping stone into the finance industry.

A finance degree is not for the faint of heart. It can be challenging, with complex concepts and a lot of quantitative analysis. But if you’re up for the challenge, it’s incredibly rewarding. You’ll develop a strong analytical mind, a deep understanding of financial markets, and the ability to solve complex problems. These skills are valuable not just in finance, but in any business career.
Alexander Lehmann, Managing Director at Barclays

Find your degree

BA or BSc?

In reality, the distinction between these degrees can sometimes be minimal, depending on how a particular school structures its programs.

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Finance often incorporates a wider range of liberal arts and humanities courses. This allows students to explore various interdisciplinary subjects and perhaps double major or minor in non-business fields. There’s also typically a stronger emphasis on developing communication and soft skills, which are valuable in roles that require client interaction and negotiation.

A Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Finance generally leans more heavily on math, statistics, and quantitative analysis. The program might include more intensive coursework in areas such as econometrics, algorithms, and advanced financial modeling. The curriculum is often more structured and focused specifically on finance and related areas, providing deeper technical skills and expertise in financial analysis and investment management.

This degree is particularly useful for students aiming for careers that require strong quantitative skills, such as risk management, investment analysis, or financial engineering.

Your choice might depend on your career aspirations. If you’re interested in a more quantitative or specialized financial role, a BSc might be more appropriate. If you’re looking towards roles that involve broader business knowledge or more interaction with people, a BA could be better suited.

Hedge Fund Careers

Why study for a bachelor’s in finance?

A finance degree equips you with the fundamental tools to understand how businesses operate, make sound investment decisions, and navigate the complexities of the financial world. Whether you aspire to a career in traditional finance or want a strong foundation for business leadership, a finance degree provides a versatile skillset that is highly sought-after across industries.
Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest

Versatility and Transferable Skills

The #1 reason to consider a finance degree is that it equips you with valuable transferable skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and data analysis. These skills are highly sought after in various industries beyond traditional finance, such as consulting, business development, and marketing. A 2024 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that employers consistently rank critical thinking/problem-solving skills as the most important quality they look for in new hires.

Strong Job Market

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% job growth rate for financial analysts between 2022 and 2032, which is faster than the average for all occupations

Competitive Salaries

Careers in finance often offer competitive salaries compared to other sectors. For instance, the BLS reports that the median annual wage for business and financial occupations was $76,570 as of May 2022, which is significantly higher than the median annual wage for all occupations at $45,760. Specific roles in finance, like financial analysts and advisors, often command even higher salaries, reflecting the specialized skills and knowledge required.

Increasing Demand for Financial Literacy

As markets grow more complex and financial products become more intricate, there is an increasing demand for professionals with strong financial literacy and analytical skills to navigate these changes. A finance degree equips graduates with the ability to analyze market conditions, manage financial risks, and ensure compliance with regulations, which are critical skills across all sectors of the economy.

Advancement Opportunities and Professional Development

A finance degree also lays the groundwork for further professional development, such as pursuing certifications like Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP). These certifications can significantly enhance credibility and career prospects. Additionally, finance graduates often have good prospects for climbing to higher managerial and executive roles, given their understanding of a company’s financial health and market position.

What is covered?

A bachelor’s degree in finance generally includes a mix of foundational and specialized courses:

  • Principles of Finance – Introduction to the basic concepts, tools, and techniques of finance, including analysis of financial statements, time value of money, and the fundamentals of capital budgeting.
  • Accounting – Both financial and managerial accounting are covered, focusing on how to prepare and interpret financial statements, and use accounting information for decision-making.
  • Economics – Courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics that examine individual decision-making, firm behavior, and economic policies’ impact on national and global economies.
  • Corporate Finance – Focuses on financial management within firms, including topics like capital structure, short-term and long-term financing, dividend policy, and financial risk management.
  • Investment Analysis – Detailed examination of various investment vehicles, market analysis, portfolio theory, and risk-return relationships crucial for managing personal and institutional investments.
  • Financial Markets and Institutions – Overview of financial markets (like stock markets, bond markets), and institutions (banks, insurance companies, pension funds), and their role in the economy.
  • Statistics and Quantitative Methods – Provides the mathematical and statistical tools necessary to analyze financial data, forecast financial trends, and model financial risks.

Elective or specialist courses might include international finance, derivatives and risk management, real estate finance, behavioral finance and financial planning.

Here is a sample curriculum:

Year 1: Foundations and General Education

  • Semester 1
    • Introduction to Financial Accounting
    • Principles of Microeconomics
    • College Algebra or Calculus I
    • Introduction to Business
    • English Composition I
  • Semester 2
    • Managerial Accounting
    • Principles of Macroeconomics
    • Business Statistics
    • English Composition II
    • Elective (Humanities or Social Science)

Year 2: Core Finance and Business Concepts

  • Semester 3
    • Corporate Finance
    • Business Law
    • Marketing Principles
    • Management Information Systems
    • Elective (Science or Technology)
  • Semester 4
    • Investment Principles
    • Financial Markets and Institutions
    • Business Ethics and Society
    • Operations Management
    • General Education Elective (Arts or Humanities)

Year 3: Advanced Finance Courses and Electives

  • Semester 5
    • International Finance
    • Risk Management and Insurance
    • Advanced Corporate Finance
    • Quantitative Methods in Finance
    • Elective (Global Studies or Foreign Language)
  • Semester 6
    • Derivatives and Financial Engineering
    • Real Estate Finance
    • Portfolio Management
    • Elective (Finance or Related Field)
    • Elective (General Education or Free Choice)

Year 4: Specializations and Professional Preparation

  • Semester 7
    • Behavioral Finance
    • Financial Planning and Analysis
    • Capstone Project in Finance (Part I)
    • Elective (Finance or Related Field)
    • Elective (Science or Technology)
  • Semester 8
    • Advanced Investment Analysis
    • Capstone Project in Finance (Part II)
    • Seminar in Financial Trends and Innovations
    • Elective (Finance or Related Field)
    • Elective (General Education or Free Choice)

What are the entry requirements?

Entry requirements for a bachelor’s degree in finance can vary widely depending on the institution. However, there are several common criteria that most universities and colleges consider when admitting students to their finance programs:

  1. High School Diploma or Equivalent: Applicants are generally required to have completed secondary education.
  2. GPA: Many programs have a minimum GPA requirement, often around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, but this can vary.
  3. Mathematics Proficiency: A strong background in math is crucial for finance. Schools may require specific coursework in algebra, calculus, or statistics at the high school level.
  4. Personal Statement or Essay: Applicants might need to submit an essay explaining their interest in finance and their career goals.
  5. Letters of Recommendation: Letters from teachers, especially in relevant subjects like math or economics, can support an application by highlighting an applicant’s academic and personal strengths.
  6. Relevant Coursework: Completion of certain high school courses might be recommended or required, such as advanced courses in math, economics, and possibly introductory business.

For non-native English speakers, proof of English proficiency through tests like TOEFL or IELTS is necessary, especially in English-speaking countries or for programs taught in English.

Some programs may include an interview process, either in person or online, to assess the applicant’s suitability for the program and their understanding of the finance industry.

How much does it cost?

  • Public, In-State: $15,000 – $45,000 total cost for a 4-year degree
  • Public, Out-of-State: $25,000 – $60,000 total cost for a 4-year degree
  • Private Nonprofit: $40,000 – $75,000 total cost for a 4-year degree

How much can you earn?

Holders of a bachelor’s degree in finance go on to such a wide variety of roles that it is very hard to identify an average earning figure. That being said, the 2020 report ” Skills Gap in Business and Financial Occupations” by Burning Glass Technologies found that individuals with a bachelor’s degree in finance enjoyed lifetime career earnings 21% higher on average compared to those with a high school diploma.

Starting salaries are currently in the $50k-$80k range with upward movement in high competition industries – graduates in hyper competitive industries are often enjoying six figure salaries.

Finance salaries are nearly 70% higher than the national average and a career in finance frequently has a sharp earning curve; six figure salaries are not uncommon once beyond the entry level positions. Mid six figure and beyond salaries are highly common once you reach a senior or executive level.

What jobs can you do with a bachelor’s degree in finance?

Most students after completing their bachelor’s degree in finance go on to obtain one of the following entry level positions:

  1. Financial Analyst
  2. FP&A Analyst
  3. Staff Accountant
  4. Investment Analyst
  5. Credit Analyst
  6. Treasurer
  7. Compliance Officer