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What You Should Know about Finance Majors

Jan 18, 2023

Imagine majoring in finance. Are you picturing coursework designed for students who love working with numbers and money? A degree in finance can offer even more than that, preparing you for a lucrative career in diverse roles such as an analyst or an attorney, in various fields from investment banking, real estate, and more.  

Whether it’s working with businesses to streamline operations, leading a project management team, or applying financial theories to the business world, finance graduates use their skills and knowledge to help businesses and individuals succeed. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is a Finance Major?

A bachelor’s degree program in finance is typically a four-year degree that teaches students how to apply financial theories of business in helping companies and individuals make, save, and manage money. However at WGU, the finance program does not necessarily need to take four years.

An undergraduate student majoring in finance will usually complete courses in finance, accounting, math and statistics, business, human resources, leadership, and communications. These core principles prepare students to excel in working with numbers as well as interfacing with clients, managing projects, and making research-based decisions.

A master’s degree in finance or accounting, on the other hand, takes about two years to complete. It expands on the central principles of finance, business, accounting, and communications to prepare graduates for higher-level leadership and project management roles. Again, a master’s degree at WGU may not take two years to complete.

Some degrees also require the completion of a capstone project, which allows students to apply the hard and soft skills they’ve learned to a real-world situation such as performing a financial analysis of an enterprise with software that simulates the experience of a finance professional.

 These are some of the specializations within finance that you can find a career in:

  • Corporate finance: As a subfield of finance, corporate finance addresses the ways in which corporations address funding sources, capital structuring, accounting, and investment decisions. 
  • Investment banking: A type of banking that organizes large, complex financial transactions such as mergers or initial public offering (IPO) underwriting. These bankers raise money for companies in a variety of ways, including underwriting the issuance of new securities for a corporation, municipality, or other institution. 
  • Commercial banking: Commerical banks are financial institutions that offer checking and savings account services, issue loans, and provide basic financial products such as certifications of deposit (CDs) to individuals and small businesses. Most people do their banking at commercial banks. 
  • Asset management: The practice of increasing total wealth over time by acquiring, maintaining, and trading investments that have the potential to grow in value. 
  • Real estate: Real estate refers to the land that’s owned and any permanent structures, like a home, or improvements attached to the land, whether natural or man-made. Real estate is a form of real property and differs from personal property not attached to the land, like vehicles, boats, jewelry, furniture, and farm equipment. 
  • Personal financial planning: A term that covers managing your money as well as saving and investing, “personal financial planning” refers to the industry that provides financial services to individuals and households, advising them on financial and investment opportunities. 
  • Insurance: Insurance is a contract, in the form of a policy, in which a policyholder receives financial protection or reimbursement against losses from an insurance company. An insurance provider or company pools clients’ risks to make payments more affordable for the insured. 

When to Choose a Finance Major

Choosing a major is an important first step in your journey through higher education. When declaring a major, individuals look to their strengths to identify the coursework that best suits their skills. Talk with a counselor to offer guidance about career and professional development and review course descriptions to see if they’re interesting to you. In the case of students looking to explore a finance major, those with an interest in numbers, financial markets, and entrepreneurship can be a strong fit for this degree program. 

 A finance degree provides you with the foundational knowledge necessary for success in a variety of fields where you can help people and businesses create plans to achieve financial goals. Individuals interested in pursuing additional education find that a finance degree can put them on a path toward jobs such as data analyst, commercial and real estate agent, chief financial officer, and loan officer in industries including business, law, banking, or other related fields. 

Job outlook is an important consideration when declaring a major, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment as a financial analyst within the finance industry, for instance, can expect a 9% growth from 2021 to 2031, which translates to an average of 32,000 openings for financial analysts projected each year. 

Tips for Finance Major Students

As you begin your studies as a finance major, it’s important to note that aside from studying and passing the exams, there are unique things you can do to make the most of your degree and get ready for a successful career in finance. Some suggestions include:

  • Staying informed: Listen to podcasts or read trade journals and publications such as “The Wall Street Journal,” “The Economist,” or the “Financial Times” to learn about the latest finance news and information. 
  • Networking: Join local groups or meet with other finance professionals to network and get to know individuals working for organizations or in roles that may interest you. 
  • Growing your skills: Finance majors will find endless opportunities to improve their skills to help them advance in their careers. Developing strong analytical, accounting, and interpersonal communication skills will give you an advantage when you graduate and enter the workforce.
  • Finding your niche: As a student, researching the numerous career paths, professional designations, and relevant licensure open to finance majors will help you discover strengths and skills that could lead you to the job of your dreams.

Is a Finance Major the Right Choice for You?

Students with an interest in business, personal finance, and investing will find a finance major to be an excellent option. In this area of study, your coursework is designed to help you understand how businesses perform financially and can teach you how to use your skills and knowledge to predict how they will perform in the future. 

Individuals that are organized, detail-oriented, communicate effectively, and have strong mathematical and statistical skills will succeed in this rewarding and in-demand field. The first step to becoming a finance professional is finding a degree program that’s right for you. 

WGU’s ACBSP-accredited online finance degree is a technology-forward program designed to give a strong foundation for becoming an in-demand professional. With our competency-based education model and courses designed with input from industry leaders, you have the flexibility to learn sought-after skills at your pace and on your schedule. Discover how far you can go as you pursue a career in the dynamic and exciting world of finance. 

 

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