Bachelor’s Degree in Finance
A bachelor’s degree in finance is a four-year undergraduate degree that qualifies graduates for many positions in the field, such as personal financial advisor, financial examiner, and financial analyst.1-3 The degree is usually offered as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Finance or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Finance, depending on the school. Finance degrees at the baccalaureate level typically include general education coursework, in addition to foundational coursework in financial analysis, reporting, and investments, as well as complementary coursework in statistics, business, and economics. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 717 nonprofit colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in finance across the United States.4
Table of Contents
- Program Options
- Core Concepts
- US News & World Report’s Best Undergraduate Finance Programs 2022
- Select Schools with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance
- Jobs with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Bachelor’s degrees take around 120 credit hours and four years to complete on a full-time basis. As mentioned above, bachelor’s degrees in finance are either offered as Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees, depending on the school. As an alternative, many schools offer a business degree with a concentration in finance, such as a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA), or a Bachelor of Art/Science (BA/BS) in Business. Students might choose to attend a bachelor’s program full-time or part-time, and online options may be available at some schools in addition to traditional on-campus programs. Bachelor’s in finance degrees may offer additional areas of specialization (also called concentration, specialty, or emphasis) for students interested in certain finance careers. These may be formal concentration areas or simply courses of study that follow a student’s interests and career goals. Some common specialization areas for a finance major include:
- Business Analytics
- Corporate Finance and Risk Management
- Financial Advising
- Investment Management
- Risk Management
Online Degree Formats
There are some online and hybrid bachelor’s in finance degrees for students who prefer online learning or otherwise require more flexibility in their studies. A growing number of schools offer online options for their undergraduate programs, such as select courses that can be taken online. Most bachelor’s degree programs require an in-person commitment, but you should check with the schools of your choice for additional information.
Admission to a four-year bachelor of finance program typically requires a high school diploma or GED with a minimum GPA; ACT or SAT test scores; and a personal statement. Some schools may require prerequisite coursework to be taken before formal admission into the finance program. Most students at the bachelor’s level will not have work experience in the field yet. Check with your schools of interest for more information on admission requirements.
Core Concepts and Coursework
Coursework in a bachelor’s degree in finance program covers finance theory and concepts as well as the application of analytical tools and skills to solve financial problems. Finance majors also study a core of business courses, including courses in accounting, business operations, and marketing, as well as electives in subjects such as economics and portfolio management. Typical courses in a finance major may include:
- Capital Markets
- Derivatives and Corporate Finance
- Financial Accounting
- Financial Modeling
- Fundamentals of Business Finance
- International Finance
- Mergers and Acquisitions
- Quantitative Methods
- Risks and Mitigation Strategies
US News & World Report’s Best Undergraduate Finance Programs 2022
US News & World Report annually ranks the best colleges and universities for finance based on peer assessment surveys.5 All schools on the list also have undergraduate business programs that are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a further mark of quality. The below schools for finance top the list:
- University of Pennsylvania (#1; Wharton)
- New York University (#2; Stern)
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (#3; Ross)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (#4; Sloan)
- University of Texas-Austin (#5; McCombs)
- University of California-Berkeley (#6; Haas)
- Boston College (#7 tie; Carroll)
- Carnegie Mellon University (#7 tie; Tepper)
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (#9; Kenan-Flagler)
- University of Virginia (#10; McIntire)
- Indiana University-Bloomington (#11; Kelley)
- Ohio State University (#12; Fisher)
- Cornell University (#13; Johnson)
- Creighton University (#14 tie; Heider)
- Fordham University (#14 tie; Gabelli)
Select Bachelor’s Degree in Finance Programs
Through its Carroll School of Management (CSOM), Boston College offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Finance that prepares students to solve analytical and quantitative problems in business and academia. Finance is considered a concentration, and up to two concentrations can be chosen, so students may wish to add a second concentration in one of the other 11 areas offered at CSOM, including Business Analytics, Entrepreneurship, or General Management. For the Concentration in Finance, six courses are prescribed. Four core courses are in Financial Accounting, Fundamentals of Finance, Corporate Finance, and Investments. One elective must be chosen between Derivatives & Risk Management; Corporate Financial Strategies; Financial Policy; International Finance; Investment Banking; Fixed Income Analysis; and Data Analytics in Finance. Finally, at least one additional elective outside of these courses must be chosen. Students who have reached senior status and have taken Corporate Finance and Investments may apply to take an independent study course in a particular area of finance. Boston College also offers a Minor, a Master of Science (MS), and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Finance.
At Ohio State University’s (OSU) Fisher College of Business, students can earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in Finance at the Columbus campus that will prepare them for careers in financial management. Students will choose between three Advanced Finance tracks: Advanced Corporate Finance, Advanced Investments, and Risk Management. A mix of general education, business core, finance specialization, and elective coursework will be taken over the 121-credit hour program. Business core courses include Decision Sciences: Statistical Techniques and Logistics Management, and finance specialization courses include Investments, Financial Data, and Global Finance. The program balances traditional classroom learning with real-world applications; students are able to manage part of the OSU’s endowment, make trades in simulated securities, and consult with industry analysts and firms. They also work with faculty in research endeavors and network with alumni in finance organizations. Fisher students can also participate in study abroad and internship opportunities. Graduates should be prepared to work in a variety of financial management roles in firms, banks, and insurance companies.
The McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia (UVA) offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Commerce with a Concentration in Finance for students who want to gain an understanding of the economic and legal framework of business operations. The McIntire Finance Concentration is interdisciplinary, focusing on how the field interacts with other areas of business. Coursework includes Advanced Investments: Asset Management in the Global Economy; Advanced Corporate Finance: Valuation and Restructuring; and Advanced Investments: Quantitative Equity Portfolio Management. The Commerce: Finance program, including the prerequisite and general education coursework, can be completed in four years. Prerequisites include communication, statistics, calculus, and economics. Students concentrating in Finance are strongly encouraged to take additional electives in mathematics. Graduates will be prepared to find work in corporate finance, investment management, banking, consulting, trading, and financial counseling.
Online and Hybrid Programs
Colorado State University Global (CSU Global) offers a 100% online Bachelor of Science (BS) in Finance degree. The 120-credit program is divided into four categories: general education courses (31 credits); core courses (24 credits); area of emphasis (12 credits); and electives (remaining credits). CSU Global students are required to choose an area of emphasis in either Corporate Finance or Financial Planning. The Corporate Finance option prepares graduates to serve as analysts in corporations, and courses include Working Capital Management; Risk Management and Analysis; and Corporate Valuation. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board)-approved Financial Planning option prepares students to take the CFP entrance exam and begin a career as a financial planner. Courses in this emphasis include Retirement and Real Estate Planning; Personal Income Tax Planning; and Developing the Financial Plan. Learning is entirely asynchronous, so students can complete the classes on their own time, and some courses are offered in an accelerated format. CSU Global also offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Finance program.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s (UMass Dartmouth) Charlton College of Business, in conjunction with the Online and Continuing Education Department, offers a 120-credit Bachelor of Science (BS) in Finance that can be taken completely online, either as a stand-alone degree or as a degree completion program. Students will learn a foundation of analytical tools that draw on complementary disciplines like economics, accounting, and mathematics. Coursework is comprised of general studies courses, business foundation courses, and finance courses. Select finance courses include Financial Modeling, Financial Management of Corporations, Advanced Investment Analysis, and International Financial Management. All classes are taught online and students can complete their assignments on their own time as long as they meet due dates. Graduates are prepared for careers such as financial analyst, financial planner, mortgage officer, and mutual fund manager.
Jobs with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance
Finance majors graduate with the skills needed to begin their career in the field, as the minimum degree required for many careers in finance is a bachelor’s degree. Target job titles for finance graduates may include:
- Financial Analyst
- Financial Examiner
- Financial Manager
- Investment Analyst
- Junior Trader
- Personal Financial Advisor
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a finance degree?
A bachelor’s degree in finance is a four-year degree that lays the foundation for a career in finance. Bachelor’s degrees in finance cover subjects such as financial analysis, investment strategy, and reporting, as well as courses in statistics, mathematics, business, and economics. Graduates should be prepared to enter the field with this degree. Many positions, including financial analyst, financial manager, financial examiner, and personal financial advisor, typically require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree.1-4
What is the difference between a BS in Finance and a BBA in Finance?
A Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Finance is typically a bit more focused on the finance field than a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) or Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) with a concentration in finance. BBA and BSBA degrees cover broad business subjects, including accounting, management, marketing and interpersonal skills, and business law, in addition to finance coursework. Both degrees are suited for students who want to become financial analysts or begin careers in investment banking or money management.
What can you do with a finance degree?
A bachelor’s in finance degree is a good choice for people who are interested in financial careers. Common job titles for graduates include financial analyst, financial manager, or personal financial advisor. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational requirement to become a Certified Financial Advisor (CFA) Charterholder from the CFA Institute. You can read more about finance certification on our careers page.
How much do finance majors make?
The salary for a graduate in finance depends on many factors, including position, type of employer, location of the job, and experience level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020, the median annual salary for financial advisors was $89,330; the median for financial examiners was $81,430; and the median for financial analysts was $83.660.1-3 With at least five years of experience in addition to a bachelor’s degree, financial managers earned a median salary of $134,180 in 2020, with the top 10% earning over $208,000 per year.6
How long does it take to get a bachelor’s in finance degree?
A bachelor’s degree in finance typically takes about four years of full-time study to complete. The general studies courses and prerequisites are usually taken in the first two years, while the finance coursework is usually reserved for the last two years.
What is the job outlook for bachelor’s in finance graduates?
The job outlook for finance graduates is positive in the years between now and 2029. The employment of personal financial managers is expected to grow 4% (average); the employment of financial examiners is expected to grow faster than average, at 7%; and the employment of financial analysts is projected to grow 5%.1-3 Financial managers have an even brighter outlook for this time period, with a growth of 15% expected.6
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Personal Financial Advisors: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/personal-financial-advisors.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Examiners: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-examiners.htm
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Analysts: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm
4. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
5. US News & World Report Best Undergraduate Finance Programs 2022: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/business-finance
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Financial Managers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm