Which Degree is Best for Finance?

Looking for a career in finance? It’s a good choice — finance is a huge field that caters to a wide variety of talents, personality types and career goals. The degree that’s best for you might depend on all sorts of factors (we’ll get into some of these below), but here we offer some of the most common degrees in the field, along with the careers in finance they might be good for.

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Bachelor of Science in Finance

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can get your foot in the door of most major finance careers with a bachelor’s degree. With a Bachelor of Science in Finance, you might be able to pursue a career in fields like personal financial planning, asset management and corporate finance. These fields include positions like a budget analyst, financial examiner or personal financial advisor, which boasts salaries of $76,540, $81,090 and $87,850, respectively.

Degrees in finance typically have coursework that touches on topics like market analysis, financial planning and securities and investments. Many also will allow you to pick a concentration that can help you find work in specialized fields including global finance, banking or business analytics.

Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting

While a bachelor’s in finance offers a broader set of options, a bachelor’s degree in accounting is laser-focused on building the skills you need to take a job as an accountant or auditor, including no small amount of prep for the Certified Public Accountant exam.

Most of these accounting programs include courses in subjects such as managerial accounting, income tax preparation and tax planning strategies. There are fewer concentrations in accounting than there are in finance but you might find programs with specializations in areas like business finance, tax law or project management.

As an accountant, you might be responsible for maintaining financial records, making sure taxes are filed for clients and finding ways to reduce costs and increase the financial efficiency of an organization. According to Payscale.com, entry-level accountants who hold the CPA certification make an average annual salary of $52,444.

Master of Business Administration

There’s a reason the Master of Business Administration (MBA) is the most popular degree in America (by a long shot) — it’s versatile, well-regarded and it can boost your earning potential by quite a bit. It can open plenty of doors for you at the higher levels of the business and finance world. Its curriculum, which might include courses on marketing, leadership and economics, is also a fantastic foundation for people with dreams of being their own bosses.

MBA programs offer a huge variety of concentrations including those in finance. You might find concentrations in finance leadership, operations management, corporate finance and banking, all of which can lead to a huge variety of career options including investment fund manager, financial analyst, entrepreneur and many more.

Choosing the right degree for you might mean doing some introspection. Do you enjoy public roles that require a lot of face-time? Do you love working with numbers? Or would you thrive in an environment where creativity is valued more?

You’ll also want to balance the particulars of your situation with your goals. For instance, is the money you’d plunk down for a master’s worth it or could you meet your career goal with a bachelor’s? How much time do you have to devote to a degree? If you’re already a working professional or you have a family, you may need to weigh the time commitment with the eventual benefits to see if it’s the right move for you.