Finance Degree: Definition, Types and Careers

A finance degree is a type of academic degree awarded to students who have completed a formal finance-related degree program at a college, university, or business school. Degree programs in this area rarely focus on one particular area of finance. Instead, students study a range of finance-related topics, including accounting, economics, risk management, financial analysis, statistics, and taxation. 

Types of Finance Degrees

There are four basic types of finance degrees that can be earned from a college, university, or business school:

  • Associate Degree: An associate degree with a focus on finance can usually be earned in two years or less. An individual with an associate-level finance degree can often get entry-level positions at a bank or accounting firm, but may need a more advanced degree for supervisory or management positions. 
  • Bachelor Degree: A bachelor degree in finance can usually be earned in three to four years. This degree is required for most positions in the finance field. For example, financial services sales agents and personal financial advisors need at least a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree may also be the minimum requirement for some finance-related certifications. 
  • Master’s Degree: A master’s degree in finance can be earned in one to two years or less after completing a bachelor’s program. A master’s degree or MBA in finance often leads to the best job opportunities in the finance field, particularly in areas of management or analysis.
  • Doctorate Degree: Doctorate programs with a focus on finance take approximately four to six years to complete and require at least a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree is not always required but is often recommended to keep up with the rigor of the curriculum. A doctorate degree in finance will qualify an individual to work in research or as a faculty member at a college, university, or business school.

What Can I Do with a Finance Degree?

There are many different jobs available to graduates with a finance degree. Nearly every type of business needs someone with specialized financial knowledge. Degree holders can choose to work for a specific company, such as a corporation or bank, or choose to open their own business, such as a consulting firm or financial planning agency.

Possible job options for individuals with a finance degree include, but are not limited to:

  • Credit Analyst: Credit analysts analyze financial information and assess the risk of offering credit to businesses (commercial business analysts) and individuals (consumer credit analysts.)
  • Finance Officer: Also known as a financial manager, finance officers typically manage the operations of banks, credit unions, and finance companies.
  • Financial Advisor: A financial advisor is a cross between a financial planner and investment advisor. These professionals help people invest money and achieve financial goals.
  • Financial Analyst: Financial analysts evaluate and analyze a company’s financial situation. They also prepare recommendations to help a company invest, manage, and spend company funds.
  • Financial Planner: A financial planner assists individuals with budgets, retirement planning, and other money management tasks.
  • Loan Officer: A loan officer is a bank or credit union employee that assists individuals during the loan process. Loan officers often assess creditworthiness and determine whether or not individuals are eligible for a loan.
  • Investment Banker: An investment banker advises and raises funds for a corporation.​

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