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Finance Degree

Finance degrees offer a wide view of the business world, often covering accounting, economics, and banking within the scope of managing current and future figures for businesses and organizations. The option to specialize in a certain type of finances is available at most levels of this study, which include associate, baccalaureate, master, and doctorate. Common concentrations include: econometrics, behavioral finance, corporate finance, financial evaluation, financial modeling, quantitative finance, and investment managing.

Associate Level

At the associate’s level, there are two common routes for earning a degree in finance: An Associate’s in Finance or an Associate’s of Business Administration in Finance. The AAS in Finance will include courses focused on business statistics, trends and law, along with principles of management and some basic accounting courses. An Business Administration in Finance version will likely have a similar curriculum, but with business law and customer service added on. The average entry-level salary at this education level is between $27,000 to $33,000 per year.

Careers for graduates with an associate’s in finance include: Financial Clerk, Bookkeeper, Accounting and Auditing Clerk, Information Clerk, Real Estate Broker, Sales Agent, Buyer, Purchasing Agent.


If earning a baccalaureate is the goal, there are two options at this level of education, too. The Bachelor of Arts in Finance and the Bachelor of Science in Finance are both 4-year programs that lead to practical occupations in banking, management, sales, entrepreneurship and more. Learning how to invest money, organize and manage personal or business finances, as well as portfolio management are top on the docket in this field of study. A BA will offer more flexibility in focus area, allowing for more liberal arts classes, while a BS will lean more heavily on mathematics and sciences.

Entry-level careers with a baccalaureate in finance include: Commercial Lender, Financial Manager/Planner/Analyst, Portfolio Manager, Bank Branch Manager, Security Analyst, Trust Manager.

Master Level

Depending on the ultimate career goal, there are three natural progressions for finance majors on the master’s level of education. The Master of Science in Finance, sometimes simply referred to as a Master of Finance, are the most common, however, a Master of Financial Economics (MFE) or Master of Applied Finance (MAppFin) are popular alternate paths.

Most graduate programs at this level of finance are designed to prepare for management and administrative roles. An MFE delves more deeply into the economic framework of theoretical finance. General progressions, post graduation, include roles in research or, depending on the type of program, in investment banking and finance. An MAppFin degree is a program type that focuses heavily in the application of finance theory. Generally hands-on, graduates typically have gained significant experience in the industry by the time they complete the program.

Career paths following a master’s in finance include: Commercial Banker, Financial Planner/Manager, Insurance Specialist, Investment Banker, Financial Analyst, Financial Manager, Broker. Entry-level salaries in this field clock in at around $74,000, but can easily exceed six figures.

Doctorate Level

If developing new financial models in a dissertation format is the ultimate goal, a doctorate in finance (DBA) will be the opportunity to do just that. Whether the focus is business, hedge funds, or central banks, the doctoral level encompasses it. These programs last anywhere from five to seven years, making them a significant commitment. Two top career paths for a doctorate in finance include academia, as a professor and researcher, or in quantitative analysis. Salaries at this level range from $70,000 to $120,000 and beyond, depending upon position.

Certifications in finance are many and based on career goals, but include: Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Treasury Professional (CTP), Certified Professional Risk Manager (CPRM), Corporate Finance Qualification (CF), Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), and Certificate in Quantitative Finance (CQF).  

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