Types of Finance Degrees
When considering different degree options, students should consider how the type of degree they pursue affects the total cost of their program. For example, a 60-credit associate degree in finance costs less to complete than a 120-credit bachelor's degree because students pay for half as many credits. Two-year schools and certificate programs are also generally more affordable than four-year schools.
Your professional goals should also factor into the type of degree you choose. The following table outlines the various finance degrees you can pursue, and the career options available to graduates.
A certificate or diploma in finance provides an overview of financial topics and typically requires students to complete six to nine courses in areas such as business finance, financial investments, and managerial accounting.
With a certificate or diploma in finance, students can find employment as entry-level resource associates and finance assistants.
- Associate Degree
An associate degree in finance consists of 60 credits and introduces students to asset structure, risk, and cash flows. Students gain skills in financial analysis and banking.
An associate degree in finance prepares students for careers as operations associates and regional sales associates.
- Bachelor's Degree
Typically requiring students to complete about 120 credits, a bachelor's degree in finance introduces students to management and organization theories, principles of accounting, risk management, and security analysis.
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in finance can pursue careers in financial analysis, financial planning, and contract management.
- Master’s Degree
A master's degree in finance usually consists of 30-36 credits and focuses on financial accounting theory, quantitative methods in finance, and analysis of financial markets. Students also acquire skills in managerial finance.
Professionals with a master's degree in finance can become private equity managers, portfolio managers, and corporate finance officers.
- Doctorate Degree
A combination of coursework and dissertation research are required for a doctorate degree in finance. Typically consisting of 70-80 credits, students complete advanced coursework in corporate finance, microeconomics, and investments.
Common positions include university professor, financial management analyst, and director of finance.
How Much Does a Finance Degree Cost?
In addition to the type of finance degree chosen, a major factor that influences the cost of a degree is the type of school attended. Vocational and trade schools typically offer lower tuition rates than four-year universities. Public and nonprofit universities generally provide more affordable education options than private and for-profit schools. Since public universities receive government subsidies, they are able to offer lower tuition for in-state residents. Other factors that influence the cost of a finance degree include tuition rates for out-of-state residents and the length of time it takes to complete a degree. Fortunately, scholarships for finance majors can help mitigate the costs of attending college.
Financing Your Finance Degree
While the cost of tuition may be high, financial assistance is available help students pay for their degrees. The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines your eligibility for grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study awards. Grants and scholarships for finance students provide free money that can be applied to tuition or living expenses. Because they do not require repayment, obtaining grants and scholarships should be a prospective student's first priority.
Other types of financial assistance include government and private loans. Students should generally accept government loans before considering private loans. Federal loans offer low, fixed interest rates, and students do not have to make payments on the loans while they are in school. A six-month grace period and loan deferment options allow recent graduates to gain employment before beginning loan repayment. Private loans typically have higher interest rates and accrue interest while you're still in school.
Types of Scholarships
Scholarships are available for all types of students. Finance scholarships are offered through college programs, professional organizations, corporations, and private donors. In addition to finance scholarships, students can apply for academic and athletic scholarships. These scholarships emphasize student achievement, and exceptional students may receive enough money to attend school for free. Other types of scholarship focus on student race and ethnicity, creativity, special talents, and leadership skills. The following table features several scholarship categories that finance students should consider.