Finance at its most basic is the study of the management of money. It deals with how people, groups, and businesses acquire and spend their money. Finance studies issues like income, expenditure, budgets, investment, and risk, all with the goal of maximizing profit and minimizing loss. The field generally consists of four areas, and people with finance degrees can work in any of them:

  1. Financial Markets/Institutions: This includes organizations like banks, credit unions, and insurance companies. People with a degree in finance can examine financial instruments (certificates of deposit, mortgages, loans, etc.), how/why interest rates fluctuate, and what regulations companies have to follow, with the ultimate goal of increasing the financial success of these institutions.
  2. Financial Services: This covers the services provided by companies like banks and brokerage firms that help people and companies decide how to invest their money. People working in financial services help clients make decisions regarding retirement, budgeting, home purchase, and financial stability.
  3. Investments: This focuses on the decisions made by people and businesses about the securities they select for their investment portfolios. It also includes determining the values, risks, and returns related to financial assets, and determining the ideal combination of securities in a portfolio.
  4. Managerial/Business Finance: This area involves the decisions made by companies about their money. A finance manager deals with issues like inventory, credit terms, earnings, and investments.


Learning about these areas provides the foundation for a finance degree. Courses typically included in a degree program in finance fall under the categories of economics, mathematics, statistics, business, and accounting. Standard classes are:

  • Managerial Accounting
  • Information Management
  • Corporate Finance
  • Raising Capital
  • Quantitative Finance
  • Market Intelligence
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Negotiation
  • Managerial Writing
  • Game Theory
  • Operations Management
  • Global Consulting
  • Probability and Statistics


Careers: Because finance is so crucial to business, a degree allows you to pursue a career with companies ranging from small start-up firms to multinational corporations. You can work at banks, investment firms, insurance companies, governmental organizations, to name just a few possibilities. Examples of jobs in finance include account analysis, budget consulting, commodities trading, financial consulting, asset management, applied research, risk management, financial forecasting, quantitative trading, and operations management.

Salary: Those who are most successful in the field of finance management can earn upwards of an incredible $134,940 per year, while the median annual salary according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is $99,330.

Skills: You will likely excel at a finance degree and career if you possess strong interpersonal, mathematical, and technical skills. You will also need to be talented at organizing, analyzing, and interpreting numerical data. Proficiency with computers and the ability to explain complicated information in simple, everyday language is also useful.

Article Resources:

Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
Duke University
Louisiana State University
Princeton University
University of Louisville
University of Wisconsin
Besley, S. and E.F. Brigham. (2008). Principles of Finance. Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College Publishing.