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Guide to Finance Courses – From Bachelors to MBAs

Guide to Finance Courses – From Bachelors to MBAs main image

Finance remains one of the most prestigious, well-paid and competitive business sectors. While many financiers don’t have a relevant qualification, it’s an area where a little bit of specialist knowledge and training can go a long way. Whether you’re seeking finance jobs in banking, insurance or consulting, or the many other fields where finance features, getting a finance degree is a sure-fire way to boost your CV.

Financial training is in demand among both fresh-faced undergraduates and experienced individuals who want to hone their skills ‘by the book’.  This is reflected in the widespread availability of finance degrees at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. The purpose of this article is to give you an idea of what topics you might cover at these levels and the advantages of studying finance at different points in your life.

Undergraduate finance courses

While some people move into the finance sector later in their career, there are advantages to making your mind up early. Relevant work experience is key to climbing the career ladder in financial services, but the first hurdle is getting onto the ladder itself. As you’re probably aware, there’s a staggering amount of competition for desirable entry-level finance jobs.

Aside from relevant internships – which any aspiring student should be looking for, finance or not – the best way to make your CV and job applications stand out is to demonstrate you have relevant skills and knowledge.  There is no better way to acquire these than with an undergraduate degree in finance.

It’s relatively rare to find a ‘pure’ finance degree, because finance is a multidisciplinary subject. It contains elements of accounting, investment analysis and statistics, to mention just three areas.  Finance and accounting is a frequently studied combination, as the two subjects have a lot of synergy in the skills required to succeed in them.  One example of this type of degree is LCA Business School London’s BSc (Hons) Finance and Accounting.

Here are some of the topics likely to feature in undergraduate-level finance courses:

    • Financial accounting
    • Statistics
    • Accounting
    • Macroeconomics
    • Microeconomics
    • Information technology (specialized in finance software)

There are many branches of finance, but at undergraduate level you’re likely to study finance from a ‘universal’ perspective. Specialization in a different area of finance is more common in postgraduate degrees.

Master’s in finance courses

Many non-business students don’t end up working in a job related to their course. While there’s nothing wrong with working outside your area of expertise, it can leave you at a disadvantage compared to peers with more relevant experience. Studying a master’s in finance is a great way to get ready for desirable finance jobs if you haven’t had previous training.

If you’ve already studied a bachelor’s in finance and want to continue your studies in greater detail, you could also consider a finance-focused MBA (master’s in business administration) rather than a straightforward master’s in finance. In any case, make sure you choose a program which is pitched at your level, and not aimed at students with no prior experience of studying finance.

Finance courses at master’s level are often both more technical and theoretical than undergraduate degrees. The core skills will remain similar to those covered in bachelor’s degrees, so it’s worth paying more attention to the different specializations available. Here are a number of examples:

To sort through the wide variety of specializations available, sites like QS Course Finder make it easy to search through business courses across the world, to pinpoint those that best match your interests, location and budget.

MBAs specializing in finance

MBA graduates have often been in demand in financial services, though employer surveys show that this is not necessarily for the same type of role that other master’s in finance graduates might be sought-after. Finance MBAs tend to have a much greater focus on practical business skills and strategy. Some MBAs also offer a deeper focus on technical financial skills, then tie this in with managerial topics.

More than any other type of degree, an MBA is considered to be an investment. Expect to pay fees higher than those charged for other master’s courses, but rest assured that if you make use of your qualification, the increased salary you’re able to command will see you making a good return on this investment.  And after all, if you’re working in finance then investments are par for the course!  Here are two examples of MBAs that can give you a leg up in finance jobs.

    • EBS-Paris’ MBA in Finance is an example of an MBA that aims to deepen your financial knowledge, while making you more suitable for senior roles within financial service firms.  Modules such as portfolio management go hand-in-hand with ethics and managerial economics.
    • Nottingham University Business School’s MBA Finance still has an emphasis on improving financial skills, but places a strong focus on innovative and creative management. Ethical finance, strategic management and entrepreneurship and creativity are all examples of modules that can differentiate the MBA style of learning from other master’s degrees.

Because of their popularity and expense, business schools go to a lot of effort to demonstrate that their MBA programs offer a good return on investment and strong chance of netting a desirable MBA-graduate role. This means savvy students should be able to access a lot of information to help them choose where, and what, to study.

Whether you’re planning on working your way up from an entry-level position, or want to change sectors or fast-track your career, getting a well-chosen finance degree can be the achievement that truly sets your applications apart from the crowd. So prepare for the future and get ready for some serious study time; this could be the next step on your journey to becoming a Master of the Universe!

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Written by Ben Clayton

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1 Comment

Thanks for these post. really helpful