Business Management vs Finance: Which Degree is Right For You? | Top Universities

Business Management vs Finance: Which Degree is Right For You?

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated June 2, 2023 Updated June 2, 2023

Sponsored by IE Business School

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or are interested in working in the worlds of banking, business, finance or even for a nonprofit, then a degree in either business management or finance is likely to stand you in good stead.

Both these degrees provide the transferable skills and expertise needed in these industries, but how are you meant to tell which degree option is right for your specific needs? To make that decision easier, here’s a closer look at what to expect from these two distinct degrees.

What to expect

Either degree would guarantee you a prosperous and stable future, but one might be better suited to your interests and skills.

Master’s in management degrees are usually aimed at students with limited professional experience who wish to move into managerial roles. They offer a grounding in decision-making and strategy and teach students how to work with others and develop the skills needed to be the next generation of leaders.

Degrees in finance, on the other hand, such as master’s in finance or global master’s in finance, are a lot more specialized and explore the nuts and bolts of financial institutions including credit unions, investment firms, banks, insurance companies and brokerages.  

There is some overlap between the two degrees, particularly in the first couple of semesters, when management and finance students are both likely to spend some time learning about accounting, statistics, economics and business law and pick up hard skills along the way.

However, as they make their way through their syllabus, management students branch out into areas such as organizational behavior or human resources, while finance students continue to delve deeper into global finance, risk governance and other topics.  

Salaries and job outlook

As can be expected, careers in both management and finance come with a terrific salary potential and good job security. While uncertainty in other industries is accelerating, business and finance jobs are expected to grow by 10 percent over the next decade, with 773,800 new predicted jobs in the US by 2026, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A finance degree would be advantageous in areas like corporate financing, commercial banking, money managing, investment banking, and financial planning. Possible job roles could include:

  • Financial analyst (with an average salary of $58,343)
  • Personal financial advisor (with an average salary of $59,869)
  • Financial manager (with an average salary of $69,606)

Career options after a management degree are broad: your knowledge of business, finance, economics and marketing will be highly sought after by recruiters and for graduate schemes.

You could work as a:

  • Management consultant (with an average salary of  $86,222)
  • Production manager (with an average salary of $67,157)
  • Risk manager (with an average salary of $83,763)

Of course, whatever you decide, a degree in finance or management would not necessarily shackle you to a career in banking or business. If you eventually decide to take your expertise elsewhere, you’ll have gained a unique set of skills including negotiation, numeracy, pitching, teamwork and networking, which are highly valued by employers in many other sectors.

A word of advice…

There are many amazing business schools that offer outstanding management and finance courses, and whittling down your list of programs can be challenging. Start a list with all of your leads and throw a few wild-cards in there, schools that are based abroad or that are slightly left-field. Compare brochures and cross out any schools that don’t meet your criteria.

Based in Madrid, IE Business School offers outstanding bachelor’s degrees, master’s programs, PhDs and executive education.

Their Master in Management is a full-time 10 month program fully taught in English or Spanish, with five different specializations and the possibility to spend a semester at a partner institution abroad or pursue a second specialization.  

Their Master in Finance is a full-time 10-month program fully taught in English designed to prepare students for the CFA level I exam and careers at leading financial institutions.  

All salary estimates were taken from PayScale.

This article was originally published in April 2018 . It was last updated in June 2023

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