Is a Finance Degree Difficult? (2024)

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Is a Finance Degree Difficult? (1)

Reviewed by Victor Aluise, Vice President and Dean for the College of Business, Victor Aluise, Vice President and Dean for the College of Business

Jan 10, 2023

Finance degrees are generally considered to be challenging. In a program like this, students gain exposure to new concepts, from financial lingo to mathematical problems, so there can be a learning curve. While finance requires careful precision, accuracy, and aptitude, it’s also one of the most lucrative career options. Professionals who hold a degree in finance often work as investment bankers, financial analysts, financial examiners, portfolio managers, and financial planners.

Finance professionals are in high demand, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 17% growth rate for the career, or 71,300 new job openings each year, between 2020 and 2030. If you have an aptitude for math, want to learn new skills in accounting and economics, and hope to end up in a high-paying, secure career, then keep reading to learn if a finance degree is right for you.

Types of Financial Degrees

There are different levels of finance degrees: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degree. The degree that’s right for you is first and foremost dependent on your education level. For example, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree before you’re eligible to enroll in a master’s program.

There are also different areas of study that will lead you to a finance career. A degree specifically studying finance is one obvious route. However, students who graduate with degrees in business management or accounting also go on to have successful careers in finance.

Bachelor's Degrees

A bachelor’s degree is an important first step in your finance career. There are a few equally valuable, finance-focused routes you can take to get there. Here are some options and what might be best for your interests and career goals:

  • Bachelor’s degree in accounting: Students in this program learn how to read and analyze financial records, evaluate risks, and abide by tax laws. You'll also learn the basic principles and theories of accounting and gain practical experience preparing financial documents.
  • Bachelor’s degree in finance: Finance majors learn financial analysis, financial reporting, and investment strategy. You’ll also take classes in statistics, economics, and business to forge your analytical and critical thinking skills.
  • Bachelor’s degree in business management: In this degree, you'll learn about managing resources like personnel, finances, and physical elements, as well as processes and procedures, strategies, and more. You'll gain a working knowledge of other business disciplines like marketing, human resources, accounting, and finance.

Master's Degrees

A master’s degree is a great option for a professional who has just finished their bachelor’s degree or has been working in the finance field for a few years and wants to deepen their knowledge and become eligible for more advanced, higher-paying positions. A master’s degree could also be a potential option for professionals who earned a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field and want to make a career change to finance. As with a bachelor’s degree, you can choose your area of focus in your master’s degree program:

  • Master’s degree in accounting: In a master of accounting program, particularly ambitious students will gain up-to-date knowledge, specialized skills, and professional credentials that can make a big difference in their career. This is the degree that will set you apart from the pack.
  • Master’s degree in finance: This degree takes an even deeper dive into your concentration of finance, with classes like financial theory, math, quantitative finance, investing, markets, financial reporting/analysis, as well as valuation. Getting a master of finance degree will fast-track you to managerial roles in your field.
  • Master’s degree in business management: Getting a master in management degree means you see yourself as a leader in the world of business. This degree focuses on giving you expert skills in marketing, accounting, finance, and strategy as well as important soft skills like communication and leadership.
  • Master’s degree in business administration (MBA): A master of business administration degree gives you the platform you need to advance your career in business and finance. You’ll learn about managing human capital, global economics, and data-driven decision making that will help you accelerate your career goals.

Benefits of Getting a Financial Degree

A degree in finance or a related field opens many doors for determined professionals. In addition to high salary and great job security, the benefits of this academic path include:

  • Mastering financial skills that prepare you for real-world responsibilities.
  • Working for a range of employers across different industries and sectors.
  • Becoming prepared to earn the professional certifications necessary for a successful finance career.
  • Setting yourself up for a rewarding career.
  • Entering a field expected to experience stable growth for years to come.

Why Is Finance Considered Difficult?

Every college degree has its unique challenges. It’s a two- to four-year commitment that requires a lot of time and focus. Finance degree programs are mainly built around courses in economics and accounting, so students who are most successful usually have an interest in and aptitude for accounting, mathematics, and general finance concepts. Students must also find ways to stay on track and avoid procrastination even when the coursework presents challenges.

Unlike in social and human sciences, careers in the financial field often require professional certifications, so the information that you learn in your degree is specifically tailored to helping you earn those certifications. This is another reason finance degrees are considered to be difficult.

Desired Finance Skills After Getting a Degree

Once you finish your degree, you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge and skills necessary to lead a successful finance career. In your job search post-graduation, it’s important to highlight the strengths that employers find attractive. The qualities and skills that will help you stand out against your competition and get competitive jobs include:

  • Building a rich network: While earning your degree and throughout your career, you should focus on developing and nurturing relationships with organizations, colleagues, and individual clients.
  • Calculating debt repayment schedules: This involves determining a repayment plan for loan clients. A major aspect of financial services involves money lending and investments, so it’s important to have a strong grasp of these practices.
  • Estimating and managing financial risk: Finance professionals calculate risk in order to inform smart investment decisions. While risk is impossible to avoid completely, you must learn and develop smart strategies in order to be successful in this field.
  • Implementing cash management strategies: Finance professionals are trusted by companies big and small to manage their working capital, which is why you’ll need to have effective strategies in portfolio management.
  • Applying legislative, regulatory, and industry principles to financial scenarios: Regulations are in place to protect consumers and investors and to ensure that the economy remains stable. You must have a strong command over these rules in order to operate legally within the corporate finance system.
  • Assessing client and organizational financial status using interview and data-gathering skills: Financial decisions are largely data-driven, but a truly excellent financial professional is able to weigh qualitative factors to develop strategic financial planning for an organization.

Bachelor’s vs. Master’s Degree in Finance: How to Choose?

There are a variety of degrees you can pursue if you’re interested in a career in finance. The level that is appropriate for you—bachelor’s or master’s degree—depends on your current education level and career goals. If you have a high school diploma, then you should pursue a bachelor’s degree next. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as mathematics or economics, then you can earn your master’s degree in accounting, finance, or business management. If your bachelor’s degree is in an unrelated subject, you may want to consider pursuing a second bachelor’s degree to nail down the basics of finance.

No matter which of these scenarios applies to you, WGU offers flexible, online degree programs designed with input from industry experts to help you become a top-notch finance professional. Your first step to a career in finance is just an application away.

Is a Finance Degree Difficult? (2024)


Is it hard to major in finance? ›

Finance degrees are generally considered to be challenging. In a program like this, students gain exposure to new concepts, from financial lingo to mathematical problems, so there can be a learning curve.

Is finance a lot of math? ›

Some of the main math-related skills that the financial industry requires are: mental arithmetic (“fast math”), algebra, trigonometry, and statistics and probability. A basic understanding of these skills should be good enough and can qualify you for most finance jobs.

Is a finance major stressful? ›

Cons of getting a finance degree

Long hours: Many finance jobs require long hours, particularly in investment banking and other high-pressure roles. Stressful work environment: The finance industry can be stressful, particularly during economic uncertainty or market volatility.

Is finance hard if you're bad at math? ›

However, this is just a simple misperception that many students have in the finance study. It is true that knowing math is essential because finance actually is about studying the flow of money. However, that doesn't mean you need a high level of mathematics skills like Calculus.

What GPA do you need to major in finance? ›

Most finance programs require a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0-3.0. Some schools also require minimum SAT or ACT scores.

What is the hardest part of a finance degree? ›

One thing that's for sure is the high amount of math you will need to study. Finance is a mathematical discipline, so if you aren't as comfortable with math as with other ways of thinking, you may find it more challenging. Additionally, finance also makes use of a vast, highly specific vocabulary.

Does finance pay well? ›

Finance professionals also earn above-average salaries. BLS data indicates that personal financial advisors earned a median annual income of nearly $95,390 as of 2022, more than double the median annual salary for all occupations nationwide.

Is getting a degree in finance worth it? ›

A finance degree is a valuable asset to any career. With a bachelor's, you can apply for various roles, including financial analyst, accountant, financial advisor, auditor, or treasury analyst. You could also pursue a career in investment banking or stockbroking within the banking industry.

What's the easiest business major? ›

5 Easiest Business Degrees
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) ...
  • Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. ...
  • Bachelor of Science in Entrepreneurship. ...
  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management. ...
  • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management.

What are the cons of a finance degree? ›

The median annual wage for business and financial occupations is $46,310 higher than the median annual wage for all occupations. Drawbacks of a career in finance can include high stress, long working hours, continuing education requirements, and, in some cases, limited job stability.

Is finance a stable career? ›

The short, simple answer is: Yes, finance is still a good career path, but it will probably not be as good relative to other careers as it has been over the past few decades. If you are at a top university or business school, have the qualifications, and start early, that's fine.

What is the hardest job in finance? ›

The most (and least) stressful jobs in banking and finance
  • Most stressful job in finance : Investment Banker (M&A or capital markets professional) ...
  • Second most stressful job in finance : Trader. ...
  • Third most stressful job in finance : Risk management & Compliance.

What level of math is finance? ›

Usually, if you're considering a finance major in college, it's suggested that you finish around three to four years of math during your high school years. The most advanced level you might need to reach varies based on the college you're interested in, but it could be as high as Algebra II or Pre-Calculus.

Do finance majors take calculus? ›

As a finance major, you study finance-related topics, including math, economics, and statistics. You can expect to take several math classes like accounting, calculus, and business math.

Is finance harder than accounting? ›

While both finance and accounting can be difficult majors, accounting is considered more difficult because it requires more discipline and a lot of math. Accounting is more complex because it relies on precise sets of arithmetic principles.

Is a finance major a good major? ›

For many professionals, a bachelor's degree in finance is worth it because it is the starting point for a successful and lifelong career. By analyzing data, studying financial markets, and assessing risks, finance professionals help individuals and organizations stay within their budgets and earn competitive salaries.

Is finance a good major to go into? ›

Finance degree jobs can provide relatively high pay, stability, opportunities for advancement and consistent demand projections. Careers in finance may also offer flexibility for employees by allowing them to work remotely or in hybrid environments.

Is it good to major in finance? ›

A career in finance can be very lucrative. The average salary for a finance major is $101,038. Pursuing a career as a financial advisor or another form of financial sales can go well beyond this number, whereas a career in corporate America or the government typically stays close to it.

Is finance a harder major than accounting? ›

While both finance and accounting can be difficult majors, accounting is considered more difficult because it requires more discipline and a lot of math. Accounting is more complex because it relies on precise sets of arithmetic principles.

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