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What Are the Different Types of Finance Degree Requirements?

By Micah MacBride
Updated May 17, 2024
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Academic degrees in finance can take a number of different forms, ranging from two-year degrees in accounting to graduate level degrees in financial engineering. Finance degree requirements can vary from program to program, but generally include coursework in mathematics, economics, and financial instruments. Students pursuing financial degrees may also be required to complete internships or externships.

Regardless of a program's focus, finance degree requirements generally have a common set of basic classes students must take. These include some level of mathematics that is commensurate with the level of the degree. Two-year degrees typically require students to prove advanced proficiency with arithmetic and possibly some algebra. Four-year degrees usually require coursework in calculus and statistics to both help students understand economic models and theories of investing, as well as to prepare them for graduate level work. Students pursuing any level of financial degree usually need to have completed basic accounting classes at some point, in order to have a fundamental understanding of how the companies they will be studying as professionals manage money.

Two-year degree programs generally have a narrow set of coursework in a particular area, but four-year and graduate finance degree requirements require a broader range of classes. These can cover micro and macro economic theories, the operation of both domestic and international banking systems, and the structure of different investments vehicles. Taking this broader set of courses can give students a greater understanding of the inner workings of the financial sector, which can increase their abilities to analyze different parts of the sector in relation to the bigger financial picture.

Masters in Business Administration (MBA) or other management-centric finance degree requirements frequently include coursework in quantitative analysis and methodology. These can focus on topics such as operations research or business intelligence analysis. Operations research teaches students to program mathematical models of different parts of a company's operations in order to discern the most efficient allocation of business resources. Business intelligence courses educate students in methods of gathering and analyzing large amounts of quantitative data from different sources, to discover sales trends, market shifts, or other patterns in the data.

Some finance degree programs consist only of academic coursework, but many require students to complete internships or externships in order to graduate. Requiring the student to work in a real place of business not only gives them a chance to apply their classroom skills in the real world, but also helps bolster their resumes with professional experience which they'll need when applying for jobs. Internships and externships can also lead to job offers for students who perform exceptionally well.

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