Finance is a broad term for things about the science, development, and management of funds and investments. In particular, it concerns the questions of who gets the money necessary for different activities and how they use that money – known as the capital in the business context. The basic functions of the financial experts who specialize in these services are to keep track of the financial activity of individuals, companies and even governments. They perform the role of a reporter on behalf of the investors or banks who provide the capital.
In today’s rapidly changing financial systems, a wide variety of financial products are offered by finance experts such as money management, venture capital and banking products. They can also make recommendations concerning new investment opportunities, new financial strategies and the like. While some finance jobs are found in banks, other opportunities are to work for other institutions, either governmental or privately owned. Many finance related jobs are found in investment firms.
The most common area of finance employment involves bank supervision and regulation, including maintaining the financial systems of banks and ensuring fair dealing between the various institutions that issue loans and credit in the financial markets. Some people may be familiar with the idea of macroeconomics, which applies to a wide range of topics, such as budgeting, policymaking, inflation and interest rates, trade balances and financial statistics. Finance graduates may choose to focus on one of the many microeconomic topics that arise in macroeconomic theory and practice. In fact, many Finance graduates choose to specialize in either one or two of the many micro-economic topics that are touched on in Banking courses.
The typical coursework for a Finance graduate’s degree program includes courses in business and law, taxation, mathematics, statistics and financial accounting. Depending on the program, some students may opt to focus their studies in one or more of these areas. The areas of specialization that are studied vary from individual to individual, with some studying business law, taxation, mathematics, banking and statistics while others choose to focus on a particular micro-topic. Finance careers that span multiple topics allow a Finance graduate to specialize in a specific area. For example, those who choose to specialize in business law will study the history and practices of companies in an effort to understand how businesses operate and what changes may affect them in the future.
Finance degrees typically take four years to complete. A four year bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for entering the Finance program. Students must also have at least a high school diploma to enroll. The curriculum for a bachelor’s degree in finance usually includes math, business, statistics and financial management. Some courses required for the Bachelor’s degree can be taken as electives.
When applying to graduate programs in Finance, most Finance graduates look for a doctorate degree. Doctorate degrees typically take longer to complete than bachelor’s degrees do, but a doctorate degree is well worth the additional time and effort since it provides stronger credentials. A doctorate degree in finance generally involves more advanced learning than a Bachelor’s degree. Finance Masters degrees can also be earned in less than five years, while a Doctorate takes about seven to eight years. Many doctors choose to continue on to become executive or board members of financial services firms.