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The basics
Study abroad : Subject Guides

Why study finance?

Here we explore the benefits of having a finance degree at undergraduate and postgraduate level including job prospects, salary expectations and more.

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Finance is a suitable degree for those who enjoy dealing with numbers and have an interest in business. If you’ve always had a passion for managing your own finances, then a degree in finance would equip you with the knowledge and skills to manage the funds of other people once you graduate. Not only does a finance degree offer promising career opportunities, but it can also equip you with useful skills you can apply to your own life when making financial decisions. So, if you’re thinking about studying finance and you want to know more about this course at university level, you’ve come to the right place.


What is finance?

Finance can be broadly defined as money management, involving activities related to banking; investment; credit; lending; saving; debt; tax; budgeting and so on. With finance being the umbrella term, there are subcategories including personal, corporate, and public finance, each with their own financial goals. So, if you have an interest in any of the above, a finance degree would be the right call to qualify you for a career in the finance sector. You can also study finance with another subject like accounting or business where there is a lot of overlap.


How long is a finance degree?

A finance degree will take three to four years to complete depending on the country you choose for your studies. For example, in the USA, degrees typically take four years whereas degrees in the UK usually last for three. Finance degrees therefore have a standard duration compared to other more time-consuming subjects like medicine or veterinary science, which can take five to seven years. This means that once you gain your qualification, you’ll be ready to start earning a salary within just three to four years.


To boost your employment prospects, you should also try to get some work experience, such as an internship or try shadowing someone who works in finance. This will show employers your dedication and experience when applying for work.


Find out what skills employers want to see in graduates and explore exactly how internships work.


What are the entry requirements for a finance degree?

To study finance at undergraduate level, you need to have studied mathematics at A-level (or the equivalent). Typical grade requirements for finance degrees at universities in the UK range from CCC-AAA. In the USA, you may be required to pass an admissions test, either the ACT or SAT for undergraduate entry.


You could be required to have a certain GPA score (grade point average) for entry into universities in the USA. If you are a non-native English speaker, you will also need to prove your English language proficiency with the required IELTS or TOEFL score.


Want more advice on how to apply to university in the USA and the UK?


What will I study on a course in finance?

The course content of a finance degree will vary according to each institution, but you can get an idea of the topics you’ll cover:

  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Financial management
  • Statistics
  • Data management
  • Risk management
  • Corporate finance
  • Portfolio analysis
  • International finance
  • Quantitative methods
  • Ethics
  • Auditing
  • Taxation
  • Banking

Some of the modules are compulsory while others are optional and based on your interests. Make sure you check which modules are offered by the universities you are applying to, so you know exactly what you’ll be studying. Some courses will focus on certain topics more than others, so this is definitely something you need to consider when researching courses.


What is it like to study finance at postgraduate level?

If you want to take your interest in finance to the next level, a master’s degree might be the next best step. Although you don’t necessarily need a postgraduate degree to have a successful career in finance, it would build upon your existing skills, making you more employable. A finance masters will typically be awarded as an MSc (Master of Science).


For entry onto a postgraduate course in finance, you will need an undergraduate degree in a relevant field such as mathematics, economics, finance, or engineering. Make sure you check with the university to find out about the specific prerequisites for admission. Many universities will require a 2:1 or a 1st at undergraduate level. Also, if applying for a masters in finance in the U.S., you may also be required to sit a GRE or GMAT exam in addition to other entry requirements such as English testing and grades.


Alternatively, you might study finance at undergraduate level before progressing on to an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) if you are interested in the business side of finance. MBA’s are also highly sought after by employers and so this option would be beneficial for your career.


What can I do with a finance degree?

A degree in finance is highly desirable as there is always demand for experts in this area, no matter what the prevailing economic conditions are. Having a degree in finance from a reputable university is also employable on a global scale, enabling you to work from anywhere in the world if offered a position. As every company, organisation, charity and government need to consider their finances, there is a wide array of career prospects for finance graduates. You can also see the starting salaries for these types of roles to give you an idea of what you could earn as a finance graduate.


  • Accountant                                        GBP 30,000
  • Auditor                                               GBP 22,000 to GBP 35,000
  • Corporate investment banker        GBP 30,000 to GBP 40,000
  • Data analyst                                      GBP 23,000 to GBP 25,000
  • Financial risk analyst                         GBP 21,000 to GBP 23,000
  • Stockbroker                                       GBP 25,000 + commission
  • Financial advisor                               GBP 23,000 to GBP 30,000
  • Actuary                                              GBP 25,000 to GBP 35,000
  • Patent attorney                                  GBP 35,100


However, you are not restricted to these types of roles, as mathematical and analytical skills are highly transferrable and valuable across many sectors. You may just need to gain relevant work experience for the field you want to enter.


So, gaining a degree in finance can equip you with a set of sought-after skills, high earning potential and plenty of employment prospects. If you want a high-flying business career, a degree in finance is the perfect first-step towards making this happen.


Still not sure what you want to study? Check out our other guide on how to map your career and study path. You can also use our course matcher tool to find a degree and university tailored to your preferences.

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