Students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in finance or a Bachelor of Science in accounting often take similar introductory courses. At the upper levels, however, the two programs diverge. The finance major curriculum includes study of monetary resources and profitability analysis. Accounting students explore different branches of accounting and study financial standards and rules. A Bachelor of Arts in finance program typically includes more general education credits while a Bachelor of Science in accounting will usually require more courses specific to the major.
Bachelor of Arts in Finance
Finance students usually take a business core of courses that includes basic financial accounting and introductory courses in marketing, macroeconomics, microeconomics, business law and financial management. Higher-level requirements for the finance major include additional courses in accounting as well as the study of money and banking, investment theory, corporate finance and risk management. The Bachelor of Arts degree also includes required courses and electives in general education subjects such as English composition, psychology, communications and math.
Bachelor of Science in Accounting
Similar to a finance major, students pursuing an accounting degree will take introductory courses in accounting, business law, financial management and marketing. Higher-level courses, however, focus more on accounting than finance and include the study of cost accounting, income tax accounting and accounting information systems. Since a Bachelor of Science degree usually requires more courses geared toward the major, students pursuing a B.S. in accounting usually take electives in accounting-related subjects. The curriculum for a Bachelor of Science in accounting also may prepare a student to take the Uniform Certified Public Accounting examination.
Students who complete a Bachelor of Arts in finance degree may pursue careers in investment banking or financial planning. This degree program will prepare graduates to work as stockbrokers, financial analysts and financial planners. Finance majors also may find jobs with the United States government as securities compliance examiners and trade specialists. Students with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting may act as the chief financial officer for a company or specialize in auditing or accounting management. They also may work for the government in the capacity of auditor or analyst or may become agents for the Internal Revenue Service.
A bachelor’s degree in finance is usually needed to secure an entry-level position with a reputable financial institution. However, competition in the job market means the best jobs in finance will go to those who have earned a master’s degree in finance or a related field such as accounting or business administration. A finance major graduate also may take courses to become a certified financial planner. Many careers in accounting require individuals to have a certified public accountant license, and accountants who have this license usually earn higher salaries. Students may need to take graduate-level courses to complete the 150 credit hours required by most states to sit for the CPA exam.