A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

Studying Finance in College

While accounting is the study of how money is tracked, finance is the study of how money is managed. A degree in business administration with a finance concentration may be useful preparation for a variety of fields including accounting, financial analysts and examiners, personal financial advisors, budget analysts, insurance and real estate.1

It is important to note finance professionals may also have the opportunity to build credentials through the completion of professional designations and licenses in investments, banking, insurance and real estate – furthering their career opportunities and long-term earnings potential. Licenses can include Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).2

Skills and Characteristics of Finance Professionals

According to Dr. John Halstead, Lead Instructor at Colorado Technical University (CTU), “Finance majors tend to be motivated. The material can be challenging. Successful students have a willingness to work hard.” Dr. Halstead also stresses, “An individual who majors in finance should enjoy quantitative work.”

Though finance is a separate field of study from accounting, finance professionals should have an aptitude for numbers and basic accounting. In finance, professionals are managing (and spending) others’ money. This is a high level of responsibility, and it means professionals must have command over the math necessary to understand budgets and a familiarity with the accounting regulations.3

Students who do well in finance programs also typically have the ability to think logically and analyze vast quantities of financial information to draw appropriate conclusions.3 For example, a finance professional may be called upon to understand the financial implications of a company’s complex structure, identify cost-cutting measures, or distinguish revenue growth opportunities.

Finally, regardless of whether a person is an investment banker or a financial analyst, communication skills are essential. When managing others’ money, trust and rapport are critical. An easy way to build this trust and rapport is by communicating clearly when providing financial advice. In fact, many companies hire finance professionals who have the proven ability to make complex industry language easy to digest by those with limited knowledge.3

Finance in the Classroom

A business administration–finance concentration degree program is designed to offer students the foundational knowledge and skills to begin in the business finance industry and focuses specifically on theories and practices related to financial accounting, investment allocation and risk management. Finance concentration students have the opportunity to develop their understanding of marketing, international business practices and international finance. Course content for business administration–finance concentration majors can cover a wide range of topics including banking, analytics and business development. There is also a great deal of computer work and an emphasis on learning technology applications for finance.

Explore Finance Concentrations

Associate Degree in Business Administration–Finance Concentration

An associate’s degree in business administration (ASBA) with a finance concentration may be an efficient way to build a foundation in the fundamentals of financial services. Many ASBA programs provide instruction in accounting and business principles – all geared toward real world application – and will generally offer more insight to the financial side of business with a particular concentration.

Students who earn an associate’s degree in business administration–finance can apply for professions that include financial or brokerage clerk, as well as bookkeeping, accounting or auditing clerk.4, 5 In some cases, associate degree holders who meet education and experience requirements can get hired as junior accountants and advance by demonstrating skills on the job and earning their CPA certification.6

An associate degree can also be a building block for a bachelor’s degree. In many instances, earning an associate degree means a student may have satisfied general education requirements necessary to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration–Finance Concentration

A Bachelor of Science in Business Administration–Finance (BSBA-F) degree program is designed to provide students foundational knowledge and skills to begin in the business finance industry. A concentration in finance focuses specifically on theories and practices related to financial accounting, investment allocation and risk management. Students in BSBA-F programs have the opportunity to develop their understanding of marketing, international business practices and international finance.

The curriculum often covers a wide range of topics including banking, analytics and business development. Particular courses in a business administration–finance program typically include Accounting, Global Managerial Economics, Business Law, Spreadsheet Applications, Financial Statement Analysis, Money and Capital Markets, Investments and Risk Management. BSBA-F graduates can pursue positions including financial analyst, management analyst, market research analyst and cost estimator.7, 8, 9, 10

After a student has earned a bachelor’s degree, he or she may consider pursuing an advanced degree such as a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). MBA students can specialize in a field of study related to their bachelor’s degree.

Master’s Degree in Business Administration–Finance Concentration

Master’s degree students usually have at least a couple of years of work experience and a bachelor’s degree. MBA degree students typically study statistics, financial economics, corporate finance, accounting and other subjects to fine-tune their tangible skills.11 Students with these skills are currently in high demand. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment in the area of finance is projected to grow 8% by the year 2024.1

When pursuing a Master of Business Administration–Finance (MBA-F), students study a curriculum that is built on a core set of business administration principles aimed to teach students how to evaluate and implement industry-tested financial practices. Critical and creative thinking skills when assessing and analyzing financial information will be developed. MBA-F coursework provides a broad foundation of essential business administration concepts, theories and practices.

Core courses in a master’s business administration–finance program typically include Applied Managerial Accounting, Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making, Strategic Human Capital Management, Financial Statement Analysis, Corporate Portfolio Management and Financial Management for Multinational Enterprises. Professionals holding a master’s degree in finance can pursue careers such as economist, financial manager, personal financial advisor, budget analyst and maybe even a top financial executive.12, 13, 14, 15, 16

While a master’s degree is not a prerequisite for a doctoral degree, it can certainly help a student prepare intellectually for a doctoral degree program. It can also strengthen a doctoral program application, especially if a student changes his or her course of study from that of their undergraduate degree.

Doctoral Degree in Business Administration–Finance

As the highest achievement in business education, earning a doctoral degree in business administration is designed to provide students with the opportunity to become experts in the foundational practices, emerging theories related to optimization, supply chain management and marketing in the 21st century. Students of Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs will generally complete a dissertation and attend symposia to discuss emerging ideas with faculty, peers and industry experts.

A doctoral degree in business administration–finance (DBA-F) may be more geared toward someone who wants to pursue international economics and investments. DBA students, in general, seek to contribute to business theory and management practice while developing professional skills and providing expert knowledge. Graduates of a DBA program can be equipped to pursue high-level positions and can seek teaching careers in colleges and universities.17 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for business school professors is projected to grow around 9% through 2024.18

Careers in Finance

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for financial operations professionals are projected to rise, adding 632,400 new jobs to the market by 2024.1 Growing jobs that business administration students can pursue in finance include:

Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors help people manage their finances by giving guidance on investments, insurance, mortgages, college planning, estate planning, taxes and retirement. Responsibilities may include researching investment opportunities and monitoring clients’ financial accounts to determine whether adjustments are necessary to improve portfolio performance or accommodate life changes.19 Personal financial advisors who buy or sell stocks, bonds or insurance policies, or provide investment advice, are required to have certain licenses and register with state regulators. Additionally, certifications such as the CFP certification can enhance a personal financial advisor’s reputation and bring in new clients.14 According to the BLS, the number of opportunities for personal financial advisors is projected to grow 30% by 2024.20

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts guide businesses and individuals to make smart investment decisions. They typically work in banks, pension funds, mutual funds, securities firms, insurance companies and other businesses where they assess the performance of stocks, bonds and other types of investments, preparing reports and making recommendations.21 Financial analysts often are required to be licensed through the Financial Industry Regulating Authority (FINRA) and do so through sponsorship by an employer. CFA certification is also recommended by employers and can improve the chances of advancement.7 The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that opportunities for financial analysts are projected to grow 12%, or faster than average, through 2024.22

Financial Manager

Financial managers are responsible for an organization’s financial wellbeing. They produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies to meet long-term financial goals. Responsibilities may include analyzing market trends to identify investment opportunities and maximize profits as well as reviewing company activity to reduce costs.23 Similar to financial analysts, financial managers may also obtain a CFA certification.13 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for financial managers are projected to grow by 7% by 2024.24

Studying Business Administration at CTU

U.S. News & World Report ranked Colorado Technical University’s online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree programs among its list for the “Best Online Programs” for 2017. Our ACBSP-accredited curriculum balances business fundamentals with real-world finance principles including financial accounting, investment allocation and risk management.

Read details about CTU’s BSBA–Finance program.


1. “Business and Financial Occupations.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm.
2. “Become a CFP Professional: Education Requirement.” Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. Accessed July 12, 2017. https://www.cfp.net/become-a-cfp-professional/cfp-certification-requirements/education-requirement.
3. Doyle, Allison. “Finance Skills Lists and Examples.” The Balance. Last modified February 17, 2017. Accessed July 12, 2017. https://www.thebalance.com/finance-skills-list-2062397.
4. “How to Become a Financial Clerk.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 12, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/financial-clerks.htm#tab-4.
5. “How to Become a Bookkeeping, Accounting, or Auditing Clerk.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified July 12, 2017. Accessed July 12, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm#tab-4.
6. “How to Become an Accountant or Auditor.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 12, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-4.
7. “How to Become a Financial Analyst.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm#tab-4.
8. “How to Become a Management Analyst.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm#tab-4.
9. “How to Become a Market Research Analyst.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm#tab-4.
10. “How to Become a Cost Estimator.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/cost-estimators.htm#tab-4.
11. Smith-Barrow, Delece. “Determine If a Master’s in Finance Is the Right Move.” U.S. News & World Report. Last modified February 9, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/2015/02/09/determine-if-a-masters-in-finance-is-the-right-move.
12. “How to Become an Economist.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/economists.htm#tab-4
13. “How to Become a Financial Manager.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm#tab-4.
14. “How to Become a Personal Financial Advisor.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/personal-financial-advisors.htm#tab-4.
15. “How to Become a Budget Analyst.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/budget-analysts.htm#tab-4.
16. “How to Become a Top Executive.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm#tab-4.
17. Rosenberg McKay, Dawn. “Business Administration Major.” Last modified October 12, 2016. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.thebalance.com/business-administration-major-525369.
18. “Postsecondary Teachers: Job Outlook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-6.
19. “What Personal Financial Advisors Do.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/personal-financial-advisors.htm#tab-2.
20. “Personal Financial Advisors: Summary.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/personal-financial-advisors.htm.
21. “What Financial Analysts Do.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm#tab-2.
22. “Financial Analysts: Summary.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm.
23. “What Financial Managers Do.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm#tab-2.
24. “Financial Managers: Summary.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last modified December 17, 2015. Accessed July 13, 2017. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm.

For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program, go to www.coloradotech.edu/disclosures. CTU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

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