What is the Difference Between a Finance Degree and an Accounting Degree?

finance vs accountingWhat is the difference between a finance degree and an accounting degree? Both deal with various aspects of finance. Students of each field are expected to be proficient in business mathematics and analytics, and should have a good knowledge of financial regulations at the local, state and federal levels. However, the subjects taught in a focused degree program might vary widely. The career opportunities available to graduates of both degrees may also differ. An accountant’s skills are more likely to be highly specialized, while a financial analyst will have a strong working knowledge of markets, laws and investments.

Finance Degrees

A finance degree involves a large amount of coursework that focuses on mathematics, business skills, analysis and more. The degrees are quite rigorous and last for four years, culminating in a Bachelor’s of Science degree. Most students take on an internship with a local company in order to gain practical work experience during the course of their degree. These may be paid internships, while other internship programs provide college credit.

A finance degree graduate has many options available to them after their graduation. They may become financial analysts and provide highly useful guidance to companies looking to diversify their investments in the stock market. They might find success as financial managers who work with a team in order to ensure the financial success and well-being of their company. Most people who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in finance eventually go on to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at some point in their career.

Accounting Degrees

Accounting degrees at the undergraduate level are usually required in order to practice professionally in the field. Some colleges and universities are beginning to offer five-year programs that result in the graduate achieving a master’s degree in accounting. Courses include tax law, real estate law, mathematics, basic principles of accounting and more. Students may take on internships with accounting firms. This provides them with practical experience that accompanies their coursework. Finally, they must take and pass an examination in order to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This allows them to practice within the field and offer their services to the general public. CPAs must maintain their active status by enrolling in continuing education throughout the course of their careers.

Ultimately, many people with accounting degrees go on to become registered accountants. Accountants are responsible for the development, maintenance and analysis of financial records. They may work for a specific company, a business or even as freelancers that help ordinary citizens understand and better handle their finances. Accountants are also responsible for preparing tax forms and ensuring that both individuals and businesses pay the right amount of taxes.

Which Degree is Right for You?

Whether you go into finance or to an accounting school depends on the goals you have set for your education and your career. If you have a specific interest in global finance, then it may not be worthwhile to pursue a degree in accounting. Conversely, you probably will not get much out of a finance degree if all you want to do is become a CPA. However, every degree course is what you make of it. Aspects of both fields tend to overlap, especially where long-term financial planning is concerned. Students who want to demonstrate ambition and a drive to succeed may want to consider a double major in both fields during their undergraduate experience.

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