While the degrees can seem similar, there are a number of differences between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in finance degree. The coursework required for each degree program is different, as are the job opportunities available to graduates. The primary difference between accounting and finance is the focus of each field. Accounting is mainly the study of financial reporting, while finance is more closely related with making future financial decisions based on analysis of data.
Coursework in Accounting and Finance Degree Programs
One of the differences between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in finance degree is what you will study in each program. The core courses required in an accounting program include introductory fundamentals of accounting, income taxation, internal auditing and macroeconomics, according to U.S. News & World Report. Bachelor’s in accounting students learn how to produce and evaluate financial statements.
Bachelor’s in finance students, on the other hand, take courses in financial analysis, financial management, financial analysis, investments and portfolio management, insurance and risk management, according to U.S. News & World Report. These students need to understand how to manage finances, including how to budget, how to analyze financial markets and how to distinguish between investment opportunities such as stocks and bonds.
Despite the differences between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in finance degree, accounting and finance students take a number of the same courses. Accounting students tend to take some basic finance classes, and vice versa. Both programs often require or encourage at least some study in general business courses, including business laws and business ethics.
Jobs With Bachelor’s Degrees in Accounting and Finance
Another of the biggest differences between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in finance degree is the career paths available to you. If you study accounting, you’re more likely to find a role as an accountant, auditor or actuary. Finance majors often become compliance officers, or securities and commodities sales agents.
Either degree path can prepare you for some of the highest paid business roles. These positions include personal financial advisor, with a median salary of $68,000; budget analyst, with a salary of $69,000; financial analyst, with a salary of $77,000; and financial manager, with a salary of $110,000. Regardless of what you studied as an undergraduate, lucrative careers such as financial manager require a great deal of experience and, often, a master’s degree.
If it seems like there’s a good deal of overlap between an accounting degree and a finance degree, you’re correct. Both degrees offer students plenty of options for pursuing business careers, and those opportunities often intersect. However, thinking about what you want to do with your degree – including whether to focus more on preparing financial statements or analyzing investment choices – can help you decide between the two degree programs. When choosing whether you want to major in accounting or finance, you need to consider the differences between a bachelor’s in accounting and a bachelor’s in finance degree.