College Majors

Major Spotlight: What is a Finance Major?

The field of finance is largely about helping businesses and other organizations make money. But there's more to that task than meets the eye. As a finance major, you'll learn how to plan for the long term. It’s not enough for a company to be ahead of the pack today -- it has to be successful five, ten, even twenty years down the line.

Managing finances with the future in mind means answering tough questions like these: Can we afford to give employees a raise? Can we spend less on raw materials this year? Is it better to rent or buy office space?

Finance majors learn how to make financial decisions for organizations. Course work covers such topics as planning, raising funds, making wise investments, and controlling costs.

“I like to think of this field as ‘advanced common sense.’”

Stephen J. Brown, David S. Loeb Professor of Finance, Stern School of Business, NYU

Are You Ready To...?

  • Possibly choose a specialization, such as investment analysis, corporate finance, or real estate
  • Practice making investment decisions
  • Understand the economy and the stock market
  • Work with complex computer programs
  • Learn how to create and manage a budget

It Helps To Be...

Good with numbers, a great communicator, a creative problem solver, and a team player. You should also enjoy research.

College Checklist

  • Is the program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business?
  • How many professors are in the department? Make sure you’ll get the attention you need.
  • Will you learn more about the financial management of corporations and organizations or about investments and financial services?
  • What have the professors accomplished outside the university?
  • Will the department help you find internships?

Did You Know?

Even though the finance major deals with money, it’s not a guarantee of wealth and fortune.

Course Spotlight

You’ll probably take your first finance class as a sophomore. Expect a large lecture course that introduces you to many topics, including budgets, stocks and bonds, and interest rates. You’ll also learn about the time value of money, the idea that ten dollars in your pocket today is worth more than ten dollars in the future. Why? You’ll find out in class. 

In addition to listening to lectures and reading your textbook, you may read and discuss financial publications like the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and BusinessWeek.

To learn more about other similar majors, visit our post on The Basics of Business Majors