Finance is one aspect of life that affects us all. From the many tiny facets that make up the world of personal finance to the spreadsheet-heavy financial systems of large corporations, almost every single entity has to worry about their cash flow and economic well being.
Furthermore, financial management can include a broad rank of tasks like preparing and paying taxes, managing monetary records, compiling reports, and optimizing commercial operations to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.
To keep up with these technical activities, many individuals hire personal financial advisors. At the same time, organizations often have to work with a team of accountants, creating a constant need for qualified professionals who can understand and manage the numbers. Plus, with the rapid increase in global business, it is no surprise that the demand for financial professionals is set to rise by at least $30 by 2025.
Furthermore, with most finance careers paying above the 50k mark, even for new entrants, there has never been a better time to become a financial expert. For aspiring college students, one way to tap into this need, creating a reliable career path, is with an undergraduate degree in finance.
These programs, which can come standalone or paired with a degree in business administration, provide students with the foundational knowledge in finance concepts, application, and methodology, preparing them to become financial analysts, budget analysts, logisticians, financial examiners, and fundraisers.
If you are ready to get your career started and snag up your slice of the financial pie, here are the best undergraduate finance programs for you in the U.S. today.
The 7 Best Undergraduate Finance Programs
#7: Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
One of the best places to prepare yourself for a fulfilling career in finance is at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. This college provides students with a dynamic education plan that prepares them to address the changing needs of the modern financial landscape.
The Kelley School of Business’s curriculum has a strong focus on creating experiential learning as it emphasizes practicums at brands associated with the college like Bloomington Brands. Here, the student gains crucial experiences from immersion in real-world finance problems, sufficiently preparing them for a career in the real world.
The department of finance at this business school features a fully decked faculty, with 27 tenured and tenure-track members handling the research side of things, and 11 active finance practitioners provided much needed experiential knowledge. These industry experts handle workshops that take the students through all the peculiarities of investment banking, strategic finance, wealth management, capital markets, and other core aspects of the finance industry.
Consequently, we recommend the Kelley School of Business, especially for people starting their journey into finance, and many other rating agencies agree. The Kelley School of Business program for undergraduates consistently ranked in the top 10 lists of various acclaimed publications like Bloomberg Businessweek, Poets & Quants, and U.S. News & World Report over the last six years.
Famous alumni of the Kelley School of Business include chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Board Marshall Armstrong, president, and CEO of Cisco Systems, Inc John Chambers, and billionaire businessman Mark Cuban.
#6: Haas School of Business, Berkeley, California
Another excellent college for getting started in finance is the Walter A. Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Initially founded in 1898, Haas is the first business school at a public university in the country.
Consequently, the college has a rich history, with many regarding it as one of the most prestigious business schools in the country. It has a finance program equipped to match this reputation too.
With an undergraduate degree in finance from Haas, students get an introduction to core business classes like marketing, organizational behavior, accounting, and business communication. Then, you get comprehensive instruction in all aspects of finance, including practical concepts like financial regulation, risk management, exchange rate dynamics, securities trading, asset pricing, and insurance and mortgage markets.
Furthermore, Haas is home to a crew of high brow faculty members that include top recognized researchers in both the practical and theoretical aspects of corporate finance and financial markets.
Haas also has generous offerings for advanced education, with a master’s and a doctorate in finance, as well as a unique master’s program in financial engineering.
With the master’s program in financial engineering, graduate students learn about all technical aspects of the finance industry, including applied finance skills that will place you in a class above the competition. This program also includes a required ten-week on-site project or internship to further reinforced the practical knowledge gleaned in the curriculum.
#5: McCombs School of Business, Austin, Texas
The University of Texas features a series of high-performing schools that often rank high on most rating lists, and their school of business is no exception. The McCombs School of Business offers intense programs in finance that prepare students to win in the real-world and excel in the financial industry.
Here, students enjoy a meticulous STEM-certified curriculum that pairs in-depth instruction in finance theory with a teaching system that emphasizes quantitative and technical aptitude. Furthermore, the college is home to some of the world’s most renowned faculty, ensuring that you get bleeding-edge knowledge from industry experts and leading researchers in the space.
However, for finance majors, one feature that sets McCombs above many other business schools is their Wall Street for McCombs (WSFM) program for future financial leaders. With this program, handpicked students undergo further specialized training to prepare them for leadership positions in the financial services industry.
If you are considering your employability after graduation, the McCombs School of Business should be near the top of your list. For the class of 2018, the school posted a remarkable employment rate of 99.63%. This figure is particularly outstanding if you factor in the fact that the school has one of the largest rosters of any business school in the country.
Are you ready to get started? The McCombs School of Business has something for everyone as they offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in finance.
#4: Ross School of Business, Ann Arbor, Michigan
If you are looking to get started in finance, one of the best places to bag your major in the field is at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Here, students get to participate in research-heavy programs that equip them with all the relevant knowledge that is crucial to productive functioning in today’s financial sphere.
At Ross, it’s not just all about the numbers, as students here enjoy a curriculum that covers a broad range of far-reaching topics, including everything from understanding social capital to dissecting social crises. This teaching system helps students build a significant fundamental knowledge base that is sure to give them an edge in today’s complex financial scene.
However, the programs at Ross are less dense on practicum than the other programs on this list. Hence, we recommend this school mainly for people looking to get into financial research and consulting.
One big plus you get with a program at the Ross School of Business is their Professional development week. During this week, students get to visit top financial firms in New York City like JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs to network with potential employers.
Michigan’s Ross offers bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and executive training programs in finance, which can all be paired with a management minor.
#3: MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Working in finance is less about theory and more about the practice and getting the books to go positive in the real world, and this is what the Sloan School of Management at MIT prepares you for with their finance programs.
If you a high-achiever seeking to kickstart an enriching career in finance, this school is one of the best places to start. Sloan runs finance programs that focus heavily on action learning. These programs involve students in proseminars that places participants in the heat of real-world financial problem-solving experiences. Consequently, these extensive research practicums help them to gain much needed real-world expertise in financial research and analysis.
Throughout the program, participants engage in activities that often involve active practitioners from the industry in a bid to help the students gain and hone their real-world financial problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, the basis for these programs is a rigorous STEM curriculum that ensures you get a solid footing in all the most advanced and current financial theories, industry practices, and relevant quantitative models.
With prolific alumni and 3 MIT Sloan alumnus making the Forbes 30 Under 30, this program has a lot of pointers testifying to its efficacy. Plus, the fact that you are getting the prestigious MIT name, their legendary alumni network, and access to significant corporations, means that a finance degree at MIT’s Sloan School of Management sells itself.
However, if you are looking to get in here, buckle up as Sloan degree programs are some of the most selective in the country.
#2: NYU Stern School of Business, New York City, New York
Few business schools can hold a candle to the Stern School of Business at New York University, both in prestige and academics. NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business is one of the oldest business schools in the world and also one of the most prestigious.
Here, all students get rigorous and up-to-date instruction in the basics of business in their first year, and can then move on to concentrate in specific areas of business like finance.
However, finance is particularly big at Stern, and one could easily replace the “business” in the school’s name with finance, and it won’t make much of a difference. Of the college students at Stern School of Business, a whopping 92% choose finance-related concentrations, with 76% majoring in finance and the other 26% pursuing accounting.
Hence, the combination of the prestige and superior academics at Stern, and the extreme focus on finance focus on finance disciplines, make the school one of the best places to study finance in the country.
Furthermore, the school boasts an impressive alumni roster that includes some of the wealthiest business executives and leaders in the world, including big names like former Nasdaq chairman Robert Greifeld, financial consulting mogul Henry “Dr. Doom” Kaufman, and billionaire businessman Kenneth Langone.
#1: Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is something of a Mecca when it comes to business and finance, and it is, without a doubt, one of the best places in the world to get your finance career started.
Established in 1881, the Wharton School is the oldest collegiate school of business in the world. Besides its extensive history and prestige, many also consider this college a top institution in the world for business education.
Forbes seems to agree, too, as the Wharton School’s MBA consistently ranks at the top of their lists year after year. Other ranking accolades for the school include featuring at number one on the 2020 U.S. News & World Report rankings every single year since its inception, and number one in Bloomberg’s Businessweek for four years running, and many more.
The academic environment at Wharton is one of intense competitiveness, and the school is renowned for its rigorous academics and producing the best research productivity of any institution in the country.
Consequently, the college is a big-time favorite with employers, which explains why Wharton majors have an average starting salary of a massive $92,057 for 2018. In the same year, more than half of the graduating class went into finance, with 31.3% entering investment banking, and 19.2% joining hedge funds, venture capital, investment management, and private equity.
With more than 90,000 alumni in 153 countries that includes heavy-hitters like current U.S. President Donald Trump, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, and several CEOs and CIOs of Fortune 500 companies like General Electric, Oracle, Alphabet, and Boeing, the Wharton School is the place to be for any aspiring financial expert.