What’s the Difference Between a Finance Degree and an Accounting Degree?

Finance is the general management of money and investments. Accounting is the method by which companies keep track of their finances.

If you’re interested in working with numbers and understanding the financial aspects of running a business, a degree in finance or accounting might appeal to you. Both degrees offer solid employment prospects and can help you launch or advance your business career.

Before you start researching degree programs, it’s important to understand that accounting and finance are not the same thing. While both fields deal with money management, finance and accounting are two separate areas of study and have very different roles within an organization.

Defining Finance and Accounting

Finance is the general management of money and investments. Accounting is the method by which companies keep track of their finances and involves detailed record keeping and analysis of financial transactions.

In other words, someone in finance is focused on the future, helping organizations and individuals make sound financial decisions that improve profitability or show a return on investment at a later date. Accounting professionals monitor the day-to-day flow of money in and out of an organization. Keeping track of revenues and losses is critical to helping a company understand its overall financial well-being.

Now, let’s explore the degrees themselves and how they differ.

What Do You Learn When You Study Finance?

When you study finance, you’ll learn principles in financial management, financial modeling, investments, and how economic factors can affect your company and the financial markets. This type of program prepares you to make strategic investment decisions based on a company or client’s financial health, the economic climate and market risk. Finance careers can be demanding, as your decisions often affect the bottom line for your organization or your clients.

Here are some of the entry-level jobs you could land with a degree in finance, according to Glassdoor.com:

  • Financial Analyst
  • Investment Advisor o Financial Planner
  • Insurance Underwriter
  • Budget Analyst
  • Credit Analyst
  • Junior Tax Associate
  • Financial Auditor

What Do You Learn When You Study Accounting?

When you study accounting, you’ll learn how to prepare assets, assess liability, document financial transactions and analyze financial reports. There are several different types of accountants, and their responsibilities can vary depending on their work environment and qualifications.

For example, public accountants prepare taxes for organizations or individuals. They might also act as a financial advisor and help clients create personal budgets, manage investments, and save for retirement. Management accountants record and analyze financial data for their employer, so that the company can make informed financial decisions. A well-rounded accounting degree program will prepare you for success in a variety of specialties and environments.

Herzing University offers a several accounting programs tailored to your career goals. An amazing perk of these programs is that they all have online options as well!

  • MBA – Accounting: Our MBA in Accounting program can help you build the necessary skillset to pursue management positions in accounting, finance, operations, and more. The primary goal of this program is to prepare you for the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) so you can become a certified accountant.
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting: This program prepares you for a successful accounting career in both the private and public sectors. Your courses will help you apply accounting theory and techniques to real-world scenarios and develop the leadership skills needed for career advancement.
  • Associate and Associate of Applied Science in Accounting: An associate degree in accounting is a great way to begin your accounting career. Your classes will prepare you for entry-level roles in accounts payable and receivable, bookkeeping, payroll and taxation.
  • Diploma in Bookkeeping and Payroll Accounting: This is an introductory program designed to provide students with a basic understanding of general accounting and payroll practices. Graduates of the diploma program qualify for entry-level bookkeeper positions, as well as support positions in payroll accounting.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Accountant as the #3 Best Business Job for 2019. Earning your degree in accounting can also prepare you for other in-demand jobs, such as:

  • Bookkeeper
  • Controller
  • Accounting Manager
  • Senior Auditor
  • Tax Preparer
  • Certified Public Accountant

Ready to make your decision?

Understanding the differences between a finance degree and an accounting degree can help you make the right decision for your future. Whichever path you choose, you’ll be preparing for a growing, stable career with a variety of job opportunities.