A Matter of Scope: Business vs. Finance Degree

Business and finance are two of the most powerful forces that drive current and future markets, products, and services. These two fields affect economies, individuals, and entire nations — and they offer endless opportunities for aspiring professionals who are interested in making lasting change.

A degree in either business or finance marks a strong first step to a distinctive career. Business degrees enable professionals to develop a broad set of skills that are applicable to numerous specialties, increasing the likelihood for career advancement and leadership opportunities. Finance degrees also qualify professionals for a variety of career paths with the opportunity to save companies money, increase profits, and introduce efficiencies through technology. Each field offers an exciting choice for individuals who want to make an impact on modern business and commerce, but it’s important to recognize the distinct differences between a business degree and a finance degree.

Business Degree Overview

Business degrees touch on numerous subjects, including finance, management, marketing, human resources, communication, and other related business disciplines. Earning a business degree can offer students a solid foundation for a career in various roles across industries. A bachelor’s degree in a business-related field can also prepare students to pursue an advanced degree, such as a master’s in business administration (MBA). The skills gained by completing a business degree can be applied in many occupations, including those in accounting, healthcare, information systems, and marketing.

Professional with business degree works on business plan

What Do Business Degree Graduates Do?

Graduates who possess a business degree can secure a wide variety of business-related jobs, including in the areas of sales, management analysis, marketing management, and human resources.

Types of careers:

  • Marketing Manager: These professionals generate interest, leads, and sales for businesses, brands, products, or services. They do so by creating and executing marketing programs and campaigns. They collaborate with art directors, advertising teams, and other stakeholders such as product managers to develop marketing strategies.
  • Human Resources (HR) Specialist: Also known as an HR manager, this role serves as a connection between management and the employees in an organization. HR managers oversee everything from recruiting and interviewing to hiring and strategic planning.
  • Management Analyst: Also known as management consultants, these professionals advise managers in different organizations regarding methods and techniques to increase revenue and reduce costs. They help increase efficiency by recommending new strategies, procedures, systems, and other organizational changes.

Finance Degree Overview

Finance degrees have wide application. They can focus on domestic and global financial and banking systems, personal finance, business finance, financial institutions, financial law, and more. Students who complete a bachelor’s degree in finance can earn entry-level positions in fields such as banking, accounting, and tax preparation.

Graduates with a finance degree may go on to pursue an advanced degree, such as a master’s in business administration (MBA) with a focus on finance, or a master’s in finance. It’s also common for individuals entering the field of finance to continue their education and earn additional certifications. Other opportunities include commercial banking, financial planning, investment banking, money management, insurance, and real estate.

What Do Finance Degree Graduates Do?

Finance graduates are much more likely than business degree graduates to enter the financial industry, typically in banking, personal finance, investment banking, and related fields. Common jobs that finance professionals may pursue include personal financial advisors, financial analysts, and accountants.

Types of careers:

  • Personal Financial Advisors: Personal financial advisors are professionals who help individuals manage their finances by providing advice and guidance on financial investments, insurance, mortgages, savings, taxes, and more. They use their financial expertise to educate clients about finances, investments, and savings plans for college or retirement.
  • Financial Analysts: Similar to advisors, analysts help businesses and individuals make investment decisions. However, financial analysts assess a client’s portfolio, which may include individual investments or collection of investments such as stocks and bonds.
  • Accountants: Also known as auditors, these professionals examine financial records to ensure accuracy and correct tax payments. They also assess the operations of financial organizations or businesses to increase efficiency and ensure compliance with financial regulations.

Similarities Between Business and Finance Degrees

Some overlap exists between degrees in business and finance, including:

  • Both exist in the business realm and include similar coursework, specifically in the first few semesters.
  • Students will likely take courses in accounting, statistics, economics, and business.
  • Business and finance degrees both require the practical application of math skills.
  • Students of both degrees learn similar soft skills, including leadership and communication.

Differences Between Business Degrees and Finance Degrees

When comparing a business and finance degree, there are many differences to consider, including the coursework required and the potential career paths.

Varying Degree Focus

When earning a business degree, students can choose a variety of specializations. Common specializations include business administration, communication, finance, or organizational leadership. The coursework in a business degree varies, but typically covers finance, management, marketing, communications, and related areas of study.

Degrees in finance emphasize the workings of financial institutions and cover topics related to both corporate and global finance. These degrees include coursework in financial analysis, accounting, investments, and other finance-related disciplines.

Typical Future Career Paths

A business degree can prepare students for a variety of career paths in fields such as marketing, management, sales, and human resources. This is due to the greater emphasis on learning and building managerial, interpersonal, and customer service skills. These communication and leadership competencies help graduates succeed in roles that involve working with colleagues, clients, or entire organizations. Business degree holders typically pursue leadership roles in their organization.

Graduates of finance degree programs often work in fields such as banking, money management, or real estate. These careers typically reflect financial responsibility, and the main focus of many roles is to work with money, investments, banking, and stocks. Common roles for finance degree holders include financial analysts, accountants, auditors, and financial advisors.

Business vs. Finance Degree: Which Is for You?

Both business and finance degrees prepare students for entry-level jobs in the financial or general business field. However, there are distinct differences in the coursework of each degree, as well as the typical career paths that graduates pursue.

If you are interested in crunching numbers, consider a degree in finance. You’ll graduate with the skills to perform in the financial industry, and your work will provide businesses or individuals with valuable advice regarding investments, stocks and bonds, profitability, and other financial functions.

If you want a broader range of industries from which to choose, or if you enjoy the marketing or communication aspect of business, a business degree could be the right choice. A bachelor’s in a business-related specialty can prepare you for a leadership role in fields such as marketing, IT, economics, and more.

Shape the Future of Business

If you are excited by the prospect of contributing to the future of modern business and commerce, consider a flexible degree that empowers you to innovate and pioneer change. Earn your online business degree at Maryville University and explore a wide variety of business disciplines, from finance and marketing to human resources and organizational leadership.


Forbes, 5 Things to Look For When Picking a Financial Advisor

Maryville University, Online Business Degrees

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accountants and Auditors 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Outlook for Bachelor’s Level Occupations

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Analysts

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Management Analysts 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Personal Financial Advisors

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sales Occupations

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