Among the top degrees in any college of business are finance and accounting degrees. These two degrees are closely related in their focus on the financial side of business. The course curriculum for both finance and accounting degrees can be separated by as few as four different core classes. Deciding between a finance degree and an accounting degree is a personal choice that depends on your ability to understand the differences.
Accounting Degree vs. Finance Degree
Undoubtedly, finance and accounting degrees share a symbiotic relationship. An accounting degree is based on the preparation of financial records. The object of the study is to be able to select information that is relevant to the company. In addition this information must be represented truthfully. An accounting degree covers the areas of bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing as a core focus.
On the other hand, a finance degree entails similar curriculum, but the finance track includes more focus toward projecting the growth or movement of the market and firm. The finance curriculum involves a focus toward forecasting and using the accounting numbers to make market and business predictions.
Accounting Curriculum Vs. Finance Curriculum
Both finance degrees and accounting degrees include coursework in business administration, financial management and higher levels of math (such as business calculus).
- Accounting includes a curriculum marketing, accounting ethics, business law, statistics, fraud, cost management or taxation.
- Finance covers curriculum more geared toward courses such as domestic finance, international finance, corporate finance, risk management, portfolio management, and financial engineering.
Students with an accounting degree can work in the finance field and vice versa. Generally, someone with an accounting degree would work as either an accountant or an auditor. Accountants work as an employee or contractor with the firm; auditors will typically work outside of the organization with auditing firms. Auditing firms will work within a business sector, have specific industry knowledge, and monitor firms for financial mismanagement or inefficiencies.
Even so, some auditors and accountants work directly for individuals or the company and monitor the financial documentation internally. Someone with an accounting degree will generally specialize in a field such as forensic accounting or international accounting.
Someone with a finance degree would typically work in the banking or investments field. A finance degree prepares you with skills in financial forecasting and in trading popular investment instruments. A finance degree opens up career options such as an investment banker, financial planner, financial analyst or a financial manager.
The Relationship Between Finance and Accounting
The biggest difference in finance and accounting is conceptual. While accounting focuses on what has happened and the preparation of financial records, finance focuses on predicting what will happen based on the numbers. The symbiotic relationship exists because accounting prepares the numbers and finances use those numbers to attempt to forecast the movement of the market and such.
Even within a business, its accounting department is responsible for preparing the numbers for taxes and reporting purposes. The finance department helps management make those tough financial decisions based on the numbers. In other words accounting is all about the tracking of a company’s funds, while finance is all about the appropriation of those funds to furnish growth.
Making the call
Ultimately the decision of whether to choose a finance degree or an accounting degree is based on your career aspirations. While both fields offer lucrative career opportunities, the decision to choose one over the other should be based on your personal and developmental growth.