Being able to successfully manage finances is one of the most sought after talents in business. No matter where you are in the world, it will make your personal life easier, and make you an attractive prospect in the job market.
Finance is the specialised study of how an individual or a company manages its funds. Often combined or overlapped with accounting/business, a finance degree gives you a broad understanding of the way that money influences people and places.
Despite the popularity and prestige of finance degrees, many universities don’t have specific entry requirements. Maths will likely be one of the most attractive subjects for you to demonstrate your talent in, but others like business, economics, or statistics can be equally as important.
A levels – Entry requirements range from CCC to AAA, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BBB.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBC to AAAAA, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring AABBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for AAB.
Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.
Most universities will be looking for some key skills. You should be good with numbers, detail, systems, analysis, and data. Remember, finance isn’t all about the bottom line – so showing your flair for academic theories and models will also serve you well.
- Apply by the January deadline
- Personal statement
- Submit a portfolio
- Audition for a place
- Attend an interview
- Pass an entry test
- Show work experience
Maths is important when applying for a finance degree, as well as while studying it. You should put your time and energy into achieving a good grade, but don’t give up if you don’t get what you were hoping for. Finance is broad, and other subjects like business studies are also attractive to universities.
If you’re looking to go into the world of business, being able to manage and make money is going to make you a golden candidate. Beyond just getting a good job, being smart with money is going to help you in your own life too – in saving, budgeting, getting a mortgage, and much more. When you consider that 95% of finance graduates are in work or further study after six months, earning around £22k straight out of uni, the better question might be why wouldn’t you study finance?
Finance will set you up for a career in one of a hundred different disciplines. You will specialise in certain modules during the second and third year of your degree, which will help you tailor your skills to certain industries. Many universities will also offer sandwich years, meaning your degree will be four years, with the third spent with a company.
Some modules you may study are:
- Business policies
- Management accounting
- Financial management
- IT for business
- Financial reporting
- Business ethics
Accountancy is one of the most popular career choices for a finance graduate. Often seen as a ‘job-for-life’, accountancy is a fantastic option, but one that will likely require further professional training and education. More general careers include those within corporations like financial analysts and finance managers, where you are responsible for overseeing and managing a company’s assets. A finance degree is useful across the entire business spectrum, and in any sector, meaning you can apply for public sector, private sector, government, and international careers.
Other career options might include actuary, banker, procurement, auditor, consultant, trader, insurance, stockbroker, or economist.
Both subjects are similar, and often taken together, but there is a difference. Accounting is a more defined version of finance, which looks specifically on how money flows in and out of a company. Finance is broader, and looks at long-term management of assets, liabilities, and growth.
Studying finance will inevitably always relate back to numbers and money, but the subject is so broad that you can expect to be tested across lots of areas. This is why it’s such a valuable qualification for employers: you’ll also pick up skills in data analysis, business systems, problem-solving, research, and much more.
Most finance degrees are three years long, offered as both a BSc and BA, while some will offer a four-year course with a placement year in business. Finance is often chosen as part of a joint award, with many students opting to combine it with another one of the popular ‘FAME’ subjects: accounting, business or economics.
Studying finance will generally involve:
- writing reports and essays
- analysing data and making recommendations
- lectures, seminars, and workshops
- placements and industry experience
A degree in finance will mean spending around 13 hours per week in lectures and seminars, which is about average. You will use technology more than many other degrees, as finance is a technical subject requiring skills in data and systems, along with good numeracy.
Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course in two years rather than three.
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
There are nearly 40 apprenticeships in the legal, finance, and accounting sector available in England, with more in development.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.
Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)
- Financial adviser
- Internal audit practitioner
- Professional accounting/Taxation technician
Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 — 7)
- Accountancy/Taxation professional
- Financial services professional
- Internal audit professional
- Professional economist (degree)
- Project manager (degree)
- Relationship manager (banking)
- Senior investment/Commercial banking professional
- Senior professional economist
Discover more about apprenticeships in accounting and finance
Our guide has all the info you need to know about doing an apprenticeship in this industry. Find out what it's really like from current apprentices and decide if it's the right route for you.