An undergraduate degree in finance opens up numerous opportunities for students, whether it be a job in business, government or non-profits, or a chance to pursue a graduate degree. Finance majors find jobs working for large or small organizations, or as independent financial advisors.

Classes in accounting, statistics, business and economics push students to further understand the intricacies of finance, while group work with actual accounts helps students understand how theories apply to the real world. Graduates enter the job market with the knowledge to handle finances along with sharp analytical and creative skills.

Each of the top schools for a degree in finance also have a strong reputation for being among the best overall colleges in the nation and offering top programs across a wide variety of fields. Graduates of these programs are successful in the job market, making higher than average starting salaries. While an advanced degree, such as an M.B.A., will help increase job prospects, graduates of these top colleges typically find influential positions in some of the best businesses and financial organizations. Note that starting salaries encompass the first five years of the graduate’s career.

1. University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia

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Established in 1881, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania was the first collegiate business school. It offers numerous business programs that focus on introducing students to the business world while equipping them with the necessary skills to manage people and money.

Like other programs at this Ivy League University, the finance program is designed to provide students with an in-depth education that allows graduates to excel once entering the job force. Classes are taught by members of the most published faculty in the country. Courses in economics, investment management, financial derivatives and international financial markets lead student to earning an average starting salary of $61,000 and the highest average mid-career salary of $132,000. UPenn is also ranked as the number #1 school in the country in College Factual’s 2015 rankings.

2. Bentley University: Waltham, Mass.

Since finance is a broad field that spans across numerous topics, Bentley University offers three programs that allow students to major in the sub-area that best suits them. The Finance major focuses on managing assets. Classes instill analytical skills to help students understand how purchases can affect an organization and its market. The Economics-Finance major helps students study finance through an economics lens by learning about the effects various factors have on a business, while the Corporate Finance and Accounting major is designed to introduce students to processing and managing transactions.

Along with the ability to choose a financial focus, finance students at Bentley have the opportunity to work in The Hughey Center For Financial Services and learn about trading rooms and other financial programs. Graduates of Bentley often find jobs at the top financial organizations, earning an average mid-career salary of $94,000. Bentley is also ranked as the best school to get an accounting degree.

3. Boston College: Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The Carroll School of Management at Boston College has a strong focus on introducing students to business and preparing them to take on leadership roles in the ever-changing global market. Finance students are taught how to manage investments and calculate risk, while understanding the role institutions play in the financial system.

Classes in accounting, investment, corporate finance and financial policy allow students to learn how to manage an organization’s financial activities without losing sight of the financial market. A degree from Boston College leads graduates to successful careers, earning an average starting salary of $62,000 and an average mid-career salary of $115,000. After Economics, a major in Finance & Financial Management is the most popular subject at BC.

4. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College: New York

The Zicklin School of Business at CUNY Bernard M Baruch College offers programs that lead to careers in a variety of business-related fields. The finance program is geared towards students who are interested in finding positions in financial institutions, from investment to banking.

Along with providing students with one of the top finance educations, Baruch College is located close to some of the most influential institutions on Wall Street. This unique location allows students to learn about finance in a hands-on setting through internships that may lead to full-time positions. Additionally, the school boasts one of the most ethnically diverse student bodies in the country, offering unique perspectives into world financial markets. Graduates of Baruch College earn average starting and mid-career salaries of $50,000 and $90,000, respectively. Finance is the most popular major at Baruch.

Dig deeper into College Factual’s finance ratings with this interactive tool:

5. New York University: New York

The Stern School of Business at New York University is one of the premiere business schools in the country. Founded in 1900, the school has since built numerous global partnerships that offer insight to students about the interactions of financial markets. The liberal arts education blends humanities and sciences courses with business classes focused on building analytical and critical thinking skills.

As students near the end of their program, they may participate in an International Studies Program trip. This culminating trip allows students to further explore finance outside the United States in order to expand their understanding of the field. NYU graduates typically have great success in the job market, earning the highest average early career salary of $70,000.

6. Lehigh University: Bethlehem, Penn.

Lehigh University was founded in 1865 by a businessman named Asa Packer. The school has maintained a strong tradition of providing students with a demanding curriculum in all of its programs. In particular, the finance program offers classes in accounting, computers and economics to expose students to the many disciplines they may encounter in the business world.

Along with classroom instruction, students have access to the Financial Services Laboratory, which offers actual experience in financial activities, such as running portfolios. This lab supplements the material learned in classes and prepares students to start their careers. The Lehigh finance program is built for students who are interested in the private sector. Many graduates find careers in corporate finance, portfolio management and investment banking, earning an average starting salary of $59,000 and an average mid-career salary of $106,000. Lehigh is ranked as the 3rd best university in Pennsylvania, after UPenn and Bucknell.

7. Southern Methodist University: Dallas, Tex.

The Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business is considered one of the top business schools in the country. Students in the finance program learn how to manage an organization’s financial resources by overseeing budgets, purchases and other activities. Classes in financial management, speculative markets and real estate finance allow students learn more about the sub-areas of finance they are most interested in. A degree from SMU can lead to a job with an average mid-career salary of $109,000.

8. Washington University in St. Louis: Saint Louis

Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis offers programs in a variety of business-related specializations. The school is selective, allowing for small class sizes that foster collaboration and communication. This ensures all students receive the best education possible in preparation for their chosen career.

The business administration program is no exception. Students take a core curriculum designed to introduce them to topics outside of business along with classes in their chosen major. Finance majors have a range of class options that allow them to tailor the program to their interests. This fully prepares graduates for high-level careers, earning an average starting salary of $64,000 and an average mid-career salary of $95,000. Washington is also considered to be the best overall school in the state of Missouri.

9. Villanova University: Villanova, Penn.

Villanova University is a private liberal arts school that is dedicated to providing students with a top education rooted in Augustinian ideals. The Villanova School of Business offers rigorous programs that work to teach students the theories, ideals and ethics of business. The finance major is designed to introduce students to financial analysis and management.

Courses in corporate finance, accounting and equity markets provide a well-rounded view on the field, while organizations such as the Villanova Financial Management Association, the Villanova University Equity Society, the Villanova Fixed Income Society, and the Villanova Technical Analysis Group (VTAG) allow students to gain hands-on experience managing investment funds. Finance majors also have the option to participate in internships and co-ops that help them succeed after graduation to earn an average mid-career salary of $99,000.

10. University of Denver: Denver

The Reiman School of Finance at the University of Denver is a top-tier business school. The faculty has developed a curriculum that teaches students the theories of finance, while applying them to real-world situations. Students take classes in various areas of business to help them focus their degree to their interests.

Finance majors may take classes in accounting, economics, management and marketing to help supplement their program. The Reiman School also offers the unique opportunity for finance majors to participate in the Deutsche Bank’s Global Commercial Microfinance Consortium, which allows students to help manage an $80 million microfinance fund. Graduates of this program find careers in various financial institutions, earning an average mid-career salary of $107,000.

Filed under: THE LOWDOWN FROM COLLEGE FACTUAL Tagged: Bentley University, Boston College, CUNY Bernard M Baruch College, Lehigh University, New York University, Southern Methodist University, university of denver, University of Pennsylvania, Villanova, Washington University

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