Business Administration Degree vs. Finance Degree:

An Overview

A degree in business administration or finance can lead to opportunities in both large and small organizations in the public and private sectors. Both degrees also provide a solid foundation and are good preparation for entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses.

There is considerable overlap at many universities among the courses that a business administration or finance student are required to take, particularly during their freshman and sophomore years. Both degrees involve taking a significant amount of basic math as well as accounting, statistics, economics, and business law courses.

Either degree would be beneficial in landing a future job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), business and finance jobs are expected to grow by 7 percent by 2028, with 591,800 new predicted jobs on the horizon.

Business Administration Degree

A business administration degree, such as a bachelor of business administration (BBA) or a bachelor of science in business administration (BSBA), generally offers a broad grounding in the world of commerce. In addition to analytical skills, a business administration program may focus on interpersonal or “soft” skills to a greater extent than a finance program.

For example, a program may expect its business administration graduates to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of human resources and be able to work effectively in a team-based environment. Depending on the program, a business administration student is likely to move on to courses in subjects such as leadership and organizational behavior.

Finance Degree

A bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree in finance tends to be more specialized, with a greater emphasis on investments and the workings of financial institutions. In addition, finance students may drill deeper into topics such as corporate and global finance, and a finance degree program may address “hard” skills such as financial analysis and accounting.

Graduates can typically find work in fields like banking, real estate, money management, or investment banking. A finance undergraduate degree, as well as a degree in business administration, is considered sufficient preparation for many entry-level jobs, although some students go on to receive other certifications or advanced degrees such as a master of business administration (MBA) or a master of science in finance.

[Important: Degrees in both business administration and finance—especially advanced degrees—will usually open doors to lucrative positions in the finance and business sectors.]

Business Administration Degree vs. Finance Degree: Considerations

According to the latest estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the types of jobs for which graduates with either degree qualify for pay well, and the demand is strong. Below are some examples of average salaries in 2019 earnings (most recent figures), and projected job growth from 2018 to 2028:

  • Financial analysts  Earnings: $85,660; Projected job growth: 6 percent 
  • Financial managers Earnings: $129,890; Projected job growth: 16 percent
  • Management analysts Earnings: $85,260; Projected job growth: 14 percent
  • Personal financial advisers Earnings: $87,850; Projected job growth: 7 percent
  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents Earnings: $62,270; Projected job growth: 4 percent

Key Takeaways

  • A finance degree places a greater emphasis on math to prepare students for a job that entails financial analysis.
  • A business administration degree will place a greater emphasis on managerial skills and human resource skills, such as interpersonal relations and customer service.
  • Both degrees involve taking a significant amount of basic math, as well as accounting, statistics, economics, and business law courses.
  • A business administration or a finance undergraduate degree is considered sufficient preparation for many entry-level jobs like those in the commercial banking, money management, real estate, and investment banking sectors.