I know this question has been asked MANY times. But, once again.. Which major is better overall, in terms of jobs?
I come from a non-target school, and it seems like every student here has a hard time getting a general finance internship/job, (never mind investment banking). At this point, I assume that there's a high demand for finance jobs, but low supply. It's pretty easy getting accounting internships and jobs, (all my friends have already done their Big 4 internships), but finance students are struggling to even get an internship.
It makes me question on whether a master's in Finance would be worth it? IB jobs seem to be more favorable for Finance majors, but at the same time many of my mentors in my college journey have always told me that, "Accounting is the foundation. If you don't know accounting, then finance would not be so useful in itself"
It seems like accounting plays a HUGE role in getting better job positions (even finance jobs) , even though in many prior discussions on WSO, many people have always underestimated Accounting, by claiming that it's a worthless degree. What do you think, Finance or Accounting?
Is Finance a Good Major for Undergraduate Studies?
Choosing a degree in undergrad can often seem like a very important choice when it comes to recruiting, especially if you do not come from a target school / ivy league school. Students not coming from a target school, often end up choosing between a finance and accounting degree to establish the skills and track record needed for jobs on Wall Street.
The first thing to note is that you should do research on what majors students have been recruited from for Wall Street careers (if any). If there is a pattern of banks plucking Economics majors from your school - but no finance majors - you should consider pursuing an Economics degree if you know that Wall Street is what you want to do. Alternatively, if banks only ever hire Finance majors from your school you should expect that track record to continue.
If there is no record for previous recruitment you should consider:
- A major that you are passionate about that you can spin into the financial services
- A major that will help you develop a strong relevant skill set
Our users discuss the benefits of accounting vs. finance below.
In summary, typically accounting is considered to be the more difficult major (however, that will vary by school). This means that your GPA may be lower and you will spend time learning about some of the intracacies of accounting that will not be relevant to you until later in your investment banking / PE careers.
Accounting is usually a much harder undergraduate degree. You have to master accounting itself, and then learn audit, tax, and the laws that go with them. A lot harder in my opinion than learning basic-intermediate level accounting, how to discount streams of cash flows, and how different capital structures affect company value. Accounting having harder classes also leads to lower GPA.
Conversely, user @chestnutxyz shared their belief that accounting is better route:
I work in IB and graduated quite recently - majored in finance after switching from accounting, been reflecting on this - major in accounting. No one will look negatively upon it relative to majoring in finance, and you get the security + easier classes, higher GPA = better grad school.
Finance is a very broad major and a lot of the skills learned within a finance curriculum can be picked up pretty quickly - this is not the case with accounting.
I studied both accounting and finance, but, if I could go back, I would have studied something that generally interested me (not that there is anything wrong with accounting) such as a science or language.
Another user shared an alternative route.
Pro tip: Major in Accounting and Finance. No compromise, just logic.
Master's in Accounting vs. Master's in Finance
When choosing between a Master's degree in Finance and Accounting - our users recommend doing a Master's in Finance as that will set you up best for bulge bracket recruiting. A Master's in Accounting will set you up to do Big 4 Accounting recruiting as detailed by a user below.
Get a masters in only one, but a Masters in Accounting will not set you up well for recruiting, but it would set you up well to land a position with the big 4. Don't rule it out, if you're a top performer you can get into a transaction advisory group and then move over.
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