Should I get an Accounting, Finance, or Economics Degree?

dexinthecity's picture
Rank: Chimp | 15

I've finished most of my General Education courses and now need to start on my core classes. I'm confused about which degree is best. I would love to land a career that has something to do with the stock market. I know where I want to be but don't know what degree is the best to get me there. I was hoping to get everyone's opinion on which degree is best for the type of career I want to be in.

What Major To Become A Stock Trader?

Choosing a major can feel like a huge decision but it all comes down to how you sell it. You want to make sure you are in a good university. This will open doors for networking and internships. A good school also looks good on a resume. Getting into a recognized university should be a top priority. You want to avoid distance learning if you're serious about a job on Wall Street because of the networking advantages of a school where recruiting events often take place.

Your major plays s small role compared to the school you are in when looking for a future on Wall Street.

According to Wall Street Oasis member, more important than your major is:

Human - Private Equity Partner:

  • Figuring out exactly what you want to do as a career. (make everything down below easier).
  • Going to the right school that can help you with that. (make everything down below much easier).
  • Proactively networking with the right people. (doing above makes this easier)
  • Learning about the industry and building your knowledge base. (doing above makes this easier).
  • Having solid work experience and industry required skill sets. (doing above makes this easier).
  • Working on your interview skills and securing a full time position. (doing all above make this easier).

Accounting vs. Economics vs. Finance

While a firm foundation in accounting is important for any career in Wall Street, you aren't likely to need a major in it unless you plan to be an Accountant. You can choose either a major in economics or finance and include a minor in accounting and other related classes to demonstrate a grasp on the topics.

To view the full graphic visit the Top Universities website.

All three majors have benefits. Watch this video comparing economics, accounting, and finance majors.

More important than your major is the that you have classes which demonstrate both an interest in and knowledge of banking. Having the required classes in these topics and doing well in them will get you as far as a banking-specific major.

southy - Investment Banking Vice President:

In my opinion, the major is almost irrelevant. Key thing is to take (And list on your resume) classes that are relevant to banking. I have frequently accepted strong computer science, engineering as well as political science and english majors, as long as they have taken the requisite classes.
Key classes are: accounting, corporate finance, statistics, an advanced math class (advanced calculus or DiffEq). These classes serve to supplement your skill set as well as show that you are serious enough investment banking and have enough foresight to include these classes in your curriculum.

Read More About Education For Wall Street Careers On WSO

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Comments (34)

Apr 17, 2012

I think focus on getting into the right school matter more than the degree.

Apr 17, 2012

I agree with that as well, my ultimate plan is to get a masters in whichever degree I choose to accomplish in which then I will have to get into the right school. But for the mean time, I think getting my bachelors at an ivy-league school shouldn't be my main priority.

Apr 17, 2012

I think it all depends on what you want to do, I agree with others that trying to get a bachelor degree from a normal university should be a priority, in which case you can take some class in each and decide (or if you have to just pick something then change your major). I guess this all depends on what university you go to, some may be more picky then others about the ability to change majors, but you can utilize the courses in your non major either as elective units or towards a minor. There are loads of differences in the occupations of these different majors, and you kind of need to find out what you enjoy doing most.

Apr 17, 2012

here is my take on things.

if u like calculating things and u are a fundamental investor u should pick finance. finance really deals with fundamentals, not a good major for a pure trader.

traders on the other hand would probably do best with an economic degree. determining whether or not buyers or sellers are in control has a lot to do with the stock market. also especially price and volume.

if u plan on taking over a business, accounting is for you. keep in mind the work and study u must do for accounting, it is very difficult.. if u dont like accounting do finance, it is still good for learning how to interpret financial information.

    • 1
Mar 15, 2017

hi there, im applying to university this year and i was thinking about getting into finance since i want to become a trader or like get into IB first. What would be your advice then?

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Best Response
Apr 17, 2012

lol what? Accounting is difficult? since when?

    • 2
Apr 17, 2012

majors/type of degrees means shit on wall street

Apr 17, 2012
CaliforniaAnalyst:

majors/type of degrees means shit on wall street

That is exactly how I feel. Thanks CaliforniaAnalyst.

Apr 17, 2012
CaliforniaAnalyst:

majors/type of degrees means shit on wall street

so what do you think matters then?

Apr 17, 2012
dexinthecity:
CaliforniaAnalyst:

majors/type of degrees means shit on wall street

so what do you think matters then?

* Figuring out exactly what you want to do as a career. (make everything down below easier)
* Going to the right school that can help you with that. (make everything down below much easier)
* Proactively networking with the right people. (doing above makes this easier)
* Learning about the industry and building your knowledge base. (doing above makes this easier)
* Having solid work experience and industry required skill sets. (doing above makes this easier)
* Working on your interview skills and securing a full time position. (doing all above make this easier)

    • 1
Free Consultation

Vantage Point MBA's clients are accepted to the top MBA programs at a 3x higher rate than the average acceptance rates. Request a consultation with their team to learn how they can help you gain admission to your dream schools. Learn more.

Apr 17, 2012

If you want to make your life easier, you have to shoot for the target schools.

Apr 17, 2012
sxh6321:

If you want to make your life easier, you have to shoot for the target schools.

okay found them, the problem with those schools is that currently I don't think I can even be considered there. Also my question, are there any semi-target or target school that offer distance learning programs?

Apr 17, 2012
dexinthecity:
sxh6321:

If you want to make your life easier, you have to shoot for the target schools.

okay found them, the problem with those schools is that currently I don't think I can even be considered there. Also my question, are there any semi-target or target school that offer distance learning programs?

Then you gotta check out which schools have you applied or will apply and ask again. I don't know where you are based at so I cannot recommend schools. And distance learning program might not be the best idea in the world. Usually what people on WSO does is state out stat like:

Undergraduate: XYZ
GMAT Score: XYZ
Work at: XYZ
Applying to: XYZ

Be careful though. People get really heated here about schools. T.T

Apr 17, 2012

what are the target schools?

Apr 17, 2012
dexinthecity:

what are the target schools?

In the upper left hand corner is the bar of search. Use it wisely my friend, and you will be imbued with the power to solve life's most complex riddles, as well as defend thyself from legions of trolls.

Apr 17, 2012
illiniPride:
dexinthecity:

what are the target schools?

In the upper left hand corner is the bar of search. Use it wisely my friend, and you will be imbued with the power to solve life's most complex riddles, as well as defend thyself from legions of trolls.

That was a good one. :-)

Apr 17, 2012

there are a lot of transfer guarantee programs you have to dig...

and distant learning is mostly a joke

Apr 18, 2012

Sounds like youre in some sort of a bind with a full time obligation/inability to attend full time university.
If im right, youre gonna have to make some tough decisions, cuz you wont be taken seriously by attending some no-name online university. Of course there are exceptions, but very very slim.

If youre serious about going into trading/IB, then do yourself a favor and just make the jump into full time student status at a big name state university. They usually are easier to get in, and have large alumni base to network your way into an IB. It still wont be easy, but this way you'll have a chance.

Jun 14, 2012

If you love the stock market, then a degree in finance is perhaps the most appropriate choice for you. On the other hand, a Bachelor's in Accounting degree is also an interesting option if you enjoy number crunching. You can go through the coursework of both the degrees. Maybe that will help you decide which one is better suited for your goals.

http://www.cc-sd.edu/business/bachelors/accounting

Jun 14, 2012

Double major with econ and math.

Throw in some Finance/CS/accounting classes for good measure.

Jun 14, 2012
Ske7ch:

Double major with econ and math.

Throw in some Finance/CS/accounting classes for good measure.

+1

i personally regret not having majored in something like math aside from econ/finance
theres absolutely no need to major in accounting if you're not thinking about a career as an auditor/accountant
courses like audit and management control are completely useless if you're aspired to be in banking

you're absolutely right about econ/finance overlapping, most of the academic stuff you learn in finance are built on economic concepts, depending on the program/school, you should have plenty of exposure to corporate finance, investment, and other related financial topic in an econ program

Jun 14, 2012

i was econ so im horridly biased but i think econ degrees usually tend to be more flexible and allow more electives to be taken vs a more stiff finance school of business degree requirement

    • 1
Jun 14, 2012

In my opinion, the major is almost irrelevant. Key thing is to take (And list on your resume) classes that are relevant to banking. I have frequently accepted strong computer science, engineering as well as political science and english majors, as long as they have taken the requisite classes.

Key classes are: accounting, corporate finance, statistics, an advanced math class (advanced calculus or DiffEq). These classes serve to supplement your skill set as well as show that you are serious enough investment banking and have enough foresight to include these classes in your curriculum.

-S

    • 1
Jun 14, 2012

I blindly went into Economics/Mathematics thinking it was a good major for I-Banking.
Then I began looking at Economics with emphasis on Accounting and saw that it was easier, started regretting my major. But after one accounting class, I'm glad I stayed with Economics/Mathematics.

Jun 14, 2012

Accounting is the thing to get a grasp on - however you do it doesn't really matter - go to the library and check out books and learn it on your own - as long as you can answer technicals correctly no one will give a shit. Economics is really more of an "indicator" major, rather than a subject that analysts will find useful. At places like Dartmouth, for example, where there is no accounting or finance or business classes, but still places a lot of kids in banking, people take econ to "prove" their interest in banking. It does help - as most of a desicion on an analyst (after determining whether they can do the work - which takes about 10 seconds by the way) is based on if you think they are dedicated to the lifestyle and the job.

Jun 14, 2012

ECON, hands down.

Jun 14, 2012

I'm an econ major. I would say that taking at least 1 class in basic accounting is very helpful for banking. Honestly, analysts are pretty much galley slaves who stare at financial statements. Any advantage you have in understanding those financial statements is good, so at least a cursory knowledge of accounting is important.

Jun 14, 2012

I believe the most applicable concepts are in accounting.
Math is useless, unless you're going into trading and even then frankly only in rare circumstances, or for specific types of shops. Physics/engineering/hard sciences can get lumped in there frankly, sure they're "tough" but completely irrelevant.

Jun 14, 2012
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Jun 14, 2012