Graduate Early as Accounting Major or Graduate One Semester Later with Acc/Finance Double Major?

Squash's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 6

I am currently an honors business student at UNLV (University of Nevada -- Las Vegas), and I cannot decide between these two options:

  1. Graduate one semester early with a bachelor in accounting.
  2. Graduate one semester late, but with a double major in accounting and finance.

Is the extra year of school worth the degree in finance?

Even though my "main" major is accounting, I do not want to limit myself into being an accountant for the rest of my life. This is why I am leaning toward finishing the finance degree as well. My hope is that the finance degree will open up career options for me in the future. I am extremely interested with stocks, bonds, etc., which are not present in the accounting major.

Would the additional finance degree open up more options in the future or is this a false assumption?

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Comments (17)

Jun 18, 2012

Yeah, worth it. The degree in finance will give broad options.

Jun 18, 2012

yes - Accounting alone = blackballed into a career of misery

Jun 18, 2012
Spalding Get Your Foot Off the Boat:

yes - Accounting alone = blackballed into a career of misery

false as shit

Jun 18, 2012

You may wanna consider graduating a semester early then doing a MSF from a reputable school.

Graduate UNLV semester early -> Spring internship -> MSF from reputable school

Overall it will be the same amount of "school", but just a much better degree.

Robert Clayton Dean: What is happening?
Brill: I blew up the building.
Robert Clayton Dean: Why?
Brill: Because you made a phone call.

Jun 18, 2012
goodL1fe:

You may wanna consider graduating a semester early then doing a MSF from a reputable school.

Graduate UNLV semester early -> Spring internship -> MSF from reputable school

Overall it will be the same amount of "school", but just a much better degree.

This. I had the option of adding another major (math) and staying a semester late, or graduating in December and doing a master's if I don't get the job I want. You go to a non-target so it'd be way better to save your money and get a master's at a better school if need be....not to mention the extra internship you could get during the spring after graduation.

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Jun 18, 2012

What's funny is how one semester can make such a huge impact on the interviewer's impression of you, while you won't learn much more than you could from Google, WSJ, WSO, the Economist, ThinkorSwim, etc.

Jun 18, 2012

Simple. Feel out recruiting and see if you think you'll get an offer you like. If not use the extra time in school as a back up. Your job will be more important than your major.

EDIT: Hopefully you already started networking and you already have an internship or two under your belt.

Jun 18, 2012

@rufio - sounds like you have a different opinion. Here's my explanation for mine:

I was a finance and accounting double major at a target school. Started my career in big 4 audit basically because I didn't know any better and figured I'd have plenty of options to transition into finance given my schooling. I was dead wrong - the audit experience was a cancer on my resume as i tried to transition into banking. 6 years later i'm still paying dearly for this mistake. CFA wasn't enough to overcome it, now i'm turning to MBA to finally get my career where i want it.

Interested to hear the basis for your opinion.

Jun 18, 2012
Spalding Get Your Foot Off the Boat:

@rufio - sounds like you have a different opinion. Here's my explanation for mine:

I was a finance and accounting double major at a target school. Started my career in big 4 audit basically because I didn't know any better and figured I'd have plenty of options to transition into finance given my schooling. I was dead wrong - the audit experience was a cancer on my resume as i tried to transition into banking. 6 years later i'm still paying dearly for this mistake. CFA wasn't enough to overcome it, now i'm turning to MBA to finally get my career where i want it.

Interested to hear the basis for your opinion.

I guess the basis for my opinion would be the kids I work with everyday who only studied accounting and have the same job I do. I also work with and know people who started in audit and made the switch to banking. It's a difficult transition, yes, but I think it misleading to tell a kid that studying only accounting in undergrad will get him "blackballed" from the industry. That's simply not true. Most of what we do is accounting focused in nature, and in fact most kids would be better served if they had more of a background in accounting, I know I could have benefited from it. You can learn the corporate finance needed to do this job much quicker than the accounting necessary.

I've just seen you take this stance on accounting as a major twice now and it simply isn't the case.

Jun 18, 2012

@rufio:

I'm definitely biased by my experiences, but I think it's worth noting a couple important distinctions in this conversation.

First - Accounting as a major is fine, as long as it's complemented with something else (ideally finance or econ). For someone trying to get into banking / trading / investing, as is the case here, I just can't support the accounting major on it's own as I know too well the connotations associated with it. This isn't to say it can't be done, of course it can - the point though is for the OP to maximize his utilization, and in my opinion it's clear that the costs of an extra year of school will be outweighed by the benefits of being viewed as more than just an accountant (obviously i don't know the actual incremental education costs, so i'm making some assumptions here).

Second - What you say about accounting knowledge is absolutely true. It's important to clarify, though, that this viewpoint isn't typical. In my experience, boutique firms are the only ones who will actually admit that they value accounting knowledge, while the BB's and most MM's (which are generally obsessed with pedigree), just won't be able to get over the fact that you're a despicable accountant.

Rufi - i'm guessing you're at a boutique firm, would be interested and surprised to hear otherwise, but please let us know.

Jun 19, 2012
Spalding Get Your Foot Off the Boat:

@rufio:

I'm definitely biased by my experiences, but I think it's worth noting a couple important distinctions in this conversation.

First - Accounting as a major is fine, as long as it's complemented with something else (ideally finance or econ). For someone trying to get into banking / trading / investing, as is the case here, I just can't support the accounting major on it's own as I know too well the connotations associated with it. This isn't to say it can't be done, of course it can - the point though is for the OP to maximize his utilization, and in my opinion it's clear that the costs of an extra year of school will be outweighed by the benefits of being viewed as more than just an accountant (obviously i don't know the actual incremental education costs, so i'm making some assumptions here).

Second - What you say about accounting knowledge is absolutely true. It's important to clarify, though, that this viewpoint isn't typical. In my experience, boutique firms are the only ones who will actually admit that they value accounting knowledge, while the BB's and most MM's (which are generally obsessed with pedigree), just won't be able to get over the fact that you're a despicable accountant.

Rufi - i'm guessing you're at a boutique firm, would be interested and surprised to hear otherwise, but please let us know.

Nah I work at a BB

Jun 19, 2012
rufiolove:
Spalding Get Your Foot Off the Boat:

@rufio:

I'm definitely biased by my experiences, but I think it's worth noting a couple important distinctions in this conversation.

First - Accounting as a major is fine, as long as it's complemented with something else (ideally finance or econ). For someone trying to get into banking / trading / investing, as is the case here, I just can't support the accounting major on it's own as I know too well the connotations associated with it. This isn't to say it can't be done, of course it can - the point though is for the OP to maximize his utilization, and in my opinion it's clear that the costs of an extra year of school will be outweighed by the benefits of being viewed as more than just an accountant (obviously i don't know the actual incremental education costs, so i'm making some assumptions here).

Second - What you say about accounting knowledge is absolutely true. It's important to clarify, though, that this viewpoint isn't typical. In my experience, boutique firms are the only ones who will actually admit that they value accounting knowledge, while the BB's and most MM's (which are generally obsessed with pedigree), just won't be able to get over the fact that you're a despicable accountant.

Rufi - i'm guessing you're at a boutique firm, would be interested and surprised to hear otherwise, but please let us know.

Nah I work at a BB

... interesting, maybe the more important distinction is the one somebody made above - accounting as a major is okay until you take a job in audit.

In summary: I'm confident that audit will blackball you. You may be able to overcome accounting as a major on it's own, but you will likely have to have a great story in your interviews for why you chose to major in audit and not in finance. Is it worth an extra year of school? Probably not, especially if you can do an MSF program (which itself may require a heavier finance background - something to research before making your decision)

Jun 18, 2012

majoring in accounting is fine until you take an audit job

Best Response
Jun 18, 2012

A pm at a hedge fund I worked at started in audit, was an acc major at a state school. It can be done. If you can get Deloitte valuation or something, you could transition into mm or boutique advisory IB and from there who knows.

One more semester at a non-target like that for finance isn't going to help you that much. But there's no set path unless you're going to BB fin in a big city. There are tons of smaller firms out there in finance who'd be fine to take an acc major.

Degrees don't matter that much. THAT being said, I am a double major in both fin/acc. Decided that a long time ago, but I wanted to stay in school as long as possible haha.

    • 2
Jun 19, 2012

@Connor

What do you mean by the following:

"What's funny is how one semester can make such a huge impact on the interviewer's impression of you"

Negatively? Positively? One semester more? Less?

Jun 19, 2012

So it seems that the two majors can complement each other very well, until I take an audit job and try to get into a finance-related job such as banking. Why is it so frowned upon in the finance world? Any specific reason?

And, if I have the option of taking a job in either field upon graduation, what would you all recommend? Accounting or finance?

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