Should I change my major from finance to math if I love both subjects? Why or why not?

kj5159's picture
Rank: Baboon | banana points 109

Title. I love both math and finance, not sure what to do. I always thought finance was the no brainer, and even if I change my major to math I'd still want to work in finance, I took some math classes (statistics and business calc which is calc 1 pretty much) and loved them. Any advice/tips on how to approach this would be greatly appreciated, pros/cons etc.

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Comments (17)

Sep 6, 2018

For what it's worth, if I could go back and do it again I'd double major in math and finance. I majored solely in finance, which is fine, but I don't have the math background for any type of grad school other than an MBA. Also, stats and basic programming are highly relevant to a lot of more quantitative finance jobs. You should aim to keep your options open if at all possible.

Sep 18, 2018

Popular media likes to paint this picture of the super intelligent quant fund analyst that's really running the show in finance i.e. the quant super genius.

In reality, being a quant is a pretty niche role in finance. Just look at the job openings. There are hundreds of spots for pitchbook monkeys but only a handful for quant positions.

I'm not saying that it's necessarily a good or bad thing to study math, but it's sort of like aiming to be a kicker on a football team or a goalie in soccer. It's a niche within a bigger game.

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Sep 19, 2018

While I agree that quant is more niche I disagree with your second point. I think its the other way around. You can be a pitch book monkey with any major but I don't think I've seen too many quants with none STEM back ground.

Sep 6, 2018

If I could go back I'd do Applied Mathematics and Econ double major (Econ is highly what you make of it... You can either take stupid classes likes sports / labor economics or you can focus on a more quant niche (which is what I did) involving time series forecasting / cross sectional econometric / game theory / etc.

If you're not planning on 2 majors I would highly recommend math over finance. Lets be real... you can teach the finance (Finance is basic algebra / statistics applied in a multitude of ways). You can't teach a graduate the math you'd learn as a math undergrad as easily... Plus if you ever want to do and MBA / PHD (more for phd) the math (or lack thereof) will be the limiting factor... I was considering an econ phd and didn't have the math background for it.

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Sep 6, 2018

There aren't a ton of jobs in finance where a math undergrad degree is a differentiator - you'd need at least a master's for any front office quant role. It's a great degree generally for expanding career options beyond finance but if you're TRULY set on finance, just study that and don't make this any trickier than it needs to be.

But do both if you can.

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Sep 6, 2018

DON'T do it dude. You'll hurt your GPA. Majoring in math takes significantly more effort than finance. I double majored because I was pretty good at both, and sorely regretted it. And majoring in math won't differentiate you in any meaningful way unless you plan on going the quant route. Now if you want to be a quant trader/PM totally do it. Otherwise my advice would be to stick to finance.

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Sep 6, 2018

This may seem like a stupid question, but what other things do you learn as a math major other than Calculus, Algebra and Geometry? Like what exactly is vector calculus and real analysis and those types of classes?

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Sep 6, 2018

Vector calc isn't usually its own subject anymore. It's a part of calculus III in most schools. Unless you're in physics, then vector calc is a separate course. It's just applied calculus, in physics vectors describe motion/waves so you're essentially studying the calculus of that (which is multivariate in nature). Real analysis is entirely based on analyzing functions/conjectures. So you'll spend the entire course proving different lemme/conjectures (VERY hard course). Other subjects you'll study are differential equations, topology, abstract algebras (the algebras of rings/manifolds etc.), and probability/statistical theory. You'll most likely have to take statics/mechanics, optics, and thermodynamics as well. So if you don't like physics, I'd stray away as well.

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Sep 7, 2018

Loved statics and thermo. Not sure why a math major would have to take physics/engineering courses, though.

Sep 7, 2018

Science electives man. My uni required 15 credit hours, and had a very specific list so all the math kids took the physics series (mechanics/optics/thermo). I was in actuarial though, so I guess the curriculum may be different for pure math.

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Sep 12, 2018

If you can double major and keep a strong GPA then DO IT and learn how to code. It will be useful at some point. Even if the math isn't relavant for many roles, it will prove you are smart and keep your options open later on.

Sep 14, 2018

If I could go back in time I'd double major in Econ and Math. If I could only pick one I'd probably choose Math. As you learn more you'll see there's a lot more to Finance than just IBD/AM/ER and these traditional paths. There are a lot of quant roles, work in alternative risk premia, bespoke asset classes etc. and these types of roles typically require you to be a lot stronger quantitatively than a typical Finance degree will teach. Also, if you have a math degree you'll have no problem teaching yourself basic finance concepts (which really is just simple applied mathematics), econometrics to a graduate level, or doing any Finance/Econ graduate program if you decide to specialize further.

That said, the downside is that your classes will be much harder and you might tank your GPA - so be cautious.

Sep 18, 2018

dwight

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

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Sep 18, 2018

porque no los dos?

Most Helpful
Sep 18, 2018

Some context: I double majored in math and econ in undergrad

From your post it seems like you've only skimmed the surface of the types of classes that a math major would take. The classes you've taken: "statistics and business calc" are more computational/"number-crunching" type of math where you can follow set steps and arrive to an answer (this is a very crude definition). However, as you progress into higher levels of math classes, it becomes less so "number-crunching" and more so logic-based and abstract.

My advice: you should take an introductory proof-based class. That type of class should give you a taste of what upper-level math classes will look like and give you a better view of whether or not you'd truly enjoy studying math. IMO it's too early to decide on whether or not you should major in math based on the classes you've taken.

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Sep 18, 2018
Buy Side or Suicide:

My advice: you should take an introductory proof-based class. That type of class should give you a taste of what upper-level math classes will look like and give you a better view of whether or not you'd truly enjoy studying math. IMO it's too early to decide on whether or not you should major in math based on the classes you've taken.

This. Basic derivatives and standard deviations from business calc/stats are a far cry from what the math major specific courses will cover

Sep 18, 2018