It can be difficult to choose between an accounting vs finance degree. Aren’t they basically the same degree?
Yes, it’s true that both accounting and finance degrees are concerned with numerical data and economics. But there are major differences between the two degrees that will affect your skills and future career opportunities.
In this article, we’ll run through the major differences between the two degrees so you can make the best decision for your future career.
Accounting vs Finance Degree: What’s the Difference?
An accounting or finance degree is ideal for students who have an interest in business but excel in mathematics. Both subjects are concerned with financial transactions within businesses. This means they will require you to use your maths skills to do calculations. Both degrees will also lead to careers in financial services, the government, or businesses.
However, that’s where the similarities end. The two subjects, though similar, actually have more differences than you might think. Firstly, an accounting degree will primarily prepare you to become a professional accountant, whereas a finance degree is broader.
An accountant will create financial reports based on an organisation’s past and present financial statements. They will also prepare tax returns and review an organisation’s financial health.
Alternatively, a finance degree – while it might include accounting modules – is more concerned with broader financial goals. On your finance degree, you might take additional courses in global economics, financial modelling, risk management, big data, and analytics.
Accounting vs Finance Degree: Careers
As mentioned, an accounting degree will prepare you for a career as an accountant. However, there are different types of accountants. Some of the roles you might take after your degree include:
- Chartered accountant
- Public finance accountant
- Company secretary
- Forensic accountant
- Tax consultant
An accounting degree at a higher level such as a Master’s or MBA could also prepare you for roles as a Chief Financial Officer, Controller, or Finance Manager.
A finance degree is a lot broader and prepares you for a variety of careers depending on your interests. Many finance degrees also include electives in cutting-edge topics like fintech, which can prepare you for digital jobs of the future.
Some of the careers you might choose after a finance degree include:
- Financial analyst
- Finance manager
- Data analyst
- Budget analyst
- Impact investment analyst
Top Accounting and Finance Degrees
There are a variety of degrees in accounting and finance that you can take. These range from Bachelors to Masters and MBAs. Here, we’ve selected a few programmes in Europe that you might consider if you’re looking at a degree in finance or accounting. We’ve also included the institutions’ ratings on the EDUopinions site.
MSc in Corporate Finance and Fintech at ESC Clermont Business School (France)
Triple-accredited ESC Clermont Business School (4.7/5 EDUopinions rating) has a highly specialised finance programme that aims to prepare students for careers in digital finance. The degree will give students the skills needed to pass the Chartered Financial Analyst exam as well as offer students practical projects in investment and trading.
MSc in Finance at ALBA Graduate Business School (Greece)
Alba Graduate Business School (4,2/5 EDUopinions rating) is part of the prestigious American College of Greece, the oldest American-accredited college in Europe. Their Masters in Finance is a 14-month course that covers financial accounting, global economics, sustainable business ethics, and portfolio management. As well as the broad, innovative curriculum, students can specialise in one of four areas: investments, corporate finance, risk management, and fintech.
MSc in Global Finance at CBS International Business School (Germany)
The Global Finance Masters degree at CBS International Business School (4.5/5 EDUopinions rating) is a one-year programme with a focus on international finance. Compulsory modules cover mergers and acquisitions, international economics, corporate governance, and supply chain management, preparing students for a range of careers in finance.
MSc in Economics, specialisation in Accounting and Control at Radboud University (The Netherlands)
Students on the Masters in Economics at Radboud University (4.4/5 EDUopinions rating) can follow a specialisation in Accounting and Control, preparing them for degrees in accounting. This course focuses on corporate ethics and the consequences of the decisions you might make as a company accountant.
MSc in Accounting and Finance at Warwick Business School (UK)
Warwick Business School (4.6/5 EDUopinions rating) is a top-ranked business school in the UK, and their Master in Accounting & Finance combines aspects of both subjects. The one year programme introduces students to topics including financial markets, reporting, and financial management. However, optional electives mean students can specialise in investment, risk management, or mergers and acquisitions.
Master in Accounting at ISEG Lisbon School of Economics & Management (Portugal)
At ISEG Lisbon School of Economics & Management (3.8/5 EDUopinions rating), students follow a specialised accounting course that prepares them for high-level careers in the industry. The school is accredited by AACSB and AMBA, and students are taught through a variety of methods including case studies, individual research, and group projects.
MSc Finance, Accounting & taxation at IU International University of Applied Sciences (Germany)
IU International University of Applied Sciences (4.1/5 EDUopinions rating) is a highly affordable university with an international-oriented curriculum. Their Finance Master offers courses in finance, accounting and taxation, but students also cover subjects such as leadership, research methodology, and applied statistics.
MBA in Finance at ESC Pau Business School (France)
For students looking for a more high-level finance degree, the MBA at ESC Pau Business School is ideal. The degree is arranged around four core subjects: corporate finance, valuation, fintech, and forecasting for business. However, the school also has a strong focus on the circular economy, teaching students how to create a positive impact with their finance skills.
Conclusion about Accounting vs Finance Degrees
When choosing between an accounting vs finance degree, it’s important that you consider what kind of career you might want.
Remember, an accounting degree is more specialist and will prepare you for a career as an accountant. On the other hand, a finance degree will prepare you for a wider range of careers, often including as an accountant. But if you are interested in a career as an accountant, a specialised accounting degree will provide the best foundation in the subject.
In the end, both degrees are ideal for students who want to study business with a focus on mathematics and economics.