Finance vs Economics – Which Degree to Study in 2021?

So, you want to learn more about the world of money, transactions, and markets, but don’t know if you should study Finance or Economics?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we describe the major differences between these disciplines, what jobs you can get, and what topics you’ll approach during studies.

By the end, you’ll know if you should choose a Master’s degree in Finance or one in Economics and you’ll have a clearer idea about your academic and professional future.

Finance vs Economics – What’s the difference?

Finance and Economics are related disciplines that often overlap; however, the differences between them are significant. They shouldn’t be seen as separate, though. Both work together and complete each other. With that being said…

Economics is the broader discipline, which deals with the different ways in which goods and services are created, distributed, and sold. Economics also analyses regional and global economies or markets and looks at the behaviour of people (e.g. what they buy, why they buy, where they buy from).

Finance is more specific and mainly deals with financial systems. Finance looks at banking institutions and policies, credits, investments, savings, and so on. It also studies the creation and management of money.

The 3 main subcategories of Finance are: Public Finance, Corporate Finance, and Personal Finance. However, there are other specialisations offered by universities and colleges.

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Finance vs Economics specialisations

A big advantage of studying Finance or Economics is that you don’t have to settle for a general degree. Many specialisations are available (especially at Master’s level); here are a few examples to get you started:

Finance specialisations

Economics specialisations

Finance vs Economics classes

Not all Finance or Economics studies are created equal. Each academic programme has a curriculum and educational objectives, which can vary widely. This is why you should always check the courses you’ll take in order to better understand if that degree is a good fit.

That being said, these are some of the common courses you’ll take as a Finance or Economics student:

Finance classes

  • Corporate Finance
  • Modern Finance
  • Asset Pricing
  • Accounting Fundamentals
  • Quantitative and Statistical Analysis
  • Financial Analysis and Reporting
  • Investment Appraisal
  • Accounting and Information Systems
  • Financial Derivatives
  • Ethics of International Business

Economics classes

  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Econometrics
  • Micro and Macroeconomics
  • Inequality and Development
  • Economic Networks
  • Economic Analysis
  • Economic Theory
  • Econometric Methods
  • Economic Growth

Financial statements and reports

Top universities where you can study Finance or Economics

If the quality of education and the reputation of the university are the most important factors for you, the following are the best schools where you can enrol in a Finance or Economics degree:

Best Finance universities

Check out other top-ranked Finance schools.

Best Economics universities

  • Harvard University, the US
  • MIT, the US
  • Stanford University, the US
  • UCB, the US
  • LSE, the UK
  • Princeton University, the US
  • University of Chicago, the US
  • Yale University, the US
  • University of Oxford, the UK
  • University of Cambridge, the UK

Explore the full Economics ranking created by TopUniversities.

You don’t need to limit yourself to these universities. There are other criteria and rankings available, so feel free to check them out:

Finance vs Economics skills

To become a successful financial professional or economist, these are the most important skills you need to develop and master:

  • Gather, organise and interpret data
  • Work with statistics
  • Analyse and evaluate investments
  • Financial reporting
  • Analytical ability
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Accounting skills (especially for financial experts)

Of course, the list could go on. Nowadays, digital skills are essential and basic business knowledge is a big plus. But we’ll let you discover these and other skills during your academic studies.

Finance vs Economics jobs and salaries

Both Finance and Economics jobs are here to stay! In fact, if we take the US as an example, the job outlook is looking great. Here’s the data provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • 14% increase in the demand for economists by 2029
  • 15% increase in the demand for financial managers by 2029

While many occupations are available for Finance and Economics graduates, here are some of the most popular ones out there. We’ve also included the average annual salaries in the US based on data from PayScale:

Finance jobs and salaries

  • Personal Financial Advisor – 63,940 USD/year
  • Financial Analyst – 61,490 USD/year
  • Budget Analyst – 62,500 USD/year
  • Loan Officer – 48,660 USD/year
  • Financial Manager – 74,300 USD/year

Economics jobs and salaries

  • Economic Consultant – 75,980 USD/year
  • Economic Analyst – 62,820 USD/year
  • Credit Analyst – 51,930 USD/year
  • Market Research Analyst – 54,560 USD/year
  • Policy Analyst – 59,500 USD/year

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Conclusions

  • Finance and Economics are related, but not identical disciplines.
  • Economics studies local or global markets, human behaviour, goods and services, etc. Finance focuses on financial systems and everything related: banks, loans, investments, savings, etc.
  • Both disciplines open the doors to well-paid and in-demand jobs.
  • An analytical mindset and the ability to work with trends and numbers are essential to succeed as an economist or financial expert.

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