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Business, Finance, or Accounting?

draconisphoenixdraconisphoenix Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
edited October 2015 in Business Major
- Which of these majors would most likely get a job?

- Which major has proved most difficult by students?

- What degree will help you financial wise, and help you manage money?

- Which major tends to focus more on math?

- Can you choose a major and incorporate that with another major if your interested?
ex: Degree with Business and Finance

- And most importantly, which major would you pick?

Replies to: Business, Finance, or Accounting?

  • UCBUSCalumUCBUSCalum Registered User Posts: 845 Member
    I am a CPA and may be a little bias. Accounting has more options for jobs; is probably more difficult and challenging of the business majors; and can help you manage your money. In accounting, you can also transition into finance. You can get a business degree with a concentration in accounting and finance or whatever you can handle.

    The math in business school is not difficult, though for UCB Haas, 1 full year (2 semesters) of calculus is required for admissions. Calculus is hardly used in business school except to prove a complicated economic formula. In the working world, calculus is not used, instead just some simple algebra or geometry is used.

    If I had to do it again, I would get an engineering degree first and then the MBA/Masters rather than a BS in business and then the masters in business.
  • HumphyDumpyHumphyDumpy Registered User Posts: 192 Junior Member
    - I think it depends on how you do but all these three are in close fight.
    - business, being the broader of all three this one is probably hardest
    - Finance, simply put you'll be studying hoe to manage finances of businesses
    - that I cannot answer
    - I believe, yes
    - Business, focusing on finance.

    This is a biased comment based merely on my opinions.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,428 Forum Champion
    edited October 2015
    To answer your questions as best I can in order...
    1) I'd rate accounting first, finance a very close second, and I never heard of a "business major" (usually a business major is a general term and students who study business will major in a specific discipline such as accounting, finance, marketing, management etc.). To determine what careers recruit well from your particular college I suggest you make an appointment with career services to discuss.
    2) Nobody can predict which would be most difficult for you as each individual has his or her own aptitudes. Ex. for some accounting comes fairly easily, not so for others.
    3) Not sure I understand the question ("financial-wise???) but maybe finance for managing money?
    4) Generally business majors require no more than one semester of calculus. Most of the rest of the math is fairly straightforward and done with a calculator.
    5) You can double major - how difficult it is to do so will depend on the school, how may AP credits you have etc.
  • MathStudent123MathStudent123 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    For sure accounting first, then finance and then a very distant ways off any other business major... The guy above nailed it by wishing he'd gotten an engineering degree and then going back for MBA. Personally, I think an MBA is completely worthless and I don't even count it as having gone to grad school (no offense guy above) but for SURE a general undergraduate business degree is a complete waste of time.

    I even work in a financial services company and if someone has no experience and only a business degree, we just throw those resumes away. The basic problem is that business degrees are too easy to get. Every class that's tailored for them is the dumb down "for business majors" version. It's like a guarantee that you're hiring someone that did as little as they possibly could to get through school and didn't really gain any intellectual capital or critical thinking skills. In my experience, that lack of rigor is sooo evident in employees that majored in business and they expect everything to be pretty much worked out for them to know what to do - absolutely the worst problems solvers ever. Yes, there are exceptions but give me a physics major or hell even something from the humanities ANY day over a business student. At least the philosophy/history/literature crew can read and write and might even go home and research something they don't know and come back with some ideas. Business students? Nope - they look around for someone else to figure things out and tell them what to do every time... Intellectual dead weight. Talking about the clear majority here - obviously you've got some smart and motivated people coming out of MIT or Wharton or wherever but even in the just the population of those schools, I'll bet the business students are in the lowest quartile by any measurable standard. The common critique of those fancier schools is that they're just teaching too much textbook stuff and none of that actually matters once they hit their desks... half of it is probably out of date and your business side leaders might not care how well someone knows the case studies from events that happened 5 years ago - it's next year we got to worry about... One of the most useless business leaders I ever worked with was a Harvard MBA - and they don't come much more prestigious than that. I know - just one example - but still made me laugh to watch how utterly ineffective they were.

    At least with accounting, your learning more of a trade so it's something that actually gets used. Personally, accounting is just about the most boring thing that happens in my entire company but I'm glad some people like to do it. Get used to looking at spreadsheets. All. Day. Long. Finance? Pretty much the same deal except they think they've had some math which is usually hilarious considering almost any 2nd year STEM student blows right past the math requirements of a graduate student in finance.. And no counting actuaries since that's its own thing and requires a series of very difficult tests outside of school. The CPA gives accounting some rigor and thus weight - it leads to conversations like this one:
    "Joe was a business major? funny, he doesn't seem like a complete idiot... "
    "well, he did accounting - he's a CPA now"
    "Oh THAT makes sense."

    Anything else from the business side? forget it.. might as well not go to college. Want to get into marketing? For sure don't major in marketing - study history, art, music, psychology, anything but marketing (NO ONE will take you seriously if you get a degree in Marketing)... Studying the business version of Information Technology? don't bother, the real IT people will spot you as a fraud the instant you try to talk about web pages or databases. If you want to study that - at least double major with CS so you're not a complete poser. Human Resources? just don't ever do that... and anyway more and more people are starting to think like this (including me):

    anywho - just another 2 cents...
  • arc918arc918 Registered User Posts: 723 Member
    @MathStudent123 - that's a pretty scathing stereotype you've got going there.

    Perhaps my sample is skewed in the other direction, but I consider some former colleagues at Deloitte and E & Y to be among the sharpest people I've met in my 25+ years of public accounting.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go back to drooling on my desk...
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,428 Forum Champion
    ^^^I agree. More venting from a first time poster than anything else.
  • MathStudent123MathStudent123 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Yeah @happy1 - I suppose that was mostly just a stream of contentiousness rant. Sorry about that... I genuinely do think that business schools should be removed from the university system though. Bare in mind, I'm not talking about economics here either which is a legitimate social science - only "business" as a major.

    It's not even hard to find article after article about this...
    Love the quote: "Yet the 2011 National Survey of Student Engagement found that students who majored in business spent less time preparing for class than students in any other field."

    Hell even the arts and humanities majors have no problem beating business majors at their own game when it comes to grad school. http://blog.prep4gmat.com/majors-with-the-highest-and-lowest-gmat-scores/
    (and again, I'm not counting actuarial science in the business column as that's practically a math degree)

    @arc918 I'm sure you have seen the cream of the crop if you've been working at places like EY or Deloitte... I grant you there's a lot of bright accountants out there (tried to exempt them above)... but I'm talking about the vast majority of business majors, not the top 5% that make into places like that. Surely you would concede that accounting if closer to a trade than an intellectual/academic field on par with Physics or Literature? That's not really meant as a slam by the way - I think nursing is basically the same and nursing is a hell of a lot harder work than anything me or any accountant I know does. Also, we'd all be completely screwed without nurses.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,428 Forum Champion
    edited October 2015
    @MathStudent123 Then we have to agree to disagree. I am basing my assessment on personal history, not articles.

    I firmly believe that undergrad b-schools serve some people (not everyone) very well. I was an accounting major at Wharton (history minor for fun so I had a great liberal arts education as well), worked for a Big 4 firm for many years and went on to have a very nice career. There is no way my family could have sprung for the undergrad education I had and a MBA down the road and there is no way I could have had the career I have without an undergrad business degree. My H went to ND as an accounting major and went back for a Wharton MBA after working a number of years at a Big 4 firm -- he was able to waive out of repetitive classes and felt that his MBA was a life-changing learning experience (and he said that a number of people with accounting backgrounds "kicked ass" in grad school as compared to liberal arts/engineering majors -- they waived out of introductory coursework taken as an undergrad, took more upper level courses, and did very well). And because he had a great job all those years he could pay for his own MBA (his family could not). My S followed us into accounting and also had a fantastic undergrad experience (he went to a Jesuit college and took a full slate of liberal arts classes as part of the core curriculum). got a one year MS in Accounting and is doing great at a Big 4 firm. My younger child had no interest in business and getting a true liberal arts education at a wonderful LAC has been the way to go for her. In life there is no one right answer or one size fits all for everyone which is why it is so important for colleges to offer options.

    Bottom line is some people are ready/desirous of jumping into business as an undergrad and others are not. Both are fine paths, but don't discount the fact that some people (including myself, my H and my S) benefit greatly from an undergrad business education. In addition, given the cost of college today some people need to get good paying jobs after graduation and getting an undergrad degree in a field like accounting (or engineering, nursing etc.) are ways to help insure that they won't have financial problems (ex. college debt but no job) right after college.

    I would, however, advise that people going right for a business degree (or engineering etc.) to also use their undergrad years to get a solid foundation in the liberal arts (yes, there is absolutely time to do both) and be sure to focus on improving skills such as reading, writing, and developing clear and coherent thought processes -- these skills serve people well regardless of their path in life.

    But alas, we are way off of the OP's question so I'll end my comments here.
  • 3rdXsTheCharm3rdXsTheCharm Registered User Posts: 246 Junior Member
    If you think you might want to do accounting, that would be the route to go. You can work in general business with an accounting degree, but you can't be an accountant with a general business degree.
  • MathStudent123MathStudent123 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I completely concede the job search argument - accounting majors have a huge advantage there. For the record I did put accounting first to OP's question. Alas we digress indeed...
  • NedMartNedMart Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    I think the real answer here is, it all depends. Specifically, it depends upon your desired career path. (Full disclosure, I am a former CPA with an undergrad accounting degree from a top 20 and an MBA from a top 10.)

    If you are at a good school and want a lot of exposure to different industries and business models, go accounting and try to work at a top accounting firm where you will be parked at 4 - 10 different clients a year. It is a great career to see a lot of different environments in a very short time. Also, use that exposure to build your network.

    If you want to work in corporate America, a finance degree is probably better. You can work in Accounting, corporate finance, marketing, etc with a finance degree. Might also be able land in a small consulting shop. The knock on a finance degree is that a lot of kids think that is a ticket to portfolio mangement.

    General business is the last thing you want to do. That is where the kids who are drifting end up, and employers know it.

    I actually agree with @MathStudent123 about the value of an MBA. It does not teach you anything you cant get out of a couple well selected books from Amazon. It is a very effective market signal in the Fortune 500, though, almost a prerequisite in many companies now. So, if that is your desire, might as well get you ticket punched.

    I will also agree with MathStudent on the problem solving abilities of STEM grads. But isn't that the point? Those folks have self-selected themselves into problem solving careers. However, in my 30 years of experience (working for both Fortune 500 and start-ups), problem solving is the easy part. Execution is the hard part. Finding people who make commitments and live up to their commitments is the most challenging thing in business.

    My formula for finding people who execute is fairly simple. Look for people who have been promoted within a relatively short period of time at their former company.

    So, my botttom line advice to the poster is: do accounting or finance. Both are solid. Then, in your future jobs, come in early and stay late. Make commitments and exceed them. Take whatever deliverable you are tasked with and make it better. Walk around and get to know people in other departments to help you understand how decisions are made. Stand out as someone who will make their boss look good, then find people who are confident enough to make sure you get credit for your work and work for those people.

    Best of luck!
  • NedMartNedMart Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    Oh, and one more thing to help differentiate between accounting and finance...If you go accounting, you must be prepared to stay current on the evolving rules and requirements. Accounts have to know their stuff, and the stuff changes over the course of just a few years, so be prepared keep learning throughout your career.

    If you are more creative, finance is probably a better route.
  • MathStudent123MathStudent123 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    @NedMart completely nails it - come in early, stay late, etc... take what is given (however minor you may think it is) and go beyond. That's the kind of stuff that gets people noticed and promoted... Also - I couldn't agree more about meeting people from other places/departments in a company. Too often people get stuck in their own bubble and can't see the bigger picture - traveling around a bit in an organization helps that tremendously (even if only socially). In my many years of corporate work, I've noticed that those who can speak more broadly to the needs of the overall organization get moved upwards much faster than those that only focus on the needs of a smaller set. Exceptions are to be found but in general the more holistic thinkers will rise faster and that's as it should be in my humble opinion.
  • lululemonxxlululemonxx Registered User Posts: 193 Junior Member
    From what I hear, accounting is the most stable major to find a job. And if I would rank these three majors for what everyone seems to be saying it would be accounting, followed by finance, and then business.

    No one can answer that question. "Hardness" is on an individual basis, and unless a poll of student who majored in all three could testify somehow.... We would never know. However, unlike what the a previous poster stated... I would think that the more "technical/nitty gritty" major would be more difficult vs. the broader major since you have to be more detail oriented in your learnings. From this. I would say finance followed by accounting. And then business.

    Accounting hands down. That is, after all, what accounting is. Managing funds/book keeping... Which in turn, helps you "control" your money. Finance will, however, help you grow your money.

    Depends on your college. But some do allow you to have some sort of emphasis, or a minor. You can also double major. Cool beans right?

    I have no idea. I'm completely undecided myself. But I hear a lot of bad reviews about a degree in "business" alone. So I would advise you to look into that. The thing is, it seems like you would make a lot more money with a degree in finance. The catch is, you have to be really good at it. And from what I've heard, it's less employable Vs. accounting with a stable and so-so money making deal.

  • AmIReadyAmIReady Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    So what's your college major?
    According to PayScale.com finance is a great degree: http://www.boston.com/jobs/advice/2013/12/30/degrees-that-get-you-the-quickest/FyGu9rutRLeB65PsbRaoSO/story.html#slide-9
    I thought you actually posted a good article from The Economist, but then they had a Futurama quote... That kind of ruined it...
    The articles I read that you posted were pointless. All opinions and no facts.
This discussion has been closed.