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The Finance major is a department within the College of Business. Learn more about this major by watching the JMU Finance promotional video.


Financial Analysis
Financial Risk Management

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Finance Major site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

Finance is offered as a major at JMU through the Department of Finance and Business Law. The Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in Finance offers a strong foundation in the principles of valuation, financial statement analysis, and the concepts behind sound financial decision-making. The finance major is designed to prepare students for careers in the financial management of industrial and commercial enterprises; financial institutions; investment analysis and portfolio management; finance positions in federal, state and local governments; and graduate study. The required major courses provide all finance majors with an emphasis in financial management, investments, markets, and analytical skills.  Electives permit the student to specialize in areas such as international finance, portfolio management, risk management, financial analysis, and real estate.

Students must successfully complete lower‑level business requirements and apply for admission in to the College of Business in order to pursue the Finance major. Students interested in pursuing a business major are encouraged to begin taking lower‑division business courses as early as possible.

More About the Field 

The study of finance prepares students for a variety of career opportunities. Financial management studies individual, corporate, or governmental financial planning, asset and liability management, and corporate budgeting. Students interested in investment management learn analysis of financial investments and the economic interaction between the financial institutions and the financial markets in which they operate. Some students interested in the international aspect of finance study asset and liability management, capital budgeting, fund-raising, and exchange transactions for multinational corporations. They also study international financial markets, financial institutions, and risks involved in foreign transactions. Students study asset and liability management of institutions, with special consideration given to the legal and regulatory environment to prepare for careers in depository institutions and regulatory agencies.


Finance involves the study of how money is stored, protected, received, distributed, and generally managed. It is a broad area that tends to overlap into a number of specialized fields such as investment management, asset securitization, risk management, real estate, and banking. Areas of specialization are: financial risk management and financial analysis.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Finance majors will often combine their study with Business Analytics, Computer Information Systems, Economics, Mathematics, and Statistics.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Successful students in finance have a strong aptitude for solving problems, and analyzing, comparing, and interpreting financial and economic data. Strong written and oral communications skills are also important. Knowledge of and familiarity with spreadsheet and other database management tools is essential. Internships and / or other experiential learning are strongly encouraged.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that use skills and experiences developed during their years in college. For example, many students major in finance as preparation for law school and for further study in finance.

Keep in mind, that some fields will require certification, graduate study, or further training. Possible career paths include the following:

  • Appraiser
  • Auditor
  • Bank Examiner
  • Bank Manager
  • Bond Portfolio Manager
  • Budget Analyst
  • Commodities Trader
  • Consultant
  • Controller
  • Cost Engineer
  • Credit Analyst
  • Credit Counselor
  • Estate/ Financial Planner
  • Financial Accountant
  • Financial Advisor
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Manager
  • Financial Risk Manager
  • Investment Analyst
  • Investment Banker
  • Loan Officer
  • Loan Reviewer
  • Mortgage Analyst
  • Pension Fund Manager
  • Portfolio Analyst
  • Portfolio Manager
  • Pricing and Cost Analyst
  • Program Analyst
  • Rate Analyst
  • Real Estate Analyst
  • Real Estate Consultant
  • Research Analyst
  • Risk Consultant
  • Securities Trader
  • Tax Director
  • Treasurer
  • Trust Analyst

Who Employs Graduates?

Employers of finance professionals encompass many sectors of the economy, including manufacturers, financial service firms, and government employers.  Examples include:

  • Accounting firms
  • Airlines
  • Commercial banks
  • Consulting firms
  • Corporations
  • Credit unions
  • Engineering firms
  • Estate Investment Trusts
  • Export/Import trade companies
  • Federal/State/Local governments agencies
  • Financial service firms
  • Foundations
  • Hedge Funds
  • Insurance companies
  • Investment banks
  • Mutual funds
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Pension funds
  • Pension management companies
  • Private equity firms
  • Ratings companies
  • Savings & loans associations
  • Securities and commodities trading firms
  • Trust companies

Professional Designations

Many finance professionals earn professional designations or certifications during their careers.  For example, finance professionals in the field of investment management and analysis are likely to pursue the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. As another example, finance professionals who manage risks for business entities will often pursue the Financial Risk Manager designation (FRM). These professional designations often require additional self-study or formal coursework beyond the undergraduate studies typical for students majoring in finance. 

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Students can gain internship and practicum experiences to help prepare them for careers in finance. Students are highly recommended to start internship experience early, such as the summer at the end of sophomore year. Students are encouraged to visit JMU Recruit-A- Duke and department canvas site for various internship opportunities.

Students may also consider involvement in one of the 23 student organizations in the College of Business, such as the Financial Management Association or the Madison Investment Fund. Involvement in these organizations offers professional activities such as speakers, visits to companies, and workshops, all of which assist students in enhancing their leadership, communication and personal relationship skills.

Students are encouraged to participate in case competitions and challenges throughout the year. A few examples are CFA Investment Research Challenge, DataBlitz, Community Bank Case Competition, etc.

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Budget Analysts
Cost Estimators
Financial Analysts
Financial Managers
Insurance Underwriters
Loan Officers
Personal Financial Advisors
Securities, Commodities and Financial Services Sales Agents

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to

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