Accounting and finance degrees are two of the more popular options for students who would like to work in business finance and who have high hopes of earning an above average income out of school. Attending college is almost considered a must in most industries where the job climate is extremely competitive. Not only is it essential to have a degree, it’s essential to have a plan how you’ll pay for that degree as the cost to complete school has continued to rise over the last decade.

Since the cost of living in most major cities in the United States is on the rise, finding out which degree is going to land the higher earning potential is imperative. While they are both great options, one may have the edge over the other in terms of job security and average salary.

See our ranking of the Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Finance Degrees Online.

What is the Difference?

It’s better to understand what differentiates accounting and finance degrees before selecting a major. While both majors are focused on finance, the areas of finance in which the curriculum is focused are very different. The primary difference between the two studies is that finance is generally defined as the management of money whereas accounting is the practice of collecting and tracking of financial information.

Since finance graduates are studying to manipulate money in some way and accounting graduates are studying to track all of the shifts in financial information, each major is going to take a different set of courses. While some courses overlap, here are some of the required curricula that could differentiate between the two degrees:


  • Investments
  • Management of Finance Institutions
  • Financial Markets
  • Finance Modeling
  • Security Valuation


  • Intermediate Accounting
  • Cost Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Income Tax
  • Auditing

How Much Do Finance Majors Make?

According to a study conducted by Forbes, finance majors earn a starting salary of $57,300 fresh out of school with a bachelor’s degree. This makes the degree the 7th highest starting salary out of all of the degrees offered.

Starting salary is important, but knowing how earnings are going to climb throughout the years with experience is also important. No one wants to start off with a top-paying salary to start off in the professional world just to not climb the ladder as they accumulate experience. The average salary with experience depends entirely on what avenue professional travel down. Analysts can earn upwards of $100,000, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the average at $84,300 per year.

How Much Do Accounting Majors Make?

Like finance, there are a lot of different job titles in accounting. Generally, grads who are fresh out of school will work as an assistant or a junior level professional. Data from Payscale shows that entry-level accountants start off around $51,000 per year. As the professional advances or gains experience, they can expect to earn an average salary of $69,350 per year, according to the BLS.

It’s very difficult to pinpoint which degree will pay more than the other. With so many contributing factors that can affect salary, the data can be inaccurate without specifics. When looking at the data available, it does appear that between accounting and finance degrees, finance majors earn more on average.