The 5 Most Important Classes in a Finance Curriculum

By Sarah Brodsky , last updated November 12, 2011

Business schools differ slightly in their course requirements for finance majors, but some topics are so important that you'll find classes about them in any good finance curriculum. Studying these issues is crucial for understanding how businesses handle money and how financial markets work. And classes on these topics will prepare you for more advanced finance coursework or for conducting your own research. That's why you should work hard to master these important facets of the finance curriculum:

Financial Institutions

Banks are an obvious example of financial institutions that are familiar to every beginning finance student, but this subject also encompasses insurance companies, investment funds, and other organizations. A class on financial institutions will explain the structure of the corporations and entities that influence how money is exchanged in the economy. It will discuss how they interact with each other and the contracts that they enter into. And it will teach you how financial institutions are regulated by the government and what laws they have to comply with. Studying this material will help you gain basic knowledge about the financial system.

Business Forecasting

This class shows finance students how managers and economists predict business activity. You may have to take a statistics course as a prerequisite for Business Forecasting, because this course relies on quantitative methods to obtain as much information as possible from the data available to forecasters. If you enjoy working with computer programs, this may be one of your favorite classes in the finance curriculum; you'll be able to practice using software as a tool in creating projections to guide future business decisions.

Behavioral Finance

While the traditional finance curriculum is built on the idea that participants in the economy act in predictable ways to increase their wealth, behavioral finance questions that assumption. In this class, you'll learn how research results from psychology can be applied to finance. And you'll see how investors may make quirky decisions that appear to be inconsistent or go against their self-interest. Your professor will introduce you to lots of empirical evidence about investor behavior, including evidence from real-world experiments.

Mergers and Acquisitions

This is one of the more complex subjects that finance majors study. This course looks at what happens when two corporations merge or one corporation purchases another. You'll learn where the prices of corporations come from and how shareholders are involved in mergers and acquisitions. You'll also study how these events affect a corporation's taxes and become familiar with the relevant federal laws and regulations.

International Finance

This course is an indispensable component of the finance curriculum because the financial markets of individual countries don't exist in isolation; they interact with each other constantly. Your professor will help you explore how one currency can be changed into another and will cover the major factors that cause exchange rates to go up or down. You'll study internation futures and options markets and learn how they work. Other topics that may be addressed are international equity and money markets. You'll also delve into the fascinating topic of loans between separate governments.

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