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New finance major offers opportunities and flexibility beginning fall 2023

There are countless alums from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University who work in the field of finance. They are leaders and aspiring leaders in banking, wealth management, corporate finance and many related professions.

Previously, to acquire finance knowledge, students usually graduated with degrees in accounting, economics or mathematics. Using CSB and SJU’s exceptional instructional strengths, the new major best encompasses student aspirations: Finance.

The program will attract students wanting to understand the roles of money, investments, financial institutions and markets in the broader economy as well as how individuals, corporations and governments can engage with, influence and react to financial markets.

“We’ve developed a broad set of options to study finance giving our students flexibility to focus in the areas that align most with their intellectual interests while also preparing them for their futures,” said Parker Wheatley, professor and chair of the economics department. He along with several colleagues engaged in the careful analysis and design of the program to meet student academic needs and interests. Steven Welch, chair of the accounting and finance department will be the initial director of the finance program. Faculty members Lauri Miller (accounting & finance), Sucharita Mukherjee (economics), Kris Nairn (math) and Bob Hesse (math) also contributed to the formulation of the major and its learning outcomes. “With the support of our innovative liberal arts curriculum at CSB and SJU, our graduates in finance will be prepared to adjust to a dynamic and challenging world and live full lives with successful careers,” Wheatley said. “We’re not just training them for a specific profession. When they leave us, they’re going to have the skills to adapt, innovate and lead.”

A primary goal of the new major is to develop critical thinking, effective communication, ethical reasoning and integrated learning in a broad base of skills tailored to students’ interests. The different tracks will appeal to students based on their academic interests beyond the core foundational finance training that all tracks receive. For example, students in the business finance track will engage in more advanced study of accounting and have the opportunity to investigate business and individual taxation. Students in financial economics will gain greater knowledge of finance in the context of the broader economy as well as studying and applying advanced statistical training. And, students who choose mathematical finance will develop rigorous mathematical preparation to better understand the mathematical theories and approaches that are the foundation of modern finance. Finance students will learn from one another and appreciate the vast field and areas of financial study and work, allowing them to see the breadth of opportunities available to them upon graduation.

“Our current graduates already achieve success in finance,” Wheatley said. “We now have a program where students with an interest in finance can specialize based on the areas of finance where they have greatest curiosity. All students will have a degree in finance, and they will have access to a broad base of faculty in multiple fields with a long and successful record of developing leaders in business and finance. Many graduates have already earned important professional designations (CPA, CFA, CFP, actuarial designations, etc.) and are achieving success in graduate studies in finance and related areas. Our new program has the additional advantage that our students will have flexibility in their choice of track as well as more flexibility to explore interests outside of finance. That opportunity to explore and take ownership of their learning will make them agile learners and thinkers and ultimately better finance professionals.”

Wheatley said he expects some current students will mold their transcripts to fit the finance major, meaning the first degrees are likely to be awarded already in the spring of 2025, if not sooner.

Students in Finance class

Students at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University will be able to focus their coursework in a new major beginning in the fall of 2023: Finance. It will combine related instruction in accounting, economics and mathematics on three different tracks of study.

An instructor teaches a class in finance

Business finance, financial accounting and mathematical finance all will be different tracks students can pursue in a finance degree, tailored to their individual interests and career path.