The Bachelor of Science degree with a major in finance is an innovative, unprecedented degree program at GW that allows students to focus on finance while they pursue a second major in a non-business field.
“I’m hoping that this will provide students the opportunity to pursue their passion — whatever it is — and still major in a business discipline that makes them very marketable,” said Isabelle G. Bajeux-Besnainou, associate dean for undergraduate programs at GWSB.
Still in its beginning stages, the new option is already attracting students. Last spring, when the B.S. program was pending approval from the Board of Trustees, 17 rising sophomores were accepted on a conditional basis. The board approved the program in May, and it launched this fall.
Around 40 GWSB freshmen attended an informational session about the new finance major on Monday night. A second session, for non-GWSB students will be held on Wednesday in Duques Hall 453 at 6 p.m.
The B.S. degree will coexist with the Bachelor of Business Administration and Bachelor of Accountancy degrees already offered by GWSB. Students in the business administration program choose one or two of seven business concentrations — including finance — and are not able to pursue a second major outside of the School of Business.
Students who choose the B.S. degree option will take fewer core business classes and focus most of their attention on finance coursework. Choosing a second major in a school outside of GWBS will be a requirement for the new program.
Other departments within GWSB are also developing their own curricula for similar programs that will launch in the future, Dr. Bajeux-Besnainou said. For example, students will be able to major in marketing or international business.
Dr. Bajeux-Besnainou is confident that the new model will be advantageous for students, especially for those who are interested in the humanities but are worried that their passions will be difficult to translate into a career.
With this new degree, students will be able to combine two very different types of majors and be increasingly competitive in the job marketplace, Dr. Bajeux-Besnainou said.
On the flip side, a background in the humanities or another non-business field could also help make business students more marketable. Dr. Bajeux-Besnainou said she has talked with many recruiters about the new model, and they are all very excited about it. Though they said technical skills and business knowledge are important, almost all stressed the importance of critical thinking and writing skills.
“They want students who can write well and who are interesting human beings who have something to say outside of the finance area,” Dr. Bajeux-Besnainou said.
Ultimately however, the decision to pursue the traditional B.B.A. degree or the B.S. degree depends entirely on the student, said Christo Pirinsky, an assistant professor of finance. While the B.B.A. program provides breadth on a wide variety of business topics, the finance degree program explores one topic in depth.
“Since the B.S. degree is more specialized, it may be better for people who really know what they want,” Dr. Pirinsky said. “For those who are more uncertain, it might not be a good choice.”
The two deadlines to apply for the finance degree option are Oct. 15 and March 15. Only current freshmen are eligible to apply. The applications for current GWSB and non-GWSB students are online and require students to submit an academic plan and an essay.
For more information about the new program, students can visit the GWSB website.