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Finance degree in high demand

December 03, 2013, Christie Mitchell

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SIU’s good news about enrollment is getting a lot of media attention, and with the largest number of incoming freshman in 20 years, it should.  Even with the impressive gains campus wide, there is a standout department.  The Department of Finance in the College of Business is surpassing most programs with its increase in enrollment and quality of incoming students.  Finance enrollment increased 12.5% and new freshman applications for finance are up 58%, compared to fall 2012. Importantly, these enrollment gains are accompanied with high quality as the new freshman average ACT is 26.2 for finance students. 

So what is causing these notable improvements?  Dr. Mark Peterson, Chair and Gordon & Sharon Teel Professor of Finance, attributes the increase to a combination of efforts.  He said, “We have many great initiatives in the finance department right now that are grabbing the attention of potential students.  The Department sponsors student organizations that provide our students with experiential learning. For example, the Saluki Student Investment Fund gives students an opportunity to manage an investment portfolio worth more than $1million. The Fund has performed well as it has beaten 90% of active professional managers over three, five, seven, and ten year periods. The success of this fund has allowed us to start a Graduate Student Investment Fund this fall. Our other Registered Student Organization, the Financial Management Association, is increasingly active and provides other benefits as these students work together on service activities, learn from professionals who speak to the group, and enjoy social events such as movie nights. Additionally, our faculty perform interesting research that is relevant in the field. This resonates with our students in the classroom. The compilation of all of these activities allows our graduates to be hired into some very impressive positions with prestigious companies.” 

Successful placement of graduates is always an effective recruiting tool. Matt Purdy, Associate Director of the Business Placement Center, states that “SIU’s finance graduates are being sought after by some of the most notable financial firms in the nation.  Recent graduates have secured positions with companies like Edward Jones, Accenture, and Boeing and current students are getting intern and extern experiences with companies such as United Airlines and Transamerica Financial.”  Matt goes on to say “our students are getting hired because they are not only well educated but have also taken advantage of opportunities outside of the classroom to develop their leadership, organizational, and problem solving skills while at the College of Business.”

Fortunately, finance majors are faring well in the job market.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the unemployment rate for finance majors is under 5% and graduates enjoy higher than average salaries during the course of their careers. "From College Major to Career." Best College Majors for a Career. Wall Street Journal, Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Dr. Peterson and his team have developed a well-rounded strategy for continued success in recruitment, retention, and placement.  Enrollment and new student applications are expected to continue to increase in 2014.

Questions about the finance major can be directed to Mark Peterson at map1@business.siu.edu or by phone at (618) 453-1426.