Study Banking: Associate's, Bachelor's & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in an undergraduate banking program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Banking Associate's and Bachelor's: Degrees at a Glance

Banking studies at the associate's level can be found as a concentration within a business program or as a standalone banking program. At the bachelor's level, you'll typically find banking studies as a specialization within a business administration program. The associate's program is designed to give you banking training that prepares you for entry-level positions, while the bachelor's program could lead to mid-level management careers in the banking or finance industries.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that securities, commodities and financial services sales agents would see a 15% increase in employment from 2010-2020, which was about as fast as the average of all occupations. The BLS also noted that you may face competition for these positions, and candidates who have a graduate degree would probably have the best opportunities. Investment bankers and brokers may also need to obtain a license.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking entry-level employment in the banking and finance industry People looking to become mid-level banking managers
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Teller ($23,000)*
- Bank and commercial loan processing clerk ($31,000)*
- Online banking specialist ($34,000)*
- Private banker ($58,000)*
- Banking operations department manager ($48,000 - with six years of experience)*
- Business banking manager ($114,000 - with seven years of experience)*
- Online banking manager ($67,000 - with four years of experience)*
- Securities, commodities and financial services sales agents ($72,000)**
Tim to Completion Two years, full-time Four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Core business courses
- Up to ten courses covering banking and finance principles
- About seven core business courses
- Approximately six courses covering banking concepts
- Internship/field experience
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma or GED
Online Availability Yes Yes

Sources: *Salary.com (September 2012 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Banking

Associate's programs in banking, such as the Associate of Applied Science in Banking Services, can prepare you for work at a variety of financial institutions, including banks, credit unions and private financial businesses. Many programs give you a foundation in business principles as well as specific training in banking. Some of the topics you might cover include asset management, communication, financial laws and business writing. Programs are generally focused on coursework and don't give you many opportunities to get hands-on learning experience.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can give you the skills employers look for when hiring tellers or banking specialists (using computer applications, business math, solving banking problems, etc.)*
  • Most programs are designed so you can transfer to a bachelor's program if you choose
  • Skills taught in a banking program can often be applied to business-related jobs outside of banking and finance

Cons

  • You may be competing for positions against applicants with only a high school diploma and experience
  • Employers who are seeking applicants with a degree generally want people who have a bachelor's degree
  • Programs don't usually include many options to get hands-on experience or pursue an internship

Source: *Job listings from employers in September 2012.

Courses and Requirements

You can expect most of your learning to come from coursework covering finance and banking concepts. Some programs include a couple general business courses that cover concepts that are useful in a variety of industries, such as accounting, marketing, finance and business economics. You may need to complete a practicum in some programs, but this is not a universal requirement to obtain an associate's degree in banking. Some of the courses you might take include:

  • Banking principles
  • Consumer lending
  • Business law
  • Commercial lending
  • Selling financial products

A limited number of schools may give you a chance to participate in an internship that awards you course credit and real experience at the same time, but this is not a common trait of most banking associate's programs.

Online Options

The associate's degree program in banking is available completely online. Since most on-campus banking programs are based on coursework, the program can be structured in a distance-learning format and doesn't detract from your learning opportunities. Since few on-campus programs offer work experience options and generally focus on lecture coursework, you can expect to cover the same or similar banking topics if you go with an online program.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Depending on which career you plan on pursuing, you might want to look into obtaining a certification to put yourself ahead of other applicants. For example, the American Bankers Association (ABA) offers the Certified Bank Teller (CBT) designation. You'll need to complete a set of training courses and have at least six months of experience as a bank teller before you can take the CBT exam. The ABA also offers a variety of self-paced online courses that can give you additional skills in a particular banking specialty.

Many financial institutions prefer to hire workers who have experience in the banking industry, which you can develop by finding available jobs at a bank or credit union. You may be able to find a part-time job as a teller as long as you have completed high school and have solid skills in math.

Bachelor's in Banking

Bachelor's degree programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Bachelor of Business Administration, offer concentration options in banking and can also give you a strong foundation in business principles. You could learn how to analyze financial statements, comprehend business laws and use problem-solving techniques. Most of the program is based on coursework, but you may also be required to complete an internship as well. If you already have an associate's degree, you may need to complete some specific prerequisite courses before you can pursue a bachelor's degree.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Many middle-level banking positions require at least a bachelor's degree
  • Most programs offer an internship or field experience opportunity
  • Many of the business concepts included in the programs can be useful for other industries outside of banking

Cons

  • Other jobseekers may only have an associate's degree and experience
  • Programs typically offer a general business education, which may not give you in-depth training in banking principles
  • Some management-level positions and advancement opportunities may require a Master of Business Administration degree

Courses and Requirements

You'll typically begin the program by taking some basic math and business courses. Most programs require a core set of business courses, including economics, accounting, operations management and marketing principles. Some of your banking course options may include:

  • Financial planning
  • Selling financial services
  • Commercial lending
  • Commercial banking
  • Bank regulation
  • Loan structures

You can expect to complete an internship or field learning experience at some point in the latter part of the program.

Online Degree Options

This bachelor's degree program is available in a distance-learning plan. Your learning opportunities in an online program are nearly identical to an on-campus program, but keep in mind that you may miss out on an internship or other hands-on learning experience if you opt for this format. Even on-campus programs may offer some of your required courses online. Banking studies fit well with online learning methods, making it a viable option for students who can't travel to campus each week.

Standing Out with This Degree

There are a variety of certification options for bachelor's degree holders, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation offered by the CFA Institute. You'll need to complete a series of required coursework and have a bachelor's degree before you can take the exams that lead to the CFA designation. If you're interested in working as a bank compliance manager, the ABA offers the Certified Regulatory Compliance Manager (CRCM) credential. You'll need to complete compliance-related training and have at least three years of relevant experience before you can pursue the CRCM designation.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Accounting
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate: Business Admin. - Office Mgmt
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    2. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting
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    3. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Accounting
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
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    4. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Argosy University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Business Administration (AS)
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Accounting
      • A.S. Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Business
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Accounting - Associate
      • Business Administration - Associate
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Accounting
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Milwaukee, WI

    Milwaukee Area Technical College

  • Valdosta, GA

    Wiregrass Georgia Technical College

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Kaplan University

  • Associate: Accounting
  • Associate: Business Admin.
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Keiser University

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Herzing University

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American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

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Argosy University

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. Accounting
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  • A.S. General Studies - Business

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Baker College Online

  • Accounting - Associate
  • Business Administration - Associate

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Colorado Technical University

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  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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