Get to Know St. Lawrence’s New Finance Major

Housed in St. Lawrence’s economics department, the new finance major combines both theoretical and practical

Housed in St. Lawrence’s economics department, the new finance major combines both theoretical and practical approaches to equip students to tackle some of today’s biggest challenges when it comes to funding public health, education, and other key services.

Program lead and A. Barton Hepburn Associate Professor and Co-Chair of Economics Brian Chezum shared what differentiates St. Lawrence’s program, and how students can leverage their liberal arts experiences to make an impact in a range of fields.

In what ways does St. Lawrence’s finance major differ from similar programs at other institutions?

We will be the only school with a stand-alone finance major across a number of peer institutions. 

What are the benefits of majoring in finance at a liberal arts institution? 

 Finance is a rigorous social science steeped in the scientific method where students will develop theories to explain economic behavior and test them with tools provided by statistics and econometrics. 

The major creates a new path for students to explore their interests and address pressing challenges related to the current state of the economy, global finance, and the funding of public health, education and other essential services. Students will develop the capacity to formulate and test a hypothesis by confronting it with empirical evidence and communicating their results. 

Developing creative solutions to complex problems is what we do at St. Lawrence and why we feel a finance major in a liberal arts setting gives our students an advantage over those studying the field in a less diverse setting. In other words, the major develops and reinforces the skills and the learning goals of a liberal arts education.

In what type of careers will graduates of the finance program make an impact? 

The finance major will prepare students for a variety of post-graduation paths. Too often we think of careers in finance as pertaining to industries such as commercial and investment banking, securities dealing and trading, or commercial real estate. Careers in finance cut across society. Financial planning and assessment is fundamental to the success of for-profit, not-for-profit, governmental and non-governmental organizations alike.  

Finance majors may find careers performing financial planning, budgeting, capital budgeting, or risk management within the finance departments for any type of organization. 

For example, finance majors may choose to pursue careers…

  • conducting financial analysis for institutional or personal investors on Wall Street or Main Street
  • in financial management for large companies (like Google or Amazon) or small local companies (like Ogdensburg’s Ansen Corporation)
  • with both large and small not-for-profit organizations such as Green Peace on an international scale, United Way on a national scale, or the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) on a local scale
  • in public service at the Federal Reserve Banks, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • in financial management for state and local governments
  • in international civil service agencies like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or in any of a plethora of regional economic development agencies. 

The possibilities are endless as financial planning challenges continue to confront society. 

How will faculty in this program support their advisees’ career exploration? 

Finance students will be encouraged to complete an experiential learning component which may include an internship, a community-based learning (CBL) course, an abroad program, an independent research project, or courses in professionalism, to help explore career goals and connect course material with the real world.  

What skills do you see are needed in the finance sector and how will our major ensure students graduate with them?

 The skills needed in the finance sector are skills that we emphasize throughout our liberal arts curriculum. Students who graduate from this program will possess the ability to reason quantitatively through the study of the computational tools of finance, to think critically to analyze and resolve complex problems, to evaluate and effectively communicate key ideas, and to understand ethics and inequality in the field of finance. 

What excites you most about the future of this program?

The finance major creates an opportunity for us to attract a diverse student body, promote inclusivity in the classroom, and support the University’s mission of diversity.

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