Credits Required for Graduation: 

Learn More About This Program


People who choose the finance program like to work with numbers, interact with people and they like structure. If you like to balance your checkbook, and are interested in investments, finance may be the program for you. To be successful in the field of finance, you will need good math skills, enjoy helping others make financial decisions, and the ability to analyze alternative financial choices.

There is a growing need for individuals and businesses to make critical financial decisions. In the current environment of aging baby boomers, Gen Xers maximizing their earning potential, and the increasingly complex financial world, the area of finance is poised for continued growth. Professionals will be needed to guide investors and business to evaluate alternative financial options, assess financial risks, and develop strategies to minimize risks. In 2006 Money Magazine ranked the career of financial adviser as number three out of their ten best careers of the future.

The finance program focuses on the following areas: Banking, Investing, Insurance and Corporate Finance. Students take classes in all of these areas. The goal is to provide a broad exposure to all the skills needed for various careers in finance.

Historical Curriculum

Program Head:

Brenda Updike
Business Education Center, 202E


Tom Strom
Business Education Center, 204D

Brenda Updike
Business Education Center, 202E


Business Professionals of America (BPA)

The BPA chapter will be started in Fall 2008 and will include students from all business majors. If you are interested in joining, contact your instructor. The division advisors will be Gail Fancher and Kari Knower.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some career opportunities available to Finance Graduates?

Graduates can either work in Banks/Credit Unions, Insurance Companies, Brokerage Firms or the finance department in major businesses. Some positions available would be Credit Manager, Loan Officer, Credit Analyst, Credit Counselor, Sales Associate, Accounting Assistant, Operations Clerk/Manager, Financial Planning Assistant, Finance Training, Customer Service Representative and Financial Consultant.

Once I complete my Associate Degree in Finance, where could I transfer this degree to further my education?

Western has articulation agreements with a number of higher education institutions that will allow you to transfer some or all of your credits towards a bachelors program. To see those options go to the following site: Transfer out of Western.

What will my classes be like?

The finance program is a daytime program. Most finance classes are offered in two formats; face-to face for three hours once per week, and blended (two hours face-to-face and one hour online) with the entire blended courses being offered in a single day on Wednesdays.

A new option is the block and blend format.

This format is a blended course, single day a week option, would be a good fit for a working adult who needs to limit his/her time away from work, yet is a well organized and motivated learner. A student using the blended method will rely on online learning as part of their class participation. The primary online learning tool will be Blackboard, which is the college's course management system. The two credit course, 10-103-120 Intro to Online Learning, is recommended for students considering the blended option, yet is not required. The basic skills needed to use Blackboard and participate online will be covered in the first course, Introduction to Finance. Blackboard is used in many of the traditional face-to-face classes as well.

Are there certifications related to the program?

An optional certification is the Financial Health Counselor Certification, which is a one credit class.

Will there be an orientation for new Finance students?

Yes, an orientation is scheduled at the beginning of each fall semester for beginning students. In addition, your first course, Introduction to Finance, will assist you with developing an education plan, personal goals and discovering your learning style.

How important is it to stay in sequence with the courses that I take each semester?

It is extremely important, if you want to complete your program in the shortest amount of time. You need to be careful to follow the curriculum plans that are set-up for you or you may end up extending your education one or two extra semesters depending on the courses that are out of sequence. Some courses are prerequisites that you must take before you are able to enroll for other courses. Also, many classes are offered once a year; fall or spring only. Therefore if you miss one it will put you behind depending on when it's offered. Make sure to meet with you faculty advisor and go through your classes before registration every semester.

What happens if I don't meet the admissions criteria?

Either a counselor or the test evaluator will go over the results with you. If you are unable to get the results right away, you will either be contacted by phone or mail by the Admissions Office. There are many factors that play into what will happen next. You will either be referred to the Instructional Support Services area for developmental work, be required to take other college courses prior to acceptance or discuss your scores, etc. with a counselor and need to retest. If you don't meet the entrance requirements you will be placed in program prep status. If you have more questions related to assessment, refer to the following web address:

Will there be an Advisor/Counselor available to help me?

Yes, we have student advisors for all Business programs:

Barb Fitzsimmons - Main Contact
La Crosse Campus, Welcome Center

Marie Kliebenstein
Regional Locations Enrollment Services Advisor

Counseling services are available at Western. If you would like to see a counselor please call 608.785.9553 or toll-free 800.322.9982 to schedule an appointment. For more information on counseling services, visit

Will I have a faculty advisor?

Yes, you will have an advisor specific to your program until you graduate. It will be necessary for you to meet with your advisor prior to registration every semester. To find out who your advisor is you will need to contact the Business Division Office at 608.785.9168.

Will I be able to receive Financial Aid?

You will need to discuss that with the Financial Aid office or you can check out the online information at The Financial Aid office is located on the La Crosse Campus, Welcome Center. You can reach them by phone at 608.785.9302.

Typical Duties/Essential Functions:

  • Analyze financial alternatives to determine the best return and best fit for the individual or business needs
  • Develop relationships with clients to guide their financial decisions
  • Educate clients on financial products and choices such as insurance, loans, investments, retirement planning
  • Analyze the financial risk in an organization and take steps to reduce the risk
  • Use spreadsheets and calculators to calculate returns