Finance remains most popular major among grads


Of all the students graduating this May, 188 of them chose to major in finance. The major has remained the most popular at Lehigh since 2019.

Georgette Chapman Phillips, the dean of the College of Business and a professor of finance, said the pandemic may be the reason for the continued popularity of the degree. 

“Today’s undergraduates have lived through such uncertain times,” Phillips said. “You have a whole group of students, who have lived in a bubble of uncertainty, and I readily understand how people are drawn to a major that will lead to a profession that will give a little bit of financial stability.” 

She said the skills students learn from studying finance can apply to any profession, such as the value of money and how lending can impact daily life. 

“Finance is a great major just to set you up for life because no matter what you do or what your final profession is, you need to understand how an economic infrastructure and ecosystem works,” Phillips said.

Rachel Houser, ‘24, plans to use her finance degree to pursue law school next year at Villanova University, focusing on corporate law. 

She said she was intimidated to apply to law school because she didn’t take many writing-intensive courses as an undergrad, but she felt her finance degree set her apart from other applicants. 

“I think the College of Business helped me prepare study-wise, especially going into law school,” Houser said. “It’s very rigorous and challenging.”

She said she feels confident the skills she learned during her undergraduate studies, such as what a 10K is or how to read a balance sheet, will help her well beyond graduation. 

Other students plan to use their finance degree in a more traditional fashion. 

Addison Marshall, ‘24, said she will be working as a healthcare investment banking analyst at Jefferies Financial Group in New York City.

Marshall said she has wanted to work in investment banking since an internship she completed the summer before she began college.

She said she feels prepared for her career through Lehigh’s business program and internships. 

“Some of the classes that you take later on are also super helpful with the knowledge going into my internship,” Marshall said. “I felt super prepared, which is great. Lehigh did a really good job of preparing me.”

She also said the finance alumni network helped her build connections and the alumni she interacted with were always willing to help. 

Charley Furtaw, ‘24, who will be a client services representative at Vanguard, said he also benefited from the alumni network. 

“I used my connections, through alumni who graduated 10, 15, 20 years ago, in helping me get the job,” Furtaw said.  “I used them to get my foot in the door and I think that is the most helpful thing.”

Phillips said she observed an array of emotions, from excitement and joy, to sadness and fear, on display at Lehigh’s business senior sendoff. 

Despite the uncertainty that comes with any major, she said she believes Lehigh prepares students well for their future. 

“We at Lehigh have prepared you for when you do make mistakes,” Phillips said. “How are you going to recoup? How are you going to get back up on your feet? We try to instill the aspect of grit in our students. When you face a setback what do you do? You don’t lay there and wallow, you get up and say, ‘I’ve learned and I’m moving.’” 

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