Wharton will offer specialized tracks within the school's finance concentration beginning in fall 2020.
Undergraduates concentrating in finance will have the option to choose from five tracks, including corporate finance, capital markets and banking, private equity and venture capital, investments, and quantitative finance. Completing one track fulfills at least three of the four required credit units students need to obtain a concentration in finance. Students who choose not to pursue one of the specialized tracks will receive a general finance concentration.
The Wharton Dean’s Undergraduate Advisory Board and the Finance Department worked together to design the specialized tracks, rising Wharton senior and WAB member Miyu Ono said.
The process of creating the tracks included researching the success of business curricula at peer institutions, surveying undergraduate students to gauge interest in the tracks, and working with Wharton professors to create the areas of specialization, Ono added.
Finance Department Chair Joao Gomes said the tracks were created to compete with peer institutions that have more specialized undergraduate curricula and offer more master’s degrees than Wharton. He added that the quantitative finance track is nearly the exact same as the Quantitative Finance major offered to Wharton MBA students.
“[The tracks] enhance the value of education and allow students to learn things that are more relevant to the particular sector they want to work in after graduation,” Gomes said.
Rising Wharton junior Harris Wilson said he plans on completing the private equity and venture capital track because he is interested in working in the private equity industry after graduation.
“Part of the benefit of being in Wharton is having a very specific and applied experience in the classroom,” Wilson said. “I think this track gives an even more tangible application to what I’ll be doing in the real world.”
Wilson said he doesn’t think students should pursue a specialized track just to have it on their resume. He added that, ultimately, employers are likely more concerned about the major or concentration a student chooses than whether or not a student pursues a specialization.
“For me, it was more about using the tracks as a guide to navigate higher-level finance classes,” Wilson said. “The specializations are nice because the Finance Department hand-picked those classes to be the ones that are most relevant for a certain career path.”
Like Wilson, rising Wharton junior Davin Liu said he plans on pursuing the private equity and venture capital track because it combines his interests in finance and entrepreneurship. He added that the new specializations will help students stand out and demonstrate an interest in specific sectors of finance.
Liu added that he worries the tracks will increase demand for certain classes, and believes Wharton should offer more seats or sections for high-demand classes. He cited FNCE 207: Valuation — a class for which he was put on the waitlist before ultimately receiving a spot — which is now listed in three of the five new tracks.
Liu said it’s important to increase the availability of classes such as this one, adding that it would be unfair for the school to determine who gets a spot in a course based on their specialization, as many students want to take courses out of personal interest and passion, which he believes is an equally deserving reason to be in a class.
Rising Wharton junior Brooke Chang said she will prioritize taking the classes that interest her within the finance concentration, rather than solely focusing on classes that fulfill a certain track.
“A lot of the time, people think that, in order to be successful in a certain career, they have to major in a certain department or choose a certain concentration,” Chang said. “I feel like we need to be careful not to feel pressured to pursue a certain track.”