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Finance & Political Science

 

Finance and Political Science: a Degree Ensuring Success

My proposed interdisciplinary studies program will be called Finance and Political Science. Finance and Political Science is a Bachelor of Science program focused around these degrees that PSU already has. This program merges the two together, bringing together some of the more relatable parts of the programs while also sticking to their cores. Economics is considered a social science and acts as a good crossover to bring the two together. It incorporates the importance and role of government and their effect on supply and demand. Finance then allows me to go even more in depth on the government’s ultimately large role in the global financial systems of today. Understanding one of these disciplines gives you an even greater understanding of the other as they complement each other very well. Currently no PSU program offers the type of education I have gotten from meshing these two programs together. Only single programs focused on political science or finance are offered.

This degree is broken up into two parts focusing on mostly upper level finance and political science courses. I have found that if you move directly into upper level finance courses you will cover everything taught in the lower level prerequisites as well. With some convincing I was able to take BU3550 Investment Principles with Christina Bradbury. This is one of the staples of the degree. It will cover what the lower level courses like financial management will teach you. It introduces you to the investment process, investment philosophy, fundamental analysis, technical analysis, and valuation. Dr. Bradbury is my opinion is one of the most knowledgeable professors at this University and I have made it a point to take classes she teaches. MA2200 Finite Mathematics, MA2300 Statistics 1, EC2560 Microeconomics, and EC2550 Macroeconomics should all be taken before this course. MA2200 Finite Mathematics can be replaced with a harder math such as Calculus or Pre-Calculus if you wish. Finite math will help hone your math skills and prepare you for the advanced math that is soon to follow. It also meets the quantitative reasoning requirement. MA2300 Statistics 1 covers everything you need to know related to statistics when it comes to investing. It introduces you to z scores, normal distributions, and standard deviations. Investment principles will show you that the historical data provided on securities means something and that statistics will be the backbone of the analysis you do. EC2560 Microeconomics and EC2550 Macroeconomics will provide you with the bigger and smaller picture of the economy. Macro will introduce you to interest rates and banking, while Micro will show you company specific information. After these four classes you will have a strong understanding of finance and economics. BU3100 Financial Modeling, BU3530 Real Estate Investment, BU4390 Seminar in Finance, and EC4460 Money and Banking take this knowledge to another level. It brings it to a professional level that you can apply on your own. BU3100 Financial Modeling introduces you to the tools used to forecast and analyze data. Dr. Lee adds even more value to his financial modeling class by teaching the students how to use R to analyze this data which is a desirable computer science skill. BU3530 Real Estate Investment introduces new asset classes not previously covered in other classes but still is extremely important to understand. In order to ensure diversification it is important to cover every asset class possible and real estate investment brings you that much closer to covering them all. BU4390 Seminar in Finance adds even more value to what you have already learned in investment principles. It expands on it going into more depth focusing on ultimately being able to create a portfolio. EC4460 Money and Banking brings more detail and finishes off your understanding of all the asset classes in great detail. By this time you now have a very good understanding of bonds, stocks, real estate, foreign exchange, and other derivatives. You now have the ability to make smart investment decisions on your own and forecast and manipulate data to your liking. The eight classes above will cover the scope of the finance portion of the degree.

I have selected six political science related courses, however you can choose to take more or less depending on what you want your degree to be more focused on. I chose finance even though I have taken more political science courses because I would like my degree to be more focused on finance. I would say this is the absolute limit you should be allowed to have freedom on this degree. Taking more than 8 of one discipline or less than 6 will affect the degree overall and make it too biased to one side, unless you are taking more classes to whatever discipline is lacking as electives. I am taking more political science courses as electives and my degree is still in a range where it is not too biased towards one side of the spectrum of finance and political science. Many of the classes I have chosen are also focused around our own political system because it is extremely complex and requires a lot of studying to understand. Through talking with foreign professors and students I have learned that many of them have little understanding of our political system and I have little understanding of theirs. The focus should be around our own government but electives focused around other governments can be extremely valuable. The First classes taken should be PO1020 American Government and PO2200 Public Administration. PO120 American Government will be your first introduction into understanding our government. It will cover elections, political parties, and much of the history that goes into our constitution. PO2200 Public Administration will introduce you to the bureaucratic system of our government and what it’s like working in it. Dr. Fistek does a great job with this class by incorporating a term project focused on a specific agency of our choosing. The next courses that should be taken are PO3680 Public Policy and Analysis, PO3650 American Foreign Policy, and PO3120 Political Parties Elections and Interest Groups. PO3680 Public Policy and Analysis will introduce you to the policy making process. Dr. Fistek again does a great job with the class by giving a term project focused on a policy of our choice that we have to then write and present to Congress (the class). Personally I enjoyed the research that I had to do that went into it and it gave me a great understanding of the process that goes into policy making. PO3650 American Foreign Policy is another very useful class as it introduces you to U.S. interests. Bilateral and multilateral aid, as well as the weathered past of some U.S. policy decisions. PO3120 Political Parties Elections and Interest Groups goes in depth on the election process, introducing you to super PACs and interest groups role in elections. PO3590 the Congress or the Presidency should then be taken because it brings all of these courses together and explains their role on Congress or the Presidency if that course is chosen instead. Dr. Fistek again does a great job with this class by assigning a term paper that makes us look at specific members of Congress. Showing us the effect of campaign financing, incumbency, and interest groups on elections. These courses will give you an understanding of the U.S. political system and prepare you to analyze other political systems.

The Dow Jones often times used as a benchmark of the U.S. economy has risen over 9% since the Trump presidency. It is hard to deny that aside from the obvious reasons covered in micro and macroeconomics that politics plays a large role in our financial system today. By learning the quantitative and qualitative skills of finance and bringing them together with an understanding of government, policy, and agenda making this degree becomes interdisciplinary. When I graduate I plan on working at a banking institution. A degree in Finance and Political Science will give me the understanding to be a modern day banker or analyst with my finance experience and an upper level administrator in a banking environment later in life with political science. I also plan on getting involved in local or state politics adding even more value to the degree. However these two topics are still highly related in my opinion. Banks and funds have changed their focus from only hiring people with a finance or accounting degree to people with more interdisciplinary degrees depending on their needs. A quantitative fund may look for someone with a computer science background, while a fund focused on biotechnology might only hire people with doctorates in gene therapy. Many of these places are adapting to fit what meets their needs and a degree in Finance and Political Science meets the needs of many of these banks and the specialized funds. My chance of success I feel will double with a degree focused on both Finance and Political Science instead of getting a degree in just one of these disciplines.

2 Comments

  • Robin DeRosa

    I think this essay may need a bit more focus in some parts– we will see what the Council says this week when we consider it– but what I absolutely LOVE about it is the way that it integrates the finance piece with the political science, and really moves this program from a multi- to an interdisciplinary program. You’ve selected rigorous courses and explained how they work together to help you build a fuller expertise that would allow you to create a number of careers across diverse economics-related fields. Excited to see how this goes at the Council, and even if we need to do some tweaking, this looks like a terrific start.

  • Will Datilio

    You have a very graduate student mind in creating a program this specific. I think that if you master this field of knowledge you’ll be able to go farther then most as you already have a background at the undergraduate level, letting you focus on more advanced topics later on!
    -Will

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