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Nebraska’s Creighton University Launches FinTech Degree Program

May 30, 2019, 08:45 AM
Filed Under: Fintech
Related: Fintech

Digitalization has been a huge disruptor for the financial industry, and Big Data has increasingly made its presence known in the financial services industry. To practice in an environment that melds finance principles with technical skills, finance students need a curriculum in which traditional finance coursework is complemented by technical know-how.

Introducing the Heider College of Business’ newest major – Finance and Technology, or FinTech.

“Compared to, say, five years ago, the field of finance had become far more data driven in all subdisciplines of finance,” says Lee Dunham, PhD, associate professor of finance, chair of the economics and finance department at the Heider College of Business and initiator of the FinTech major at Creighton. “Consequently, having finance majors just acquire the relevant finance ‘textbook knowledge’ is increasingly becoming insufficient to be competitive in the workforce.”

Bridging the gap between classroom theory and real-world practice is an HCB pedagogy hallmark. Given technology’s growing importance in the financial markets, establishing a FinTech major was necessary to remaining current.

Closer to cutting edge, actually. To Dunham’s knowledge, one fellow Jesuit university has a single FinTech class; another offers a three-class FinTech concentration. Columbia and New York University offer FinTech programs, but only at the master’s level.

Dunham did not have road map to follow when he set out to create the FinTech major. So, the professor did his homework. He attended multiple FinTech conferences and met with several firms, both in Omaha and in New York City, to ascertain what specific skills Creighton graduates would need to remain competitive in the changing finance industry.

He also consulted fellow finance professors and practitioners, in addition to business intelligence and analytics (BIA) faculty, to determine the best course selection. After numerous iterations, the faculty determined the new major would include five finance courses and five technology (BIA) courses, all of which are closely linked to the technologies used by firms in the financial services industry.

Forty percent of the FinTech major’s curriculum are newly developed classes. Three new BIA courses were created – Python Programming, Machine Learning and Blockchain – and two new BIA faculty were hired to help support the program. Additionally, the college added a new finance course, Foundations of FinTech.

Students who declare a FinTech major will enjoy the advantages of traditional finance majors. They will be eligible for the New York travel course and can apply to the Portfolio Practicum program.

Currently, Dunham is working with employers to funnel students into internship opportunities specifically geared toward FinTech. The Startup Collaborative, with which Heider College of Business has an established partnership, has a new FinTech Fellows Program in conjunction with First National Bank of Omaha.

“I am hoping our new FinTech major will provide our students with the necessary skill set to possibly originate a FinTech startup and participate in the FinTech Fellows Program,” Dunham says.

The FinTech major will not only make students more competitive in the job market, but it will also “provide them with a thorough understanding of how these technologies are disrupting traditional financial institutions, and how these institutions are starting to respond,” says Dunham.

All the while, “our amazing finance faculty will continue to deliver incredible instruction of the finance coursework, while our amazing BIA faculty will now deliver the necessary technical classes on the technology side of the FinTech major,” he adds.

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