Top Online Master’s in Finance Programs 2021

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An online master's in finance can qualify business professionals to pursue senior and leadership positions. Although finance programs are more specialized than MBA programs, both prepare students for executive roles. Students earning a master's degree in finance explore foundational concepts and strategies related to financial theory, investments, reporting and analysis, and valuation. While many MBA programs require work experience, individuals often enter finance master's programs immediately after earning their bachelor's degree.

Graduates of finance programs often pursue careers as financial analysts, investment bankers, stockbrokers, and financial consultants. Many careers in the field feature above-average earning potential and good employment projections. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial analysts earn a median annual salary of $81,590. The BLS projects employment for financial analysts to increase 5% from 2019-2029.

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What Can I Do With a Finance Degree?

Finance degrees help learners develop expertise they can apply to positions in various industries and sectors. A master's degree in finance typically requires 30-36 credits and takes 1-2 years to complete. Courses cover topics such as speculative markets, quantitative methods, fixed income securities, and mergers and acquisitions.

Most finance programs culminate in a capstone experience, such as a thesis or research project. Program requirements and available courses vary by school, and some finance programs offer concentrations to help learners further specialize their degree. Finance students may also complete internships to gain hands-on experience.

Some programs in the field feature curricula that align with the requirements for professional certifications, such as the chartered financial analyst (CFA) and the certified financial planning credentials. Learners should also consider each prospective program's format. For example, students in cohort-style programs progress through courses with a group of peers, while other programs allow degree-seekers to learn at their own pace.

Accreditation for a Finance Program

Accreditation demonstrates that a school or program meets set standards of quality. Institutions can receive regional or national accreditation. Regional accrediting organizations typically evaluate academically focused schools, while vocational and for-profit institutions usually receive national accreditation. Because regional accreditation requires schools to meet more rigorous standards, most regionally accredited institutions only accept transfer credits earned from other regionally accredited schools.

Other national accreditation agencies evaluate programs in a specific discipline. Programmatic accrediting organizations in the business field include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools a Programs.

The U.S. Department of Education maintains a searchable database of accredited institutions and programs. Students can use the database to find a regionally accredited institution and to verify the accreditation status of prospective schools.

FAQ about Master's in Finance Programs

Is a master's in finance different from an MBA?

Master's in finance programs deliver targeted coursework that prepares learners for positions in the finance sector. MBA programs, on the other hand, help students gain a broad knowledge base in various areas of business. Learners typically complete master's in finance programs more quickly than MBA programs.

Are finance degrees in demand?

Yes, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 5% growth for business and finance professions from 2019-2029, which is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

What can you do with a master's in finance?

Potential careers for graduates of online finance master's programs include financial analyst, investment banker, stockbroker, and personal financial advisor.

Is it better to have a CFA or a master's in finance?

The ideal credential depends on each individual's career goals. Students can earn a master's in finance to gain knowledge of the financial sector relatively quickly. Earning the CFA credential demonstrates specialized skills in areas including asset management, investment analysis, and portfolio strategy. Most professionals earn the CFA in about three years.

What Are the Requirements for a Finance Program?

Applicants to master's programs in finance typically need a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, along with a minimum GPA and sufficient test scores. Students who do not meet a program's minimum GPA or test score requirement may qualify for conditional admission based on other aspects of their application. Candidates may also need to submit college transcripts, a resume, a statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.

Admitted students complete coursework and a capstone, which may comprise a thesis or internship. Most finance programs require learners to maintain a minimum GPA.

Courses in a Finance Program

Master's degree programs in finance usually require 30-36 credits, or about 10-12 courses. Learners typically complete core courses and electives, which learners can use to specialize in a certain area of finance. The following list highlights a few courses commonly available in finance master's programs. Curricula vary by program, so students should contact their prospective institution to verify course availability.

  • Corporate Finance and Risk Management

    This course prepares students to manage risk in corporate settings. Coursework explores risk associated with interest rates and inflation, foreign exchange, credit, and mergers and acquisitions. Students analyze case studies, and graduates can apply learned skills to positions as treasurers, traders, accountants, consultants, bankers, and private equity investors.
  • Quantitative Methods in Finance

    In this course, finance students learn to conduct quantitative analyses. Learners explore cash flow analysis, statistics and probability, regression analysis, correlation, and sampling and hypothesis testing. Most programs offer this class as a core course, since it prepares master's students for more advanced courses and projects. For example, students may conduct statistical analyses while completing a capstone project or thesis.
  • Options and Futures

    This advanced finance course examines the theoretical basis and practical applications of derivative securities. Students learn to understand and valuate basic derivatives to manage financial risk. This course requires a foundation in quantitative and economic arguments, and students may need prerequisite coursework in statistics, calculus, and business finance.
  • Portfolio Management

    Learners in this course develop core competencies in selecting stock portfolios and measuring returns and performance. The class covers topics including fixed income portfolios, equity portfolios, hedge funds, and the theory and practice of portfolio management. Students also learn practical applications of security analysis concepts. Many finance programs offer this advanced course as an elective.
  • International Finance

    This course introduces students to international financial operations. Coursework explores topics such as political and social pressures, risk and credit evaluation, and foreign trade financing. Students learn about major trends and developments in international business, international banking organizations, trade policy and law, international trade agreements, and foreign exchange markets. This advanced course builds on concepts introduced during corporate finance classes.

Featured Online MBA Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Top Online Master's in Finance Programs

true University of Michigan - Dearborn $32,000 25 NAME

The University of Michigan – Dearborn is internationally recognized for its attentive faculty, engaged alumni network, and a diverse academics program. UM – Dearborn’s College of Business is among only the 25% of business schools accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business-International (AACSB). This specialized college offers a master of science online, and graduates with this degree have succeeded in careers in corporate finance, investment management, and other related roles. UM-Dearborn additionally offers an online master of finance degrees in the MBA program or as a dual MBA/MS in finance degree option.

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true Indiana University $39,000 25 Online MA in Finance

Indiana University has an enormous academic network, with multiple satellite locations in addition to IU Online; the Kelley School of Business has a stellar reputation, and is regarded among the nation’s top choices for job recruiters; Kelley is the second leading producer of CFO’s, counting fourteen alumni in the Fortune 500. Kelley’s 30-credit online master’s of finance degree delivers courses in economics, risk management, financial management, and quantitative analysis.

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true Penn State World Campus $30,750 24 Online MA in Finance

Revered on a national and global scale, Penn State University is also offered as an online world campus. Penn State’s online graduate business school is considered a “Best Online Program” by U.S. News and World Report; this business school offers an online master of finance, a 30-credit degree that is AACSB accredited and facilitates a collaborative learning environment among its cohorts. The online master of finance graduate emerges well-versed in capital budgeting, strategic financial decisions, multinational financial management, and other advanced topics in the industry.

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true Nova Southeastern University $32,760 24 Online MBA with Finance Concentration

Celebrated for its diversity, small class sizes and affordability, Nova Southeastern University’s academic programs have received multiple accreditations. The H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business & Entrepreneurship is one of Nova’s specialized schools, and prospective students can apply here for an online master’s in finance degree; this degree is offered as an MBA concentration, typically completed in 21 months. MBA in finance online students are exposed to a unique array of curriculum that is centered around the needed skills in today’s finance industry; among others, the related courses include banking, real world finance for managers, investments, and financial engineering. H. Wayne Huizenga’s approach to finance includes topics in both theory and analysis, along with relevant techniques in the field.

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true University of Houston - Clear Lake $35,820 24 Online MS in Finance

University of Houston Clear Lake is a respected institution with one of the highest ranked business schools in the country. UHCL’s College of Business offers an online M.S. in finance, which is among a small group of schools accredited by the globally renowned Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); this online master’s in finance program has 30-credit hours that can be completed in twelve or fifteen to eighteen-month degree plans. The majority of this college’s finance graduates secure work as financial planners, bank officer, auditor, tax compliance manager, and other lucrative positions.

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Featured Online MBA Finance Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

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