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.


  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Professional Organizations for Finance Students

Professional organizations help students and professionals expand their networks and advance their careers. Many organizations deliver conferences, networking events, workshops, certification, and continuing education opportunities. These organizations may also provide up-to-date research, scholarship opportunities, and career services. The list below features a few professional organizations for finance students and professionals.

  • National Association of Personal Financial Advisors This national organization of financial professionals provides members with access to a network of peers and potential clients. Membership requirements include advanced education in financial planning and advising, along with at least three years of work experience in the field.
  • Association for Financial Professionals This association works to advance the fields of finance and treasury. AFP administers the certified treasury professional and certified corporate financial planning and analysis credentials. The organization also hosts an annual international finance and treasury conference. Members receive access to networking opportunities and career resources.
  • Society of Financial Service Professionals FSP supports financial services professionals in all disciplines. Members include attorneys, accountants, insurance experts, and financial advisors. Members can access business resources, educational programs, and a network of colleagues. FSP publishes the Journal of Financial Service Professionals and hosts online and in-person events.
  • CFA Institute The CFA Institute provides certifications and educational opportunities for financial professionals. The organization delivers the chartered financial analyst (CFA) certification and the certificate in investment performance measurement credential. Members need a bachelor's degree and must have passed the Level I CFA Exam.a

Scholarships for Finance Students

Students pursuing a master’s degree in finance can qualify for a variety of scholarship opportunities. Learners may qualify for scholarships based on their field of study, academic merit, or membership in an underrepresented group. In addition to scholarships, graduate students often pursue teaching and research assistantships.

Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Government Finance Officers Association offers this scholarship for graduate students preparing for careers in state and local government finance. Candidates must be enrolled full time in a graduate program related to government finance. Applicants must submit a letter of recommendation from someone familiar with the student’s commitment to public service.

Amount: $20,000

Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship from the Government Finance Officers Association supports members of underrepresented minority groups who plan to pursue careers in state and government finance. Candidates may be enrolled full time or part time and must be either an upper-level undergraduate student or a graduate student. Applicants must be studying public administration, accounting, finance, political science, economics, or business administration.

Amount: $10,000

Top Online Master’s in Finance Programs 2021

  • #1 - University of Michigan - Dearborn

    Online Master’s Degree in Finance


    Points: 25

    Total Enrollment: 9,066

    Program Tuition (Out-of-State):$32,000

    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.

  • #2 - Indiana University

    Online Master’s Degree in Finance


    Points: 25

    Total Enrollment: 48,514

    Program Tuition (Out-of-State):$39,000

    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.

  • #3 - Penn State - World Campus

    Online Master of Finance


    Points: 24

    Total Enrollment: 12,242

    Program Tuition (Out-of-State):$30,750

    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.

  • #4 - Nova Southeastern University

    Online MBA with Finance Concentration


    Points: 24

    Total Enrollment: 23,236

    Program Tuition (Out-of-State):$32,760

    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.

  • #5 - University of Houston - Clear Lake

    Online Master of Science in Finance


    Points: 24

    Total Enrollment: 15,256

    Program Tuition (Out-of-State):$35,820

    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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