According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial analysts employment is projected to grow 16% through 2022 – above average – and jobs for financial managers are expected to grow 9%. In an increasingly competitive job market, financial professionals will need specialized skill sets and, ideally, certifications to prove it.
CFPs, in particular, will continue to be an essential asset for personal financial planners. The good news is that most of these certification programs are short (hence, relatively cheap). Obtaining certification becomes crucial when you realize that even if you don’t have one, chances are your competitor does. So don’t let a few months worth of additional work get in the way of you getting (or keeping) the job you want. Check our top 20 online certification programs in financial management.
Interested in more general information on distance learning? Visit our ranking of the best online colleges.
- Affordability (1/3): the average out-of-state tuition per credit hour
- Completion Time (1/3): minimum amount of course work required for certification
- Academic Reputation (1/3): the rank of the school’s parent institution according to US News
1. Penn State University
Online Graduate Certificate in Public Budgeting and Financial Management
Penn State University offers a graduate certificate in Public Budgeting and Financial Management that takes just three courses: Governmental Fiscal Decision-Making, Government Financial Management, and Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting. All classes are taught by experienced experts and designed for maximum flexibility so students can complete coursework on their own schedules. In particular, the curriculum covers fiscal and governmental aspects of budgeting and financial management, development of organizational budgets, and governmental and non-profit accounting in a public policy area of the student’s choice. Graduates will be prepared for a broad range of professions, including as a financial manager, consultant, controller, governmental accountant, community accountant, fiscal policy analyst, and more. Certificate completion time is one year.
- Total tuition is $2,475.
2. Thunderbird School of Global Management Online
Executive Certificate in Global Finance
Thunderbird’s School of Global Management offers an executive certificate in Global Finance that consists of 3 courses: Finance Essentials for Global Managers, Advanced Global Financial Management, and an elective. Courses deliver in accelerated 8-week blocks, and students can expect to graduate in just one year after completing a final comprehensive assessment. (Students must also submit two discussion board postings to Weeks 1, 4, and 8 of each course.) Designed for working professionals, experienced executives, and post-MBA grads, among the areas of concentration are: efficient working capital management; fundamentals of foreign exchange, parity conditions, and various foreign currency exposures in multinational firms; identifying international risk; extracting data from financial statements to analyze the operating, investing, and financing activities.
- Total tuition is $4,752.
3 (tied). Stanford University
Online Graduate Certificate in Financial Risk Analysis and Management
Stanford University offers a graduate certificate in Financial Risk Analysis and Management that consists of three courses (among these 4): Theory of Investment Portfolios and Derivative Securities, Financial Models and Statistical Methods in Risk Management, Credit Risk: Modeling and Management, and Data-driven Financial and Risk Econometrics. In particular, students learn: analysis and prep for market turmoil, commodities pricing, exchange rates, and contract fulfillment; cash reserve investment for loans and credit in ways that balance risk and expected returns; and risk in general for investment. The certificate is primarily designed for financial officers, venture funding professionals, entrepreneurs, and engineers with financial responsibilities. Students are provided with maximum schedule flexibility and complete their certificates within 1-2 years on average, though may take up to 3 years.
- Total tuition is $10,080.
3 (tied). Northwestern University, School of Continuing Studies
Financial Planning Certificate Online
Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies offers a Certified Financial Planner program that consists of 6 courses: Intro to Financial Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Income Tax Planning, Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits, Estate Planning, and Financial Plan Development and Presentation. With both synchronous courses and asynchronous courses, students have the opportunity to both learn in a live virtual classroom setting and work on their own time, allowing for maximum scheduling flexibility. (There is a traditional face-to-face program on weeknights, as well.) Students can expect to earn their CFPs in as little as 9 months online and 14 months in person. The program is accredited Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
- Total tuition is $6,119.
5. Colorado State University
Online Graduate Certificate in Applied Finance
Colorado State University offers a graduate certificate in Applied Finance that requires 3 courses: Quantitative Business Analysis, Financial Principles and Practice, and Financial Markets and Investments. From there, students have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of electives to tailor their curriculum, including Options and Futures, Corporate Risk Management, Fundamentals of Bond Markets, Fundamentals of Firm Valuation, and Fundamentals of Real Estate Finance, among others. Certificate completion time varies, but students should be able to complete the 11-credit requirements within 2-3 years. All course work is designed for maximum flexibility in order to accommodate students’ busy schedules, and online students have access to a range of resources, including email, advising, career services, social media networking, and library services.
- Total tuition is $1,098.
6. Harvard University
Harvard University’s corporate finance certificate requires four courses, which students can take up to three years to complete. Students choose one corporate finance course; one valuation course, such as mergers and acquisitions; and two electives courses, with choices like investment theory and applications or capital markets and investments. This financial management certificate online is an open program with no application requirements; students register for courses during one or more of the three registration periods open every year. Students must earn a minimum of a B in each course in order to earn their certificate. Average program completion time is one-and-a-half years. Those who complete the certificate can apply these credits toward a Harvard master’s degree in finance or management.
- Total tuition is $9,600.
7. Indiana University
Indiana University offers a graduate certificate in Public Budgeting and Financial Management that requires 3 courses: Public Management Economics, Government Financial Accounting and Reporting (V542) or Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations, and Public Finance and Budgeting. From there, students have the opportunity to choose 6 credits of electives to fit their particular needs and interests; these include Revenue Theory and Administration, Government Budget and Program Analysis, and Public Capital and Debt Theory. In particular, the certificate is designed for pre-career students, including graduate students in other disciplines, and for in-service professionals who want additional expertise in their work or who plan to change their roles. Upon completion of the certificate, all students will have an in-depth knowledge of public financial management and control, governmental or non-profit accounting, and public expenditure planning, management, and fiscal control. Students are typically able to complete course work in as little as 1 year.
- Total tuition is $9,864.
8 (tied). Cornell University
Cornell University offers a graduate certificate in Financial Management that consists of 6 courses: Mastering the Time Value of Money, Making Capital Investment Decisions, Risk and Return: How to Identify, Measure, and Incorporate Into Capital Budgeting Decisions, Raising Capital: The Process, the Players, and Strategic Considerations, Understanding Financial Statements, and Using Ratio Analysis to Evaluate Financial Performance. An accelerated program, all courses deliver of 2-week modules, allowing all course work to be completed within 6 months. Upon completion of the certificate, students will be able to interpret/demystify financial information; apply common financial analysis frameworks in evaluating new projects; analyze risk and return for financial returns; analyze the debt-equity ratio in capital structuring decisions; and communicate operational and financial strategies in an effective manner. For those interested, the program is worth 27.5 professional development units (PDUs) from the Project Management Institute.
- Total tuition is $3,600.
8 (tied). University of Georgia, Terry College of Business
University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business offers a Certified Financial Planner program that requires 7 courses: Fundamentals of Financial Planning, Investment Planning, Insurance Planning, Income Tax Planning, Retirement Planning, Estate Planning, and Development and Financial Plan. Designed for maximum schedule flexibility, students are encouraged to complete course work on their own time – some have managed to earn their CFPs in as little as 4 months, though students may take up to 21 months. The school also has an excellent success rate: more than 70% of graduates go onto pass the CFP. Course material is both highly engaging and dynamic, including real-life case studies, review exercises, flash presentations, and more, all with reachable instructors for support. For those interested, the school also offers face-to-face instruction in Atlanta.
- Total tuition is $3,550.
10. East Carolina University
East Carolina University offers a wide and diverse selection of cum-MBA certificates: Business Analytics, Development & Environmental Planning, Finance, Health Care Management*, Hospitality Management*, International Management, Management Information Systems*, Marketing*, Project Management, Security Studies*, Sport Management, and Supply Chain Management* (*available online). Designed for maximum flexibility, ECU’s course work is self-paced to fit accommodate students’ busy schedules, and students may start and stop work as they please. Via Blackboard, students can communicate with professors and peers on discussion boards, chat, thread discussions, and more, creating an intimate, collaborative learning environment. The ECU MBA itself consists of 18 classes (54 semester hours) and follows the same asynchronous, self-paced model as the certificate programs.
- Total tuition is $8,787.
11. Florida State University, Center for Academic & Professional Development
Florida State University offers a Certified Financial Planner program that requires 7 courses: Intro to Financial Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Income Tax Planning, Retirement Planning s, Estate Planning, and a capstone course. Designed for maximum schedule flexibility, students are able to complete course work on their own time and pay as the go, another nice benefit. Core courses deliver in 10-11 week blocks, and the capstone goes for 13 weeks. Note that this program is registered with CFP Board in Washington, DC. Students learn through a variety of interactive lessons, have the opportunity to communicate with peers and professors to foster an intimate, collaborative learning environment, and also gain real-world exposure through a series of case-studies and lesson plans.
- Total tuition is $3,600.
UCLA offers a graduate certificate in Finance with a concentration in Credit Analysis and Management that requires 6 courses: Basic Managerial Finance; Advanced Managerial Finance; Money, Banking, and the Financial Markets; Financial Statement Analysis; Fundamentals of Investing; and Business Ethics. From there students have the opportunity to customize their program through choosing 4 of the following electives: Credit: Commercial, Personal, and Global; Conducting a Credit Analysis I/II; Writing and Presenting a Credit Analysis; and Managing a Loan Portfolio. Designed for working financial professionals who want to expand their career prospects, individuals looking for a career transition into a credit management position, or for recent college graduates who are planning to pursue careers in the financial industry or need specific course work for pre-MBA requirements. Graduates of the program will be eligible for work in corporate finance, banking, and credit management & analysis. Course work is flexible, and students are allowed to skip a quarter if necessary.
- Total tuition is $5,050.
13 (tied). University of Miami
The University of Miami offers a Certificate in Corporate Finance and Certificate in Financial Decision Making, each for only 4 courses. The corporate finance track covers controller’s office, treasury management, capital budgeting, and investor relations. The decision-making track includes studies relevant to money management firm career tracks, working with mutual funds, hedge funds, or pension funds. All course work is designed for maximum flexibility in order to accommodate students’ busy schedules. The university also offers a master’s in finance which can be completed in tandem with either certificate. The degree has entry dates throughout the year, delivers in accelerated 7-week modules, and can be completed in just 16 months. Certificate earners and master’s graduates alike benefit from Miami’s exceptionally active alumni base, which can act as a helpful networking platform.
- Total tuition is $29,600.
13 (tied). California Lutheran University, California Institute of Finance
California Lutheran University offers a post-MBA certification in Finance that consists of 4 courses: Corporate Finance, and 3 of the following – Financial Strategy, Strategic Financial Analysis, International Finance, Investment & Portfolio Management, Real Estate Investments, Buyouts and Acquisitions, Behavioral Finance, Entrepreneurial Finance, and Special Topics of Finance. Upon completion of the certificate, students will be prepared to integrate financial strategy and product market strategy; define and measure asset and portfolio risk and return; and develop and implement capital and dividend policies, among other essential skills. All courses are available online or in hybrid formats and deliver 4 11-week terms or 5 8-week terms; students complete certificates in just 1 year. For those interested, other post-MBA certificates are available in Entrepreneurship, Human Capital Management, International Business, IT Management, Marketing, and Advanced Financial Planning.
- Total tuition is $7,760.
13 (tied). University of California Berkeley Extension
The University of California Berkeley offers a graduate certificate in Finance that requires 8 courses. Fundamentals of Financial Risk Management, Corporate Financial Analysis and Modeling, Intermediate Corporate Finance, and International Finance are all required. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor their curricula through choosing 4 of the following electives: Advanced Portfolio and Risk Management, Basic Corporate Finance, Behavioral Finance, Business Valuation, Debt Markets and Fixed-Income Securities, Derivative Securities, Financial Securities Analysis, Investment Portfolio Management, and Options, Trading and Strategies. Designed for maximum schedule flexibility, students are able to complete course work on their own time. Executives from BlackRock, UBS Financial Services, Kensington Investment Group, and others sit on the advisory board.
- Total tuition is $6,245.
16. Bryant University
Bryant University offers a Certified Financial Planner program that requires 7 courses: Intro to Financial Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Income Tax Planning, Retirement Planning, Estate Planning, and a capstone course. The capstone will teach students how to construct a plan according to CFP Boards Financial Planning Practice Standards and client objectives. In addition, students will need to complete a final project in which they develop a financial plan, based off a case scenario, and orally present (taped 20-30 minute audio/video) a portion of the final plan to the faculty. Designed for flexibility, some course work is available self-paced while some is synchronous, allowing for students to participate in an intimate, collaborative learning environment. Students typically are able to complete their certificates in as little as 12 months.
- Total tuition is $2,520.
17. Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University offers an executive program in Certified Financial Planning that requires 6 courses: Introduction to Financial Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Income Tax Planning, Retirement Planning, and Estate Planning. Designed for maximum flexibility, all course work is self-paced and asynchronous to allow students to progress according to their own schedules. IWU students also have the advantage of being instructed by former members of the CFP Board Council on Examinations, with a curriculum that is specifically tailored to preparing individuals to pass the CFP exam. Some course work may be review briefly for students who already have extensive knowledge in the area, allowing for accelerated work. Either way, all students should be able to complete the certification program in as little as 9 months and take the exam.
- Total tuition is $5,995.
18. Boston University, Center for Professional Education
Boston University’s Center for Professional Education offers a program for Certified Financial Planning that requires 7 courses: Introduction to Financial Planning, Risk Management, Investments, Tax Planning,
Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits, Estate Planning, and a capstone course in Financial Planning. The program provides students with a multimedia, interactive educational experience taught by faculty from some of the Boston area’s top financial institutions. Course work is designed for maximum flexibility, and students have up to 21 months to complete their course work or follow a live, accelerated class that is designed for 9 months. In addition, the Center for Professional Education frequently receives employment opportunity notifications, which are dessiminated to students. The school also hosts a career day, in which representatives from personal financial planning, insurance, banking, investments, accounting, and law meet with students.
- Total tuition is $17,220.
19. DePaul University, Continuing and Professional Education
DePaul University’s Continuing and Professional Education offers an e-Financial Planning Certificate Program that consists of 6 courses: Fundamentals of Financial Planning and Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Income Tax Planning, Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits, Estate Planning, and Financial Plan Development. From there, students also have the opportunity to tailor their certificate to their needs and interests with electives like a Calculator Training Workshop, Financial Planning Certificate Program Information Session, and a CFP Certification Examination Review. With an emphasis on face-to-face learning, students receive personalized coaching from CFP practitioners, as well as 24-hour access to online materials, discussion boards, and virtual classrooms. With each module running 6-11 weeks depending on the class, students can expect to complete the certificate in as little as 12-18 months.
- Total tuition is $18,000.
20. SUNY Empire State
SUNY Empire State offers a graduate certificate in Financial Management and Analysis that requires only 4 courses: Accounting and Finance, Quantitative Methods in Finance, Investment Analysis, and Financial Management: Practices and Strategies. In particular, the program is designed for graduates interested in mid-level and executive-level positions, want to learn the essential topics covered in the CFA exam, or who are interested switching career tracks. With multiple entry dates throughout the year, the track is designed for maximum schedule flexibility, especially for working professionals. Additionally, for those interested, credits from the program may be applied to a related master’s degree. All students should have a foundational knowledge in financial management and quantitative analysis.
- Total tuition is $12,192.
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