Individuals with a master's in finance degree qualify for a variety of professions navigating the world of financial instruments and regulatory requirements. Just about every industry, including nonprofits and government agencies, need qualified, well-trained financial professionals. Companies seek financial professionals who can minimize risk, diversify financial portfolios, maximize return on investments, and help the company grow.
A master's in finance degree verifies that an individual possesses unique knowledge in the field of finance, beyond that of a professional who holds an MBA or similar business degree. Online master's in finance degree programs allow students of all backgrounds, including busy professionals, to earn the education they need for greater success in the business world.
For more degree and career information, skip down to these topics:
- What kind of job can someone with a Master's in Finance get?
- How much does someone with a Master's degree in Finance make?
- Is Finance a growing job field?
- What is the difference between a Master's degree in Finance and a MBA in Finance?
- Are there professional associations for someone with a degree in Finance?
The Best Online Master's in Finance Degree Program
Online Master's in Finance Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs and ranked their quality based on the types of courses they offer, along with their faculty, awards, and reputation, including whether the school provides effective online programs.
1. Harvard University
Founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636, Harvard University's initial graduating class consisted of nine students. Today, Harvard enrolls approximately 36,000 and comprises 11 colleges. Harvard University consistently ranks among the top universities in the country: According to U.S. News & World Report.
The university offers a master of liberal arts (ALM) in extension studies in finance through the Harvard Extension School. Twelve courses make up the ALM program. Students begin the admission process by registering for three courses – one each in the fields of managerial finance, organizational behavior, and managerial accounting. The ALM program does not stipulate a specific order to this required coursework, although students must earn a grade of B in each course to be considered for admission. Students then submit their application to the program as they are completing their third required course.
Once accepted, the ALM program requires all students to enroll in at least four on-campus classes. Some courses follow intensive weekend delivery formats. The program offers a variety of certificates for concentrated avenues of study, including accounting, corporate finance, principles of finance, business economics, and real estate investment.
Accreditation: Harvard University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
2. Georgetown University
Washington, District of Columbia
Georgetown is the oldest Jesuit institution in the country. Although still strongly associated with the religious order, the university currently enrolls approximately 19,000 students from diverse cultural, economic, and religious backgrounds. Nine colleges make up the academic core of the university offering programs at the bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional levels. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school number 22 among the top national universities.
Courses for the online master's in finance at the university's McDonough School of Business contain both synchronous and asynchronous components. The program allows students to work online in their own time before attending a weekly 90-minute synchronous session, either online or on campus. The program also includes onsite components -- a weeklong residency at the beginning of the program in October and a two-day orientation in the summer. The program leads to a master of science degree.
Students who pursue the MS on a part-time basis need 32 credits to graduate, while full-time students complete 36 credits, including two additional electives and an onsite clinic course. The program requires the completion of a capstone project consisting of a global trip residency in the student's second spring in the program. U.S. News & World Report ranks the McDonough School of Business as one of the best business schools in the U.S., 24th out of 475 schools.
Accreditation: Georgetown University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
We have come across probably the most comprehensive and accurate online pregnancy test with a very modern user interface. See the test here and check if you're expecting or not within seconds.
3. Columbia University
New York, New York
Founded as King's College, Columbia University rebranded itself several times before settling on its modern name in 1896. Approximately 33,000 students currently attend the university, pursuing undergraduate, graduate, medical, and professional degrees. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school 3rd among the top national universities.
The Columbia Business School offers a master of science in operations research with a specialization in methods in finance. Students can complete the 30-credit program 100% online. An interdisciplinary degree, the methods in finance program integrates financial theory with mathematical tools, engineering methods, economics, and programming practices. Applicants need an undergraduate degree in a closely related field such as mathematics, computer science, or engineering.
The MS program requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, and a strong background in probability, calculus, and algebra. Those who lack the proper mathematics background can take preparatory undergraduate courses to get up to speed. U.S. News & World Report ranks Columbia Business School sixth in the country. Additionally, it ranks the school's graduate finance programs among fourth in the U.S.
Accreditation: Columbia University in the City of New York is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
4. Boston University
Boston University (BU) began, rather counterintuitively, in Vermont, as the Newbury Biblical Institute in 1839. The school moved first to Concord in New Hampshire, before settling in Boston, Massachusetts, where it received its charter from the state legislature in 1869 and adopted its current name at the same time. Today, BU enrolls approximately 34,000 students coming from 130 countries. Twenty academic schools, colleges, and divisions make up the university offering more than 300 programs on the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school 42nd among the country's top universities.
BU offers a master's degree in finance online through Metropolitan College (MET), BU's former Division of Continuing Education. MET participates in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute University Affiliation Program and offers a curriculum that prepares students to take the CFA Program examinations. Students who complete the program earn a master of science degree in financial management. The program comprises 40 credits (10 four-credit courses) and offers two concentrations -- investment analysis or international finance. Most students take 18-24 months to graduate from the program.
All students need to enroll in the following four courses:
- Corporate Finance
- Financial and Managerial Accounting
- Financial Regulation and Ethics
- Quantitative Methods of Finance
MET offers several financial assistance opportunities to qualified students, including graduate assistantships up to $4,200 per semester. U.S. News & World Report includes BU in its list of top graduate business schools in the country at number 52.
Accreditation: Boston University is regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
5. University of Miami
Coral Gables, Florida
Chartered in 1925, the University of Miami opened a year later with 646 full-time students. Three academic units made up the university at the time – the liberal arts college, the music school, and the evening division. The University of Miami currently comprises 11 schools offering more than 180 academic fields of study on the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, though rarely divided by time of day. Approximately 17,000 students enroll at the university today. U.S. News World Report ranks the University of Miami among the top schools in the nation at 53.
The university offers an online master's in finance program consisting of 32 credits (eight four-credit courses). Students who complete the program graduate with a master of science degree. Although students can pursue the MS degree completely online, the program offers optional on-campus networking opportunities several times throughout the year. The school also gives students the chance to earn one of two certificates as part of the master's program: a certificate in financial planning or a certificate in corporate finance. Most students take 16 months to graduate from the program, following a prescribed sequence of courses that cover topics such as corporate finance and investments, quantitative finance and microstructure, applied corporate finance, and international investments and valuation.
Accreditation: The University of Miami is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The online master of science in finance program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
6. Golden Gate University
San Francisco, California
Golden Gate University in San Francisco originated by offering law classes in the evenings and enrolled an initial class of four students. The school maintains its adult-oriented focus to this day and offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs in the fields of accounting, business, law, management, and taxation. It currently enrolls more than 5,000 students.
The online master's in finance degree at Golden Gate University offers three areas of concentration: general finance, corporate finance, and investment management. The program consists of 45 credits and leads to a master of science (MS) degree, and prepares graduates for the CFA examination. Students enroll in 12 credits of foundation courses (in accounting, economics, finance and mathematics), 15 credits of core coursework, and 18 credits in their area of concentration. Students who have completed comparable classes in another accredited program or school can apply to waive the foundational coursework requirement.
The 15-credit core coursework requirement consists of the following classes:
- Corporate Finance
- Financial Markets and Institutions
- Financial Modeling
- Financial Reporting and Analysis
Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all classes taken at the university. The MS in finance program holds certification from the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute University Affiliation Program.
Accreditation: Golden Gate University is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and Universities Commission (WSCUC).
7. Webster University
Saint Louis, Missouri
Founded in 1915 by the Sisters of Loretto, Webster University began as Loretto College, one of the first women's Catholic colleges west of the Mississippi River. Five colleges and schools make up the university, offering its nearly 13,000 students a variety of programs on the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. U.S. News & World Report includes the school on its best Midwest schools list, where it ranks 23rd.
Webster University offers a master's degree in finance online through the Walker School of Business & Technology. The program leads to a master of science degree. Thirty-six credit hours make up the MS degree – 30 credits (10 courses) of required coursework and six credits of electives. The MS curriculum includes courses in managerial economics, capital budgeting and corporate investments, institutions and financial markets, and international finance. Webster's framework of study places an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions.
Prior to beginning coursework for the MS program, applicants need to show proof of completion of the following prerequisite courses: accounting theory and practice, current economic analysis, and applied business statistics. Prerequisite courses do not count toward the total credit requirement for the MS degree.
Accreditation: Webster University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Master of Science in Finance program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
8. University of San Francisco
San Francisco, California
The University of San Francisco, ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top national universities in the country, offers an online finance master's degree through the School of Management. Students who complete the program earn a master of science degree in financial analysis. Although students can access several components of each required course for the MS degree online, the program requires students to attend onsite sessions two Saturdays each month. The school offers the 34-unit MS program on a part-time basis only and most students earn the degree in 22 months.
USF belongs to the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute University Affiliation Program and offers a curriculum that prepares graduates for the CFA examination. Applicants do not have to submit results of any standardized graduate entrance exam to be considered for admission, although they need to have at least two years of professional experience in the field.
Accreditation: The University of San Francisco is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and Universities Commission (WSCUC). The Master of Science in Financial Analysis program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
9. Colorado State University Global
Greenwood Village, Colorado
Colorado State University Global (CSU Global) belongs to the Colorado State University System. The school stands as the first fully online state university in the country and has a decade of experience in online education. CSU Global currently enrolls 18,000 students from more than 54 countries, and offers over 40 undergraduate and graduate programs in fields such as education, criminal justice, finance, healthcare administration, and marketing and communication.
CSU Global offers an online master's in finance program through the School of Management and Innovation. Students who complete the program graduate with a master of science (MS) degree. In addition to developing the student's research and quantitative analysis skills, the 36-credit program covers key areas in the finance field such as capital market analysis, investments, and financial management.
Applicants to the MS program need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants who do not meet the GPA requirement may be required to enroll in prerequisite courses that will not be counted toward the MS degree requirements. Students can transfer up to nine graduate-level credits toward the MS degree as long as they were earned from an accredited program.
Accreditation: Colorado State University Global is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The Master of Science in Finance program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
10. Saint Joseph’s University
Founded by the Jesuits in 1851, Saint Joseph's University started out as an all-male college. Today, Saint Joseph's University boasts a population of approximately 8,000 students and offers more than 60 bachelor's and 53 graduate fields of study. U.S. News & World Report includes the school in its Top Regional Universities North Rankings, where the school comes in 12th.
Saint Joseph's University offers an online master's in finance through the Haub School of Business. The program leads to a master of science degree in financial services. Students with an undergraduate degree in business from a school accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business typically complete the program by enrolling in 10 courses (30 semester credits). Students who do not meet this qualification enroll in additional foundation courses prior to advancing to major coursework, which can increase the total degree requirement to as many as 41 semester credits.
St. Joseph's University courses follow an asynchronous format, delivered in eight-week accelerated sessions. Students meet online one evening a week to discuss the material. The school participates in the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute University Affiliation Program. It offers a CFA-approved curriculum that meets the educational requirement for taking the CFA Certification Examination, and is a CFP-certified program.
Accreditation: Saint Joseph's University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The master of science in financial services is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
11. Indiana University - Bloomington
Established in 1820 by the state legislature, Indiana University-Bloomington enrolls close to 44,000 on-campus students pursuing degrees on the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. According to U.S. News & World Report, the university is ranked 89th for best schools in the country.
Indiana University offers an online master's degree in finance through the Kelly School of Business. Students who complete the 30-credit hour program earn a master of science in finance degree, preparing them for careers in financial analysis, underwriting, and auditing. Most students graduate from the program in 15-36 months. All students initially enroll in finance valuation class. Only one course requires students to attend class on campus.
The Kelly School of Business holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and is ranked first by U.S. News & World Report for online graduate business programs. The program gives students the opportunity to learn about vital modern finance topics such as asset pricing and security valuation, international financial management, financial strategy and corporate restructuring, and valuation and capital investments.
Accreditation: Indiana University Bloomington is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
12. Texas A&M University - Commerce
Texas A&M University-Commerce expanded beyond its initial mandate to offer teacher training courses and achieved university status in 1965, adopting its current name when it joined the Texas A&M system in 1996. The university currently enrolls approximately 10,000 students and offers more than 140 fields of study at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels.
The university offers a fully online master's in finance program with three specialization areas: corporate finance, financial planning, and investments. The program leads to a master of science degree, which requires students with adequate undergraduate preparation typically only 30 credit hours to earn. Students with insufficient academic background in finance usually need to enroll in 39 credit hours to complete the program. The school accepts scores from either the GRE or the GMAT. However, the MS program waives the GRE/GMAT requirement for well-qualified applicants.
All students, regardless of their chosen area of specialization, enroll in the following core finance courses:
- Applied Financial Research
- Derivatives & Risk Management
- Financial Management
- International Business Finance
- Investment Seminar
The MS program requires students to pass a comprehensive exam prior to receiving the MS in finance degree.
Accreditation: Texas A&M University-Commerce is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The Master of Science in Finance program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
13. Loyola University Chicago
Twelve colleges make up Loyola University Chicago, offering more than 80 undergraduate majors and over 170 master's, doctoral, and professional programs. The university currently boasts a student population of 17,000. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school among the top 100 national universities in the country (89th).
Loyola Chicago offers an online master's in finance through the Quinlan School of Business. The program leads to a master of science in finance degree, and provides expertise in asset management, risk management, and corporate finance. Students who have completed the prerequisite coursework (calculus, statistics, introductory accounting, business finance, and micro/macroeconomics) need only 12 courses to earn the degree. Elective courses lead to three professional tracks -- asset management, corporate finance, and risk management. The Quinlan School of Business holds accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Applicants need a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 to be considered for the MSF program. The Quinlan School of Business accepts the scores of either the GMAT or the GRE. The school waives the GMAT/GRE requirement for certain applicants, such as those with a terminal degree (for example, MD or Ph.D.) or a 3.5 GPA in an undergraduate business program from an AACSB-accredited school.
Accreditation: Loyola University Chicago is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
14. University of Michigan - Dearborn
The University of Michigan-Dearborn originally offered programs in three disciplines: business administration, industrial engineering, and mechanical engineering. Today, that number has expanded to include 74 undergraduate, 45 master's, and six doctoral degrees. U.S. News & World Report ranks the university fifth among the top public schools in the Midwest.
The university offers an online master's in finance through the business college, culminating in a master of science degree. The program consists of 30 credit hours for students who have adequate academic background in basic finance topics (statistics, economic analysis, finance fundamentals, and value creation). Students without adequate academic background in these areas need to enroll in additional classes as recommended.
The program allows students to transfer up to six credit hours of graduate-level coursework earned at an accredited school or program that has not been used to satisfy another degree. Applicants need to submit the results of the GMAT or the GRE. However, applicants with a degree in business or engineering or at least three years of professional experience in finance or a related field can apply to have the GRE/GMAT requirement waived.
The master's in finance program offers concentrations in corporate finance and investments, with credit requirements being equal for both paths.
Accreditation: University of Michigan-Dearborn is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
15. Auburn University
Auburn University started as the East Alabama Male College in 1856. As the school's academic offerings increased and diversified, it underwent several name changes to reflect its growth. When the college achieved university status in 1960, it took on its current name. Today, the school offers over 140 academic fields of study at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, boasting a student population of almost 30,000.
Auburn offers an online master's in finance through the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business. The non-thesis program comprises 30 semester hours and leads to an MS degree. Before starting the MS program, students must have completed the following undergraduate courses or their equivalents: principles of microeconomics, calculus with business applications, and business analytics. Students without an adequate academic background need to enroll in prerequisite classes, which count toward the course requirements for the MS degree.
The program allows students to transfer a maximum of six graduate-level credits earned at an accredited school or program. U.S. News & World Report includes Auburn among the top business schools in the country.
Auburn University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The Master of Science in Finance program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
16. University of Scranton
Founded in 1888, the University of Scranton began as Saint Thomas College. The school took on its current name when it achieved university status in 1938. The Jesuit order took over the administration of the college in 1942. Today, the university enrolls approximately 5,300 students and offers 68 bachelor's, 30 master's, and three doctoral programs. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school among the best regional universities in the north.
The school offers a master's degree in finance online through the Arthur J. Kania School of Management. The program comprises 30 credits and leads to a master of science in finance (MSF) degree. All required courses for the MSF degree follow an asynchronous delivery format. Most students graduate from the program after 12 months of continuous enrollment. The MSF curriculum prepares students for different professional certifications, including the chartered financial analyst credential.
Students enroll in classes that cover vital areas of knowledge in the financial field such as advanced financial management, investment analysis, derivative securities, and responsibility, sustainability, and justice. After completing their required coursework, students may elect to participate in a two-day, on-campus program that culminates with a Bloomberg market concepts certificate.
University of Scranton is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The online MSF program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
17. University of Houston - Clear Lake
The University of Houston-Clear Lake opened in 1974 with a 60-member faculty and 1,069 students. It has since grown to include four academic units offering more than 80 fields of study at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. The university boasts a population of 9,040 students. U.S. News & World Report includes UHCL in two of its 2019 rankings: Best Regional Universities West and Top Public Schools Regional Universities West.
The College of Business at UHCL offers an online master's in finance program comprising 30 credits. Students who enroll in two courses during the fall, spring, and summer terms usually earn the MS degree after just 18 months. A sample of available courses for the MS degree appears below:
- Managerial Economics
- Quantitative Methods in Finance
- Investment Management
- International Finance
- Financial Statement Analysis
The MS program gives students the chance to complete a 12-credit concentration in healthcare administration. Choosing this option increases the credit requirement for the MS degree to 36 credits. The program offers four courses for the healthcare administration concentration exclusively on campus and culminates with a capstone course.
University of Houston-Clear Lake is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
18. Middle Tennessee State University
Middle Tennessee State University opened in 1911 with 125 students and a 19-member faculty. Originally known as the Middle Tennessee State Normal School, it began offering two-year teacher training programs. The school slowly expanded and diversified its academic offerings until it achieved university status in 1965 and took on its current name. MTSU currently enrolls 22,000 students and offers more than 240 programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.
MTSU offers an online master's in finance through the Department of Economics and Finance at the College of Graduate Studies. The program consists of 33 semester hours and leads to an MS degree. Students can select from three concentration areas: corporate finance, investments, and general study. No matter which concentration area a student chooses, the MS program requires all students to enroll in three courses: econometrics, financial institutions, and bond market analysis.
The remainder of the credit requirements come from the concentration core, concentration elective courses, and general electives. Applicants need to submit the most recent scores of their GRE.
The department offers assistantships to qualified MS students in the form of tuition reimbursements and annual stipends. Recipients assist in faculty research projects or assume part-time teaching responsibilities.
Middle Tennessee State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The Department of Economics and Finance is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
19. West Texas A&M University
Established in 1910, West Texas A&M University began as West Texas State Normal College, one of seven state-funded teachers' colleges. The school supported a 16-member faculty and enrolled 152 students in its first year. When it achieved university status in 1963, the school changed its name to West Texas State University and adopted its current name upon joining the Texas A&M University System in 1990. Today, the university enrolls more than 10,000 students and offers study at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school among the best regional universities in the West.
The university offers an online master's in finance program through the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business. Students who complete the program earn a master of science in finance and economics (MSFE) degree. Thirty-six credits make up the MSFE program, and most students graduate after two years of continuous enrollment. Each applicant needs a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
Additionally, the MSFE program requires the submission of the applicant's most recent GMAT scores. Applicants with a GPA higher than 3.0 can request for a waiver of the GMAT requirement. The MSFE curriculum offers coursework in monetary and fiscal policy, corporate governance, asset valuation, and international finance.
West Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
20. Walsh College
Established in 1922, Walsh College began as Walsh Institute, a school founded to teach a specific method of accounting. The institute enrolled 23 students in its first year. When it became an upper-division college in 1968, the school changed its name to Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration.
The college currently supports a student population of 4,000 and offers bachelor's and master's degrees in fields such as accounting, finance, marketing, taxation, and information technology. It remains an all-business college and one of the largest graduate schools of business in Michigan.
Walsh College offers a master's degree in finance online with two areas of concentration: financial management and financial services. Students graduate with a master of science in finance (MSF) degree. Consisting of 33 credits, the MSF program offers registration year-round and 11-week semesters, allowing students to begin at any time and complete their studies sooner.
The program does not require the submission of scores from any standardized graduate admissions exam. Each applicant needs an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a minimum GPA of 2.75.
The MSF curriculum provides students with the opportunity to study financial theories and practical financial instruments and tools with immediate real-world applications. They enroll in classes such as advanced managerial accounting, global economics, financial markets and institutions, and investments.
Walsh College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The school's business degree programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
21. Northwood University - Michigan
Northwood University began as Northwood Institute in 1959, a school that included the teaching of cutting-edge, ethics-driven management principles in every academic program. The institute adopted its current name when it achieved university status in 1993. Northwood University currently enrolls over 3.500 students.
NU offers an online master's in finance through the DeVos Graduate School. The program consists of 10 courses and leads to a master of science in finance (MSF) degree. Coursework for the MSF program follows the regular semester schedule of the university. Most students graduate from the program after 24 months of continuous enrollment. MSF courses follow an asynchronous system of delivery that allows students to pursue the degree on a part-time or full-time basis. The MSF curriculum introduces students to concepts covered by the chartered financial analyst exam.
The MSF program does not require applicants to submit scores from standardized graduate admission exams. Each candidate needs a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. An applicant with a GPA below 3.0 must complete a 30-minute writing sample exercise during their interview. All students complete capstone projects on portfolio management before graduating from the program.
Northwood University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Northwood University's business programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
22. Pennsylvania State University - World Campus
University Park, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University began offering online education through its World Campus in 1998. It partners with the academic units and colleges at Penn State to offer over 150 online programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. The university currently enrolls more than 20,000 students from across the country and all over the world.
Penn State offers an online master's in finance through Penn State Great Valley. Students graduate from the 30-credit program with a master's in finance degree. Coursework for the master's in finance prepares students for different professional certifications, including the chartered financial analyst certificate. Enrollees examine speculative markets, multinational managerial finance, portfolio management, and financial accounting theory.
The master's in finance program follows a cohort model of education. Although the school offers courses online, the program requires students to attend a one-week, on-campus residency soon after enrolling in the fourth course on current issues in corporate finance. The culminating requirement for the master's in finance degree consists of a capstone course that demonstrates a student's grasp of the core body of knowledge and analytical abilities and strategic thinking skills developed during the program.
Pennsylvania State University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE) of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Pennsylvania State University's online master's in finance program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
23. Bellevue University
Bellevue University began in 1966 as Bellevue College, an institution that offered a variety of academic options to working professionals. The school achieved university status in 1994 when it officially changed its name to Bellevue University. Four colleges currently make up the university, offering programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Bellevue University enrolls more than 9,000 students coming from all 50 states and several countries around the world.
The online master's in finance program at the university comprises 36 credits. The program leads to a master of science in strategic finance (MFFS) degree. Students can customize their programs by choosing from 20 available areas of concentration, including acquisition and contract management, healthcare, supply chain management, and entrepreneurship.
Each student must declare a concentration during the first term in the program. The MSSF program requires all students to enroll in nine core classes before taking part in courses in their concentration area. The MSSF curriculum includes coursework in financial management and strategy, business analysis for decision-making, accounting for performance management, and risk management.
The MSSF program does not require students to submit scores from standardized graduate admission exams. Each applicant needs either a minimum GPA of 2.5 from the most recent 60 credits of undergraduate coursework or a GPA of at least 3.0 in previous graduate-level courses. All credits must come from an accredited college or university.
Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
24. Suffolk University
Suffolk University began as the Suffolk School of Law in 1906, with the school's founder teaching evening law classes in the living room of his home. The school soon moved to downtown Boston as enrollment increased and received its charter in 1914. By 1930, it was the largest evening law school in the country. Four years later, the school achieved university status and soon changed its name to Suffolk University. Today, the university enrolls over 7,000 students and offers academic fields of study at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.
Suffolk University offers a fully online master's in finance with three areas of concentration: corporate finance, risk management, and investments. The program comprises 32-47 credits and leads to a master of science in finance (MSF) degree. Before enrolling in finance core courses, students must master managerial economics, data analytics, corporate financial reporting and control, and value-based financial management.
The university participates in the chartered financial analyst (CFA) institute university affiliation program as a global association of risk professionals (GARP) academic partner. The MSF curriculum prepares graduates to sit for professional certifications such as the chartered financial analyst.
Suffolk University is regionally accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Learning (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The MSF program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
25. Southern New Hampshire University
Manchester, New Hampshire
Southern New Hampshire University opened in 1932 as the New Hampshire Accounting & Secretarial School, a small private training school for bookkeepers that initially enrolled just seven day students and 35 evening students. The school increased and diversified its academic offerings until it became a college in 1958 and finally a university in 2001. SNHU currently enrolls more than 3,000 on-campus students and offers over 200 programs at the certificate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.
The online master's in finance program at the university comprises 36 credits and offers concentrations in corporate finance, investments, and securities. Although the program does not culminate with an industry certification, the curriculum aligns with chartered financial analysis (CFA) competencies and standards. It includes coursework that prepares graduates to sit for the CFA exam.
Students enroll in courses that cover topics like money and capital markets, international corporate finance, managerial economics, and investment analysis and portfolio management. The MS degree requires each student to complete a capstone course that assesses their ability to integrate the key learning concepts of the program.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The master of science in finance program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
26. Pace University
New York, New York
Pace University launched in 1906 as Pace Institute, a school for accountancy and business. Operating out of one classroom converted from rented space in the New York Tribune Building, the institute enrolled 13 men and women in its first year. The school became a college in 1947 and finally a university in 1973. Today, Pace enrolls 13,000 students to offer more than 150 fields of study at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.
The university offers an online master's degree in finance through the Lubin School of Business. The program consists of 36 credits and leads to an MS degree. Designed for completion within 12 months, the MS program follows a cohort model and targets individuals who already work in business or financial fields. The school offers six-credit modules every eight weeks, with each module requiring weekend residencies in New York City. Each student needs to complete a capstone research project before earning the degree.
The MS program does not require applicants to submit scores from standardized graduate admission exams. Instead, the program's academic director schedules a face-to-face interview with each applicant in New York City. Aspiring students who cannot come to New York City for the interview can schedule video conference calls.
Pace University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
27. University of Maryland - University College
Established in 1947 as the College of Special and Continuation Studies, University of Maryland University College began as a branch of the College of Education of the University of Maryland. Soon after, the school began providing for the educational needs of U.S. servicemen and women stationed all over the world.
To this day, service members and working professionals continue to make up a large portion of UMUC's student population. It became an independent institution in 1970 and now offers more than 90 degrees, specializations, and certificates on the undergraduate and graduate levels.
UMUC offers an online program in accounting and financial management comprising 36 credits that leads to an MS degree. The program helps prepare students for various accounting and financial management certifications, including the certified internal auditor and chartered financial analyst exams. UMUC offers all of the required courses for the MS degree online, although some courses follow a hybrid delivery format and include on-site components.
In addition to a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, applicants must have completed at least 15 credits of undergraduate accounting courses with a minimum grade of C or higher. Each student needs to complete a capstone course before graduating from the program.
University of Maryland University College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
28. SUNY Empire State College
Saratoga Springs, New York
From the time it was established in 1971, SUNY Empire State College set out to meet the educational needs of working professionals. Faculty members guide each student in designing a customized degree program that supports their academic and professional goals. The college currently enrolls approximately 11,000 students and offers programs at the bachelor's and master's levels.
The online master of finance program at SUNY Empire State College comprises 36 credits and offers three tracks: corporate finance, international finance, and general finance. The program leads to an MS degree. The MS curriculum aligns with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute's Candidate Body of Knowledge and helps prepare students for the CFA certification exam. Each applicant needs an undergraduate background or demonstrable professional experience in financial accounting, macro/microeconomics, statistics, and management information systems.
Students take nine credits of foundation coursework and 12 credits each of advanced core and elective courses, with the latter making up their areas of concentration. To meet the credit requirement of the MS degree, each student enrolls in a three-credit capstone course in global financial strategy. Full-time enrollees typically graduate in 20 months, while part-time students usually complete the program in 24-27 months.
SUNY Empire State College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
What is a Master's in Finance Degree?
A master's in finance degree provides students with the advanced graduate education they need to pursue a diverse array of professions in finance. Students typically engage in core coursework covering the fundamental aspects of finance, such as financial market analysis, portfolio management, and corporate finance, plus elective coursework that delves into niche areas, sometimes with options for specialization or hands-on learning through internship opportunities.
Students in master's in finance programs typically develop quantitative skills to evaluate financial information, make financial decisions, choose and evaluate portfolios, and manage risk. Students learn to apply financial strategies to practical business issues.
The Advantages of a Master's Degree in Finance
Finance professionals who hold master's degrees tend to earn higher median salaries than those with just their bachelor's, substantiating an investment in a master’s degree in finance online. According to PayScale, stock brokers -- who must hold a bachelor's degree -- earn a median annual salary of around $56,000, whereas investment bankers with a master’s in finance typically gross over $97,000 annually. This nearly 75% increase in median salary exhibits one part of the payoff of obtaining a master’s degree in finance.
Prospective employers recognize the work ethic, time management, and grit required to work full time while enrolled in graduate school. These skills directly parallel those required of a senior financial adviser. Careers in the financial market often overlap with the overarching business industry. Specializing in finance at the master's level concentrates your expertise and sharpens your decision-making skills for algorithmic trading. Pursuing this degree can fuel your career trajectory and serve as a stepping stone for investment researchers and teachers who want to obtain their doctorate later on.
|Degree Level||Average Salary|
|Bachelor's Degree in Finance||$60,000|
|Master's Degree in Finance||$78,000|
Online Master's in Finance Programs
Earning an online master’s in finance allows learners to access the same engagement as on-campus courses, but without the time sacrifice of weekly commutes. Students can choose more competitive programs while also balancing their workload and honoring familial commitments. Online programs and institutions facilitate courses through each institution's learning platform of choice, which students use to read course syllabi, watch lectures, and submit assignments.
Prospective online students should consider how each program delivers its lectures and whether it uses a synchronous or asynchronous format. Synchronous programs require students to watch lectures and participate in real-time class discussions at set times and days. Asynchronous programs, on the other hand, supply pre-recorded lectures and discussion boards for students to complete at their own pace in accordance with course deadlines.
Even with asynchronous programs, students should check for any on-campus requirements, such as group meetings or learning activities. The problem-solvers and ambitious jugglers looking to advance their financial careers typically enjoy the adaptability of online master's in finance programs.
Master's in Finance Versus MBA in Finance
Master's in finance and MBA in finance programs exhibit some key differences. Both provide the graduate education necessary to pursue a variety of lucrative professions in finance. However, a master's in finance provides more specialization than an MBA. A master's in finance dedicates the entire program to the study of finance, delving into niche knowledge, skills, and approaches to success in finance professions. An MBA in finance, on the other hand, provides some specialized focus in finance while also providing a more general approach to the study of business administration, emphasizing managerial practices, organizational management, and other related concepts.
What Can You Do With a Master's in Finance?
Obtaining a master’s degree in finance diversifies your resume, freeing you to capitalize on career options and accrue promotional payoffs. Finance careers rely on analytical thinking, detail orientation, negotiation expertise, and quick decision-making. Students must demonstrate strong interpersonal and communication skills to translate seemingly abstract and complex financial language into layman's terms. The ultimate salesperson achieves a balance between data-driven skills and customer orientation.
- Risk Management Consultant: Consulting firms hire finance-specific risk management professionals to evaluate and solve operational or financial threats for their corporate clients. Their research, gathered from conducting audits, assessing liability, and investigating policies and compliance assessment, presents solutions and implementation strategies. Most firms require consultants to hold a master’s degree.
- Investment Banker: Investment bankers work as service providers for corporate clients or public, private, and governmental agencies. They develop strategies to meet goals and protect the health of their company or client. By using complex financial models to demonstrate transactions and communications, investment bankers acquire or release financial assets to match the reward/risk portfolio. Holding a master’s degree in finance increases this position's marketability.
- Business Process Manager: Business process managers oversee the lifecycle of corporate functionality. This discipline entails design, modeling, execution, monitoring, optimization, and re-engineering. Firms prefer candidates with graduate degrees, as this position requires expertise in financial theory and practice.
- Finance Director: Finance directors oversee their corporation's budgetary and accounting practices. This position requires an advanced understanding of compliance and regulatory standards in the federally monitored finance industry. Directors must also understand industry-specialized practices for forecasting, budgeting, and reporting.
- Portfolio Manager: Portfolio managers guide and administer trading activities for a corporate or personal investment client. They diversify assets, minimize tax implications, meet liquidity requirements, and manage day-to-day tasks for the client’s risk/reward investment strategy.
|Risk Management Consultant||$66,000||$92,000||$102,000||$122,000|
|Business Process Manager||$70,000||$80,000||$97,000||$110,000|
Choosing an Online Finance Graduate Degree Program
Given the array of distance learning choices, prospective students might find it difficult to choose an online master's in finance program. When looking into colleges, start with the key factors of cost, school type and size, program length, transfer policies, on-campus prerequisites, and graduation requirements to narrow the search. Take your time exploring choices and assessing the most important factors of each prospective program to choose one that best suits your career plans.
- Program Cost: With the increased supply of reputable online schools, most distance learning programs offer in-state tuition rates to all distance learners, regardless of their state of residence. Moreover, financial aid departments provide guidance for scholarship and grant applications. For prospective programs with on-campus requirements, consider staying in your home state.
- Transfer Policies: Graduate departments typically approve up to a certain number of transfer credits from prior coursework, though policies vary by institution. State universities often honor credits from nearby community colleges. Regionally accredited schools typically meet more rigorous standards than nationally accredited institutions, meaning credits from regionally accredited schools tend to transfer more easily.
- School Size and Type: Public universities receive financial support from the state, while private institutions secure funding from endowments and religiously affiliated organizations. This impacts tuition costs and scholarship opportunities. To compete with the subsidized tuition offered by state colleges, private programs often grant more financial aid. Graduate courses often offer smaller class sizes than undergraduate general education courses. Regardless of in-person or virtual delivery, larger class sizes create less personal environments. Expect smaller class sizes for an online master’s program in finance.
- Program Length: Full-time students typically take two years to complete their online master’s in finance degrees. Part-time students may take three years or more to finish their degrees. Depending on individual schools, credits total anywhere from 33-38 hours, covering business foundations, functional core courses and electives.
- On-Campus Requirements: Most online programs administer courses entirely online. However, some professors may require students to attend on-campus meetings for group activities or campus-wide career services events. When considering online schools, explore programs within driving distance in case you need or want to attend an on-campus event.
- Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: Students in graduate school typically choose between three paths to meet their final program requirements. Learners who plan to pursue a doctorate often choose to complete a thesis. Because of the advanced curriculum combining theory and practice, online master’s in finance programs suggest that applicants gain work experience between completing their undergraduate degree and applying for graduate school.
Finance Schools and Programs Specialized Accreditation
Universities and their online programs adhere to set ethics and performance standards, stipulated by an accrediting body. As you begin your research of online graduate programs, look out for two primary types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic.
Regionally accredited schools divide into seven geographic regions, in which they voluntarily report to their designated nonprofit agency. Regionally accredited organizations typically meet a higher standard than their nationally accredited counterparts, and therefore they generally do not recognize transfer credits from nationally accredited programs.
Programmatic accrediting bodies oversee specific schools by respective industry. For finance students, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International accredits business programs. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) bestows federal grants and student loans and funds education-related research. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation tangentially supports ED and the quality control of higher education, maintaining a related database that allows you to search by institution, program, and accreditor.
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master's in Finance Degree Program?
Full-time students typically complete their programs in 12 to 16 months, while part-time students usually take 24 months to finish their degrees.
Whether you see yourself as an analyst, manager, director, or adviser, each role proves vital to the financial market. Professionals apply different trade-specific methodologies and regulations in each of the five main concentrations. Consulting firms, retail banks, wealth management institutions, and investment banks all employ professionals with these titles.
Wealth Management: This concentration prepares students to advise clients on financial services, including portfolio management, asset management, mergers and acquisitions, estate planning, and investment management. They work with corporations, small business owners, and individuals to develop strategies to meet financial goals. Advisory positions involve consulting, financial planning, and analysis.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Financial Adviser, Investment Analyst, Financial Planner
Real Estate Finance: Graduates interested in commercial or residential real estate explore types of mortgage capital, government assisted funding, subjects of present or future value, APR, compound interest, foreclosures, shorts sales, and tax effects in this concentration. Students learn about underwriting, processing, closing, and servicing loans. Experts in financial real estate work for banks, developers, and commercial lending firms.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Loan Officer, Underwriter, Mortgage Broker, Real Estate Asset Manager
Corporate Finance: This concentration teaches degree seekers to manage the financial wellbeing of corporations by generating compliant financial statements and evaluating long-term organizational health with data collection and models. For example, by acquiring capital and selling assets when needed, professionals in this field actualize the goals set by the C-level suite and board members.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Financial Analyst, Chief Financial Officer, Finance Director
Investment Banking and Research: Investment bankers and researchers focus on the buying or selling side of financial services. Learners studying the sales side analyze how brokers and bankers trade and promote securities (debit, equity, derivatives). Those considering the buying side delve into how hedge funds, asset managers, and investors look after private equity funds, unit trusts, mutual funds, and other pools of capital. Analysts investigate and practice valuation tools and modeling.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Mergers and Acquisitions Manager, Commercial Banker, Quantitative Researcher, Stock Broker, Actuary
Advisory Services and Consulting: Many finance graduates pursue the consulting and advisory concentration because its highly competitive nature increases long-term career marketability. This field entails transaction advisory and core business services in the areas of risk management, tax, and assurance. Consultants evaluate client systems and processes, then develop and implement models to optimize revenue generation.
Careers This Concentration Prepares For: Transactional Adviser, Senior Auditor, Lead Budget Analyst
Courses in an Online Master's in Finance Program
Financial Modeling: This required course covers the standard models applied by all types of financial professionals. Students implement mathematical and computational archetypes in the subjects of cash flow valuation, risk measurement and management, capital estimation, optimization techniques, and regression analysis. By studying theory and applying models to practical situations, learners practice the skills financial managers use every day.
Corporate Valuation: With the main objective of adding corporate value, graduates work through the theory and application of organizational finance policy, budgeting, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, tax responsibility, and investment options. They also survey and use key valuation tools. Learners hoping to one day serve as chief financial officers gain the instrumental skills needed for the job in this course.
Financial Reporting: This functional core course delivers the foundational aspects of financial reports in two parts. Students learn to create and evaluate corporate reports, including their key asset, liability, and equity components. In this class, degree seekers acquire the tools to financially assess a company’s position and forecast future health.
Negotiations: Prospective financial service employers frequently request that applicants possess strong negotiation skills. This course fosters communication and interpersonal expertise by reviewing case studies and mock simulations. Learners analyze the bargaining styles, mediation strategies, and ethical issues of deal-making across the dynamic structures of teams and coalitions, and with agent influences.
- Audit Institutions and Processes: Graduates explore the concepts, risks, and procedures of the auditing process. Topics include professional ethics, the impacts of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, corporate compliance, the board of directors, liability, and fraudulent financial reporting. This course typically serves as an elective that prepares prospective accountants for the certified public accountant exam.
Finance Membership Associations
Online degree seekers should take advantage of the abundance of professional support and institutional resources provided by financial services organizations. With the federal government closely monitoring all fiscal activities and behaviors, financiers should stay current on policy news and regulations. The top financial membership associations make this easier than ever, as do educational and leadership opportunities.
- National Investment Banking Association: NIBA strives to connect public and private financial professionals to the broader investment community. The group produces annual conferences and program internships. Members can market their services by applying to present at or sponsor the conference.
- Securities and Exchange Commission: The federally run SEC funds industry research, enforces securities regulation, protects buyers, and governs the financial market. It administers publicly accessible databases that keep track of investment advisers and court records of violations. The commission also publishes reports and publications, holds offices in all areas of finance, and supplies educational and regulatory materials for professionals.
- Association of International Wealth Management: This global nonprofit began at the training center for the Swiss Financial Analysts Associations and now boasts more than 3,500 manager and analyst members in the fields of investment banking and wealth management. By awarding certificates and diplomas, members receive recognition for their advanced financial training and service to asset holders.
- Association of Financial Professionals: AFP designed and administers the credentials required of certified treasury professionals and certified corporate financial planning and analysis professionals. The association hosts the world's largest networking conference for corporate finance professionals. Additionally, the 6,500 members benefit from AFP’s training programs and published resources.
- Certified Financial Planner Board: This nonprofit organization grants certifications to financial planners. The CFP Board governs the practice of financial planning by administering the CFP exam, updating policy research, hosting a summit, and maintaining a publicly available database of certified planners. The board's women's initiative champions female financial planners and aims to narrow the gender gap in the field.