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For money-minded individuals, a degree in finance can provide the necessary education for various in-demand roles such as financial analyst, financial examiner, or even chief financial officer.

The first step is choosing which online finance degree program suits you, which can be challenging, given the number of available options. To help narrow the field, reviewed dozens of online finance degree programs. We evaluated programs based on their retention and graduation rates, cost, faculty profile, rankings, and more and created this list of the best online finance degree programs for 2023.

Additionally, Michelle Pickett, the director of Northern Illinois University’s Academic Advising Center, answers many of students’ frequently asked questions about online finance degrees, including admissions requirements, specialization options, program cost and duration, and how to select an online finance degree program.

Online Finance Program Overview

What can you do with a finance degree?

With a finance degree at the undergraduate level, students gain a firm footing in financial concepts and techniques. In the words of Northern Illinois University’s Academic Advising Center Director Michelle Pickett, “Individuals with degrees in finance typically are looking to learn how to best manage and grow money for individuals, companies, and organizations. Finance majors develop skills in risk management, investment strategies, data analytics, and soft skills that are important when interacting with individuals.” Graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance can pursue diverse career paths, such as becoming financial analysts, budget analysts, account managers, and insurance underwriters.

A finance degree opens up even more advanced and specialized opportunities at the graduate level. Pickett continues, “Many of these positions will require a bachelor’s degree in finance; however, other careers like Equity Trader or Investment Brokering may require a master’s degree or additional experience/training beyond the bachelor’s degree.” With advanced knowledge and skills, they can assume leadership roles in financial institutions, manage investment portfolios, conduct in-depth economic research, or advise multinational corporations on complex financial matters.

Regardless of the degree level, a finance education equips individuals with the skills to navigate the intricacies of the financial world, contribute to economic growth, and make strategic financial decisions.

How long does it take to get a finance degree?

Type of Degree Average Completion Time Prerequisites
Undergraduate 4 years General education courses in mathematics, accounting, economics, and statistics
Graduate 1-2 years A bachelor’s degree in Finance or a related field


For students seeking their bachelor’s degree in finance, “Most online degree programs can be completed in four years, if a student is attending full-time, enrolling in approximately four classes over a 16-week semester,” says Pickett. However, this can vary depending on the program’s structure and the student’s course load. Before declaring their major, most universities require students to complete prerequisite mathematics, accounting, economics, and statistics courses. These courses must be college-level and are typically completed within the student’s first and second years at the institution.

At the graduate level, a master’s in finance takes around one to two years of full-time study to complete. Part-time options are often available for working professionals, which can extend the duration. To enroll in a graduate-level finance program, students must have a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field, like economics or business administration. Some programs may also require foundational finance, accounting, and quantitative analysis coursework.

A program’s learning format can also affect your completion time. “Online programs may offer synchronous or asynchronous class options,” says Pickett. “Asynchronous classes…are not offered during a specific day or time. Whereas synchronous courses are offered during a specific time when the instructor and other students are also online.” Both of these formats have their advantages. The flexibility of asynchronous learning may be best for students with full-time jobs or other significant responsibilities. At the same time, the collaborative environment of synchronous courses may work well for students who prefer more structure and support.

How much does a finance degree cost?

The cost of a finance degree can vary depending on the degree level, the institution, and the student’s residency status. On average, a bachelor’s degree in finance tuition ranges from $10,000 to $40,000 per year. However, prestigious or private institutions may have higher tuition costs.

At the graduate level, the cost of a master’s degree in finance typically falls within the range of $15,000 to $60,000 per year. Again, this can vary significantly depending on the program’s reputation and location.

Enrollment status also influences the cost. Full-time students generally pay the full annual tuition, while part-time students pay per credit. Therefore, part-time enrollment may be more cost-effective for individuals balancing their education with other responsibilities, like parenting or a full-time job.

Residency status is another crucial factor that can significantly impact how much you pay for your degree. In-state students often benefit from lower tuition rates at public institutions within their state, while out-of-state students may pay higher rates. The difference in cost between in-state or out-of-state tuition can be substantial, with out-of-state rates sometimes exceeding twice the in-state tuition.

If you’re a student looking to pursue a finance degree, it’s essential to research and compare tuition rates at various institutions. Consider your enrollment and residency status to ensure you make informed decisions about your educational investment.

What are the admission requirements for a finance degree?

Admissions requirements for a finance degree can vary depending on the institution and program level, but most have set standard requirements that are similar across the board.

Bachelor’s degree in finance

To apply for an undergraduate finance program, all applicants must have a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification, like a GED. In addition, most institutions will also want to look at the following:

  • Transcripts: Students must submit official high school transcripts demonstrating academic performance.
  • Standardized Test Scores: Some institutions may require SAT or ACT scores as part of the application process.
  • Personal Statement: Most applications require a written essay or statement of purpose outlining the applicant’s interest in finance and their career goals.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Typically, schools and universities will request two to three letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, or mentors who can speak to the student’s potential for success in the program.
  • Prerequisite Coursework: Certain programs may have specific prerequisites, such as mathematics, economics, or accounting courses.

Many admissions committees will also evaluate extracurricular activities or employment history as part of the application. Involvement in relevant activities, leadership roles, or work experience can significantly strengthen a prospective student’s application and help them stand out in the applicant pool.

Master’s degree in finance

To be eligible for a graduate program in finance, applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. Some universities may prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in finance or a related field. At the same time, other programs may offer additional coursework to help students from different educational backgrounds bridge the knowledge gap. The following items will also typically be considered as part of the student’s application:

  • Transcripts: Most universities require that applicants submit official transcripts from all previous colleges or universities attended.
  • Graduate Admission Test: Many programs require the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. However, some programs have recently adopted test-optional policies to attract a more diverse applicant pool.
  • Minimum GPA: Most graduate schools require a 3.0 minimum GPA, but some institutions will accept a 2.5 GPA or higher.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Applicants may be required to submit two to three letters of recommendation from professors or employers.
  • Personal Statement: Most programs require a written essay or statement of purpose highlighting the applicant’s motivations, goals, and qualifications.

While not always required, some master’s programs prefer applicants with relevant work experience in finance or a related field. It’s important to note that specific requirements may vary among institutions and programs, so prospective students should always refer to the official admissions guidelines provided by the desired schools.

The Top 50 Finance Degree Programs

Best Finance Degree Programs 2023

Franklin University

Texas A&M University at Commerce

Ottawa University

Western Carolina University

Florida International University

Metropolitan State University

University of Houston at Clear Lake

Missouri State University

Dickinson State University

University of Michigan at Flint

East Carolina University

Northwood University

LeTourneau University

Northern State University

Hawaii Pacific University

University of Houston at Downtown

Baker College

University of Massachusetts

University of Wisconsin at Whitewater

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How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best online finance degree programs at top colleges nationwide. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. Many of the schools on our list have been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which assesses the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of business-related programs.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, reputation, and the student resources provided for online students. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online finance degree programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

Finance Degree Concentrations

Is a specialized finance degree better than a general finance degree?

Both specialized and general finance degrees have their unique advantages. The degree you pursue will depend on your individual career goals and aspirations.

A specialized finance degree offers thorough expertise and focused coursework in a particular area of finance, such as corporate finance, investment management, financial analysis, or risk management. This level of specialization can benefit graduates as it can provide a competitive edge when pursuing careers in those specific fields. Employers seeking expertise in a particular area may value specialized knowledge and skills.

On the other hand, a general finance degree provides a broader foundation in finance, covering a wide range of topics and concepts. This versatility can benefit individuals still determining their career path within finance or who desire flexibility to explore various finance-related roles. A general finance degree provides a well-rounded understanding of finance principles and can open doors to diverse career opportunities.

What are some common finance degree concentrations?

Finance degree programs often offer various concentrations or specializations to allow students to focus their studies on specific areas within the field. Some of the most popular finance concentrations include the following:

Corporate Finance

Analytical students interested in financial management within corporations may be well-suited for a concentration in corporate finance. Individuals in this field take courses concentrating on financial planning, capital budgeting, risk management, and financial analysis. Post graduation, they often work on cross-functional teams and collaborate with different departments to meet their objectives.

Investment Management

Those who are resilient, adaptable, and possess a quantitative aptitude may do well in investment management. This concentration focuses on investment strategies, portfolio management, asset valuation, securities analysis, and financial markets. As this field is dynamic and subject to market volatility, students must be able to handle pressure while making investment decisions in ever-changing conditions.

Financial Planning

Students with a strong interest in personal finance, wealth management, and helping individuals and families navigate their financial goals may enjoy a concentration in financial planning. This specialization concentrates on personal finance, retirement planning, estate planning, tax strategies, and wealth management. Most financial planners work one-on-one with their clients in an office setting.

Risk Management

Natural problem-solvers interested in identifying, assessing, and mitigating financial risks within organizations will excel in risk management. Students in this field concentrate on navigating credit, market, and operational risk for companies or corporations. After graduation, they often work closely with cross-functional teams, senior management, and stakeholders to achieve their goals.

International Finance

Enthusiastic students with a global perspective, multilingual and cultural awareness, and strong decision-making skills will thrive in international finance. Individuals in this concentration focus on financial management in a global context, including international trade, foreign exchange markets, cross-border investments, and multinational financial analysis.

Career Opportunities for Finance Degree Graduates

Career trajectories

A finance degree can prepare you for various potential careers. Some of the most common jobs that financial degree holders pursue include:

  • Financial Analyst: Financial analysts assess investment opportunities, conduct economic research, analyze financial data, and provide recommendations to assist businesses and individuals in making informed financial decisions. Median annual salary: $91,580
  • Investment Banker: Investment bankers help companies raise capital, facilitate mergers and acquisitions, and provide financial advisory services. They work with clients to structure deals, analyze financial data, and negotiate transactions. Median annual salary: $62,910
  • Financial Planner: Financial planners work closely with individuals and families to develop comprehensive financial plans, including budgeting, investment strategies, retirement planning, tax planning, and risk management. Median annual salary: $94,170
  • Risk Manager: Risk managers identify, assess, and mitigate potential risks impacting an organization’s financial well-being. They develop risk management strategies, implement mitigation measures, and ensure regulatory compliance. Median annual salary: $121,126
  • Corporate Treasurer: Corporate Treasures manage an organization’s financial resources, including cash flow, investments, and liquidity. They develop financial strategies, oversee banking relationships, and manage financial risk within the company. Median annual salary: $228,000

Is a finance degree worth it?

A finance degree offers substantial benefits and is considered worth it for many people seeking a career in the financial industry. “An online degree in finance is a great option for those looking to further their education, increase their employment opportunities, or change their career,” Pickett adds. “According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook,” she continues, “the job outlook for careers in finance is projected to grow faster than average for many occupations.” With job growth projected to be 7% through 2031, more than a half-million new financial professionals will need to enter the workforce over the next decade to keep up with demand.

Not only is demand high, but a degree in finance also has a promising Return on Investment (ROI). While tuition costs may vary, the potential financial rewards often outweigh the expenses. Many finance careers see a median income of $90,000 or more, nearly double the median for all occupations.

Moreover, a finance degree provides diverse transferable skills across industries. So, even if you were to get to the finish line and ultimately wanted to pursue a different line of work, you’d be able to find ample employment opportunities. The analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking abilities developed during the program are highly valued in various fields, from banking and investment management to consulting and corporate finance.

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How To Choose a Finance Degree Program

The finance degree program you attend will significantly impact the quality of your education, future job prospects, and potential success in the field. So it’s essential to approach this decision with careful consideration. Here are some key factors to help you select the right program for your goals:

  1. Check for Accreditation: Look for finance programs accredited by recognized accrediting bodies, such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Accreditation ensures that you receive a quality education and may enhance job prospects.
  2. Evaluate the Curriculum: Review the curriculum and available specializations within the finance program. “Think about how completing this program will contribute to your personal and professional goals,” Pickett recommends. Consider your specific areas of interest within finance — such as corporate finance, investment management, or financial planning, and choose a program that aligns with your career aspirations.
  3. Research Reputations and Rankings: When evaluating an institution’s reputation, longevity is crucial. “How reputable a program is can be based on how long it has existed,” Pickett says. “The longevity of the program also speaks to the quality of the program.” In addition, rankings from reputable sources can provide insights into program quality, faculty expertise, and industry recognition. A program with a strong reputation can pave the way for enhanced job prospects and valuable networking connections.
  4. Review Financial Aid Options: A program’s overall cost can be a significant determining factor when choosing your degree program, so it’s essential to consider the availability of financial aid, scholarships, and assistantship opportunities the institution offers. Understanding the financial aspects will help you make an informed decision and manage the cost of your education.
  5. Explore Career Services: Research the career services and support offered by the program, such as resume building, interview preparation, job placement assistance, and alums mentorship programs. Robust career services can significantly aid in securing internships and job opportunities after graduation.

If it works with your schedule, consider visiting campuses, attending virtual or in-person information sessions, and speaking with current students or alums to gather additional insight before making a final decision. By considering these factors and gathering as much information as possible, you can feel confident about attending a specific program.

5 Steps To Earning an Online Finance Degree

1. Make sure it’s the right choice

Choosing the right degree is a pivotal decision that shapes your future. When considering a degree in finance, it is crucial to ensure that it aligns with your aspirations and interests.

Start by exploring the dynamic world of finance, its various specializations, and potential career paths, and assess your affinity for working with numbers, analytical thinking, and problem-solving. Consider engaging in informational interviews, job shadowing, or internships to gain practical insights into the field.

Additionally, consider your aptitude for working in a fast-paced and competitive environment. Many fields within finance are dynamic and subject to market volatility, making this an ideal area for savvy decision-makers who thrive under pressure.

2. Research schools and programs

Once you’re sure that a degree in finance is the right choice, it’s time to research schools and programs to ensure you find the best fit for your educational and career goals.

Begin by leveraging online resources such as university websites, program descriptions, and rankings from reputable sources. Dive deeper by exploring curriculum details, faculty profiles, and available specializations within finance programs. Look for schools with strong industry connections, guest lectures, or internship opportunities that can enhance your practical skills and networking prospects.

Take your research further by seeking insights from current students or alumni through online forums or social media platforms to gain firsthand perspectives. Attend virtual or in-person information sessions, open houses, or campus tours to get a feel for the institution’s environment and culture.

3. Prepare for tests and applications

Preparing for tests and applications requires a strategic approach to showcase your potential and stand out amongst other applicants.

First, thoroughly research the application requirements and deadlines for each program. Prepare well in advance by studying for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT for undergraduate students or the GMAT or GRE for graduate students. Take advantage of study materials, practice tests, and online resources to sharpen your skills and familiarize yourself with the test format.

Cultivate your personal statement or application essay by highlighting your passion for finance, relevant experiences, and future goals. Seek recommendations from professors, employers, or mentors who can speak to your abilities and character.

Lastly, organize your application materials, proofread them thoroughly, and submit them before the deadline. With careful preparation and a compelling application, you can increase your chances of securing admission to your desired finance degree programs and set yourself on a path to success.

4. Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Determining how to finance your degree is crucial to realizing your educational dreams. Begin by exploring scholarship opportunities specific to your field of study and general scholarships based on merit, financial need, or specific criteria. Watch for grants and fellowships from organizations, institutions, or government agencies that align with your interests and goals.

Additionally, consider work-study programs that provide financial aid while gaining valuable work experience on campus. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is essential to determine eligibility for federal work-study programs, loans, and grants available to you.

Finally, create a comprehensive budget and consider whether or not part-time employment is possible and can benefit your financial situation. By being proactive and resourceful, you can pave the way to fund your degree and alleviate the financial burden of higher education.

5. Select your program

Now that you have completed the initial steps of research, preparation, and determining your financial options, selecting your financial degree program is the final step toward your future career. Evaluate how well each program aligns with your career goals and personal interests, and choose the program that best resonates with your aspirations, offers valuable resources, and can set you on the path to success in finance.

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