Getting a finance degree can set you up for countless job opportunities, but earning the degree requires you to invest a significant amount of time and money, which can make it a difficult path for adults who work full-time jobs.
If you’re interested in starting a career in finance but don’t have the time to commit to a full-time, on-campus program, you should consider getting an online finance degree. Online finance degree programs offer the same rigorous coursework as traditional programs while allowing students to work around their schedules.
Online education has come a long way in recent years, and there are now plenty of reputable, accredited institutions that offer online finance degrees. Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know about getting a finance degree online.
Why Get an Online Finance Degree?
There are many reasons why you might choose to earn a finance degree online. One of the biggest advantages is flexibility. With an online program, you can complete coursework from anywhere with an internet connection and at a pace that works for you. This is especially beneficial for working professionals or individuals with family obligations who cannot commit to a traditional, on-campus program.
Another advantage of an online finance degree is cost. Although online programs and traditional programs tend to have similar cost profiles, online programs allow students to save money on expenses like transportation, housing, and other fees.
Additionally, online programs often offer accelerated enrollment options, which can enable you to earn your degree as quickly as possible so that you can start working sooner.
The career outlook for finance professionals is strong, and there are many opportunities available in a variety of industries. With a finance degree, you can work as a financial analyst, financial manager, investment banker, or personal financial advisor, among other roles.
If you decide to continue your education by earning a master’s in finance or a Master of Business Administration (MBA), you’ll be eligible for even more positions, including leadership positions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in business and financial occupations is expected to increase by about 7% from 2021 to 2031, and the median salary for professionals in this field was $76,570 in May 2021, compared to $45,760 for all occupations.
Types of Finance Degrees You Can Earn Online
Finance is a broad field, and different jobs will require different types of degrees. Associate degrees are suitable for some entry-level positions, whereas some jobs in the finance field may require a graduate degree.
Before enrolling in a program, it’s a good idea to review the typical job requirements for the specific positions you plan to pursue.
There are several types of finance degrees you can earn online, some of which we’ve included in the list below.
Associate Degree in Finance
An associate degree in finance is a two-year program that covers the basics of finance, economics, accounting, and business. This degree is a good choice if you want to get started in the finance field quickly or if you plan to transfer to a four-year program later on.
Bachelor’s Degree in Finance
A bachelor’s degree in finance is a four-year program that provides a more in-depth perspective of finance and business.
This degree is the most common requirement for entry-level finance jobs, and it also prepares you for advanced degrees in finance. For most jobs in this field, a bachelor’s degree should suffice.
Master’s Degree in Finance
A master’s degree in finance is a one- to two-year program that builds on the knowledge and skills you gained in your undergraduate program. This degree can help you qualify for higher-paying positions and can also prepare you for a Ph.D. program in finance.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in high-level leadership positions, like chief financial officer, you might be more interested in pursuing an MBA with a focus on finance.
Ph.D. in Finance
A Ph.D. in finance is a research-focused program that typically takes three to five years to complete. This degree is designed for individuals who want to pursue academic or research careers in finance.
Choosing a Specialization
When pursuing an online finance degree, you may have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of finance. This isn’t necessary but is a good idea for individuals who have specific career goals in mind.
Some common specializations include:
- Corporate finance
- Financial planning
- Risk management
- International finance
Choosing a specialization can help you develop a deeper understanding of a particular area of finance and can also make you more marketable to potential employers.
How to Find the Right Online Program For You
If you plan to enroll in an online program, it’s important to take the time to thoroughly research your options and find the program that best suits your needs.
When searching for an online finance degree program, there are several factors you should consider, including accreditation, enrollment options, student support services, and the cost of the program.
It’s important to choose a program that is accredited by a reputable organization, such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Accreditation ensures that the program meets certain academic standards and will be recognized by employers.
Some online programs may require synchronous (real-time) attendance for classes or have set deadlines for assignments. Make sure the program’s enrollment options fit your schedule and learning preferences.
Student Support Services
Look for programs that offer a range of helpful student support services, such as academic advising, career counseling, and tutoring. These resources can help you stay on track and succeed in your coursework.
This is particularly important for distance learning as you won’t have the same opportunities to interact with your peers and professors as you would if you were on campus.
Tuition and Other Expenses
Compare the costs of different programs, to include tuition, fees, and any additional expenses (such as textbooks or technology requirements). Make sure you have a clear understanding of the total cost of the program before you enroll.
How to Apply for an Online Finance Degree Program
The application process for online finance degree programs is similar to that of traditional on-campus programs.
You will typically need to submit the following materials:
- Official transcripts from all schools attended
- Standardized test scores (such as the SAT or ACT)
- Letters of recommendation
Not all schools have the same application requirements. Some schools, for example, are test-optional, meaning students can choose to submit test scores depending on whether or not their scores would improve their chances of admission.
Make sure to review your school’s requirements and gather all of your application materials before applying to streamline the process.
How to Apply for Financial Aid
Financial aid is available to help offset the cost of your online finance degree program. To apply for financial aid, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA will determine your eligibility for federal grants, loans, and work-study programs. You may also be eligible for scholarships or other forms of aid from your school or private organizations. Make sure to fill out your application as early as possible, and apply every year you need aid.
Aside from federal aid, you should also look for grants and scholarships that you are eligible for. Check your school’s website and use an online scholarship search tool to find relevant scholarship opportunities.