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An online master’s in finance can help students further their knowledge of financial theories and practices while better preparing them for senior-level positions within finance. One reason for this is that graduate coursework prepares students for essential certifications that help to provide additional career opportunities. And since the degree typically requires completion of 30 to 36 credit hours, it’s possible to complete an accelerated program in as little as a year.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost for such a graduate degree is $19,749. After you graduate, you may qualify for a job as a financial analyst, where you can expect an annual salary of $95,000.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Finance Program

Choose your area of study

Most online master’s in finance programs do not offer separate areas of study, as the various topics of accounting and wealth management are interrelated. However, some programs may offer concentrations or coursework emphasizing investment, financial analysis, actuarial services, and more.

It’s important for students with a general idea of the career direction they wish to pursue to select an online program that will best prepare them for such a career. For example, if you’d like to become a wealth management advisor, try to find a program that will best prepare you for your Certified Financial Planning exam.

Research schools and programs

Many schools offer an online master’s in finance degree, so it’s essential to consider a few factors to find the programs that best fit your needs. Research how much the program will cost, and make sure that programs are appropriately accredited. Additionally, determine which professors will be teaching the different finance classes. Professors with a solid reputation in the field may provide a more rigorous education, and their insights and network might help graduates obtain job opportunities that would not otherwise be available.

Prepare for tests and applications

Once your list of prospective schools is narrowed down, check if test scores are required for the application. Some universities will require students to submit GRE scores, and others will require you to submit GMAT scores. There is also an increasing number of schools that don’t require students to submit scores. But since it may take up to three months to study for such a program and up to 20 days to receive your results, give yourself enough time to study and get the best possible score.

Select your program

Students who have the time and financial resources should apply to multiple programs. Not only will this improve the odds of getting into graduate school, but it will allow students to be selective about which programs they enroll in. Different programs will have various benefits and drawbacks, including how much they cost, how long they take to complete, and how flexible they are regarding scheduling. Students need to be honest about what they can afford and which programs suit their existing schedules to find the online graduate program that is right for them.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

All graduate students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year to see if they have federal loans available should they need them. Additionally, while scholarships and grants are rarer at the graduate level (and much more competitive), filling out the FAFSA may help students qualify for aid they wouldn’t otherwise get.

If you can afford to wait and save, it may also be beneficial to set money aside before applying to graduate school, which can help reduce your post-graduate loan debt and, as needed, provide you with a safety net during your studies.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Finance Programs

Best Online Master's in Finance Degree Programs
01

Indiana University
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Auburn University
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Penn State World Campus
01

CSU Global
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University of Texas at Dallas
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West Texas A&M University
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University of Houston at Clear Lake
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University of Scranton
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University of Washington
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University of Miami
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UMass Lowell
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University of Maryland Global Campus
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Boston University
01

Texas A&M University at Commerce
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Saint Joseph's University
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University of Michigan at Dearborn
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Johnson & Wales University
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Creighton University
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Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
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Southern New Hampshire University
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Webster University
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The University of Texas Permian Basin
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Georgetown University
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Cambridge College Global
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Walsh College
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University of Colorado Denver
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Harvard Extension School
01

California Lutheran University
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William & Mary School of Business
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Stevens Institute of Technology
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Santa Clara University
01

Bellevue University
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The University of Oklahoma
01

FIU College of Business
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University of Missouri
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Liberty University

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How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best online master’s in finance 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 programs have specialized accreditation from agencies like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

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 master’s in finance 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.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Finance Program?

One thing students can expect from any thorough online master’s in finance program is that it will apply many of the theoretical models they learned as part of their undergraduate education to real-world scenarios. For example, students will learn more about how financial models can help predict personal and corporate success. Still, they’ll also learn the limitations of those models and how to leverage technology to mitigate the uncertainty that comes with these limitations.

Most of these online graduate programs can be completed in two years by students attending full-time. It will take longer for students who can only attend part-time, and they should seek programs that offer a certain degree of schedule flexibility. However, students who have ample time to focus on their studies and wish to complete the degree sooner should seek accelerated programs that will let them finish in as little as 12 months.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in finance program

  • Foundations in Finance. This course helps students dive deeper into some of the foundations of financial practices they learned in undergrad. These economic principles are the basis for what you will learn in other classes and will be invaluable to your future career.
  • Financial Accounting Theory and Reporting Problems. A career in finance often involves dealing with various financial problems on behalf of an institution. Therefore, this class emphasizes the measurement and accurate reporting of financial information, including how to overcome the obstacles involved in asset and income measurement.
  • Analysis of Financial Markets. The market can be unpredictable and equally challenging to understand, even to finance veterans. This course helps students understand the various factors that affect how the market determines different prices.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions. Mergers and acquisitions are always a gamble for the companies involved, and the failure rate of acquisitions in any given year may be as high as 90%. This course helps students survey and evaluate M&A success stories to help them facilitate successful mergers and acquisitions in the future.
  • Portfolio Management. Even the most experienced finance professor understands that financial and investment analysis are vast fields that may take a lifetime to master. But this course prepares students for success by expanding their knowledge through academic study and hands-on practice.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Finance?

Career outlook

In today’s complex financial landscape, obtaining an online master’s degree in finance can be a strategic move to unlock a wide array of lucrative career opportunities. This degree equips individuals with the knowledge and skills required to navigate the intricate world of financial markets, investments, risk management, and corporate finance. The career outlook is positive. Financial analysts, for example, make a median salary of $96,220 annually, while the field is growing faster than average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career paths

There are a number of possible career paths for individuals with a master’s degree in finance, driven by the ever-increasing complexity of global financial markets and the need for skilled professionals to manage assets, mitigate risks, and optimize financial strategies. Here are some key career options in the field of finance:

  • Financial manager — oversees an organization’s financial health, from budgeting and financial reporting to investment decisions and risk management.
  • Private equity analyst — evaluates and recommends investments for private companies.
  • Corporate finance analyst — works within organizations managing financial planning, budgeting, and assessing investment opportunities.
  • Quantitative analyst — uses advanced mathematical and statistical models to analyze financial data and develop trading strategies for hedge funds, investment banks, and proprietary trading firms.
  • Financial consultant — guides individuals and businesses on investment decisions, financial planning, and wealth management strategies.

Financial Analyst

Earning Potential: $58,950-$169,940 annually
Education Required: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in finance or a related field

A financial analyst evaluates investment opportunities, assesses the financial health of businesses, and provides recommendations for optimal financial strategies. They scrutinize financial data, study market trends, and analyze economic indicators to guide investment decisions. Financial analysts work for various organizations, including banks and corporations, helping them make informed choices about stocks, bonds, or other financial instruments. They play a pivotal role in minimizing risk and maximizing returns for clients and organizations, making data-driven assessments to shape sound financial strategies.

Investment Banker

Earning Potential: $78,636-$96,442 annually
Education Required: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in finance or a related field

Investment bankers facilitate mergers, acquisitions, and financial transactions for corporations, governments, and institutions. They connect buyers and sellers, assist in fundraising, and offer strategic advice on complex financial deals. Investment bankers evaluate potential investments and negotiate terms to maximize value for their clients. They also manage the documentation and regulatory compliance required for these transactions. Beyond financial expertise, investment bankers need strong communication and negotiation skills. They play a crucial role in the global financial system, driving economic growth by helping organizations access capital and execute strategic initiatives.

Risk Manager

Earning Potential: $109,835-$137,775 annually
Education Required: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in finance or a related field

Risk managers are experts in identifying, assessing, and mitigating potential risks within organizations. They analyze financial, operational, and strategic risks and develop strategies to minimize their impact. Risk managers help companies make informed decisions by creating risk models, monitoring compliance, and recommending measures to protect assets and ensure stability. They work in various industries, such as finance, insurance, and healthcare, and play a critical role in preventing financial losses and maintaining regulatory compliance. Their responsibilities include crafting risk management policies and crisis response strategies to safeguard the organization against unforeseen challenges.

Online Master’s in Finance Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in finance degree program?

When applying for an online master’s in finance program, students must submit undergraduate transcripts along with the application. Depending on school and program requirements, they may also need to submit test scores, letters of recommendation, application essays, and more.

Because the requirements differ from school to school, students should contact the admissions counselor for each institution they are interested in long before they apply. A qualified counselor can verify everything students need to include with the application while answering any lingering questions they may have about the program.

How much does an online master’s in finance degree cost?

While the average cost for a graduate program is $19,749, the programs you are interested in may be more affordable.

The exact cost will depend on several factors, including whether the university is public or private and how many credit hours are required to graduate. Fortunately, most online programs are more affordable than face-to-face programs. That’s because these programs won’t require you to move to a new town, and you won’t have to pay the fees that may be associated with on-campus labs, student parking, and so on.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in finance degree?

As with their on-campus counterparts, most online master’s in finance programs can be completed within 24 months for students attending full-time. Part-time students may need closer to 36 months to complete everything. Accelerated programs are available from some institutions that allow students to complete the graduate program in only 12 months.

Is an online master's degree in finance worth it?

An online master’s degree in finance is a valuable investment that can lead to a rewarding and financially satisfying career. It equips you with the expertise and credentials needed to excel in the dynamic world of finance and opens doors to various opportunities in this thriving industry.

Finance professionals often command competitive salaries and bonuses. The median annual wage for many finance-related careers is well above the national average. A quantitative financial analyst, for example, makes a median salary of $115,839 and may make as much as $130,727 or more, according to data from Salary.com. An advanced degree in finance also positions you for leadership roles and career progression within financial institutions and corporations.

Online programs offer a higher degree of flexibility than on-campus degree programs and are an excellent choice for adult learners who may have other personal or professional commitments. Earning your degree online means you have access to programs across the U.S., rather than being limited to what is locally available, and you can choose one that fits your career goals specifically.

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