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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 of graduate school tuition and fees is $20,513 per year. After you graduate, you may qualify for a job as a financial analyst, where you can expect an annual salary of around $95,000.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Finance Program

Choose your area of study

This degree is offered in several different formats, including Master of Business Administration (MBA) in finance, Master of Finance (MFin), and Master of Science (MS) in finance. An MBA in finance covers a broad range of business topics, while an MFin program will focus more on the nuances of the financial sector. MS in finance programs typically devote a lot of time to financial models, risk management, and other areas that involve both math and finance. Furthermore, you may be able to focus your studies on a particular area of this field by selecting a concentration in investment, financial analysis, actuarial services, or another speciality.

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 the Certified Financial Planner 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.

You should only apply to institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in finance program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). These organizations have particularly high standards for business education.

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 professional networks might help graduates obtain job opportunities that would not otherwise be available.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit their website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

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 these tests and up to 20 days to receive your results, give yourself enough time to study and get the best possible score.

Each school and program have different application requirements. In addition to test scores, you may need to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and other materials. Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

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.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Are you only interested in 100% online programs, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has some in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer?

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. Those who already work in the field should see if their employer offers tuition assistance benefits as well.

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

Be sure to speak to financial aid counselors at the schools you’re interested in for the most accurate and specific information about program cost.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Finance Programs

Best Online Master's in Finance Degree Programs

Indiana University

Auburn University

Penn State World Campus

CSU Global

University of Texas at Dallas

West Texas A&M University

University of Houston at Clear Lake

University of Scranton

University of Washington

University of Miami

UMass Lowell

University of Maryland Global Campus

Boston University

Texas A&M University at Commerce

Saint Joseph's University

University of Michigan at Dearborn

Johnson & Wales University

Creighton University

Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Southern New Hampshire University

Webster University

The University of Texas Permian Basin

Georgetown University

Cambridge College Global

Walsh College

University of Colorado Denver

Harvard Extension School

California Lutheran University

William & Mary School of Business

Stevens Institute of Technology

Santa Clara University

Bellevue University

The University of Oklahoma

FIU College of Business

University of Missouri

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, regionally accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education. Many of these options also have programmatic accreditation from agencies like the AACSB or ACBSP.

We evaluated each school’s program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and the 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 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, even for 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.

Indeed, 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 this field:

  • Financial analyst — Evaluate investment opportunities, assess the financial health of businesses, and provide recommendations for optimal financial strategies.
    • Median annual salary: $95,080
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 8%
    • New job openings projected: 27,400 annually
  • Securities, commodities, or financial services sales agent — Contact prospective clients, offer investment advice, and connect buyers and sellers in financial markets.
    • Median annual salary: $67,480
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 7%
    • New job openings projected: 40,100 annually
  • Financial manager — Maintain the financial health of an organization by directing investment activities and developing plans for meeting long-term financial goals.
    • Median annual salary: $139,790
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 16%
    • New job openings projected: 69,600 annually

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 $20,513, 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.

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. 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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