Master's Degree Programs for Financial Services Professionals
Learn the courses offered in financial master's degrees and the types of degrees available. Find out what job titles might need this education and the places those workers are employed.
What Kinds of Master's Degrees for Financial Services Professionals Are Available?
Master's degrees for financial services professionals include a Master of Business Administration (MBA), which often allows you concentrate on financial services while studying a broad range of business topics. You may also pursue a Master of Finance, Master of Accounting or Master of Financial Services.
|Program Fields||Business administration, finance, accounting, financial service|
|Common Courses||Financial markets, portfolio management, financial service marketing, securities services, pension and benefit planning|
|Possible Careers||Portfolio manager, stock broker, investment banker, sales agent|
|Prerequisites||Bachelor's degree, preferably in a business field; prerequisites coursework may be required for non-business majors; capstone may be required for graduation|
|Online Availability||Online MBA programs are available; some programs may require prerequisite courses to be completed on-campus|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||6% growth (for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$64,120 (for securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Courses Will I Take?
Courses in master's degree programs for financial services professionals cover the practice and theory of providing financial services to companies, institutions and individual investors. Some courses provide hands-on experience implementing financial projects with organizations. Topics of study include:
- Portfolio management
- Financial service marketing
- Personal financial planning
- Financial markets
- Securities regulations
- Pension and benefit planning
- Securities services
What Can I Do With My Degree?
With a master's degree for financial services professionals, you can sell, trade and manage securities, such as stocks, bonds and commodities. You might work as a broker, sales agent, portfolio manager or investment banker. You could also work for a bank, brokerage, insurance company or mutual fund firm, or become a self-employed financial adviser. Duties vary depending on the position, but you can expect to make phone calls to solicit clients.
In order to market financial services, you must pass the 6-hour General Security Representative Exam administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Candidates may take the test, also called the Series 7 Exam, after being employed for four months by a firm registered with FINRA.
Most states also require you to pass the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination, also called the Series 66 or Series 63 Exam. Passing this test allows you to sell most securities, but other licenses may be required to market specialized financial products. Employers typically provide exam coaching as part of on-the-job training. Continuing education is required to maintain licensure.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial services, commodities and securities sales agents accounted for 375,700 jobs in 2018. Nearly 35% of positions involved selling commodities, securities and other investments. Employment in these positions was expected to increase by 6% between 2016 and 2026.
The BLS notes that continued consolidation in the financial industry was expected to impact job growth, although employment prospects may be brighter at smaller firms. In May 2018, financial services, securities and commodities sales agents earned median annual wages of $64,120, also per the BLS.
Are There Any Prerequisites?
Master's degree programs for financial services professionals require you to hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in business administration, accounting, finance, marketing or a related discipline. If you hold a bachelor's degree in another discipline, you may be able to meet prerequisite requirements by taking courses in financial management, accounting and business statistics during the first few semesters of the program. To earn your master's degree, many programs require you to pass a comprehensive exam or finish a capstone project, or both.
Can I Earn My Degree Online?
While most master's degrees for financial services professionals are offered on campus, some are available online, particularly MBA programs. Many online programs offer the same courses as on-campus programs and are designed for busy professionals who lack the time to attend a traditional program. You'll complete coursework and communicate with instructors online, typically using e-mail and an online course management system.
Some online programs require you to complete undergraduate prerequisite courses on campus. Look for online programs that are accredited by the same organizations that accredit on-campus programs - the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFPBS).