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Best Online Master's in Finance Degree Programs

Online master's degree programs in finance are common and come in a variety of formats with different specialization or track options. Compare some of the best online master's in finance programs, common courses, and possible careers here.

Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Finance

There are several different kinds of online master's degree programs available in the field of finance. Some of these programs may be considered the best for their flexible formats, accreditation, available tracks, and/or shorter (1 year) completion time. Below, you can explore some of the top schools for online master's degree programs in finance and learn what makes the programs unique.

1. Saint Joseph's University

LocationTuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
Philadelphia, PA$16,99298%

Saint Joseph's University offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Finance that is CFP-certified by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. and has accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). The program can be taken part- or full-time and can be completed in 1 to 1.5 years full-time. Students can choose from tracks in real estate finance, financial analysis, or financial planning.

2. Molloy College

LocationTuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
Rockville Centre, NY$21,85099%

Molloy College has an online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with an available concentration in finance. This degree program totals 33 credits and requires a capstone course. Students in the program take core business courses and specialization courses in finance. Many courses utilize case-based simulations and projects to help students gain hands-on experience in the field.

3. California Lutheran University

LocationTuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
Thousand Oaks, CA$19,21597%

California Lutheran University offers both an online MS in Financial Planning and an online MBA in Financial Planning. The MS program takes 1 to 2 years to complete, can be taken full- or part-time, and totals 36 credits. The MBA program also takes 1 to 2 years to complete and is available in full- and part-time formats, but totals 45 credits. Both programs are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and cap their online courses to 20 students for more individualized attention.

4. Kansas State University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
Manhattan, KS$11,06989%

Through its global campus, Kansas State University provides an MS in Financial Planning that totals 30 credits. Students in the program can choose from tracks in financial therapy, personal financial planning, or advanced financial planning. Graduates of the program are eligible to take the CFP Certification exam, and the university is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

5. University of Scranton

LocationTuition & Fees % Receiving Financial Aid
Scranton, PA$11,63099%

The University of Scranton has an online MS in Finance that can be completed in 1 year and is accredited by the AACSB. The program totals 30 credits and has a focus on responsible financial management. Students can take the program on a full- or part-time basis, and online students have no required log-in times. Online students may choose to participate in a 2-day residency on campus that results in a Bloomberg Market Concepts certificate of completion.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid
6Colorado State University-Fort CollinsFort Collins, CO$12,49580%
7Xavier UniversityCincinnati, OH$11,71699%
8Creighton UniversityOmaha, NE$17,376100%
9Montana State UniversityBozeman, MT$6,55987%
10Northern State UniversityAberdeen, SD$6,46897%
11Mount Vernon Nazarene UniversityMount Vernon, OH$9,02499%
12Dallas Baptist UniversityDallas, TX$18,26297%
13University of Michigan-DearbornDearborn, MI$12,92096%
14University of Massachusetts-LowellLowell, MA$15,06091%
15Concordia University-ChicagoRiver Forest, IL$9,180100%
16Cornerstone UniversityGrand Rapids, MI$13,990100%
17Concordia University-WisconsinMequon, WI$10,848100%
18New England CollegeHenniker, NH$13,56095%
19Oklahoma Christian UniversityEdmond, OK$11,124100%
20Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, NH$18,81075%
21Suffolk UniversityBoston, MA$36,50897%
22University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical CampusDenver, CO$8,01776%
23West Texas A & M UniversityCanyon, TX$6,73386%
24Webster UniversitySaint Louis, MO$13,50098%
25Bentley UniversityWaltham, MA$37,50077%

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2017-2018 school year.

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

What is a Master's in Finance?

A master's degree in finance is an advanced degree that can be pursued after one has earned a bachelor's degree; it is aimed to help prepare students for various careers in the world of finance. Programs usually cover a wide range of financial topics, such as financial planning, financial management, and international finance. Here we explore these degree programs in more depth.

Overview of Master's Programs in Finance

There are several available master's degree programs in finance that can be taken online, such as an MS in Finance, MBA in Finance, or MS in Financial Planning. All of these degree programs usually take 1 to 2 years to complete full-time, although some programs may allow students to take the program in a part-time format in which case it may take 2 years or more to complete. Programs typically range from about 30 to 45 credits, depending on the degree and institution, and may include a capstone course.

Since finance can be a concentration for an MBA degree, MBA degree programs typically do not offer additional tracks or concentration areas. However, MS in Finance or Financial Planning degree programs may offer additional tracks that are designed to help prepare students for a future career in a particular area of finance. Depending on the program, some available tracks or concentration areas may include, but are not limited to:

  • Real estate finance
  • Personal financial planning
  • Financial analysis
  • International finance
  • Investments and securities
  • Investment analysis
  • Financial therapy

Most online master's degree programs in finance can be completed fully online. Some programs may offer some additional learning opportunities on-campus for interested students. Although it varies by school, many institutions offer courses in 8-week accelerated formats. Some of these courses may have a designated meeting time (usually one evening per week), while others may work on asynchronous platforms with no required log-in times. Online students may participate in break-out groups or discussions and typically have access to all audio, video, and other shared files for each course. Some online learning programs may cap the number of students in each course.

Common Courses for a Master's in Finance

Coursework for master's degree programs in finance vary by the kind of degree and/or specific track students choose. In general, these degree programs usually include some broad-perspective business and finance courses, as well as more advanced and/or focused courses in specific financial topics. Here we break down some common courses by 3 of the most common online master's degree programs in finance.

MS in Finance

MS in Finance degrees generally include courses that cover a broad range of topics in finance. Students in these programs may take electives or concentration courses to further focus their studies. Some common course topics for these programs include:

  • Portfolio management
  • Risk management
  • International finance
  • Real estate

MBA in Finance

MBA programs in finance typically require students to take some core business courses and some concentration courses in finance. Some common courses may include:

  • Business ethics
  • Marketing management
  • Financial analysis
  • Leadership

MS in Financial Planning

Students in MS in Financial Planning programs generally take some core business courses and some introductory courses in financial planning, and then either take advanced courses in financial planning or courses in their specific track. Students may take courses in topics like:

  • Financial planning for small businesses
  • Estate planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Insurance

Master's in Finance vs. MBA in Finance

Due to the popularity of both an MS in Finance and MBA in Finance, it is worth comparing some of the similarities and differences between the 2 degrees. Both degree programs are available in fully online formats, can help students advance their career and be competitive in the job market, and include a range of finance courses.

One of the main differences between an MS in Finance and MBA in Finance is the curriculum. An MBA program generally provides a broader overview of business through core business courses, while an MS in Finance focuses on finance topics. This also means that an MBA degree may be applicable to a wider range of business-related careers in management/leadership. MBA degree programs usually require more credits than an MS in Finance degree, and therefore, may take closer to 2 years to complete.

According to PayScale.com, there is also a difference in salary between the 2 degrees. PayScale.com reported that graduates with an MS in Finance made an average salary of $77,000, as of January 2020, while graduates with their MBA in Finance made an average salary of $98,000 during the same month. These salaries may vary based on factors like job title, employer, and level of work experience.

How to Choose an Online Master's in Finance Program

It is important for students choosing between different online master's degree programs in finance to decide on several factors first. This usually involves thinking about career goals and interests. For example, someone interested in leadership and management may consider an MBA in Finance, while someone more interested in becoming a personal financial advisor may consider an MS in Financial Planning.

Other factors to consider when choosing an online master's program is the format of the program. Students must determine if a full- or part-time program fits their lifestyle, if they can meet the scheduling requirements for courses, or if they need an asynchronous program. Additional factors to consider may be affordability, availability of additional tracks or concentrations, and/or the quality of the program, which we discuss in more detail below.

Accreditation

Determining the quality of a degree program can be challenging, and this is why accreditation can be helpful. While most universities have accreditation through a higher learning organization, such as the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, students may want to consider enrolling in a finance program that is accredited by the AACSB. The AACSB focuses specifically on business programs to help ensure the quality of education in hopes of advancing the field of business.

Students who are interested in taking their CFP certification exam, may also want to search for a finance program that is CFP certified. These programs typically have courses built into the program that meet the education requirements for the CFP exam and are certified by the CFP Board. Degree programs with this certification are also designed to help best prepare students for taking the exam.

Benefits of a Master's in Finance

The primary benefit of any type of master's degree program in finance is career advancement. While some finance positions may require a master's degree, others may promote those with the degree to advanced positions in management or leadership.

Another benefit for earning a master's degree in finance is the difference in salary as compared to those with only an undergraduate degree in the field. PayScale.com reported that graduates with a Bachelor of Science (BS/BSc) in Finance made an average salary of $71,000 in January 2020. During the same period, graduates with an MS in Finance made an average salary of $7,000 more per year while those with an MBA in Finance made almost $30,000 more than those with a BS in Finance.

Career Options for Graduates with a Master's in Finance

Finance is a broad field, and a master's degree in the field can help prepare students for an array of finance-related careers. Graduates of these programs may work at banks, businesses, the government, and other business-related settings. Compare a few of the possible careers for graduates with their master's in finance below.

Financial Manager

It is becoming more common for employers to require financial managers to have a master's degree in finance or another related business field. These managers also usually need to have a few years of prior work experience. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that these managers made a median salary of $127,990. Financial managers are responsible for helping their organization meet long-term financial goals, supervising staff members, and making financial decisions.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts are only required to have a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree helps increase an analyst's chance for advancement. The BLS reported that financial analysts made a median salary of $85,660 in 2018. These professionals help businesses and individuals make smart investment decisions by researching options, analyzing financial data and trends, and evaluating companies.

Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors must have at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree can help these professionals move into management positions. According to the BLS, these advisors made a median salary of $88,890 in 2018. Personal financial advisors work with clients to explain and select different investments, insurance, and other financial planning options to help clients prepare for their financial future.

Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agent

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents need at least a bachelor's degree, but a master's degree is necessary for advancement, especially an MBA. These sales agents made a median salary of $64,120 in 2018, per the BLS. These professionals conduct trades and buy and sell securities for their clients.

Professional Organizations in Finance

Depending on the position and employer, there are several licenses and/or certifications that may be required or preferred for finance professionals. These certifications are available through a number of professional organizations in the field of finance, including some of the examples below.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.

The CFP Board is an organization that provides the exam for financial planners to earn the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. In addition to the exam, the CFP Board requires professionals to adhere to a code of ethics for the certification.

CFA Institute

The CFA Institute offers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification that may be recommended and/or beneficial for positions like securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents and some financial managers. CFA certification consists of 3 exams and requires applicants to have some prior work experience.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

FINRA is a not-for-profit organization that helps regulate and promote integrity in investors. This organization provides licensure for brokers and investment bankers to sell financial products and requires all registrants to participate in continuing education courses to maintain licensure.

Association for Financial Professionals

The AFP offers certification, training, and networking events to treasury and financial professionals. Some financial managers may pursue the organization's Certified Treasury Professional credential.