District of Columbia Finance Graduate Schools and Programs

Finance Graduate Schools emphasize the fundamentals of business as well as the technical savvy necessary in areas like investment banking and corporate finance. Many finance graduate programs take students beyond the numbers. Students who study finance at the graduate level often learn to think critically about the global economy.

Finance Top Graduate Schools

What to Look for in Finance Graduate Schools

With the host of Finance Graduate Schools available with on-campus programs, it could be helpful to think about what you seek when it comes to your finance degree. An on-campus (on-ground) finance graduate program could provide resources for students such as panels, workshops, career and networking events.


“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for ten years.” - Warren Buffett

Each finance graduate school may have unique features, faculty and even potential opportunities. That said, it may be helpful to weigh a curriculum against other factors. Here are some questions to consider when it comes to choosing a finance graduate school.

Location. Is the graduate school of finance near Fortune 500 companies? Some schools may be near major cities with financial markets. If this is really important for you, use the filters on this page to search for finance graduate schools in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, or another city. Or, look for schools where you might earn a grad degree in finance abroad.

Format. Does the school provide a convenient format for working students? Some universities may offer evening and weekend classes to fit busier schedules. Being on-campus with peers in a face-to-face setting could be an asset as it might allow students to widen their professional circles.

Full-time or Part-time. Could finance students accelerate and complete their degree at their own pace? Some finance graduate schools may offer students the chance to accelerate and/or complete their degree at their own pace.

Concentrations: Is there room in the curriculum to focus more deeply on an area of interest? Because emphasis topics vary, it could make a good differentiator. Some of the areas to look for could include accounting, investment management, and corporate finance. Make sure to refer to individual schools for more options.

 In May 2016 the states with the highest level of employment of Financial Analysts were New York, California, Texas, Illinois, and Massachusetts.i

Types of Graduate Programs in Finance

Finance graduate programs come in all levels, from Masters to Doctorate. Some schools for finance may also offer certificates which basically provide graduate level courses minus the ‘degree’ award.

Furthermore, there are often two specific angles to choose when it comes to graduate programs in finance. For instance, some business schools might offer business administration degrees such as the MBA or DBA with a concentration in finance.

Or, there are programs such as a Master of Science or PhD where students study finance holistically rather than as an emphasis. In these programs, students may take a full set of compulsory courses in finance in tandem with a concentration in a specific area such as accounting.

Master of Finance

Schools with Master of Finance programs may provide students with the chance to build both broad and deep skills and knowledge. Students usually take a series of compulsory courses along with a choice of focal area in what is often a 36-credit curriculum. Finance Masters programs often cap off with a final project.

Core topics often help familiarize students with the U.S. and world financial markets, which could provide an overview of interest rates as well as federal and commercial bank policy. Students could also learn to identify risks, understand and analyze assets, liabilities and capital structure.

Depending on the school, the core topics could also cover key business practices such as financial reporting, business communication, leadership and ethics. Make sure to refer to individual schools and read the syllabus for their MS in Finance degree program. Below are some general examples.

  • Retirement and Estate Planning
  • Portfolio Management
  • Investment and Risk Management

MBA in Finance

For those interested in business and management, a school with an MBA in Finance program may be worth a look. MBA in Finance programs often cover the major business theories, principles, and strategies needed to make decisions and solve problems about financial issues.

Curriculums often range between 36 and 46 credits, as each school defines their MBA program. What sets the MBA apart from a MFin or MS in Finance is often the coursework. MBA programs usually cover a series of core business topics.

Core MBA courses generally encourage students to think critically so they could take action when it comes to decisions about marketing, accounting, operations, and economic analysis. Other core courses could highlight financial reporting and analysis and the legal environment.

A course in management is usually offered as well. This could cover organizational behavior and essentials such as how to lead projects and manage teams. There may also be a selection of electives that could further help students tailor an MBA to professional aims. These could range from international business to computer information systems—it all depends on the school’s selection.

MBA in Finance students might then select an area of emphasis such as Chartered Financial Analyst® or general finance. See below for a sample of potential courses.

  • Strategic Financial Decisions
  • Financial Markets and Investments
  • Mergers and Acquisitions

DBA in Finance            

A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Finance is a practitioner doctorate. Schools with DBA programs often target executives and may require applicants to have a Masters degree. Aside from coursework, students are typically required to work on a final dissertation or guided research project.

To this end, on-campus DBA in Finance programs are based on the cohort system. Students might therefore endeavor to meet other professionals and engage in group projects that might boost their ability to lead and collaborate.

DBA curriculums could help students expand their qualifications as well as enhance knowledge of direct global business applications. Students could also learn how to construct arguments, devise and test analytical models, and author publishable studies.

Coursework in some DBA in Finance programs might cover extensive quantitative methods and mathematical modeling, global financial markets and institutions, and advanced risk management. Take a look below at some sample topics.

  • Advanced Asset Pricing
  • Derivative Securities
  • Market Microstructure

PhD in Finance

A PhD in Finance is a research doctoral degree. Schools that offer PhD Finance programs often encourage students to work closely with faculty. Applicants might therefore want to investigate what active research projects the various faculty members have underway.

In terms of curriculum, a PhD in finance program emphasizes a firm foundation in the theoretical and empirical tools of modern finance, and draws heavily on the discipline of economics.

Students could also build onto this base. For instance, PhD-level research could help participants learn to apply financial concepts to a study of asset pricing, corporate finance, financial institutions, international finance, and/or behavioral finance. Their ideas, in the form of a final dissertation could provide useful insight for professionals such as mutual fund managers, investment bankers, and CEOs.


A timely and relevant dissertation could focus on the issue of finance and technology. You could analyze all the ways tech impacts finance on the regular, from corporate technology to personal wearables and apps.

Finance Graduate Certificate

A finance graduate certificate could involve about 12 credits. In some universities, a curriculum could be a set series, while in others, students might choose their own. For example, students at Bentley University, a partner school, choose and complete 4 courses to earn an Advanced Certificate in Financial Planning. Applicants to this program must hold a prior MS, MBA or JD degree.

Concentrations for Finance Graduate Programs

As stated, finance graduate schools differ in what they offer in terms of concentrations. Here are a few options from partner schools. Keep in mind that each school determines how many courses are needed to form an emphasis topic.


A focus in banking could enable finance graduate students to navigate the technological changes that have occurred in the financial services industry. A graduate banking degree program might explore key areas such as digital banking and internet finance. Other courses could cover important related areas such as the examples below.

  • Financial Reporting in the Digital Age
  • Statistical Analysis and Big Data
  • Financial Technologies

Financial Analysis

A focus in financial analysis could help students develop their ability to manage portfolios and assess various investments. Some finance graduate schools might offer a curriculum that provides the academic base to prepare graduates to take the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) certification exam. Course topics could draw from the examples below.

  • Statistical Methods
  • Financial Strategy
  • Micro and Macro Economics

Financial Planning

A focus in financial planning could help students learn to create financial plans. This often entails the ability to evaluate the appropriate principles, concepts, and frameworks for financial decision making.

Some universities may offer a CFB-Board Registered Program. This could mean that it meets the education criteria needed to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination. It might therefore be a useful concentration for those who want to work towards CFP® certification. Some of the course topics that might be included in this emphasis are listed below.

  • Cash Flow and Debt Management
  • Financial Planning Ethics
  • Income Tax Strategies

Corporate Finance

A focus in Corporate Finance could help students learn to manage money for institutions and corporations. This might involve a course in financial decisions to help students grasp just how to take actions that could increase a firm’s value to its shareholders.

Also, corporate finance requires a person to know how to manage corporate assets and liabilities, as well as plan for the company's financial future. Classes in this emphasis might include topics such as the ones below.

  • Managerial Accounting
  • Financial Risk Management
  • Treasury Operations.

Investment Management

A focus in investment management covers how to raise and manage capital for institutions or individuals. Students of investment management are shown how to analyze financial markets, and to assess and manage risks. They could also bolster their business acumen and learn how to advise, strategize, and support diversification. Investment Management classes might cover the topics below.

  • Investing and Security Analysis
  • Global Investments
  • Options and Future Markets


Some finance graduate schools offer an accounting emphasis that may suit students whose undergraduate degree is in accounting.

Almost all states require CPA candidates to complete 150 semester hours of college coursework to be licensed, which is 30 hours more than the usual 4-year bachelor’s degree. ii

These programs often enable students to make up the extra coursework necessary to pursue CPA licensure. Curriculums might include topics such as the examples below.

  • Advanced Financial Accounting
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Computer Auditing

Choose a Finance Graduate School

Compare and easily apply to Finance Graduate Schools next. Filter by degree level and program format to generate a list of partner schools. Then fill out an on-page form to get started.

Sources: [i] bls.gov/oes/current/oes132051.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/accountants-and-auditors.htm#tab-4

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