United States Online Graduate Programs in Finance
With the advent of technology, online Finance Graduate Programs could help students navigate the complex marketplace. Number-savvy individuals might study to deepen their business and technical finance skills through a broad set of courses.
Aside from advanced financial concepts, students might acquire the tools to predict trends and critically assess challenges.
Online Finance Graduate Programs: Overview
Online Finance Graduate programs could enable at-work professionals to keep their finger on the pulse of the global economy while they maintain their schedules. Formats are often oriented so students can conveniently explore and apply financial theory on their own timeframe.
Most online graduate programs in finance have extensive curriculums that are intended to foster a grasp of organizational finance decisions.
Sample Online Finance Course Work
While no two programs cover the exact same topics, the samples below could provide some overall insight.
- Accounting and financial statement analysis
- Principles of finance
- Corporate finance
- Business evaluations
Students could also build advanced knowledge of economic theory, mergers and acquisitions, international markets, and risk management. Additionally, there is often room to focus more intensively on a specific theme such as Investment banking or financial planning.
Some online Finance Graduate Programs may culminate in a capstone course or dissertation seminar. This is usually the time when students complete an independent research project related to their program emphasis or research topic.
An onsite internship or residency may also be required. These opportunities generally supplement classroom studies with practical skills and could enable students to interact with one another and get feedback from faculty.
When surveyed, 21% of Personal Financial Planners reported they had a Post-baccalaureate certificate and 11% a Professional degree.i
Types of Online Graduate Programs in Finance
Online Finance Graduate Programs are available at all levels. Masters in Finance programs often build on undergraduate knowledge, while Doctorate in Finance programs are often aimed at the more experienced student, and may require a previous graduate degree.
Certificates in Finance may be thematic and are non-degree options which could enable students to update their skill-sets.
Online MSF vs MBA
Those who hope to advance in the world of finance may be encouraged to earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA), though there is another alternative, the Master of Science in Finance (MSF). What's the difference?
An online MBA typically equips graduates with a broader skill set and knowledge base. This usually comprises multiple aspects of business such as finance, markets, accounting, entrepreneurship and management.
An online Master of Finance program on the other hand is much more finance specific. MSF programs often zero in on finance in a holistic manner, with courses in financial theory, mathematics, quantitative finance, investments, markets, financial reporting and analysis, and valuation.
Online Masters in Finance
An online Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program could provide students with a full spectrum of finance-related courses. In tandem, students might gain the practical skills needed to apply methods to real-world trends with a global mindset.
Credit weights and program length range from about 30 to 36 credits and one to two years. Most online MS in Finance programs include a set of core courses and electives (or an emphasis). The program usually caps with a project of some type.
For example, Georgetown University, a partner school, has what they call a Global Consulting Project. In it, students apply their coursework and skills to conduct a real-world consulting project for an international firm. Plus, they bring their final presentation abroad in a weeklong visit to the client’s country.
Required courses often help students use current valuation methods to appraise stocks, bonds and derivatives. In addition, students could learn to evaluate corporate investment projects. Then, strategically and ethically construct efficient portfolios for stakeholders. This takes an appreciation not only of the economic markets, but also of behavioral finance and ethics.
Typical MSF Courses
While each school has a unique syllabus, below are a few potential MSF course topics. Make sure to compare syllabuses from various grad schools to see what might stand out.
- Financial management
- Investment analysis
- Portfolio theory
- Financial econometrics
In addition to the virtual classroom, some online finance masters programs may offer students the chance to take part in an on-site, interactive residency. For instance, partner school, Scranton University has a center that simulates a trading floor. Participants could get the feel of how the ticker displays Wall Street data.
Online MBA in Finance
An online Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance is an action-oriented professional Masters program. MBA students are often encouraged to think critically.
Most programs are intended to help participants transform business and finance theory into practice. Thus, coursework is often based on actual, current business scenarios and case studies. A capstone project could be oriented to business consultation.
A MBA online curriculum could give a MS in Finance a run for its money, which is one reason the two degrees are compared. That said, the two degrees are distinct. A MSF is all about finance, and both concentrations and electives are intended to help professionals refine their niche.
By contrast, most online MBA in Finance programs are designed to provide instruction in cross-functional business topics. Course loads could range from 36 to 40 credits (variable) with most of the credits devoted to a compulsory core.
Core Courses - Online MBA Finance
These core courses often share a theme – to help students make (ethical and legal) managerial decisions.
- Financial accounting
- Management theory
- Marketing decision-making
- IT management
Aside from the required courses, students might choose electives and a specific emphasis in finance and/or accounting. In this portion of the MBA, students might learn how to expertly analyze and interpret the data in financial statements. In turn, courses could provide insight into how to conduct corporate financial analysis with real-world financial models and tools.
Online DBA in Finance
An online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Finance is a practitioner doctorate. Most online DBA programs are built for experienced professionals who want to gain deeper insight and global perspective into organizational problems.
Curriculums in DBA online programs could bolster students’ ability to make advanced decisions from the standpoint of strong leadership and an in-depth knowledge of both theory and applied research.
Like the MBA, it often entails a sequence of required business courses. However, DBA core courses may ‘take it up a notch’ with advanced topics in business strategy, operations and innovation.
Plus, students typically learn various research methods as well as to write out their findings in a professional manner.
Topics of Study
Explore some examples of core topics below, then look to individual schools for more info.
- Organizational leadership
- Information systems
- Marketing for globally diverse markets
- Fiscal leadership
From this platform, students could explore key courses in finance through a concentration. These courses may help students hone their expertise when it comes to things like
valuation, capital budgeting and structure. Students might also study to learn about multinational concepts, working capital management and Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM).
Online PhD in Finance
An online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Finance is a terminal research-focused degree. Students might therefore study a wide variety of courses along with research methods, statistics and analysis to help them with independent inquiry.
Some PhD in Finance programs accept applicants with a Bachelors degree, unlike the DBA which typically requires a Masters degree. Therefore, students who want to add breadth and depth to an undergrad degree might choose this route.
Curriculums do vary though students might extensively explore the theories and business decision models used to manage and allocate financial resources. This in-depth study could help graduates develop their ability to use effective strategic plans to project outcomes and ROI issues.
Typical PhD Courses
Some sample PhD topics are listed below.
- Financial statement analysis
- Investment selection techniques
- Foreign exchange
- Investment and risk management
Apart from their main courses, students could learn to form and test a hypothesis in order to write a final dissertation. This final paper usually offers a contribution of new knowledge to the field, and typically has to be of publishable quality.
Online Graduate Certificate in Finance
An online Graduate Certificate in Finance is typically a short set of courses that are either chosen by students, or pre-set by the university.
Some online certificates are designed for current professionals who want to update their skills, perhaps to change careers. Furthermore, a certificate could draw content from a Masters program.
Therefore, graduates could potentially transfer earned credits to a full degree later on.
A concentration is a series of courses that revolve around a theme. For instance, finance is one possible emphasis for MBA and DBA students. That said, even these programs may allow students to take extra electives to bolster skills and understanding of a specific topic.
Online graduate programs in financial planning could help students prepare to take the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification exam. Key courses often include financial planning strategies, research techniques, and methods of analysis, valuation and taxation.
Take a look below at several examples of course topics, then refer to individual schools.
- Benefits, compensation, retirement
- Trusts, gifts, estates
- Federal taxation of income
- Portfolio management
A focus in financial management could help students examine the finer points of investing, financing and capital budgeting. Students might therefore learn how to analyze primary financial statements and use the tools of the trade.
- Market Value Added (MVA)
- Economic Value Added (EVA)
- Return on Capital (ROC)
A focus in banking could meld general management practices with topics in corporate finance, global markets, and the financial services industry.
Brokers and investment bankers must register as representatives of their firm with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). To obtain the license, potential agents must pass a series of exams.ii If this is your goal, you might look for a program that meets the educational criteria to take any certification exams.
Why Earn an Online Finance Degree?
For students too challenged with a busy life to make it to campus, the latest educational technology could provide access to material from a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. That said, formats do vary, so it could be worthwhile to compare the delivery methods of each grad school to see if it would keep your interest and motivation.
Many online Finance Graduate Programs come with the same bells and whistles, but with added flexibility. Most schools, for instance, extend the same resources to online and on-campus students. This often means things like library services, academic advising, student services, and information technology services.
In terms of lectures and seminars, these are generally asynchronous (log-in anytime) though some universities may suggest and/or require some synchronous (real-time) activities. For example, the lecture may be delivered via live stream and then, uploaded to the course management system.
This web platform provides the key to several things. It allows students to access lecture materials, submit written assignments, take exams (you may need a proctor), and communicate with others.
Another potential reason to earn a graduate degree in finance online is that some accredited programs could help students prepare for various professional certifications. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, both certifications and a graduate degree can significantly improve prospective financial analyst’ prospects.iii
As an example, Penn State, a partner school, suggests their online MSF program could help students get ready academically to take exams for Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) certification.
Accreditation for Online Finance Schools
Many finance graduate schools are regionally accredited. Since finance (and accounting) programs are often housed within a university’s School of Business, some of these approved schools may have professionally accredited online Finance Graduate Programs. One such accreditor is the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP).
In general, approval from an outside agency often means that standards of quality have been met, and that there is some continual effort to maintain this status.
Choose an Online Finance Graduate Program
Find an online graduate program in finance next. Easily filter online Finance Graduate programs by degree level to yield partner schools with these programs. Then, quickly apply with the on-page form to take the next step.
[i] onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2052.00 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/sales/securities-commodities-and-financial-services-sales-agents.htm#tab-4 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm#tab-6
The University of Scranton
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Kansas State University
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Johns Hopkins University
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American College, The
The MSFS degree program requires the completion of 36 course credits to graduate.
To earn a certificate, candidates must complete a minimum of three courses in the certificate area and one course in any area.