Earning an online associate degree in finance can introduce you to the science of money management and a world of investment opportunities. A savvy finance professional needs skills in accounting and business, especially in areas like assets, liabilities, and risk management. These professionals also need to understand the complexities of today's globalized economy. Many associate-level students go on to earn a bachelor's degree in a finance-oriented business concentration, or continue to polish their skills in financial management or analysis in order to advance to leadership positions in the field. Financial managers in the United States have a bright future ahead of them, according to the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as jobs in this sector are expected to grow 7% by 2024.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE ASSOCIATE IN FINANCE PROGRAMS?
Davenport University Grand Rapids, Michigan
ADMISSIONS RATE 89%
GRADUATION RATE 39%
ONLINE ENROLLMENT 41%
RETENTION RATE 74%
DEFAULT RATE 12%
With campuses spanning seven Michigan locations and an online learning division, Davenport serves a student population of 7,500 and offers more than 50 academic programs. Among its degree offerings is an associate of business administration in finance, offered through the David W. Maine College of Business. Students in this program learn how to analyze financial statements and identify economic trends as preparation for entry-level business roles or to build a foundation for further studies.
The 65-credit online associate degree in finance includes coursework in economics, management, professional ethics, and accounting. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for finance careers that require skills in economic analysis, financial statement preparation, and professional writing. Graduates are also eligible to transfer completed credits toward a bachelor's degree program.
North Hennepin Community College Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
|GRADUATION RATE 13%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 16%||RETENTION RATE 65%||DEFAULT RATE 14%||
North Hennepin Community College serves over 10,000 students through its catalog of 2,000 courses, 22% of which are delivered online and 15% in a hybrid format. Among its online degrees, NHCC offers an online associate degree in finance, which provides a comprehensive introduction to business and personal finance, credit and collections, and investments. The program includes coursework in financial accounting, principles of marketing, financial planning, and entrepreneurship.
Graduates of the program will be capable of applying quantitative analysis to financial information, identifying financial opportunities, and examining the viability of new business concepts. Students completing the 60-credit program are prepared to transfer into bachelor's programs in finance, business, marketing, project management, or a related field.
Franklin University Columbus, Ohio
|GRADUATION RATE 6%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 75%||RETENTION RATE 50%||DEFAULT RATE 11%||
Franklin's online learning division offers nearly 50 undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees, including an online associate degree in finance. The 64-credit program covers five major thematic areas: financial analysis and forecasting, portfolio management, cash management, international finance, and financial risk management. By the end of the program, students will have the ability to compute financial ratios, illustrate trends, develop investment strategies, and assess financial risks.
Graduates of Franklin's finance program are prepared for careers as bank officers, credit managers, financial analysts, and cash managers. Prerequisites of the program include courses in college writing, learning strategies, speech communication, and interpersonal communication. Franklin offers a generous transfer policy that allows students to apply up to 94 semester hours of previously earned credit toward a next-level degree in their major.
Columbus State Community College Columbus, Ohio
|GRADUATION RATE 15%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 20%||RETENTION RATE 59%||DEFAULT RATE 21%||
Columbus State maintains six regional learning centers statewide that serve a student population of more than 27,000. The college offers degrees in more than 55 fields, including an associate degree in finance online program through the Business and Engineering Technologies Division. All coursework in the 60-credit associate degree in finance is available fully online or in hybrid format. The curriculum includes coursework in statistical concepts for business, marketing principles, and international finance.
The online associate degree in finance prepares students for careers in investment, corporate finance, banking and insurance, and international finance. Coursework culminates in a capstone course. Graduates can complete the program in two years and can transfer completed credits toward a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field.
NorthWest Arkansas Community College Bentonville, Arkansas
|GRADUATION RATE 13%||ONLINE ENROLLMENT 15%||RETENTION RATE 56%||DEFAULT RATE 19%||
NorthWest Arkansas Community College serves nearly 7,800 students through its on-site and online degrees, certificates, and professional programs. One such program is the online/hybrid associate degree in banking and finance, which offers 95% of its core and general education requirements online. Coursework in the 60-credit program includes a required internship and covers areas such as accounting, marketing, business communication, and economics.
The finance curriculum emphasizes career skills for aspiring bankers, insurance adjusters, and other financial professionals who are looking to enter the workforce following graduation. Successful graduates of the program will be capable of describing financial markets, preparing marketing plans, and using economic concepts to make good banking decisions. The banking core courses must be completed on campus at the college's Center for Financial Training.
How to Choose an Online Associate in Finance Program
Choosing the right associate degree in finance is key to starting your career after graduation. First, you'll want to narrow your search to include only schools that are accredited by a legitimate national or regional accrediting agency. Next, as the cost of higher education is of primary concern to most students, you'll want to compare tuition prices and research financial aid options. You should also carefully evaluate a school's curriculum and concentration options to ensure that the available courses suit your professional aspirations.
Programs vary from school to school, and there are many factors that affect how you'll study and how long it may take you to complete your degree. Accelerated online programs, for example, take less time to complete and are generally less expensive than traditional degrees. Online associate degrees in finance do not typically require campus visits, though completing your degree in your state of residence may allow you to take advantage of affordable in-state tuition prices.
Educational Paths for Graduates of Associate in Finance Programs
Many students earn an online associate degree in finance in order to transfer into a bachelor's program, as a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for financial managers, budget analysts, accountants, and auditors. An associate degree is a good way to fulfill the general education requirements of a bachelor's degree. The degree also introduces students to the basics of finance, accounting, economics, and business administration, and may qualify them for entry-level work. Below are just a few of the bachelor's programs that associate degree graduates in finance commonly pursue.
While some schools take a hard line in distinguishing finance programs from accounting degrees, much of the core coursework is similar. The major difference is how each program's coursework prepares you for your desired career. Graduates of an online associate degree in finance are well-suited to pursue a bachelor's in accounting and, with CPA or CMA certification, can become qualified for top accounting positions at insurance firms, tax service organizations, and government agencies.
Studying economics is a natural next step for associate-level finance graduates, as they may have already been introduced to concepts such as micro- and macroeconomics, consumer behavior, market efficiency, and statistics through a foundational finance curriculum. Transferring into a bachelor's in economics program from an associate degree in finance online program can prepare you for a career as an entry-level economist, budget analyst, of financial analyst, among other occupations in the field.
As finance-related specializations are commonly offered in bachelor's and master's programs, it should come as no surprise that finance and business are closely linked together in terms of both college curriculum and career possibilities. Aspiring loan officers, financial analysts, and entrepreneurs will benefit from an associate degree in finance and a bachelor-level business degree. Fundraisers and marketing professionals may also benefit from this particular combination of skills.
Career Paths for Finance Graduates
Students earning an online associate degree in finance acquire a combination of accounting, management, and communications skills required by top financial firms in the industry. This is also why graduates can pursue jobs in a number of related fields including business, economics, and human resources. With additional education and experience, associate degree in finance graduates can advance to senior-level positions managing large portfolios for clients or overseeing financial operations. Below are some of the most common careers for finance graduates.
Accountants and auditors are responsible for preparing and examining financial records, ensuring their accuracy and timely submission to the IRS. They are typically required to have at least a bachelor's degree to enter the field. Any accountant filing reports through the SEC is also required to hold CPA certification in the United States.
Median Salary: $68,150
Median Salary: $121,750
Median Salary: $73,840
Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators
Median Salary: $63,680
Compensation and Benefits Manager
Median Salary: $116,240
Job Outlook and Salary for Finance Associate Degree Graduates
Job growth for financial managers is expected to increase by 7% from 2014 to 2024, according to BLS, especially for those with an advanced degree who have expertise in international finance. Financial managers will likely stay in high demand throughout the economy's ups and downs, while commercial banking and savings employees — currently one of the industry's largest professional groups — have less job security due to an increase in automated and electronic banking practices.
Salaries for finance professionals vary by industry, location, education, and level of experience. In any sector of the workforce where a finance education and experience are required, graduates with at least a bachelor's degree and professional certification will have the best job prospects. The table below shows how jobs for financial managers are projected to increase over the next seven years.
|Employment, 2014||Projected Employment, 2024|
Salary Growth By Experience For Graduates Of Finance Associate Degrees
As is true for most professions, finance offers the best salary potential to those with the highest level of education and experience in their areas of expertise. While finance managers start their careers with an entry-level salary that is well-above the national average, theirs is one of few occupations to decrease in earning potential after they have peaked at 10-20 years of experience in the industry. Of the common finance industry jobs listed below, business analysts specializing in banking and finance stand to benefit from the highest increase in salary from when they first enter the industry to the later stages of their careers.
To determine the best online associate in finance programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online associate in finance programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.