Top 20 Online Master's in Finance Degrees in 2018

A career in finance can offer opportunities in almost any industry. While the term may call to mind a career in banking or at an investment firm, most organizations of any size — and many individuals–require the services of a finance professional for accounting, investments, budget analysis, and much more. Whether you pursue a career as a personal financial advisor, a corporate CFO, a market research analyst, or a fundraiser, earning an online master's in finance can qualify you for a variety of professional opportunities.

A good online master's in finance program offers an educational experience with the same level of quality that a student would receive while attending in person. Time and geography are major considerations for most people who are working full-time and wish to pursue a graduate degree, and today's online finance master's degree programs can offer excellent opportunities for distance students to receive a quality education. These online master's in finance programs are designed around the assumption that the student is working full-time and needs some flexibility to balance their education with their work schedule. Some can be completed entirely online, while others require limited visits to the campus in person. The student has access to faculty as needed, and the program encourages communication and collaboration among peers, as well. The following online master's in finance programs offer these attributes and more to help you achieve your career goals.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Finance Programs?


Harvard University Cambridge, MA

Harvard University offers a Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in extension studies, field: Finance. Harvard's online finance masters degree includes 12 courses (48 credits). While most of this program can be completed online, at least 16 credits must be taken on campus during the course of the program. Students have the option of taking these on-campus courses in short, intensive sessions, minimizing the amount of time required for in-person classes. To enter the program, a student must complete three admissions courses from the curriculum to demonstrate that they are well-suited to the program. Students of Harvard's masters in finance online program can earn a second graduate credential by choosing electives relevant to a certain topic. Graduate certificates are offered in accounting, corporate finance, principles of finance, business economics, and real estate investment. Graduates have access to Harvard's career services office, as well as the university's prestigious alumni program and related networking benefits.


Georgetown University Washington, DC

Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business offers a Master of Science in Finance (MSF). A Master of Science is offered rather than a Master of Business Administration because the focus of the program is more technical than general. Georgetown's program allows students to complete their master's in finance online (32 credits) in 21 months, with two weeklong sessions that must be completed in person. A weeklong residency is required after the first core course, in financial markets, is completed. Students can also enjoy a weeklong international travel experience while completing their capstone consulting project for a company in another country. The MSF program's online learning platform allows students to complete their weekly coursework at any time of day, offering flexibility while a student works full-time or handles other obligations. It also allows online master's of finance students to interact with professors and other students, replicating a live educational experience. Applicants to Georgetown's MSF online program must have earned a BA or BS from an accredited university, and must submit an official copy of a GMAT or GRE score with the test date. Georgetown's MSF program features a dedicated career services office, as well as helps to facilitate internships and alumni networking opportunities.


Webster University Webster Groves, MO

Webster University's George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology offers an online masters in finance, comprising a total of 36 credit hours. The program consists of 27 required credits and 9 elective credits, as well as 9 credit hours of prerequisite courses in accounting theory and practice, current economic analysis, and applied business statistics (3 credits each). Webster also offers an MBA/MS finance dual degree, which consists of 48 credit hours. Applicants are required to submit official transcripts from the school where they earned their first undergraduate degree. Students may choose electives to earn advanced certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP), or take courses in entrepreneurial finance or other advanced topics in order to pursue careers in other fields.


Northeastern University Boston, MA

Northeastern University's D'Amore-McKim School of Business offers an online Master of Science in Finance, consisting of 30 credit hours which can be completed in as few as 16 months. All coursework is completed online, and no residencies are required. Applicants to the program must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning and either an official GMAT score, or current employment and five years of relevant professional experience. Students pursuing a master's of finance online may choose between two tracks: corporate finance or investment finance. There also is the option of pursuing a dual degree, the Online Master of Science in Finance/MBA, which consists of 72 credit hours and can be completed in as few as 30 months by a full-time student.


Concordia University Mequon, WI

Concordia University-Wisconsin offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance. For admission into Concordia's graduate program to earn a master's in finance online, an applicant must have earned an undergraduate degree and graduated with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Concordia does not require applicants to take GMAT or GRE exams. Instead, a capstone course at the end of the program is designed to allow students to demonstrate their level of skill. Once accepted, a student can start the program at any time rather than waiting for a particular term to begin. Coursework consists of 39 credit hours, and can be completed entirely online at the student's chosen pace. Some courses in this master of finance online program can lead to certifications, such as an Associate in Risk Management (ARM) 54 or 56 certificate. An internship of at least 120 hours, worth three credits and providing valuable, real-world job experience for the student, is also part of the master's in finance online program.


California Lutheran University Thousand Oaks, CA

California Lutheran University offers an online MBA in financial planning. Students can choose between two program tracks. One track results in an MBA and eligibility to take the CFP exam to become a certified financial planner. The other track is for students who already hold a CFP and results in an MBA. The program consists of 48 credit hours that can be completed in 12 to 36 months. The program can be taken part time or full time. Multiple program entry points occur throughout the year. Applicants must provide official transcripts, showing that they have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, and may be required to present GMAT scores or other evidence of academic fitness. Graduates have lifelong access to CLU's career services and alumni network.


University of Saint Mary Leavenworth, KS

University of St. Mary offers an online MBA with a finance concentration. The program consists of 36 credit hours that can be earned in 12 to 24 months. Courses are offered in sessions that last 8 weeks. Students can take one or two classes per session. It is estimated that most students spend about 15 hours a week on coursework per class. University of St. Mary does not require entrance exams such as the GMAT or GRE. Applicants must provide official transcripts, showing they have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and a GPA of 2.75 or better.


Pennsylvania State University State College, PA

Penn State's online master’s in finance consists of 30 credit hours plus a capstone project worth three credits. The program is taught in a cohort format. Students begin the program at the same time and progress at the same rate, completing their degrees in two years. This gives students a chance to collaborate virtually. A required four-day residency at the Penn State Great Valley campus near Philadelphia is held after the start of the fourth course. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and a GPA of 3.0 or better in the last two years of their undergraduate studies. Students lacking a sufficient background in business statistics, financial management/corporate finance, and microeconomics must enroll in online self-paced, non-credit mini-courses before beginning their masters of finance online.


Southern New Hampshire University Hooksett, NH

Southern New Hampshire University's online master’s degree in finance can be earned in 15 months when two courses are taken per 15-week term. Students can choose from a concentration in corporate finance or investments and securities. This program, along with a test-prep course, prepares students to take the chartered financial analyst (CFA) level 1 exam. A GMAT or GRE score is not required for admission. Online students have access to the online writing center, tutoring, career services, and more. SNHU offers a 25% tuition discount for active-duty service members and their spouses.


Charleston Southern University North Charleston, SC

Charleston Southern University offers an MBA with an emphasis in finance online. The program consists of 42 credit hours, 33 hours for the MBA, nine elective hours to complete the concentration in finance. Additional coursework may be required to fulfill any prerequisites. The degree can be completed within two years. Applicants must provide any official transcripts from, and GMAT scores may be required.


Davenport University Grand Rapids, MI

Davenport University offers an online MBA with a concentration in finance. This degree consists of 39 credit hours and takes two and a half years to complete. Students can pursue a graduate certificate in finance for an additional 12 credit hours. Students may be required to take additional prerequisite courses depending on their undergraduate academic performance.


Mississippi College Clinton, MS

Mississippi College’s MBA with a finance concentration consists of 30 credit hours and can be completed in two years. Online courses are taught asynchronously. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, a 2.5 minimum undergraduate GPA, and an appropriate standardized test score. Prerequisites must be completed prior to admission.


National University San Diego, CA

National University offers an MBA with a specialization in financial management online. The program consists of 16 to 19 courses, and students must complete at least 63 quarter units. Applications are accepted year-round. Students can begin classes during any month once accepted. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and a 2.5 or better undergraduate GPA. Applicants may be admitted if they achieved a GPA of 2.75 or higher during the last 90 quarter units, received an acceptable score on the GMAT, GRE, Miller Analogies Test, or any other approved program-specific exam.


Upper Iowa University Fayette, IA

Upper Iowa University offers an online MBA with an emphasis on corporate financial management. A post-graduate certification for corporate financial management is also offered online. The program consists of 36 credit hours and takes two years to complete. Online classes allow a flexible schedule for students who are working full-time or are active-duty service members. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and an acceptable undergraduate GPA or GRE/GMAT score.


Suffolk University Boston, MA

Suffolk University offers two online finance master’s programs. Students can choose between a master of science in finance or a dual MBA/MS degree in finance. The MSF program consists of 32 to 47 credit hours, which takes 12 to 16 months to complete with full-time study or 20 to 28 months with part-time study. Each program requires 15 credit hours of finance core courses which must be taken on campus in Boston. It is possible for the academic program director to grant the student permission to take them online. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and may be required to submit a standardized test score.


Tiffin University Tiffin, OH

Tiffin University offers an online MBA with a concentration in finance. The program consists of 36 credit hours. Online courses are offered in two seven-week terms per semester. Courses start in January, March, May, July, August, and October. A full-time student can complete the program in one and a half years; a part-time student can complete it in two and a half years. Tiffin’s graduate programs have flexible start dates, accept transfer credits, and do not require application fees.


University of Houston-Clear Lake Houston, TX

University of Houston offers an online master’s of science in finance. UHCL's online finance master’s program consists of 30 credit hours. A full-time student can complete the program in 12 to 15 months, and a part-time student can complete it in 18 months. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and may be required to submit a standardized test score if they had a GPA below 3.0 for their last 60 hours of coursework.


Colorado State University-Global Campus Fort Collins, CO

Colorado State University-Global Campus offers an online master’s of finance degree. The program consists of 36 credit hours. Students with an undergraduate GPA of less than 3.0 must complete an extra three-credit class, fundamentals of quantitative analysis. CSU-Global's flexible schedule allows students to take classes and work full-time. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university with a preferred GPA of 3.0 or higher.


Golden Gate University San Francisco, CA

Golden Gate University offers two online finance master’s degrees. Students can choose between a master’s of science in finance or an MBA with a concentration in finance. The master of science program consists of 45 credit hours and the MBA consists of 54 credit hours, including 12 credit hours for the finance concentration. Graduate certificates in finance and technical market analysis are also available, each consisting of 15 credit hours. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university and show an academic and professional capability to study at the graduate level.


University of the Southwest Hobbs, NM

University of the Southwest offers an MBA with a specialization in finance. This online master’s in finance program consists of 36 credit hours, 21 core course credits and 15 finance specialization credits. The program can be completed in 12 months. Classes begin every eight weeks, so students can start their studies any time of year. No prerequisite courses are required. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, it does not need not be a business degree.

Career Opportunities with an Online Master's of Finance Degree

Financial specialists who are familiar with the methods, rules, and strategies of finance are valuable in every industry. Graduates with an online master's in finance can use their breadth of financial knowledge to help a business, individual, municipality, or other entity manage their funds, capital, or debt. A master's in finance online program prepares professionals for work in corporate finance, money management, investment, financial planning, banking, or philanthropy. Finance professionals are detail-oriented decision-makers with strong analytical, technical, and interpersonal skills.

Financial Analyst
Financial analysts assist individuals and businesses on investments, including the management of portfolios. These professionals study economic trends, evaluate financial data, examine financial statements, and forecast future financial performance. Analysts typically begin their careers specializing in an investment field, then advance to portfolio managers as they gain more experience. Entry-level analysts usually have a four-year degree, though an online master's of finance, plus certification, can help analysts advance their career.
  • Median Annual Salary: $84,300
  • Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Personal Financial Advisor
Personal financial advisors work with individuals as clients, assisting them with investment decisions, taxes, and retirement. Advisors who are licensed to buy and sell financial products can also assist clients with the buying, selling, and overall management of their investment portfolio. Most personal financial advisors have at least a bachelor's degree in finance.
  • Median Annual Salary: $90,640
  • Projected Growth Rate: 15%
Securities Sales Agent (Broker)
A broker is a licensed professional who buys and sells stocks, bonds, and other types of securities on behalf of their client. Brokers also advise clients on investment options based on a client's needs or financial ability. A broker must have at least a bachelor's degree to enter the field, with an advanced degree in business administration or finance the typical path for career advancement.
  • Median Annual Salary: $63,780
  • Projected Growth Rate: 6%
Financial Manager
Financial managers monitor a company's finances, using data analytics to inform their decisions on ways to maximize profits and minimize losses. These professional are experts in their industries, such as healthcare or government, and must maintain a solid understanding of special tax laws and regulations. There are many different types of financial managers, including controllers, treasurers, cash managers, and risk managers. Many employers prefer to hire financial managers with a graduate degree, such as an MBA or an online master of science in finance, accounting, or economics.
  • Median Annual Salary: $125,080
  • Projected Growth Rate: 19%
Financial Examiner
Financial examiners work to ensure borrowers are treated fairly. These professionals review balance sheets, evaluate loans and risk, and assess banks to ensure they are in compliance with the law. Financial examiners may major in finance, business administration, or accounting, and many employers today require candidates for senior positions to have a master's degree.
  • Median Annual Salary: $81,690
  • Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Salary Outlook for Finance Program Graduates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 10% job growth rate for business and financial operations between 2016 and 2026, translating to 773,800 jobs. Most jobs in this industry have a salary potential well above the national average. As of May 2017, the annual mean wage for all occupations in the nation was $50,620.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Finance Program?

Students enrolled in a master's of finance online program learn about economics, corporate finance, financial mathematics, forecasting, and analytics. They graduate with the industry knowledge, financial acumen, and research abilities needed to make an immediate impact in their careers.

Curriculum for an Online Master's in Finance

  • Financial Forecasting: This course introduces modern forecasting methods used in finance and data interpretation. Students learn how to estimate models and use past values, market information, and surveys to provide forecasts for the future. In most online master's of finance programs, students learn how to estimate financial risk, apply econometric tools, and construct reliable models.
  • Corporate Finance: Corporate finance is a core course in most online master's in finance programs. In this class, students examine the major theories and practices in corporate finance and study topics such as risk management, financial reports, and the valuation of claims. This course also examines the impact of technology and how it affects security and analysis.
  • Mathematics and Finance: This course explores the mathematical fundamentals of modern finance. Topics covered include linear algebra, statistics, and probability, as well as how to solve pricing problems for derivatives. Other common topics include major mathematical models, formulas, and processes used in analysis, like Brownian motion (random behavior) and Martingale pricing.
  • Financial Statement Analysis: In this course, students develop the ability to analyze and use information from financial statements to solve problems and inform decisions. By the end of the course, students should understand how to interpret and draw inferences from a financial statement to assess a company's performance and future prospects.
  • Analytics and Finance: This course examines the increasing importance of modern analytical skills in finance, which is useful in portfolio management, algorithmic trading, and the pricing of derivatives. Students learn concepts such as machine learning and dynamic optimization, as well as the quantitative models commonly used for financial analyses.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Finance?

There are many factors that can affect how long it takes to earn an online master's degree in finance. These factors include how much time the student can devote to school, work and life obligations, and finances. Typically, a master's degree in finance online program can be completed in one to two years. Accelerated programs can be completed in just 12 months, though they require a full-time course load; part-time students can earn their degree in two years.

Whether a program is offered synchronously or asynchronously is another factor. Asynchronous programs are delivered in a self-paced format that allows students to set their own academic schedule, which works especially well for working students. In synchronous programs, students move through a curriculum together as a group and graduate at the same time. Other factors that can affect a program's length are the number of start dates offered each year and whether or not a school is on a semester or quarter schedule.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Finance Prepares For

  • Series 6 License: With a Series 6 license, financial professionals can buy and sell investment products, such as shares on a stock exchange, on behalf of their clients. License-holders cannot sell corporate or municipal securities or options. To apply for a license, professionals must be sponsored by a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. member, submit to fingerprinting and a background check, and score a 70% or higher on the Series 6 exam.
  • CFA Certification: Over 150,000 professionals hold this credential, which signifies that the holder has an understanding of advanced investment analysis and risk management. To become certified, applicants must have a bachelor's degree, pass levels I-III of the certification exam, and have 48 months of qualified work experience. CFA holders typically pursue careers as portfolio managers, research analysts, chief level executives, consultants, and risk managers.
  • CFP Certification: This certification is ideal for financial planners and requires candidates to meet requirements for education, testing, experience, and ethics. Candidates must have a bachelor's degree and pass the CFP examination. The CFP Board also requires candidates to have 6,000 hours of work experience, or 4,000 if these hours were earned through a CFP apprenticeship.

Financing Your Online Master's in Finance

Most students pay for graduate school through a combination of loans, scholarships, and personal savings. For most students, pursuing an online master's in finance is a major investment. Fortunately, there are many ways to ease the financial burden of earning an advanced degree. The first step for all students is to complete the FAFSA, which determines if a student is eligible to receive federal financial aid. Federal financial aid is available in the form of grants, subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and work-study programs.

Scholarships for Master's in Finance Students

Many scholarships are offered for specific groups of people, organized by factors such as level of education, field of study, or residency. There are also scholarships that are earmarked for graduate students and finance specializations, such as risk management, corporate finance, government finance, or analytics. Below are a few scholarships that are ideal for online master's in finance students.

To determine the best online Master's 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 20 best online Master's 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.

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