Top 20 Online Master's in Finance Degrees in 2019

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 -- as well as many individuals -- require the services of a finance professional for accounting, investments, and budget analysis. Earning an online master's in finance can qualify you for a variety of professional opportunities as a personal financial adviser, corporate CFO, market research analyst, or fundraiser.

Good online master's in finance programs offer the same quality education as on-campus programs. Location and time commitment are two major considerations for people working full time who wish to pursue a graduate degree; online finance master's programs offer excellent opportunities for distance students to receive a quality education. These online master's in finance programs assume their students work full time and need flexibility to balance their education with work. Some programs are available entirely online, while others require in-person campus visits. Students have access to faculty as needed, and programs encourage communication and collaboration among peers. 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?

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

7

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.

8

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.

9

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.

10

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.

11

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.

12

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.

13

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.

14

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.

15

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.

16

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.

17

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.

18

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.

19

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.

20

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 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 its funds, capital, or debt. Master's in finance online programs prepare professionals to 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 hold a four-year degree, and additional certification may help analysts further advance their careers.

Median Annual Salary: $84,300
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Personal Financial Adviser

Personal financial advisers assist clients with investment decisions, taxes, and retirement. Advisers licensed to buy and sell financial products can also assist clients with the investment portfolio management. Most personal financial advisers hold at least a bachelor's degree in finance.

Median Annual Salary: $90,640
Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Securities Sales Agent (Broker)

Brokers work as licensed professionals who buy and sell stocks, bonds, and other types of securities on behalf of their client. Brokers also advise clients on investment options based on clients' needs or financial ability. Brokers must hold at least a bachelor's degree to enter the field, and often pursue advanced degrees in business administration or finance 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 company decisions to maximize profits and minimize losses. These professionals act as industry experts in areas such as healthcare or government, and must maintain a solid understanding of special tax laws and regulations. Financial managers include 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 comply with the law. Financial examiners may major in finance, business administration, or accounting, and many employers today require candidates for senior positions to hold a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $81,690
Projected Growth Rate: 10%

Salary Outlook for Finance Program Graduates

The competitive world of finance offers great earning potential to highly ambitious individuals. Most entry-level positions in finance require at the least a bachelor's degree in business, finance, or a related field. Financial analysts, who must hold a bachelor's degree, earn a median salary of $84,300. With an advanced degree in finance, graduates land higher-paying executive jobs straight out of grad school. Companies need well-educated candidates with global financial acumen and specialized skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11% job growth in finance by 2026. Keep reading for more information on salaries for online master's in finance graduates.

Graduates' specialized skills and work experience ultimately determine their earning potential. The table below features data from PayScale.com, detailing median salaries for finance occupations.

Finance Careers by Experience
Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees Median Salary for Late-Career Employees
Financial Analysts $59,225 $57,000 $67,000 $73,000
Budget Analysts $58,945 $52,000 $61,000 $69,000
Financial Manager $70,807 $56,000 $68,000 $72,000
Personal Financial Adviser $60,715 $51,000 $62,000 $204,000
Economists $73,756 $63,000 $89,000 $119,000

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

Students enrolled in a master's in 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.

Different Types of Online Master's in Finance Programs

The two main types of finance master's programs are MS and MBA degrees. MS programs explore financial theory and qualitative models, which help students analyze different markets; students who want to pursue a Ph.D. in the field typically pursue an MS. Students may also earn an MBA with a concentration in finance. An MBA provides students with a general business education, combining marketing, accounting, advertising, and finance.

Admissions Requirements for an Online Master's in Finance

Every college can set its own admissions requirements, but many programs impose similar prerequisites for applicants considering an online finance master's degree. For example, colleges often request that applicants submit GMAT or GRE test scores, a resume, an essay, letters of recommendation, and college transcripts. Most students hold a bachelor's degree or associate degree in finance or business, but such degrees are not always required. However, many programs require that students hold 1-3 years of professional experience.

Curriculum for an Online Master's in Finance

  • Financial Forecasting: This course introduces modern forecasting methods used in finance and data interpretation. Students learn to estimate models and use past values, market information, and surveys to provide forecasts for the future. In most master of finance online 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, probability, and solving 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 learn to analyze 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 proves useful in portfolio management, algorithmic trading, and the pricing of derivatives. Students learn concepts such as machine learning and dynamic optimization, along with the quantitative models commonly used for financial analyses.

Earning a concentration offers online master's in finance graduates the opportunity to differentiate themselves on the job market. Employers favor graduates with specialized skills, especially as the financial industry continues to grow and add more niche positions. Students can get a leg up on their job hunt by pursuing a concentration during their online master's in finance degree. The next graph outlines some possible concentrations to consider.

Accounting

An accounting concentration teaches students the fundamentals of accounting management for private and nonprofit companies. Students begin the concentration by taking introductory accounting classes, auditing, and state and federal taxation policies.

Students with a concentration in accounting often go on to manage a company's finances, working as financial accountants or certified professional accountants.

Project Management

Students enrolled in a project management concentration learn important managerial skills. They learn to plan and execute complicated projects. Students take courses in risk management, cost estimation, and risk analysis.

With project management experience, students can land jobs as financial managers or project managers in a variety of settings.

International Finance

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, finance employers in today's climate increasingly need candidates with knowledge of international markets. An international finance concentration or specialty teaches students about global issues in finance and risk management.

The curriculum in an international finance concentration helps students become financial analysts and economists.

Corporate Finance

Courses in corporate finance teach students how to use analytical skills to understand corporate finance decision-making processes. Students learn about capital budgeting, risk management, raising capital, and decision tree analysis.

Students who want to become consultants or financial analysts benefit from a concentration in corporate finance.

Investments and Portfolio Management

In an investments and portfolio management concentration, students gain the practical skills to implement financial theoretical modeling. They learn basic investment principles, including how to select stocks and make other sound investment decisions.

The skills students learn in an investments and portfolio management concentration prepare them to work as financial advisers and financial managers.

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

Many factors can affect how long it takes to earn an online master's degree in finance, including how much time the student can devote to school, work and life obligations, and finances. Typically, students can complete a master's degree in finance online program in 1-2 years. They can complete accelerated programs in just 12 months, though these programs require a full-time course load; part-time students can earn their degrees in two years.

Typically, students can complete a master's degree in finance online program in 1-2 years.

Program length also depends on whether courses are offered synchronously or asynchronously. Asynchronous programs are delivered in self-paced formats, allowing students to set their own academic schedule, which works especially well for students with jobs. Other factors affecting program length include the number of start dates offered each year and whether a school follows a semester or quarter schedule.

Accelerated Programs for an Online Master's in Finance

Students can expect to earn their online master's in finance degree in two years. However, accelerated programs allow students to earn their degree in one year or 16 months. For the most part, students can expect no extra costs associated with accelerated programs. Taking a one-year master's program online costs about the same as a two-year program, if not less, since these students stay in school for a shorter period of time.

These one-year programs offer intensive coursework intended for full-time students, though part-time one-year programs are also available. Most students enrolled in accelerated programs hold professional work experience and aim to earn their degrees more quickly. However, the rigorous coursework does not appeal to all students, particularly those who can only attend school part time.

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 a three-level 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 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines whether a student qualifies to receive federal financial aid. Federal financial aid is available in the form of grants, subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and work-study programs. Check out this page for more information on scholarships for finance students.

Scholarships for Master's in Finance Students

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

Government Finance Officers Association Scholarships

Who Can Apply: GFOA offers several awards for graduate and undergraduate students. The Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship is ideal for graduate students who intend to work in local or state government finance. Applicants must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada.

Amount: $5,000-$15,000
Apply Here

Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: The ACFE Foundation provides awards in memory of ACFE members Larry Jennings and Tracy Ritchie. The scholarship is ideal for postsecondary students interested in helping fight fraud. Graduate applicants must be enrolled for at least six semester hours at a four-year accredited college or university. Past recipients are not eligible.

Amount: $1,000-$10,000
Apply Here

AICPA John L. Carey Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship serves graduate students interested in pursuing an accounting career with little or no previous education in accounting. The award is meant to encourage new students to pursue careers in this field. The selection committee weighs every applicant's academic record, leadership roles, and career aspirations.

Amount: $5,000
Apply Here

Stuart Cameron & Margaret McLeod Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: To apply for this award, graduate students must enroll in a management accounting program with intent to pursue a career in either management accounting, financial management, or information technology. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA to be considered.

Amount: $5,000
Apply Here

Financial Women of San Francisco Scholarships

Who Can Apply: This award is open to San Francisco Bay Area women who are pursuing careers in finance and financial services. Applicants must be attending school in the Bay Area and have a minimum 3.4 GPA to be considered.

Amount: $15,000
Apply Here

SIFMA Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: From the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, this award goes to a college student whose parents are current members of the Corporate Actions Section, Credit & Margin Section, or Financial Management Society and Securities Operations Section.

Amount: Varies
Apply Here


To determine the best online master's in finance programs, we looked at factors that matter most to prospective students, especially common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs, including admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points come from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

We weight each factor evenly to give an objective view and determine the 20 best online master's in finance programs. To calculate our list, 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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