Best Online Master’s Degrees in Finance: Guide to Online Programs for 2022

Best Online Master’s Degrees in Finance: Guide to Online Programs for 2022
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment in finance-related jobs will increase by 5% between 2019 to 2029, faster than most occupations (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). With the increase in the demand for financial experts, many people have shifted to taking the best online master’s degrees in finance, which are more cost-effective than the on-campus counterpart.

A variety of concentrations, independent study alternatives, and optional courses are available in many finance degree programs, preparing students for various graduate and postgraduate career paths. Most finance degree courses require students to train for a number of certification examinations, including those that may be necessary for providing services to the public. In some universities, you can also take finance as part of a business degree.

Finding a school that suits your academic and employment goals is the first step to getting an online master’s degree in finance. Many factors should be considered by prospective students. In this document, you can explore the advantages of attending online programs in finance, the factors to consider before applying, as well as potential costs.

Online Master’s Degree in Finance Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online vs. Traditional Master’s Degree in Finance
  5. How much does an online master’s degree in finance cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an online master’s degree in Finance?
  7. Courses to Expect in Online Master’s Degree in Finance
  8. Things to Look for in an Online Master’s Degree in Finance

Can you get a degree completely online?

In recent years, online higher education has become a popular and even contentious topic of discussion. The number of online degree programs has become more prevalent due to the availability of learning management systems and fast internet connectivity. As a result, an increasing number of students are beginning to attend online degree programs.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 33.7% of all college students in the United States enrolled in some type of remote education in 2018. And, with as many as 52% of graduate students attending colleges outside of their home state, online programs are increasingly becoming popular among professionals (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021).

Traditional degree-granting institutions have long offered distance learning options to graduate students. This helps them accept a large number of students, from busy professionals to career shifters. Similarly, more students are attending online master’s programs for their flexibility, affordability, and accessibility. And, for most higher educational institutions, there is no distinction between degrees granted through traditional or online methods.

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

Employers are changing their tune, too. Although some people believe that online degrees are less valuable than traditional ones, the majority of employers view them as equal and do not discriminate when it comes to employing competent graduates from either source.

Instead, employers are more concerned about two aspects: school accreditation and reputation. As long as a college or university has received proper accreditation, the method by which education is delivered will make little difference to most companies. The second element is name recognition, which is important because certain schools have more positive reputations than others in specific sectors.

The improvement in the reputation of online schools is reflected among students as well. According to a 2018 research performed by Learning House, Inc., 85% of students who had previously registered in both face-to-face and online courses thought that their online experience was either comparable to or superior to their classroom experience (Magda & Aslanian, 2018). This includes 37% who believed the experience was better. Meanwhile, from the point of view of employers, over half view online credentials as equal to traditional ones (Gallagher, 2019).

Source: Online Education in 2019

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

Online degree programs are providing opportunities for students to attend HEI’s outside their countries or territories. And, more often than not, granted degrees are valid in most parts of the world. However, when looking for an online master’s degree in finance, ensure that you thoroughly research your options. In some countries, they only accept online degrees from specific locations. Or, you may have to take extra online courses locally to transfer your credits from an overseas institution.

Many countries are increasingly recognizing the value of online education. In the U.S., the online learning market is expected to grow to $6.22 billion in 2022. Similarly, in Germany, the e-learning market has been expanding at a rate of 8.5%.

The study “Students Perceptions in Online Class Learning During the Covid-19 Pandemic” published in the International Journal on Advanced Science, Education, and Religion also reflects students’ positive perception of online learning. This survey was conducted among students of Bina Bangsa University in Indonesia, and the results showed relatively good perceptions as well as several obstacles to online learning.

“The analysis shows that 80% of students are willing to take part in online learning, 62% of students claim online learning provides benefits, and 32% of students have difficulty understanding the material,” the researchers reported (Surani & Hamidah, 2020).

Online vs. Traditional Master’s Degree in Finance

An online master’s degree in finance is a postgraduate degree that emphasizes the development of abilities in financial management and analysis, investing, and managerial accounting. Graduates with a master’s degree in finance may pursue careers in business, insurance, professional services, or government.

Finance careers provide competitive wages and work security. Between 2018 and 2028, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 15% rise in financial manager employment. These professions make a median annual salary of $134,180 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021).

Prospective students seeking advancement in their jobs can get an online master’s degree in finance without ever setting foot on a college campus. Below are some of the factors that you need to consider.

Time Management and Schedule

If you are a typical master’s student, you are likely to spend some time on campus and some time at home. You will walk, drive, or ride your bike to school where you will attend scheduled classes, visit professors’ offices, and work certain hours for your assistantship. You can work on your homework in the library or elsewhere on campus during the day and then return home at night to continue working.

With an online program, you need not waste your time commuting to campus. School days will probably only require you to move across your room to your workstation to begin working on projects, or perhaps you can attend to them during your lunch break at work. That said, you have the freedom to work and study on your own. Naturally, you will need to submit assignments on time, and, on occasion, you might also be asked to participate in specific finance-related webinars or online lectures at specific times. The extra flexibility of an online student’s schedule appeals to those who wish to keep a full-time job or have other family responsibilities while getting their degree.

However, having that flexibility requires you to be accountable for how you use your time. You must prioritize your classes. It is critical to have good time management skills while enrolling in online master’s degree programs since you—and only you—are responsible for keeping on schedule.

Communicating With Professors

Whether you are taking classes online or on campus, you will need to familiarize yourself with your professor’s teaching and communication techniques. The learning curve for this may be slightly higher, particularly if you have never taken an online class previously.

You will interact with your lecturer in a manner that is different from what you are accustomed to. Often, communication with your teacher and advisers will be via email and other electronic means of communication, such as instant messaging. Plus, a face-to-face meeting is uncommon unless you request video conferencing to discuss a particularly tough topic. Identifying their preferred method of teaching and providing feedback on assignments is a critical component of being an online master’s degree student.

Collaborating With Peers

When you work in a group setting as part of a typical master’s degree program, you will almost certainly spend some time together physically, whether in a classroom, a coffee shop, a library, or someone’s residence. By the end of the semester, you will have formed bonds with your classmates and may even feel like being part of a little family.

Simply because you do not see your classmates in person does not mean you are exempt from group tasks in an online master’s degree program. There is a distinct sense of camaraderie among students in online master’s degree programs. Even though the course is online, you will still work collaboratively on projects and tasks with your classmates. Maintaining an open channel of communication becomes even more critical, as does mastering online collaboration applications, such as Google Docs. Your capacity to enable high-quality collaborative work with a remote team will dramatically improve—this is only one of the many 21st-century job abilities you will need to succeed. To study online, you will want to familiarize yourself with the concept of virtual teamwork, which employs many of the same concepts as conventional group work.

Is an online degree cheaper?

Generally, online degrees cost less than traditional ones. However, it is important for potential master’s students to consider the opportunity cost of getting a degree. This refers to the value of what you have to give up in order to obtain it. In the case of master’s students, it is the amount of money that you could have earned if you were to enter the workforce instead.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, high-school students earn an average of $746 per week while college graduates make almost $1,248 per week and master’s grads earn nearly $1,500 per week (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021a). And with the effects of the pandemic taken into consideration, students are choosing online degree courses to save on college costs.

In addition, the beauty of online master’s degrees is that you can study at your own pace. Meaning, you may opt to work full-time as well as study full-time. In this way, you need not choose one over the other.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

Suppose the institution and program are accredited by a body recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the coursework should be comparable to that of a traditional program. Additionally, the prerequisites for an online master’s degree are typically identical to those for an on-campus master’s degree. Indeed, some students may discover that an online school is more challenging than a traditional curriculum.

How much does an online master’s degree in Finance cost?

A number of variables determine the cost of an online finance degree. State residency is critical, as many schools and universities charge out-of-state students a higher tuition rate. On the other hand, certain institutions charge a fixed tuition rate for online students regardless of their place of residence. Another critical aspect is technology costs; these expenses frequently apply to online students but not to their brick-and-mortar equivalents.

The average cost per credit hour for online degree courses is between $450 (Northern State University, 2021) and $1,500 (Johns Hopkins Advanced Academic Programs, 2021). Students should budget anywhere between $14,000 and $43,000 for tuition in total, depending on the credit units required to graduate. Meanwhile, depending on the institution you attend, the per credit hour rate may be higher for online degree courses in finance compared to traditional programs. However, considering other expenses, such as accommodation, textbooks, travel, and more, online classes are still generally cheaper.

As a result, more people are enrolling in graduate school. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, enrollment in master’s programs has grown by 6%, while enrollment in post-baccalaureate certificates has increased by 2% since the beginning of 2019 (Sedmak, 2020). Many of these students are taking at least one form of an online degree course.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Is an online Finance degree worth it?

Numerous employers hire, promote, and compensate employees depending on their degree of education. When it comes to online degrees, the majority of companies will recognize and accept them if they are acquired from a recognized institution, regardless of the difference between public and private university. Accreditation guarantees that online programs adhere to specific academic requirements, preparing students for the workforce in the same manner that a typical campus-based school would. Similarly, an online master’s degree in finance provides better opportunities for promotions and even other positions in different industries.

What are the requirements of an online master’s degree in Finance?

Individuals considering an online master’s degree in finance are often professionals wanting to upgrade their skills and take on higher or better career paths. As such, admission requirements are imposed to ensure that they can handle the demands of postgraduate programs, whether they are full-time or part-time students.

Admission Requirements

Depending on the institution, admission requirements may include the following:

  • Prerequisite Coursework – Master’s program success is highly dependent on the type of instruction a bachelor candidate receives. Prerequisite business-related coursework like applied business statistics, business finance, and introduction to financial theory and practice are required for many graduate-level finance programs. Those who are less well-prepared when it comes to undergraduate education tend to move into a bridge program before being able to join the master’s curriculum; meanwhile, those who have a on-campus or online bachelor’s degree in finance who can directly apply.
  • Minimum GPA – Finance programs generally require students to have a minimum 3.0 GPA before they can be accepted into the program. Transfer applicants are frequently required to have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Certain post-secondary institutions will accept candidates with low GPAs if they perform well on standardized examinations and/or have relevant job accomplishments. A significant number of online graduate schools need GPAs just as a courtesy, with no academic requirements whatsoever.
  • Standardized exams – Universities, particularly those that provide online education, are increasingly bypassing standardized testing. Certain master’s programs in finance, on the other hand, require applicants to submit their GRE or GMAT results. Minimum standards differ. Certain schools have a predetermined minimum requirement, while others scale it based on an applicant’s GPA and job experience.
  • Work Experience – Certain online master’s degrees in finance, especially those in an executive MBA track, require candidates to demonstrate at least two years of professional experience. Students with suitable job experience may also earn transfer credits. Even though a school does not need a certain number of years in the area, candidates who can demonstrate prior professional accomplishment gain a competitive edge and may qualify for funded fellowships.
  • Recommendation Letters – Applicants should anticipate providing two to three recommendation letters from professional and academic sources attesting to their personal characteristics and professional accomplishments. While some institutions impose restrictions on who can give recommendations, these sources generally include undergraduate instructors, supervisors, and organizational leaders. Rather than requesting a letter, several master’s programs contact recommenders directly.
  • Personal Statement – This ubiquitous application form enables graduate students to differentiate themselves from other applicants by highlighting their academic and professional accomplishments. Additionally, schools and institutions use the personal statement to assess if a student’s objectives and views align with the institution’s mission. Some schools need applicants to submit a one- to two-page statement in response to a question, while others require applicants to respond to a series of brief essay questions.

General Requirements

Graduate programs typically involve advanced courses, challenging coursework, and professional-level experience. As such, instruction methods and delivery are distinctly different from those in undergraduate programs. If you are planning on attending online degree programs, you are expected to possess at least the following skills:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Advanced written and oral communication skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Quantitative, technical, and numerical capabilities
  • Knowledge of the financial sector
  • Foundational knowledge in theoretical finance
  • Familiarity with financial principles, practices, and industry
  • Management skills
  • Business skills

What are the technological requirements of students for online learning?

Fortunately for students today, the technical tools—both software and hardware that are accessible to online students are extensive. They are key to expanding beyond the classroom learning experience without having to be in a specific location at a specific time.

That being said, you must be open to new forms of technology and learning tools, such as Google meet, Skype, online forums, and even Facebook groups. You might also want to start thinking of your mobile devices as classrooms equipped with teaching and learning resources. The app store will serve as both a tutor and a toolbox for completing remarkable projects. You may personalize your learning experience by utilizing these tools, so make use of what is offered.

In fact, up to 56% of students attending online degree courses use smartphones or tablets to complete coursework. And, virtual reality platforms are growing in popularity as well, with 17% of students using V.R. or similar simulation solutions for their classes. Meanwhile, another study showed that over 60% of students preferred to use laptops to access their school’s learning management system (LMS) (Stritto & Linder, 2018).

Source: Stritto & Linder, 2018

Graduate students pursuing an online master’s program may also encounter at least one of the following specialized software packages:

  • Advizr – a financial planning software for advisers and firms.
  • NaviPlan – full-suite solution for finance, which includes tax analysis, estate planning, and more.
  • emX Pro – a wealth management program.
  • MoneyGuidePro – a program for clients to conduct budget analysis, risk assessments, retirement goals, and other financial plans.

Courses to Expect in Online Master’s Degree in Finance

Online finance master’s programs emphasize specific concepts, such as financial accounting, financial marketing, business valuation, and risk management. Focusing on topics like wealth management, investments, and corporate financing allows students to concentrate on the areas that match their professional objectives.

Students may cover the following curriculum and concentrations:

  • Audit Institutions and Processes – Students examine ideas, risks, and auditing processes in this course. Professional ethics, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s influence, corporate compliance, the board of directors’ responsibilities, liabilities, and false financial reporting are among the topics covered.
  • Negotiations – Potential financial service employers typically expect applicants to be skilled negotiators. By analyzing case studies and doing mock simulations, this course builds communication and interpersonal expertise. Learners examine bargaining tactics, mediation strategies, and negotiation ethics within the dynamic frameworks of teams and coalitions.
  • Corporate Valuation – The course prepares students on how to add corporate value to their organizations. They learn the theory and applications of budgeting, investment options, restructuring, and organizational finance policy. Coursework also includes surveys and the use of valuation tools.
  • Corporate Finance – This concentration teaches students how to manage businesses’ financial well-being by creating compliant financial statements and evaluating long-term organizational health through data collecting and modeling. For instance, by selling assets to raise cash when necessary, specialists in this sector assist executives and board members in accomplishing their objectives.
  • Investment Banking – Investment bankers are primarily concerned with the purchasing or selling of financial services. Learners pursuing a career in sales examine how brokers and bankers exchange and market assets such as debt, equity, and derivatives. Buyers examine how hedge funds, asset managers, and investors handle private unit trusts, equity funds, mutual funds, and other assets.
  • Wealth Management – This focus trains students to provide financial services to customers, such as portfolio management, asset management, mergers and acquisition help, estate planning, and investment management. Wealth managers collaborate with companies, small company owners, and individuals to establish financial plans.

Depending on the program structure, graduate students also learn about trends and issues in finance research. According to “Topics and Trends in Finance Research: What is published, who publishes it, and what gets cited?” which was published in The British Accounting Review, research in finance suffers from a lack of diversity in research topics as well as methodological approaches.

“Almost all finance research is conducted using techniques from economics and mathematics, with virtually no use made of qualitative methods or interdisciplinary approaches,” highlights the study (Brooks & Schopohl, 2018). These are just some of the concerns that graduate students may encounter during their coursework.

Similarly, fintech is an increasingly popular trend in the sector. With around 64% of the American population using mobile banking, financial experts are looking into the intersection of finance and technology.

Source: Accenture; eMarketer, 2018

Things to Look for in an Online Master’s Degree in Finance

Online degree programs in finance vary depending on the higher educational institution’s curriculum When looking for an online master’s degree in finance, consider the following factors:

Training For Certifications

Earning an online finance degree is an excellent first step toward employment. However, most people require numerous licenses or certificates to secure profitable employment in the sector. While the requirements for these qualifications vary greatly by occupation and state of employment, they generally include extra continuing education courses, passing one or more tests, and registration with a regulatory agency such as:

  • North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA)
  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Aside from standard bursaries and financial aid programs, look for the following scholarships available specifically to graduate students in finance:

Program Accreditation

Students interested in earning an online master’s degree in finance should look for programs offered by approved institutions. Accreditation certifies that a school adheres to a set of rigorous academic requirements. Regional or national accreditation is available to schools, with regional accreditation typically regarded as the more prestigious of the two.

Programs are typically accredited by regional and local governing bodies such as:

  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs
  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business

Affiliation with Professional Organizations

Attending graduate programs in finance provide great opportunities to build a professional network. Institutions often have links to various organizations, making it easy for graduate students to connect with their peers and even mentors. Some of these professional organizations are as follows:

  • CFA Institute
  • National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
  • Association for Financial Professionals

Taking The Next Steps in Your Career in Finance

Certain bachelor’s degree holders opt to enhance their marketability and develop a specialty by pursuing an online master’s degree in finance. While most financial jobs require a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree can assist job seekers in differentiating themselves from their colleagues and advancing their careers. As is the case with many undergraduate programs where students can choose between a standard master’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in business administration with a specialization in finance, which places a greater emphasis on management theories and abilities. Both build on existing knowledge by presenting advanced concepts and allowing for a more in-depth examination of particular areas of study.

Students interested in earning a master’s degree in finance can select from a variety of online programs, each with its own admission and graduating criteria. While traditional graduate programs often take between two and three years to complete, distance learners can accomplish web-based degrees in as little as one year. Along with a bachelor’s degree in finance or a closely related discipline, candidates to the program may be required to have professional experience in the field. Scores on the GRE or GMAT, as well as professional letters of recommendation, may be required.

 

References:

  1. Brooks, C., & Schopohl, L. (2018). Topics and trends in finance research: What is published, who publishes it and what gets cited? The British Accounting Review, 50(6), 615–637. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bar.2018.02.001
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Occupational outlook handbook, 2019–2029. Bernan Press. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/
  3. Gallagher S. (2019). Online Education in 2019: A Synthesis of Data. Retrieved from https://cps.northeastern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Online_Ed_in_2019.pdf
  4. Johns Hopkins Advanced Academic Programs. (2021, February 16). MS in applied economics | johns hopkins advanced academic programs. Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved from https://advanced.jhu.edu/academics/graduate/ms-applied-economics/
  5. Magda, A. J., & Aslanian, C. B. (2018, June). Online college students comprehensive data on demands and preferences. The Learning House, Inc. and EducationDynamics. Retrieved from http://www.learninghouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/OCS-2018-Report-FINALpostprintedits.pdf
  6. National Center for Education Statistics. (2021, May). Postbaccalaureate enrollment. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/chb
  7. Sedmak, T. (2020, September 23). Undergraduate enrollment down 2.5% and graduate students up 3.9%, compared to Sept. 2019. National Student Clearinghouse. Retrieved from https://www.studentclearinghouse.org/blog/undergraduate-enrollment-down-2-5-and-graduate-students-up-3-9-compared-to-sept-2019/
  8. Surani, D., & Hamidah, H. (2020). Students perceptions in online class learning during the covid-19 pandemic. International Journal on Advanced Science, Education, and Religion, 3(3), 83–95. https://doi.org/10.33648/ijoaser.v3i3.78
  9. Northern State University (2021, May 5). Tuition and Costs. Retrieved from https://www.northern.edu/admission-aid/tuition-and-costs
  10. Stritto, M.E.D. & Linder, K. (2018, April). Student device preferences for online course access and multimedia learning. Corvallis, OR. Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit. Retrieved from https://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/research/study/student-device-preferences/student-device-preferences-study.pdf
  11. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021, April). Employment projections. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/emp/chart-unemployment-earnings-education.htm
  12. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021, July). Financial Managers. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/OOH/management/financial-managers.htm

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