The slowdown in economic activity due to COVID-19 poses challenges not only to economists at the macro level but also to companies and households at the micro level. The science and discipline of money management or finance plays a crucial role in how companies fare and how families will survive during these lean times. The judicious decisions and timely actions of United States financial authorities led to the incredible recovery of the stock market in 2020, which buoyed the rest of the flagging economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment in this sector is growing faster than the average for all occupations, creating 476,200 jobs each year. The median annual salary, at $72,500, is also higher than the median annual salary for all occupations, which is $41,950.
Because finance covers the public, corporate, and private spheres of practice, an online bachelor’s degree in finance will equip students with the knowledge and skills to help governments, companies, and even families/individuals manage the money and financial instruments at their disposal. It’s ironic that in 2020, the U.S. led the whole world in terms of growth of financial assets but a Standard and Poor’s/Gallup Survey found that 57% of adults in the U.S. are financially illiterate (L. Klapper, A. Lusardi, and P. van Oudheusden, 2016). This is much higher than the global average of 33%. Skilled financial managers are in high demand and finance stands to be 6th among the highest-paying college majors.
This article will discuss the types of finance degrees, how a traditional degree in finance differs from an online one, the value of an online bachelor’s degree in finance, how much one needs to invest to acquire one’s degree, and the things one should look out for when choosing the best online degree in finance that would fit his or her academic, career, life goals, and of course, budget.
How do you calculate the compounded interest on your savings account? What will inflation mean for your family? Why should one diversify one’s investments? An online bachelor’s degree in finance will unlock companies and roles that would be open only to those with such a minimum qualification. It’s much broader in scope than economics, business management, or accounting—which focus on specific disciplines. An online degree in finance is best for those who want a wider range of knowledge about money, such as investments, loans, budget, savings, bookkeeping, and forecasting. This will, in turn, qualify the graduate of an online bachelor’s degree in finance program for a wider range of roles, such as compliance officer, chief financial officer, financial software developer, hedge fund manager, financial analyst, and others.
Yes, one can. This is because the law of supply and demand has been driving education in this direction for years. There are 37,119 unique online degree programs offered in various schools but this number is fast increasing with demand. In the field of finance, 278 schools offer over 700 online bachelor’s degree programs. In the fall of 2018, 35.3% of students in the U.S. (or 6.9 million) were enrolled in online courses at degree-granting, post-secondary institutions, according to The National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS, 2019).
Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, “The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE)” report of 2021 noted a drastic increase in the use of fully online elearning programs. In the U.S., more than 1,200 colleges in more than 50 districts were transformed by the virus, which pushed institutions to immediately move 93% of their work to be done remotely. “More than 80% of institutions relied primarily on either fully online (31%) or emergency remote learning (ERL) (50%) courses in Fall 2020.” (CHLOE 6: Online Learning Leaders Adapt for a Post-Pandemic World, 2021). Online learning platform Coursera reports that barely three months since the discovery of COVID-19, it experienced a 320% in enrollment, with 24 million of these being first-time enrollees. Massive open online courses (MOOC) got 180 million enrolees in 2020. EdX, the largest MOOC provider, alone, reports that it experienced a 97% jump in enrollments from the same period a year ago and that they now have 100 million enrollees from different parts of the world. “The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated the digital transformation of education,” observes Dr. Nina Huntermann, EdX vice president.
Not only has ‘the new normal’ redefined health protocols, but it has also shifted education from physically limited, location-based, physical campuses and created unlimited, global, virtual learning spaces.
There was a time when most employers considered an online degree as the easy path, compared to a traditional degree. But that’s no longer the case.
With top universities in the U.S. now joining the elearning revolution, apprehensions and discrimination against online degrees are being set aside and online credentials have become even more respectable. The revered Ivy League schools, top-notch tech schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgia Tech, now all offer online courses at much lower than on-campus rates. Harvard Extension School alone admits nearly 2,000 degree candidates and over 13,000 non-degree students every year.
A survey by the Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy found that although diplomas are still respected as proof of education, “microcredentials and new hiring practices are beginning to change the equation. Digital badges, which are awarded by numerous entities (including as part of degree programs) follow as the second most commonly encountered in hiring—and the most popular microcredential type in terms of general (Gallagher, 2019).”
Yes, because online learning is a global and not a local phenomenon. Although online learning slowly gained popularity as the medium of delivery for short courses, the sudden change in popularity and use of learning, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, totally changed the global paradigm of education. Today, aside from the U.S. and United Kingdom, there are online degrees being offered in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Cyprus, Spain, Belgium, Egypt, Russia, the Middle East, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, and even in less developed nations. Online learning and online degrees are a reality and those who don’t acknowledge this disruptive innovation will suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs, says the father of the Disruptive Innovation Theory himself, Clayton Christensen.
Whether traditional or online, the goal of online degree programs in finance would be to impart the different fundamental skills that a finance professional would need, including economics, business laws, investments, statistics, accounting, financial planning, and portfolio management. It would typically require 120 credits and normally take four years to complete in a traditional in-campus setup. An online program allows for earlier completion and some finish it in three years.
But the manner of delivering these different knowledge areas would differ in online degree courses in finance vis-à-vis a traditional degree.
Traditional finance degree students sit together and listen to a teacher. Online finance degree students can go through modules at different times (asynchronous) and might watch a pre-recorded video, play a gamified lesson, go on a virtual trip to the Federal Reserve, or use other education technologies.
Traditional finance degree students read a textbook. Online students might use e-books, learning management system content, downloadable online resources, or might share resources with one another via a cloud platform.
Traditional finance degree students sit in a classroom and listen. Online finance degree students can ‘attend class’ in a coffee shop, in their bedroom, a park, the public library, or any place of their choice.
Traditional finance degree students attend fixed, regular, weekly meetings while online students take their classes when they can or when they want to.
Traditional finance degree students follow the pace of professors, while online finance degree students set their own pace.
Traditional finance degree students follow the schedule set by the school while online students decide on the best time for them
Traditional finance degree students focus solely on the subject matter in class. Online students can multitask and allocate time to different responsibilities (work, study, fitness, relationships, etc.).
Mode of Interaction
Traditional finance degree students meet face to face with their professors and classmates during class days while online students communicate with their teachers and classmates virtually.
Enrollment in traditional degrees in finance is limited by the capacity of classrooms while enrollment in online degrees in finance will be limited by the capacity of the learning management system and network.
Choice of School
When choosing a school in-campus students will be limited in their options by the cost of tuition, transportation, and room and board costs. Online degree in finance students will have a wider choice of schools due to the generally lower cost of online degrees compared to on-campus degrees—even in Ivy League schools—and the absence of associated costs and personal expenses
Support for Special Student Groups
Traditional degree in finance students who are physically challenged, timid, less privileged, or from minority groups can feel disadvantaged or discriminated upon in physical class settings. In an online degree in finance program, students feel safer in a virtual classroom, which de-emphasizes their differentiating physical and social disadvantages
Traditional and online bachelor’s degrees in finance each offer their own unique benefits. Inquiring students should know what matters to them most so they can find the best online degree in finance that works for them.
Different institutions of learning will have their own price structures with regard to their online degrees. But you can definitely find an online degree in finance that would be lower than an on-campus degree, and which fits your budget.
Prior to the pandemic, the Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) survey reported the pricing structure of colleges. “Pricing online programs in line with campus equivalents remains the norm: 48% of the CHLOE 4 sample indicated that is their policy, and another 21% said online programs are generally priced in line with on-campus programs. A significant number of schools, however, price differently. Premium online pricing is uniformly charged by 11% of schools, and another 5% typically charge more online. Five percent of COOs say their schools always price online programs lower than the on-campus equivalent, and another 9% say this is generally the case” (Quality Matters Eduventures Research, 2020).
But two years later, in the COVID-19 regime, the numbers have jumped in favor of online learning. A larger 64% now charge the same for on-campus and online programs. More institutions now also charge less for online programs, at 14%. And fewer charge more for their online programs, at 5%.
2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics data also shows that between 2019-2020 and 2020-21, school fees increased at their lowest in 30 years. Traditional institutions are aware that online education is on the rise and they no longer monopolize students’ pathways to learning.
An online degree in finance will impart the same knowledge and hone the same set of financial skills that a traditional degree program aspires to instill in its students. The main difference between the two would be the mode of delivery, not the content.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that for the 2018–19 academic year, average undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board were estimated to be $18,383 at public institutions, $47,419 at private nonprofit institutions, and $27,040 at private for-profit institutions.
For an online degree in finance, which typically requires 120 credits, tuition would range from $179 to $555, depending on the institution. Most institutions offer lower in-state tuition compared to out-of-state rates.
‘Worth’ would be evaluated differently by different individuals, based on what they value. On a dollar-for-dollar basis, online degrees in finance are very competitive vis-a-vis traditional degrees, and maybe on their way to achieving economies of scale, which will allow them to drop prices even further.
The potential earning ability that a degree gives would also be a consideration as to that degree’s worth. Top finance professions like financial examiners, financial analysts, and personal financial advisors would earn from $81,840 to $89,330.
But for many, the flexibility and other features of an online program would be priceless. Because without this, they would not be able to consider studying.
In part, the answer to this lies in the trend identified by NCES data, which shows the faster increase in the number of part-time students compared to full-time students. This means that there are more students now who have jobs and other responsibilities but want to earn degrees. The Online College Students 2020 report finding that ‘mobile devices’ are online students’ favorite mode of accessing their lessons points to another reason why education and educational institutions are going online. People want and have a need to learn ‘on the go,’ or to learn while they’re doing other things that are also important to them aside from their studies.
Other student profiles that might benefit from the features of online education would be those belonging to the special student groups mentioned earlier—the socially timid, those who are taking care of young children, the physically challenged, etc. Beyond giving these groups a chance at earning a degree, they also get an equal chance to excel despite their limiting circumstances. ‘Time’ and ‘opportunity’ are two priceless assets that online degree programs in finance offer.
Source: Statista, Online Education Trends Report (2021)
The inquirer will have a wide choice of institutions as he or she seeks the best online degree in finance that fits his or her life circumstance. Admissions policies vary widely so one can choose the school which opens its doors to you.
One who is aspiring to pursue a degree and career in finance must love numbers and have numerical intelligence. He or she must have done well in secondary school mathematics, must have a desire to make sense of and analyze numerical data.
Although the exact standards of different colleges and universities may vary, the following would be typically the technological requirements that would enable a student to take his or her online courses without any issues or handicaps:
An online degree in finance will cover different knowledge areas and shape financial skills for a wide range of specializations. A student will be allowed to pursue different concentrations, such as financial accounting, investments, international finance, risk management, or corporate finance. These can be covered by the elective classes that a student chooses.
Typical coursework would include units in microeconomics, commercial bank management, strategic management, international economics, public finance, experiential marketing, and accounting information systems, among others.
Some universities have customized requirements, such as a certain number of hours for community service or some credits in theology or vocation courses.
Every university puts together an online degree in finance program that will meet the needs of the student profile they are targeting. A student should take the due diligence to check if this meets his or her own particular needs. Among the things one should consider are:
One should consider whether a school is in one’s state of residence, should students need to visit the campus for certain purposes or occasions. Tuition rates also differ for in-state students and out-of-state students. And in-state discounts can be sizable. Some online finance programs might still involve trips to certain government facilities or private institutions under normal circumstances or require resources that are available only in certain locations. The student should ask about these details.
Is the online degree in finance a purely online program or a hybrid one that will also have on-campus meetings? Will the modules be purely asynchronous (that the student can take any time) or will some sessions be synchronous (which all students must attend at fixed times).
Schools typically post their accreditation prominently. Accreditations are testaments to a school or program’s legitimacy and the acceptability of standards they implement. Regional bodies, such as the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, or national bodies, such as the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, can issue accreditation. There are also other accreditation groups. But one should be careful because some of these may not be accredited by the government. The Council for Higher Education has a Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized U.S. Accrediting Organizations that one can consult.
Some universities automatically include fees for the use of campus facilities in their tuition. For an online program, one might want to ask if this can be discounted. Other online universities charge ‘technology’ or ‘access’ fees that may vary based on distance.
Online degrees in finance courses will be accessed by students over the internet so a school’s internet, network, and technical support facilities will be crucial to a student’s learning experience. Make sure internet speed and network facilities are on par with what is needed. ‘Technical issues’ was a top reason for students’ dissatisfaction with their online learning experiences, according to a study by W. Elshami, et. al. (2021).
More than ever, financial literacy and expertise are needed in the COVID regime, and even in the post-COVID scenario. The strain on the world’s financial resources, the increased pressure on the budget of nations, evolving investment options such as cryptocurrency—all require skilled financial professionals to assess, manage, and provide the public with sound advice. Such professionals will be at the forefront of public, corporate, and personal financial recoveries, and will be well-compensated by society. The best online degree in finance will equip a graduate with the knowledge to confidently take his or her place among this exclusive group of managers and leaders.