According to Data USA, the finance workforce is 11.2 million workers strong. The study and practice of finance is complex, as markets and their inner workings are not always simple to understand, but earning a master's degree in finance online can be a great step towards making sense of the complexity. Finance is constantly evolving and changing, and students interested in this field must tackle the ever-shifting landscape of the field. Are you intrigued by derivatives and mortgage-based securities? Does the idea of helping manage other people's wealth sound like a great challenge you'd like to take on? If that's you, then perhaps an online master's degree in finance is a good fit for you.

Loving numbers and math is important for those who want to study finance, but understanding complex concepts and applying them in practice may be even more important. From financial markets to econometrics to private equity to risk management, a master degree in finance can help you nurture a deep understanding of financial concepts as you enhance your skills to improve your job performance. Continue reading to find out if this program is the right fit for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some programs are conducted entirely online, while others have online and in-person components. Although the majority of concepts covered in a finance master's degree can be taught online, some programs may require that students come to campus for a capstone course.

Whether you have been working in the industry for a while or you just completed your bachelor's degree in finance, earning a master of science in finance can be worth the investment. These programs can help you build on your technical knowledge and skills, which can make you more attractive to employers and clients alike.

Accreditation is important because it allows prospective students to choose a school that can give them the skills and knowledge they need to be successful — and the competencies that employers are looking for when hiring. As a result, when determining the best choice for your educational and career goals, you should only consider online master's in finance programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.


Master's in Finance Program Overview

It takes many skills to be successful in finance, and not all of them can be taught in the classroom (instinct for great investments, for instance). However, in general, students can expect to acquire the following skills during their master's degree in finance:

  • Analytical skills: Students learn how to dissect investment opportunities and mathematical approaches to evaluate them.
  • Finance skills: The nuts and bolts of the financial world are its instruments, bodies and institutions. These are complex subjects, but understanding them is key to success.
  • Communication skills: Students gain insight into the best way to communicate with clients, colleagues, superiors, outside regulatory bodies, etc.
  • Ethics: This key skill is discussed in several classes, especially when it comes to investment strategies and wealth management.
  • Research skills: Finance professionals must be able to research companies, trends and new technologies.

To learn more about what finance master's programs entail and how you can be able to hone these skills, continue reading this section.

Earning an Online Master's Degree in Finance

How long does an online finance degree program take?

It depends on the program. Generally, as a full-time student, you can expect to complete an online master's degree in finance in one to two years, and as a part-time student, you may finish your degree in about three years.

What are the requirements to start an online master's finance degree?

Since finance master's degrees are rigorous, schools expect prospective students to have a bachelor's degree from an accredited school with a 3.0 minimum grade point average and a high GMAT or GRE score. Also, you may be expected to have a certain amount of professional experience under your belt when you apply.

Why earn a master's online finance degree?

Enrolling in an online master's in finance program is a great opportunity for you to gain new skills, enhance your existing skills, and get the knowledge you need to achieve a higher level of success in your career. In addition, participating in these programs allows you to network with your professors and peers, which can help you with future career development.

Degree Timeline

Years one and two

While all online master's degrees are a bit different from each other and no two universities offer the exact same curriculum, you may study derivatives, risk analysis and management, portfolio management, behavioral finance and retirement planning during your first year in the program. During the second year, your studies can become more advanced and specialized.

Choose a specialization and take elective courses:

Specializations allow students to build proficiency in a specific part of the finance field. Your program may allow you to choose a concentration so you can build your expertise in one part of finance. Also, you can explore additional interests by taking elective classes.

Dissertation/Capstone Projects:

Depending on the program, finance master's degree students may be expected to take a capstone class, where you can bring together all of the information you learned throughout the program into one project.

Masters in Finance Concentrations

If there is a part of finance that you're passionate about, you can benefit from enrolling in a program that allows you to concentrate your studies on that topic. Concentrations can help you hone specific skills and make you an expert in a subsection of finance, which can go a long way toward helping you advance in your career. For example, the financial planning specialization focuses on how professionals can help clients with their personal insurance and monetary planning, which may include assessing risk and finding retirement solutions. Likewise, if you enroll in a fraud management concentration, you can become proficient in detecting financial fraud in an organization and have a deep understanding of how to mitigate it, as well as address it after fraudulent activity has occurred. You may also choose a concentration in analytics, where you learn how to leverage data and research to make financial decisions.

MBA in Finance

An MBA in finance provides a broad knowledge of business that can be applied to the finance field. As a result, students primarily study entrepreneurship, marketing and management, which is augmented by finance courses. If you want to determine if an MBA finance online is the right fit for you, review our MBA page here.

Career Outlook

What Can You Do with Master's in Finance?

Since the finance industry has such a wide reach, there are several career paths that you can explore, such as the following:

Financial Manager

Most organizations big and small have at least one professional who ensures that financials are in tip-top shape and can stand up to an audit if need be. With or without pocket protectors, these financial experts work on reports, communicate with senior management about goals, challenges and trends, and stay abreast of changes in the financial sector, particularly as they apply to their industry. Many financial managers are responsible for direct reports and employers usually look for applicants who hold a graduate degree either in finance, accounting or a closely related field. Working in finance at this level requires deep knowledge of accounting, finance and complex financial models as well as the ability to draw conclusions from data.

General and Operations Manager

One of the beautiful things about being an operations manager is that this kind of job — also known as general manager — is needed for every business in every industry and is thus easily transferable, which means you are usually not tied to a particular sector or industry. So be it a nonprofit that does homelessness prevention, an aviation consulting group or a high-tech start up that invented a better way to deliver Wi-Fi to homes, operations managers lead daily operations, formulate plans and policies, may administer human resources and much more. These professionals also oftentimes interact with suppliers, vendors and other personnel to ensure smooth operation and delivery of items and services that meet their business needs.

Personal Financial Advisor

Where there is money — or more elegantly, investment funds — there are usually personal financial advisors. These professionals advise individuals and businesses on investment strategies, estate planning, retirement, etc. They make recommendations, provide research and advice on growing the portfolio and they can oftentimes be self-employed. Many also provide tax advice or sell insurance.

Budget Analysts

Budget analysts use their expertise to advise organizations on how to manage their finances. In this role, professionals work with clients to create budgets and monitor spending to determine if they need to be adjusted, review an organizations' assets and make forecasts about future financial needs.

Chief Financial Officer

Professionals in this role are responsible for overseeing all of an organization's finances, which entails creating monetary goals and policies, working with other executives to draft budgets and ensure that they are being adhered to, monitoring the company's cash flow and making decisions about investments.

Finance Salaries by State

State NameAverage SalaryAnnual Job OpeningsProjected Job Growth Potential
New York$210,2404,33020.8%
New Jersey$177,4102,09016.7%
District of Columbia$172,6807309.1%
Rhode Island$161,88024017.2%
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Financial Aid for a Master's in Finance

If you're concerned about how you can pay for your graduate education, there are options you can explore to help. Review the table below to find out what types of financial aid you can qualify for in order to help you defray the cost of your degree.

Source: Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of CollegeXpress, a division of Carnegie Dartlet. Copyright © 2020 by CollegeXpress.

Master's in Finance Certifications

CMA Certification

This certification is designed to help professionals demonstrate their knowledge in key areas of financial planning, analytics and performance, as well as strategic financial management. The credential is offered by the Institute of Management Accountants.

Requirements: Must have at least a bachelor's degree and two years of professional experience

Exam format: 200 multiple choice questions and four essays

How long does the certification last? One year

Chartered Investment Counselor

Investment advisors are able to receive this credential to prove their expertise in portfolio management and the ethical standards expected of finance professionals.

Requirements: At least five years of work experience

Exam format: N/A

How long does the certification last? One year

Certified Treasury Professional

Finance professionals can illustrate their competency in areas such as debt portfolio management, financial ratio evaluations and cash balance reviews with this certification offered by the Association for Financial Professionals.

Requirements: Two years of work experience or a master's degree and one year of professional experience

Exam format: 170 multiple choice questions

How long does the certification last? Three years


This credential is for finance workers who have a diverse knowledge base that includes topics like M&A tax issues, investment banking structuring techniques and financial laws.

Requirements: Must have professional experience

Exam format: N/A

How long does the certification last? N/A

Associations for Master's in Finance

In order to stay abreast of what's going on in finance, you can participate in a professional organization — which can offer a wealth of resources that allow you to continue learning long after you have completed your degree. The following are some examples of finance associations for you to consider joining.

This group has been promoting financial economics since 1939. In order to do this, the association publishes The Journal of Finance, organizes an annual meeting, and provides news and educational videos.

Since it was founded in 1977, the International Federation of Accountants has provided advocacy and education for professionals all over the world. With three million members, the organization is a strong voice for the field and helps to set the standard for how accountants conduct themselves in the workplace.

Treasury and finance professionals can join this organization in order to enhance their knowledge and craft through webinars, events, roundtables and development courses. In addition, the association offers certifications and publications.

Since the HFMA seeks to help add value to finance professionals — and the industry as a whole — it offers education and professional development, including specialty certifications for knowledge of business intelligence, revenue cycles, healthcare finance and managed care. In addition, members of this association can access digital content and network at events.