Most Affordable Online Master's in Finance Programs 2021

Updated December 6, 2022

Now is a great time to consider pursuing a master's in finance online. Here, we list the most affordable programs for 2021. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The finance field involves the science and practice of money management, including investing, financial forecasting, borrowing, and lending. By understanding financial systems, investments, and capital markets, finance professionals can help organizations increase profit and manage financial risk.

Students usually earn their master's in finance in about 24 months. However, learners with sufficient prerequisites often complete intensive, accelerated programs in one year. Applicants to master's programs in finance typically need a minimum 3.0 GPA, adequate performance in prerequisite coursework, and relevant professional experience.

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Depending on their specialization area, graduates with a finance degree can work in personal financial management, corporate finance, and government finance. Many graduates pursue professional credentials such as financial analyst certification and the certified public accountant credential.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountants and auditors earn a median annual salary of $71,550 and financial analysts earn a median annual salary of $81,590. This guide details common program requirements and explores finance careers for graduates.

What Can I Do with a Finance Degree?

Individuals with a finance degree can pursue various careers in the for-profit, nonprofit, and government sectors. Many graduates work in the financial industry, and high-level positions in the field often require a master's degree. Current finance professionals may pursue a master's degree to qualify for a promotion or salary increase. Other learners pursue a master's in finance to transition from another field.

After earning a finance degree, graduates can work as financial analysts who analyze markets to help organizations make financial decisions. Graduates can also work in budget analysis, which involves the monitoring of institutional budgets. These analysts counsel managers and supervise regulatory and legal compliance processes.

Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents research and facilitate investment opportunities. They also buy and sell financial services, securities, and commodities. These professionals often benefit from earning a master's degree with an investments-related specialization.

Graduates can also become personal financial advisors who research opportunities, analyze financial data, and counsel clients. These advisors may specialize in a particular financial area, such as retirement, taxation, or mortgages.

Accreditation for a Finance Degree

Finance schools and programs demonstrate their academic quality by seeking accreditation. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversees accrediting agencies that evaluate higher education institutions, including regional and national agencies. Regional accrediting agencies typically evaluate academically oriented schools, while national accrediting agencies often assess religious and vocational institutions.

Students at nationally or regionally accredited schools can qualify for federal financial aid. However, since regionally accredited schools meet higher academic standards, these schools typically only recognize degrees and credits awarded by other regionally accredited institutions. Regional accrediting agencies include the Higher Learning Commission, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the New England Commission of Higher Education, and the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Specific academic programs may also hold accreditation from field-specific agencies. For example, the best finance programs usually maintain accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.


Question Answer
Is it better to get a bachelor of arts (BA) or a bachelor of science (BS) in finance? A BS program emphasizes technical aspects and prepares students for technical finance careers. Meanwhile, BA and bachelor of business administration curricula generally include more general business coursework and are ideal for aspiring managers.
What degree do I need for a finance career? Most finance positions do not require graduate degrees. However, earning a master's in finance can lead to additional job prospects, promotions, and salary advancement.
What is the highest degree in finance? After earning a master's in finance, graduates interested in research or teaching careers sometimes pursue a Ph.D., which is the highest finance degree available.
How long is a master's in finance? Full-time students typically complete master's programs in two years. However, many accelerated online programs offer shorter timelines, particularly for enrollees with transferable business credits.

What Are the Requirements for a Finance Degree?

Applicants to online master's in finance programs must typically meet GPA requirements, possess at least two years of professional experience, and provide official transcripts demonstrating completion of business-related prerequisites. Some schools also require applicants to submit GMAT scores and undergo admission interviews.

Finance master's programs usually require 30-60 credits, which learners generally complete in 1-2 years. Students take core finance courses and elective or specialization-related classes. Common concentration options include investments and portfolios, asset management, risk management, and computational finance and trading systems. Many programs also require a capstone experience or project.

Courses in a Finance Program

Full-time students usually earn their master's degree in finance in two years, while part-time learners may take longer. Accelerated programs often feature short, intensive courses and offer classes year-round. Students generally complete accelerated programs in 12-21 months. Most master's programs require a capstone project or field experience, during which students gain advanced skills in financial research, analysis, leadership, and communication.

Curricula vary based on program and specialization. Specialized courses may include estate planning, asset allocation, event-driven finance, and risk management. However, students earning a master's-level finance degree often complete the courses below.

Quantitative Methods in Finance
This core course explores data analysis and statistical inferences professionals often use to make investment decisions. Students learn about tools and techniques for completing key finance activities, such as portfolio management, asset valuation, and forecasting. This course may also survey academic approaches and uses for quantitative methods in finance. The skills and knowledge learners gain during this course can help them complete their master's thesis or capstone research project.
Financial Derivatives and Risk Management
Finance programs typically offer this class as part of a concentration in derivatives or risk management. Coursework examines topics and strategies related to the derivatives valuation process, including self-financing, portfolio replication, and no-arbitrage. Degree-seekers also study derivatives instruments, such as caps, floors, equity options, and futures. Additional topics may include popular investment banking products and tools. Enrollees cultivate financial and business-analysis skills.
Corporate Finance
This common elective covers funding sources, corporate capital structure, and financial management. Essential for aspiring financial managers and corporate financial consultants, this class examines effective practices and strategies for data analysis. Learners explore resource allocation and financial valuation and reporting. Enrollees also learn about corporate finance policy and regulation, investment and budgeting decision-making, risk management, and financial valuation.
Financial Ethics and Compliance
Many master of science in finance programs include coursework in ethics, policies, laws, and regulations related to the financial industry. Degree-seekers learn about fraud, information security, auditing, and reporting. Students often examine and suggest solutions for evident tensions between financial industry culture and regulatory compliance. Additional topics may include fiduciary responsibility and agency relationships. Learners also explore the investment regulations set by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Capstone Project or Practicum
Most master's in finance programs require a capstone practicum or project, during which students apply advanced finance skills and knowledge. Learners typically complete this component near the end of their program. Master's students may need to research, write, and present a dissertation project. Learners complete their dissertation under the supervision of a faculty advisor. A faculty panel evaluates the completed project. The culminating project or experience may involve activities such as equity research and investment analysis./dd>

Certifications and Licensure for Finance Majors

A master's degree in finance qualifies holders for most finance-related careers. However, some specialized finance positions may require professional certification or licensure. Candidates for these credentials must typically have completed prerequisites and pass an examination. Earning professional credentials can help individuals access niche roles and fields. Professionals with a finance degree often pursue the credentials below.

General Securities Representative

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority offers this credential, which requires satisfactory performance on the Series 7 exam. General securities representatives and U.S. stockbrokers must pass this exam, which covers topics including investment, equity, tax, and securities.

Certified Financial Planner

Administered by the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board, this certification requires 4,000 apprenticeship experience hours or 6,000 professional experience hours. Candidates need at least a bachelor's degree and must pass the CFP examination. The exam tests candidates' understanding of general financial principles, investment planning, tax planning, and professional conduct. This credential can benefit wealth management advisors, client services advisors, and personal financial planners.

Certified Management Accountant

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) offers this certification for corporate accounting professionals. Candidates must pass the two-part CMA exam, which tests financial management competencies and critical accounting expertise. Candidates need a professional accounting certification or a bachelor's degree, two years of professional experience, and IMA membership. CMAs often work as cost accountants, management accountants, accounting managers, and executives.

Professional Organizations for Finance Majors

Finance students and professionals often benefit by participating in professional organizations. Many of these organizations publish and disseminate resources. Members often gain access to professional networking, career development, and continuing education opportunities. Some organizations also maintain local chapters and offer discounted student membership rates.

American Association of Finance & Accounting

This organization helps executive search firms locate and hire accounting and finance professionals. Members can apply for posted jobs and can access career advancement resources including market expertise, an expansive network, and professional partnerships.

The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business

Also called the Institute of Managerial Accountants, this professional association offers management accountant certification, career resources, and networking opportunities. Members can also access continuing education classes for financial and accounting professionals. Career resources include a leadership academy, salary information, and job search tool.

Association for Financial Professionals

Located in the District of Columbia and Singapore, AFP serves treasury and finance members through training, networking, and certification opportunities. The association hosts an annual conference, and AFP administers a corporate financial planning and analysis credential and a certified treasury professional credential.

Society of Financial Service Professionals

This society unites professionals from many disciplines. Members can join local chapters, access a professional online library, and attend networking events. FSP publishes the Journal of Financial Service Professionals, and members can also benefit from leadership and volunteer opportunities.

The list below includes a few of the many scholarships available to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a finance degree. Learners can pursue awards based on their financial need, academic merit, field of study, and identity. Scholarships are ideal forms of funding, since they do not require repayment.

Association of Latino Professionals For America Scholarship

Who Can Apply: ALPFA awards this scholarship to Hispanic or DACA-status students with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Candidates must be enrolled full time in a business, accounting, finance, or STEM program at an accredited school. Applicants who demonstrate financial need or are first- or second-generation college students receive preference. Candidates submit a one-page essay describing why they deserve the scholarship.
Amount: Varies

Striving for Greatness Accounting & Finance Scholarship

Who Can Apply: PM Business Advisors awards this scholarship to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are enrolled full time in an accounting or finance program. Applicants must demonstrate community involvement and leadership ability. They need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must plan to take the CPA exam within three years. Application requirements include a resume, official transcripts, and two recommendation letters.
Amount: $2,500

National Association of Black Accountants, Inc. National Scholarship Program

Who Can Apply: This award supports Black NABA members who are enrolled full time in a finance, accounting, or business program at an accredited four-year school. Applicants need a minimum 3.3 cumulative GPA and at least a 3.5 GPA in major coursework. Candidates must submit recommendation letters and transcripts.
Amount: $1,500

Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Government Finance Officers Association reserves this scholarship for ethinic minority students pursuing a degree in public administration, government accounting, finance, or business administration. Learners studying political science or economics may also qualify. Candidates must plan to work in local or state government and must submit a recommendation letter detailing their commitment to a career in the public sector.
Amount: $10,000

Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship

Who Can Apply: U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply. Candidates must plan to pursue a career in government or public finance and must attend an accredited graduate program. Candidates should demonstrate an outstanding academic record and a strong commitment to future work in the public sector. Applicants submit a recommendation letter.
Amount: $20,000

Most Affordable Online Master's in Finance Programs 2021

  1. University of North Carolina

    Chapel Hill, NC



    Founded in 1789, UNC-Chapel Hill is a public research institution that offers an online master of business administration with a concentration in finance. The finance degree from the university's top-ranked Kenan-Flagler Business School emphasizes leadership skills. Enrollees complete global learning experiences to prepare for finance careers.

    Learners study topics like managerial accounting, financial statement analysis, and business strategies. In addition to online coursework, students complete two immersion experiences that occur on campus in Chapel Hill and in other cities. During these summits, learners address business challenges to strengthen their skills.

    UNC-Chapel Hill evaluates applicants based on their academic and professional achievements. Applicants with five or more years of professional experience do not need to submit GMAT or GRE scores during the admissions process.

  2. Baker University

    Baldwin City, KS



    A private Methodist university in Baldwin City, Kansas, BU dates back to 1858. BU's School of Professional & Graduate Studies offers an online master of business administration degree in finance. The 30-credit program prepares professionals for leadership positions in financial services and business.

    Learners study organizational effectiveness, business leadership, and communication. After completing 18 credits of core classes, finance students take 12 credits in their concentration. These courses cover financial risk, business sustainability, portfolio management, and financial planning. Finance graduate students also take classes in international finance and strategic corporate finance.

    Prospective students must submit official transcripts showing a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school. Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA for full admission. BU admits students with a lower GPA on a conditional basis. Applicants without an undergraduate degree in business can complete pre-MBA pathway courses to join the program.

  3. Oklahoma Christian University

    Edmond, OK



    A private Christian institution in Oklahoma City, OC offers an online master of business administration with a finance track. The finance program provides specialized training for careers in business, financial services, and related fields.

    Enrollees take core classes in accounting, management, and marketing. During their concentration, learners study topics like financial management, financial planning, and risk management. The program also covers investments and international finance.

    Prospective students with a bachelor's degree in a non-business major may need to complete prerequisite courses before joining the MBA program. These classes include quantitative analysis, marketing, accounting, and operations management.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school. They must also submit official transcripts, three recommendation letters, a current resume, and GMAT or GRE scores. The university waives the standardized test requirement for candidates who meet GPA and experience requirements.

  4. St. Bonaventure University

    Saint Bonaventure, NY



    A small private university in Allegany, New York, SBU enrolls under 2,400 students annually. Founded by Franciscans in 1858, the university offers an online master of business administration in finance that emphasizes personalized and interactive coursework. The program prepares students for leadership roles in business.

    After completing foundation courses in accounting, economics, and management, learners move on to concentration coursework. The finance curriculum includes courses in behavioral finance, investments, and managerial economics.

    Through classroom and experiential requirements, finance students learn to manage finance teams, measure progress toward financial goals, and solve complex financial problems. The concentration also emphasizes leadership and decision-making skills to help graduates stand out when competing for finance jobs.

    Prospective students work with an enrollment advisor to complete the admissions process. The advisor helps applicants walk through the process and enroll in the online program.

  5. Charleston Southern University

    Charleston, SC



    A Southern Baptist university, CSU offers an online master of business administration with a finance concentration designed for working professionals. The program promotes integrity, morality, and competency through its faith-based approach.

    Online learners can choose between a flexible schedule or an accelerated 10-month program. In the flexible option, enrollees can complete the degree in 17 months. The 30-credit program covers topics like strategic planning, business ethics, and financial management.

    Prospective students must submit official transcripts, two recommendation letters, a resume, and a personal statement. CSU may request GMAT scores, but the admissions committee waives the requirement for applicants with a strong academic and professional background.

  6. Mount Vernon Nazarene University

    Mount Vernon, OH



    Located in Mount Vernon, Ohio, MVNU is a private Christian college that offers an online master of business administration degree with a finance concentration. The degree in finance provides advanced training in core areas of business and finance. Designed for working students, the program emphasizes organizational behavior, strategy, and leadership.

    Students choose between a fast-track option that takes 11 months to complete and a traditional 19-month option. All learners complete 36 credits of coursework, including core courses in accounting, economics, management, marketing, and finance. Within the finance concentration, degree-seekers study portfolio management, financial analysis, and financial management. The program also offers real-world experience, preparing graduates for financial leadership roles.

    Applicants to the online finance program must submit official transcripts. Accepted students work with an enrollment specialist to transfer credits into the program and enroll in courses.

  7. Mississippi College

    Clinton, MS



    A private Baptist school located in Clinton, Mississippi, MC dates back to 1826. At MC, professionals can advance their career or start a new career by pursuing an online master of business administration with a finance focus.

    The 30-credit program includes core business classes and specialized finance courses. Online learners study topics like leadership, business decisions, and strategic analysis. These courses strengthen analytical and decision-making skills. Within the finance concentration, students learn about financial institutions, portfolio management, and financial statement analysis. They study topics like corporate finance, financial markets, investment strategies, and international finance.

    Applicants need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university and must submit GMAT scores. MC waives the GMAT requirement for candidates with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants who do not meet the GPA requirement can still gain admission with either GMAT scores or 3-5 years of professional experience.

  8. Mercer University

    Macon, GA



    Georgia's oldest private university, Mercer dates back to 1833. Mercer students can earn an online master of business administration with a finance specialization. The program incorporates interactive technology to educate working professionals in business, management, and leadership. By prioritizing small class sizes, Mercer encourages students to build relationships with faculty and classmates.

    Enrollees complete 36 credits of core courses, including four concentration classes in finance. All students complete a capstone project to apply concepts learned during their program. Students also participate in collaborative learning exercises to build real-world experience.

    Online learners can complete the degree in 12 months. The program admits new students five times per year. Prospective students must submit GMAT or GRE scores, official transcripts, and a current resume.

  9. Bethel University

    Saint Paul, MN



    Founded in 1871, Bethel grants degrees from its campus in Arden Hills, Minnesota. The private Christian university offers an online master of business administration with a concentration in finance. The program emphasizes ethical leadership, with the finance concentration providing specialized training for finance careers.

    The 42-credit program covers topics like business analytics, managerial accounting, and leadership theory. The finance concentration includes coursework in managerial finance, global finance, and finance management. Learners also study strategic talent management and organizational diagnostics. During an integrative team capstone, enrollees apply the skills they gained during the program.

    Bethel's courses start every six weeks. Prospective students work with an enrollment counselor to complete the admissions process. Once admitted, finance students receive a personalized education plan. Bethel's support resources include writing tutoring and academic advising.

  10. University of Dallas

    Irving, TX



    A private Catholic school in Texas, the University of Dallas dates back to 1956. At UD, students can earn an online master of business administration with a finance concentration. The degree in finance emphasizes practical methods and organizational leadership. Designed with working professionals in mind, students can take classes fully online or in a hybrid format. The program takes full-time learners about two years to complete.

    UD's finance concentration emphasizes professional skills and provides hands-on experience. During the 39-credit program, online learners study core topics like data analysis, business strategy, and operations management. The finance curriculum also includes training in managerial finance, financial markets, and investments.

    Prospective students need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.0 GPA. UD also requires a minimum 3.0 GPA on any graduate-level coursework. The program requires prerequisite coursework in management, marketing, economics, and finance.

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