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What are Finances?

Massachusetts is one of the most important states in New England. Since it is home to Boston, Massachusetts is a hub of national and international commerce. Boston also has deep historical importance in the nation. The state is home to more traditional industries such as agriculture, fishing, and tourism, as well as other industries that thrive on the coast.

A finance professional is a businessperson who focuses solely on matters of finance. They only view business endeavors in terms of how much upfront investment is needed and the relative return on that capital. They manage funds for their firms, perhaps as accountants or as investment professionals who seek new sources of income.

Finance professionals also work in areas such as insurance. They review what sort of risk is involved in policies and assess claims to ensure that the firm pays a fair sum to the claimant. They may also work in more of a tech capacity. These days, data scientists and computer geniuses are vital to the success of financial firms. Data scientists can analyze the markets to find the very best investment opportunities. Computer coders can write algorithms that execute buy and sell orders at lightning speed, ensuring that their firm is able to make the most of its trades.

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Online Finance Education in Massachusetts

The hard economic data does show that Massachusetts' top industrial super-sector is professional and business services. This area, which ranks 7th in the nation, produces over $100 billion dollars in annual revenue and spans a number of sub-industries such as waste removal, business consultation, and technical services. This would cover certain parts of the finance sector, as accountants often work as consultants and data scientists also work in finance.

Like many states, Massachusetts' economy is supported by its real estate sector. The state's real estate is its #2 economic driver, which generates over $80 billion in annual revenue. This may be supported by the density of Boston and the desirable coastline, which draws vacationers from around the globe.

People also flock to Massachusetts for education. Its public school system is noted as one of the very best in the nation and its colleges, including elite Ivy League institutions, are world famous. It's no surprise, then, that the education and health services industry is the state's largest employer, generating over $69 billion in annual revenue.

The fourth largest industry in Massachusetts is the finance and insurance sector. Massachusetts ranks 7th in the nation when it comes to this industrial classification, generating $53 billion in annual revenue. When viewed in conjunction with the state's largest economic force, professional and business services, it's clear that finance programs are very important to daily life in Massachusetts.

To ensure that Massachusetts retains its strong position in the financial world, its legislature works hard to support finance degree programs. This support extends from its community college system through top-notch public universities. Faculties have an easy time recruiting the very best financial minds due to mere geography. Financial geniuses are constantly graduating from Harvard, MIT, Tufts, and other institutions. They appreciate a short move to teach at UMass – Amherst, for instance.

Meanwhile, undergraduate programs can recruit from the many MBA degree holders in the state. Since the state is such a finance powerhouse, there are many graduate degree holders who love to teach undergraduate courses. Their academic and practical experience is a boon to all their students, who are eager to join the bustling financial world that lives in Massachusetts. Students interested in completing business administration programs in Massachusetts or finance in Massachusetts will have plenty of options all over the state. These options include colleges and universities such as Harvard University, Northeastern University, Boston University, Bentley University, Salem State University, Western New England University, Bridgewater State University, Framingham State University, Boston College, Suffolk University, Babson College, Stonehill College, etc.

Finance is a broad field. Its workers are found working as claims adjusters for insurance firms and as bookkeepers who help Cape Cod's bed and breakfasts balance the books. The field also includes accounting experts who hold licenses as Certified Public Accountants, perhaps the most highly regarded professionals in finance.

Thus, a person can launch a career in finance with an accounting degree from a Massachusetts community college. Some will take these credentials and work as bookkeepers, but others might decide to earn a license, such as a Series 3, which enables them to trade securities. They could also work toward a license as a financial advisor. However, these licensing exams are very difficult, and applicants are advised to earn at least a bachelor’s degree.

To rise to the very top of the financial world, it's clear that a master's degree is required. Most will earn an MBA with a concentration in finance. Others can work towards a MS in Finance or a MS in Accounting.

Online Associate Degree in Finance (AS)

To start a career in finance, associate finance programs can be a great help. Students in the Massachusetts community college system will be exposed to fundamental concepts involved in finance, while also completing the core college curriculum required for bachelor’s finance degree programs. They can thus take their associate degree and build on it later if they choose.

Associate finance programs are also a good idea from a purely practical and financial viewpoint. Since community colleges are spread throughout the state of Massachusetts, students don't often have to travel far for their associate of finance degree program. If, on the other hand, their local community college doesn't offer the degree program they desire, many associate finance degree programs can be found online. Further, Massachusetts' community colleges charge far less per credit hour than their four-year peers. Students who start their journey to a bachelor’s finance degree at a community college can end up saving a lot of money in the long run.

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Online Bachelor's Degree in Finance (BS)

Perhaps the best way to launch a career in finance is by earning a bachelor’s finance degree from a Massachusetts college or university. Students in four-year undergraduate programs are exposed to the full range of finance topics and are even able to focus their work on specialty areas. During their years, bachelor’s finance degree students are also able to expand on their learning with internships and even complimentary minor concentrations, if not double majors.

Some minor concentrations that finance students choose include mathematics, especially statistics, economics, accounting, and other business-related subject areas. One enticing possibility for a finance student is business law, which may later lead to a dual-MBA that pairs a JD with graduate level finance work. There is also the option of studying computer science so that finance experts can gain insights into the algorithms and other tools that are now fueling so much of the finance industry.

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Online Master's Degree in Finance (MS)

The world of finance is a very heady place. Thus, a master's finance degree is nearly a requirement for long-term success. In fact, an MBA is a de facto requirement for those in the investment banking community. Most finance professionals will gravitate toward an MBA with a concentration in finance, but they could also choose to earn an MS in Finance. Either degree is sure to yield long-term success, so students are urged to weigh their options against their desired outcomes.

There is yet a third option that is gaining popularity in the finance community. That is a dual MBA program. Investment bankers who make their career in mergers and acquisitions are keen on pairing their MBA with a Juris Doctor. While few actually pass the bar exam and become licensed attorneys, their legal background helps them work with the attorneys and regulators who are intrinsic to any major deal.

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Online PhD Degree in Finance (PhD)

A doctorate degree isn't often sought in the finance community, but that may be changing. As financial products and instruments become increasingly complex, it may one day require a doctorate to be truly competitive in finance. In fact, a PhD in other fields such as mathematics, computer science, or economics may also be a great platform for success. Many mathematics PhDs have used their research and expertise to start firms that are changing the world of technology and finance.

A PhD can also help a professional transition from the world of business and markets into the world of academia. Those who have accrued experience in the field may be especially sought by finance departments for their tenure-track positions. It should be noted that a faculty position does not necessarily imply work in a college classroom but can also mean a career of research and learning. A research faculty member in finance might consult with Boston finance firms who need their special insights.

Become a Financial Advisor in Massachusetts

Finance is a huge part of the Massachusetts economy. Boston is well known as one of the nation's top financial centers, and the state is also a huge player when it comes to finance-dependent enterprises, such as tech start-ups, who need funding and who often merge or acquire other firms. While many students will be aware that it takes a keen analytical mind and some sort of degree to become a finance professional in Massachusetts, they might not be aware of some of the finer details.

One of the best first steps that a finance professional can take is to study hard in their high school mathematics courses. During high school they should complete at least Calculus I. If available, they should also seek out any business math or accounting courses. In fact, these days, there may be an option to attend charter high schools that focus on STEM subjects. Students should note that, even if they’re studying a seemingly unrelated topic, such as engineering, the analytical aspects will be of great value in finance. In fact, many literal rocket scientists transition into finance because they are better paid and the work is much the same. That is, number crunching is their focus.

When it comes time to seek a bachelor’s finance degree program, Massachusetts students have a lot of opportunities. To help narrow the field, students should examine the accreditation for their top choices. While the minimum standard is a CHEA-approved regional credential, students should look for programs that hold program-specific, nationally recognized credentials from either AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE. These programs are sure to be among the top in the nation, and the degree will surely be recognized no matter where students go.

During their undergraduate finance degree program, students should start investigating graduate degree programs. They should also complete at least one internship in a financial firm such as an investment bank, commercial bank, or insurance company. While many will transition from their graduation day straight into an MBA program, some may start work for an investment bank as a financial analyst. These students who are fortunate enough to land such a position should take the opportunity. Analyst positions such as those are two-year stints that provide invaluable experience. Upon completing an analyst program, students head into an MBA program that will prepare them to re-enter investment banking as an associate. From there, a bit of hard work and financial savvy will ensure long-term success.

Potential Careers for Finance Graduates

  • Public Accountant
    This is one of the top professions in all of business. To qualify, candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree, pass all four parts of the CPA exam, and complete a period of supervised work. Certified public accountants are licensed to handle and file tax documents and they are also held to high ethical and professional standards by the community. This credential is so highly sought that some pass the four-part exam and hold the certification as a CPA but not the state licensure.

  • Financial Managers
    These businesspeople focus on the financial health and well-being of their firm or client. Financial managers oversee a firm's investments and the monetary value of each part of its operations. Some financial managers are focused on equity investments, while others may keep an eye on real estate holdings. There are also financial managers who monitor the markets for juicy acquisition targets.

  • Claims Adjusters, Examiners, and Investigators
    This is a finance career that may only require an associate degree. Claims adjusters work for insurance companies and evaluate the claims made against the firm's policies. They may investigate claims that appear fraudulent or erroneous, and they may also review past claims settlements to find any irregularities.

  • Budget Analysts
    Every firm needs a budget analyst to ensure that departments and special projects are given enough funds to prosper, but not so much that there is waste in the system. Budget analysts work for a variety of firms and governmental agencies, and many work as outside consultants who help value special projects for their clients.

  • Financial and Investment Analysts
    These finance professionals may work on analyzing equities, commodities, real estate, or corporate entities. They spend much of their time pulling data from their focus area and then presenting their results to their team. For instance, analysts in mergers and acquisitions typically focus on analyzing companies in specific industries. They compare comparable companies to their clients and seek out interesting opportunities to merge with or acquire them.

  • Personal Financial Advisors
    This field requires special licensure from the SEC that enables the advisor to give financial advice to their client. While there may not be a specific degree requirement, the testing for this license is rigorous, and most prefer to prepare with at least a bachelor’s finance degree.

  • Credit Counselors
    Everyone needs credit to purchase a home or finance an automobile. Credit counselors work with everyone from consumers who need to improve their credit score to major corporations who need to finance a new manufacturing plant. Credit counselors who work at that corporate level will probably need an MBA with a concentration in finance to succeed.

  • Chief Financial Officer
    After many years in finance and an MBA, finance professionals may attain this prized position. A CFO is the top expert in their firm when it comes to how and where the firm spends its money. They oversee a team of financial professionals who follow their guidance.

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