Why Earn a Master's in Finance?
If you’ve already earned a bachelors, a master’s in finance is a great next step to help you earn top-dollar in your industry. You could also use this higher-level degree to help you move from one industry to another or as your first step into a secondary career in teaching. You could get into investment banking, earn a position at the top of a firm that already exists, start teaching in a business school, or start your own accounting firm. With a master’s, your previous limitations will cease to be an issue. Or, if you haven’t earned your bachelor’s yet, you could always enter a combined bachelor’s/master’s program and get a head start on your future career. Skip years of necessary experience by earning both degrees in less than the usual 6 years you’d need to earn them separately. The choices are yours.
Business Degrees & Career Paths
- Earn a higher salary than with a bachelor’s
- Expand your job options
- The ability to earn more certificates
- Higher level of respect
- Ability to earn a doctorate
- Finance is one of the most popular degrees earned, and therefore, the industry will be more competitive. A master’s will help you earn your place.
- You will be confident and prepared, with all the skills you need
Like everything else in the world, there are pros and cons to earning a degree. It’s always a good idea to take a look at your options before committing to anything. While the pros are nice to know about, your main concern should be with the cons, if you can’t get past one of them you may have to switch your goals. For instance, if you must have a certain grade point average and you don’t have anywhere near that score, you may need to rethink your educational plans.
Some of the pros of earning a master’s degree in Finance are:
- A lesser return on investment is possible
- Takes longer to earn than a lower level degree
- Earning a master’s in finance includes complex courses and a lot of focus
Another thing that’s great about being able to look at the pros and cons of things before signing up is that it gives you an idea of what you can expect, as well as what is required so that you can decide if the benefits outweigh the bad. For example, one of the pros is that you can expand your job options, but, as you’ll see, it also takes longer to earn a master’s than it does a bachelor’s. You’ll need to decide whether or not having more job options is worth your time. Of course, there won’t be many cons when it comes to earning any kind of degree, since learning and increasing your education pretty much always pays off.
Overview of a Master's in Finance
What Finance Master’s Degrees are Available?
- Master of Business Administration (MBA):
Studying for an MBA will include core classes in finance, management, accounting, business law, and marketing. It will take one to two years of graduate training to obtain an MBA, which can qualify you for a chief executive position in finance.
- Master of Finance:
Also known as a Master of Science in Finance (MSF), this graduate degree is for those interested in the field of finance. Students will gain knowledge of financial methods, concepts, theories, and models that they can use in finance managing roles in a corporate environment.
- Master in International Finance:
Designed to give students the knowledge and skills to prepare them for global business dynamics, the Master’s degree in International Finance is a good stepping stone for someone who wants to study various aspects of international trade.
- Master of Financial Analysis:
This broad postgraduate program provides students with the skills and knowledge needed to conduct financial analysis for companies by evaluating a business’s budget, projects, and more. Students will get a broader and deeper exposure to finance to determine suitability and performance.
- Master of Science in Financial Analysis and Investment Management (MS-FAIM):
The MS-FAIM provides you with the qualitative and quantitative skills of analysis involved with quantitative techniques used in risk management, corporate financial analysis, investment portfolio management, and more.
Those who earn a bachelor's degree in finance will find a wide range of opportunities available to them in public, private, and non-profit organizations. Earning a master's degree in finance, or a Master in Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on finance, will give you an advantage in the finance industry.
The Prerequisites to getting a master’s finance degree are:
- A Bachelor's Degree: Most finance master's degree programs require a bachelor's degree.
- Some Professional Experience: Some master’s degree in finance programs require applicants to have from one to two years of professional experience.
- Minimum GPA: Most graduate programs in finance require that students have, at a minimum, an undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
How long does it take to earn a Master’s Degree in Finance?
Depending on your level of previous education, your dedication to studying, and the program you take, a master’s degree in finance can take anywhere from one to six years to complete.
To earn your master’s you will first need to obtain a bachelor’s degree that provides entry-level opportunity and can take anywhere from two to four years to complete. Moreover, if you decide to study full-time then you may be able to earn your master’s in finance in as little as one year, as there are fast track programs available. However, if you decide to study part-time while taking an online class, then it can take up to six years to earn your master’s in finance.
Potential Careers in Finance with a Master’s
Median Salary - $59,500
Financial analysts are responsible for using owners and shareholders earned income to create company wealth by:
- Preparing monthly financial forecasts and financial budgets
- Providing analysis support to many areas of the company
- Assisting with the preparation of financial analysis schedules, including weekly, monthly, and quarterly
Chief Financial Officer
Median Salary - $130,300
The job duties of a Chief Financial Officer are to:
- Prepare or direct the preparation of financial statements, financial position forecasts, regulatory agencies required reports, annual budgets, and business activity reports
- Develop internal control procedures, policies, and guidelines for activities that include cash and credit management, budget administration, and accounting
- Provide coordination and leadership in the business planning, administrative, and accounting and budgeting of the company
Median Salary - $81,000
A Financial Controller is responsible for:
- Maintaining and establishing internal controls that support the financial infrastructure
- Ensuring that policies and procedures are compliant with state and federal standards as well as regulatory requirements
- Overseeing financial reporting, accounting, preparation, and analysis of the consolidated financial statements, as well as tax compliance schedules
- Presenting potential risk areas and financial reporting to senior management
Median Salary - $89,500
Finance managers develop and observe financial forecasts and departmental budgets for their company by:
- Assisting the operations team in monthly review operations
- Identifying areas for operational improvements and cost reductions
- Preparing informational analyses on actual performances and process budgets for the present time and for previous years
- Providing analyses to the operations team
Median Salary - $111,200
Finance directors have a leadership position in general management. Their duties include hiring, scheduling, and carrying out performance evaluations. These directors typically lead a finance team in strategic planning in regard to the company's finances, which includes accounting duties, projections, and financial analyses.
The finance director and their team will identify areas in need of improvement and identify mistakes and risks for their company before profits are reduced.
Director, Financial Planning & Analysis
Median Salary - $98,200
Financial Planning & Analysis Directors use knowledge of accounting and economics for:
- Providing financial analysis to spur profitability and growth, while also improving business performance
- Approving and reviewing the department budgets
- Determining what course of action to take to mitigate financial risks
- Performing risk evaluations and identifying the weaknesses of the company financial model and business plan
Options to Advance
To advance your career after obtaining your master's degree you can earn a doctorate degree. Earning a doctorate in finance is the highest level of education you can get in the finance industry. Doctor in Philosophy (Ph.D.) in finance or Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs emphasize research and independent study.
In addition, these programs give students an in-depth understanding of financial mathematics, professional management, investments, human resources, and statistics in financial markets, products, and corporate finance. Both degree levels open the doors to advanced employment opportunities with more lucrative earnings. Some job opportunities include:
- College professors
- Conducting research for scholarly publications
- Business school instructors
Best Master's of Science in Finance Programs
New York University
New York, NY
New York University conducts advanced research in all aspects of the field of finance. Students can access an unparalleled variety of finance courses that reflect the latest research findings and market practices. The curriculum provides all essential parts of education required for financial positions in government, financial, and non-profit institutions.
- Master of Science in Business Analytics
- TRIUM Global Executive MBA
- Master of Science in Global Finance
- MS in Risk Management
Indiana University Kelley School of Business
Students will gain critical expertise in finance while studying at Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Enjoy a real-world classroom and curriculum experience with two finance academies available; Strategic Finance and Capital Markets. These academies offer MBA students an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of finance possibilities in the industry, as well as sharpen their skills.
- MBA in Finance
- Master of Science in Finance (MSF)
The finance majors at Elon acquire a solid background in business practices and finance principles while developing analytical skills to excel in a marketplace that is highly competitive. Graduates can pursue a career in every area of finance such as corporate finance, insurance, financial planning, real estate, asset management, and more.
- Business (MBA)
- MS in Management
- MS in Accounting
The finance major program provides comprehensive study in the areas of investments, corporate finance, financial institutions, and international finance. Elective courses are available in specialized fields including fixed income, derivatives, financial statement analysis, investment banking, and real estate finance.
- Master’s in Finance
- Master’s in International Business/Trade/Commerce
The George Washington University
Students are at the forefront of smarter business, and earning an education that is combined with analytical and business skills that focus on solving business problems to benefit society and their organizations as well is an important consideration.
- Global MBA (full-time)
- Accelerated MBA (part-time)
- Professional MBA (part-time)
- Online MBA (part-time)
- Joint and Dual MBA degree programs
Traditional Schools Offering a M.S. in Finance
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)
SNHU offers students exceptional support staff and services that include career services, academic advisors, and exclusive ‘SNHU connect’ which is an online community. The faculty has real-world experience and they are specially trained to assist you in developing your financial skills and enhancing success in the field of finance.
- MS Finance - Investing
- MS Finance - Corporate Finance
- MS Accounting Finance
- MBA Finance
- MBA in International Finance
At Walden, you can earn your MBA your way, as they provide three ways to study; competency-based, fast track, or traditional. General MBA programs help students gain a broader perspective while focusing on studies with specializations that range in areas from finance to social entrepreneurship.
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- MS in Accounting
- MS in Finance
- MS in Management
- MS in Leadership
At Grantham University, students are given the tools to strive in a fast-paced competitive industry. Grantham offers a variety of programs guided by knowledgeable and supportive faculty who are experts in the industry. Students will learn everything they need to know about every stage of business and finance.
- Business Administration - Information Management
- Business Administration - Project Management
Purdue Global University
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Purdue Global University is a non-profit, public university that offers a personalized learning experience with education programs that you can take on your terms, where you have complete control of how, where, and what you learn. Get a degree plan created for you based on previous work, learning needs, military, and college experience at your desired pace.
- Master of Science in Finance
John Hopkins Carey Business School
The MS in Finance is offered as a part-time or full-time program.
The part-time program is offered both online and on-site for students who have two or more years of experience, and the full-time program is available for those with less work experience; on-site only through Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
- Flexible MBA
- MS in Finance
- MS in Healthcare Management
- MS in Marketing