Best Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Programs
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A graduate certificate in finance develops the industry skills needed for top jobs in corporate finance, banking, and financial management. Earning a graduate certificate in finance can lead to senior roles for mid-career professionals or entry-level positions for aspiring finance workers.
Online graduate certificates in finance often provide exceptional benefits including accelerated completion times, flexibility, and set tuition rates. Most graduate certificates take roughly one year to complete, though some online programs offer faster paths to graduation. Additionally, graduate certificates require fewer credits and a fraction of the cost of a master's degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), professionals holding a graduate certificate in finance can qualify for occupations such as financial managers, earning a median annual salary of more than $134,000. These professionals are also projected to enjoy faster than average job growth of 17% between 2020-2030.
What Is an Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Program?
An online graduate certificate in finance suits students who hold a bachelor's degree and some work experience. A graduate certificate can help professionals advance their career or prepare them for a master's degree. Alternatively, students may pursue an undergraduate certificate in finance if they have not yet earned a bachelor's degree.
A graduate certificate can boost professional skills for bachelor's degree holders but does not replace a master's degree. A certificate covers a broader curriculum, while a master's degree delves deeper into financial theory and practice and includes an internship experience. Certificates also do not provide professional certification, such as a certified public accountant (CPA).
What Can I Expect From an Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Program?
Graduate certificates in finance can help students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Organized and detail oriented professionals with advanced math expertise are well-suited to a career in finance. The typical online graduate certificate in finance keeps students up to date on the latest industry technology and trends.
Most graduate certificates in finance follow a simple, concise learning model, with fewer than 10 courses in core topics like capital financing, cost accounting, and financial management. Most programs can be completed in 6-18 months, and many are available 100% online. Certificate programs in finance typically do not include a field component.
Schools may enable students to enroll in an online certificate in finance at multiple start dates throughout the year. Programs may include individual residency requirements, such as labs or on-campus orientations. Some certificates offer preparation for professional certification or programmatic accreditation through an accrediting agency specific to business or finance.
Students may choose to focus on a particular area of finance for professional development. Programs commonly offer separate graduate certificates in specialized areas of financial expertise. Popular areas of concentration include corporate finance, financial management, finance and investments, and sustainable finance.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Program?
Short-Term Financial Management
This course explores financial budgeting and planning for one year or less. Topics include accounts receivables and payables, liquid asset management, and inventory.
Corporate Financial Management
This course emphasizes the importance of financial management in business operations. Specifically, it covers corporate investments, markets, and capital structure and restructuring.
Quantitative Analysis for Decision-Making
Students must make sound decisions using quantitative analysis in a finance career. This course covers math, probabilities, and statistics tools for broad financial management fields.
Cost accounting is a core skill required of financial managers at corporate and nonprofit organizations. Students can build skills in recording, sorting, and reporting cost data in this course.
Capital Budget and Financing
This course expands on short-term financial management skills, including capital budgeting and investments, and cash flow. Students explore financial leverage, dividend policy, and valuation.
What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Program?
Admissions policies vary by program; however, many online graduate certificates in finance include the following requirements for prospective students.
- A Bachelor's Degree: Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, though not all programs require a major in finance or business. Applicants may also require essays or letters of recommendation.
- Professional Experience: Most online graduate certificate programs also require work experience. A typical program requires roughly two years of professional experience in finance or a related occupation. Though not always required, some concentrated programs prefer applicants to hold experience in that particular finance concentration.
- Graduate Admissions Tests: Applicants may also need to submit GMAT or GRE scores for admission into an online graduate certificate in finance. While programs generally require only two years of professional experience, applicants with five years of experience may qualify to waive the GMAT/GRE requirement.
What Can I Do With an Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Degree?
Through an online graduate certificate in finance, professionals can gain advanced expertise to jumpstart a lucrative career. Business and finance jobs continue to grow alongside the economy in the U.S., increasing the demand for professionals with expertise in global commerce and taxation.
Accountants and auditors are in especially high-demand as globalization expands in all sectors.
The BLS projects faster-than-average job growth and salaries exceeding the national average for business and finance occupations from 2020-2030. Students who complete an online graduate certificate in finance should exceed the minimum education requirements for traditional, high-paying jobs in finance.
Professionals with graduate certificates typically earn a salary between $73,000 and $135,000, in occupations requiring senior financial management skills.
See where a graduate certificate in finance can take you. Learn more about finance careers.
Accountant or Auditor
Accountants prepare financial records, most commonly for income taxes, and auditors examine financial records for accuracy and compliance. Professionals in each of these occupations require a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions, though accountants typically pursue licensure as a CPA to maximize their job prospects and earning potential.
Median Annual Salary: $73,560
Financial analysts provide guidance to individual and corporate clients regarding investments. They may specialize in areas like risk assessment, hedge funds, or securities. Financial analysts need a bachelor's degree to enter the field. Many analysts hold professional credentials such as chartered financial analyst certification.
Median Annual Salary: $83,660
Financial examiners primarily specialize in one of two subfields: consumer compliance or risk assessment. They review the balance sheets and loan statements of banks and other financial institutions to confirm their reporting of assets and liabilities is accurate. Most financial examiners require a bachelor's degree and receive on-the-job training.
Median Annual Salary: $81,430
Financial managers direct all long- and short-term investments and spending for an organization. This category includes controllers, treasurers, and insurance managers. Before becoming managers, they often gain experience as financial analysts, securities managers, or accountants. Top executive positions include chief financial officer (CFO).
Median Annual Salary: $134,180
Personal Financial Advisor
Personal financial advisors guide the financial activities of individual clients. They may advise clients on both short- and long-term financial goals, including making investments, planning their estate, and filing taxes. Personal financial advisors may specialize in a particular area like risk assessment or retirement.
Median Annual Salary: $89,330
Finance Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Many students who complete an online graduate certificate in finance pursue professional certification to further enhance their career and broaden job prospects. Since graduate certificate holders have already earned a bachelor's degree, they meet the minimum education requirement for most certifications, including certified financial planners.
Some students pursue a graduate degree after earning an online graduate certificate in finance. Certificate holders commonly pursue a master of business administration (MBA), leading to top executive careers in business, management, and finance. Students who hold a master's or doctoral degree may also become teachers in community colleges or universities, respectively.
How Do I Choose an Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Program?
The cost of earning a graduate certificate in finance varies by school and program. Generally, private schools incur higher tuition rates than public schools. On-campus students tend to pay higher rates to earn a certificate when they reside out of state, though online graduate certificates in finance can offer major savings like set or in-state tuition rates. A typical online certificate costs roughly $300-$1000 per credit hour.
Students considering an online graduate certificate in finance can choose from a variety of program formats and learning styles. Programs may offer a choice of synchronous (live) or asynchronous (pre-recorded) coursework and full- or part-time enrollment. Online certificates also commonly offer accelerated paths to graduation in less than one year.
Students must decide whether to complete their online certificate close to their physical location or 100% online. Though rare, some online graduate certificates in finance include campus residency requirements. Some students may learn more efficiently in person and prefer to complete their certificate through hybrid study.
First and foremost, any potential school should hold institutional accreditation, through a national or regional accrediting agency. Either type is acceptable, though regional accreditation is often preferred for its more rigorous process. Some graduate finance certificates include additional accreditation through specialized business accreditation granting organizations.
Online programs should offer comprehensive academic, technological, and personal support. Since so many programs now offer online learning options, schools continue to develop their collection of virtual support services. The best online graduate certificates in finance offer student advising, tutoring, and/or mentorships, with career and alumni support.
Best Accredited Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Certificate in Finance Programs
Is a graduate certificate in finance worth it?
Yes, a graduate certificate in finance can enhance professional skills for top finance careers. Mid career professionals and career switchers are well suited to an online graduate certificate in finance.
Students can build on their bachelor's degree education and experience to qualify for higher paying jobs with longevity in the industry. Many accounting, financial analysis, and management employers require only a bachelor's degree but prefer candidates with advanced experience and soft skills, like those gained from a certificate program. Graduate certificates may also prepare students for advanced professional certifications.
What can you do with a graduate certificate in finance?
Graduate certificate holders can pursue senior roles in accounting, financial management, and financial advising. Graduate certificate programs can develop a student's advanced skills in a particular area of financial management, ideal for specialized jobs in corporate finance, insurance, or financial consulting.
Graduate certificates also help students hone critical professional skills, enhancing their qualifications for coveted positions including CFO. Exceeding the field's minimum education requirements, graduate certificate holders gain an advantage over competitors for high-level financial management jobs.
Is a finance graduate certificate program hard?
No. Most graduate certificate programs in finance focus on a concise set of core finance concepts and skills. Students can develop their existing undergraduate knowledge of practices including cost accounting, capital budgeting, and financial management.
Since most graduate certificates attract seasoned finance professionals, the curriculum delves deeper into the foundations of financial management and may include optional concentrations for further study in a particular area of expertise. An online graduate certificate in finance enables dedicated students to focus on professional development, on an accelerated timeline and for a lower cost than a graduate degree.
How long does it take to get a graduate certificate in finance?
While completion times vary for graduate certificate programs, most students complete their certificate in six months to two years. Factors affecting completion times for graduate certificates include enrollment preferences and professional experience. Some programs may offer a choice between full- or part-time enrollment, while others follow a set schedule over a period of up to two years.
Additionally, while most finance certificates do not require an on-campus component, those that do may take longer to complete. The majority of online graduate certificates in finance offer especially convenient and flexible learning options, including accelerated coursework.
What's the highest-paying job you can get with a graduate certificate in finance?
Among the many lucrative occupations in finance, financial managers are top earners, with median annual salaries of more than $134,000. Top executives also earn high salaries, with CFOs averaging nearly $186,000.
Professionals holding a graduate certificate can also become personal financial advisors or financial analysts, earning $89,330 or $83,660, respectively. While these occupations may not match the annual salaries of financial managers or top executives, financial advisors and analysts still exceeded the median household income of $67,521 in 2020.
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