If you have an interest in business and management, gaining an online finance degree can open up countless career opportunities. This is particularly the case in today's ever-changing financial and economic climate: modern technology has created new and exciting ways to analyze and manage financial matters, and an online finance degree will prepare you with tools and skills you will need to excel in the field. Those who pursue careers as financial analysts and managers can earn a salary as high as $91K per year, making a bachelor's degree in finance a sound investment.
You can pursue your finance degree online through one of the many great and affordable programs that feature asynchronous and even hybridized curriculums, which allows you to earn your degree on your own terms and timeline. Today's online finance degree programs feature innovative learning platforms and formats that make it easier to gain the skills needed to prepare for the challenging career paths available to you in the world of finance.
What are the best finance programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Florida International University||Miami, FL|
|2||Pennsylvania State University||University Park, PA|
|3||University of Wisconsin - Whitewater||Whitewater, WI|
|4||Northeastern University||Boston, MA|
|5||Dickinson State University||Dickinson, ND|
|6||Missouri State University||Springfield, MO|
|7||University of Houston - Clear Lake||Houston, TX|
|8||University of Houston - Downtown||Houston, TX|
|9||University of Minnesota - Crookston||Crookston, MN|
|10||Regis University||Denver, CO|
- HOW DO I GET A FINANCE DEGREE ONLINE?
Applicants to online finance programs must typically meet minimum GPA requirements for transfer credits or high school studies. Some programs also require standardized test scores or work experience in the field. Read more here..
- WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A FINANCE DEGREE?
Graduates with an online finance degree can pursue careers as financial analysts, accountants, financial managers, and personal financial advisors. Read more here..
- IS A FINANCE DEGREE WORTH IT?
Finance degrees are worth it for those who want to pursue a career in business or pursue an MBA or other graduate degree in a related field. Read more here..
- WHAT IS A FINANCE DEGREE?
An online bachelor's in finance degree is a four-year degree that prepares students for entry-level careers in banking, accounting, and tax preparation. Read more here..
- WHAT CAN I DO WITH A FINANCE DEGREE AND NO EXPERIENCE?
Graduates with an online finance degree can pursue entry-level roles in a variety of business- and finance-related fields. They can gain work experience before moving on to a master's degree or an MBA program. Read more here..
Accredited Online Bachelor's in Finance Degrees
Florida International University
|Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
This public college located just outside of Miami offers a fully online bachelor's in finance with three annual start dates. The school's bachelor of business administration with a concentration in finance develops students' skills to compile and analyze financial information by emphasizing theoretical and practical knowledge.
All candidates complete 24 credits of core business courses and 21 credits of finance concentration courses. The program core includes topics in strategic management, applied business statistics, and legal environment of business. The finance major covers securities analysis, commercial bank management, and financial markets and institutions.
FIU offers many support services for online learners, including tutoring, career development resources, and technical support. All students receive individual advising from a dedicated success coach.
Pennsylvania State University
|University Park, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
One of Pennsylvania's major public colleges, Penn State offers a fully online bachelor of science in finance that emphasizes the conceptual and analytical skills necessary for positions in banking, security analysis, financial planning, and other related fields.
Enrollees complete 120 credits total, including 96-99 credits for the finance major. Grounded in accounting, economics, and business principles, the curriculum also features specialized courses covering financial modeling, investments, financial statement analysis, and international applications.
The program prepares students to pursue several professional certifications, including chartered financial analyst (CFA) and certificated financial planning. Penn State's bachelor's in finance is also one of the few online degrees included in the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program, indicating strong integration of CFA principles into the program curriculum.
University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
|Whitewater, WI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
This public college located midway between Madison and Milwaukee hosts a bachelor of business administration in finance available fully online. Online learners receive comprehensive support from the college, including advising, financial aid counseling, library services, academic mentoring, and career counseling.
The degree includes 48 credits of general business courses and 27-29 credits of finance concentration courses. The program core covers foundational topics in microeconomics, managerial accounting, and business writing, while the finance concentration includes specialized courses in investments, financial institutions, and security analysis.
All business majors must also complete a minimum 20 hours of community service as part of general graduation requirements. Online learners can typically work with organizations within their own communities.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
Though based in Boston, Northeastern's Global Network serves students around the country. The school's fully online bachelor of science in finance and accounting management emphasizes experiential learning and practical professional training, preparing students for positions in accounting, finance, and related sectors of business.
Northeastern offers several experiential learning opportunities for online students. Working professionals can apply their learning directly to their current jobs, while other students can pursue full-time co-op learning, receiving academic credit for paid work in the finance field. Co-op experiences typically last 3-6 months.
For students unable to complete experiential learning in-person, Northeastern offers the Experiential Network, which enables online learners to work virtually with businesses on short-term professional projects. Most Experiential Network projects last about six weeks.
Dickinson State University
|Dickinson, ND||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 34%||
Home to one of North Dakota's best online bachelor's in finance programs, DSU emphasizes flexibility for students, with fully online learning offered in a primarily asynchronous format.
The finance major curriculum comprises a 34-credit business core and a 30-credit finance section. Major courses include business valuation, income tax, and international finance. Many business majors pursue a minor in leadership, courses for which can also be used to fulfill business elective requirements.
Distance learners at DSU receive access to an assortment of online resources and support services, including library services, tutoring, and online training. Distance students can visit the campus tutoring center or access online assistance through the school's NetTutor platform. The Hoonuit platform also offers online training videos for various software applications.
Missouri State University
|Springfield, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Recognized by the CFA Institute for the quality of its financial education programs, MSU offers a fully online bachelor of science in finance that builds a broad understanding of business principles. The program also prepares graduates to take the chartered financial analyst level I examination.
The degree requires 29-33 credits of finance major courses. Students complete three foundational courses that cover major topics in markets, investments, and business law, along with several concentration courses. Candidates can choose from two concentration tracks: corporate and investments or financial planning.
MSU provides comprehensive career support for both current students and graduates through its career center. Online learners receive access to services and resources like career counseling, job databases, resume assistance, and interview preparation.
University of Houston - Clear Lake
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Located about 25 miles outside of downtown Houston, Texas, UHCL offers a primarily online bachelor of science in finance. The program explores asset valuation and its effects on individual and business investors.
The degree includes a minimum of 72 major credits, divided between 48 credits of core business courses and 24 credits of finance major courses. Candidates must complete at least two accounting/finance electives, covering specialized topics in real estate investment, financial derivatives, and treasury management.
While enrollees can take many courses for the finance major online, some may only be offered on campus. Many students earn their lower-division credits at other institutions (or on campus at UHCL) before transferring into the finance program to complete much of the remaining coursework online.
University of Houston - Downtown
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 20%||
This major public college hosts one of Texas' top online bachelor's in finance degrees. The program prepares graduates for professional certifications, such as chartered financial planner, chartered financial analyst, and certified treasury professional.
Students complete 60 upper-division credits, with courses in advanced financial management, operations and supply chain management, cases in managerial finance, and statistical analysis for business applications. Finance majors often pursue related minors in subjects of accounting, marketing, and economics.
UHD maintains relationships with both the Houston Community College and Lone Star Community College systems, enabling students to transfer seamlessly from these institutions. Candidates typically complete their first two years at community colleges before earning their upper-division credits at UHD.
University of Minnesota - Crookston
|Crookston, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
This transfer-friendly public college based in northwestern Minnesota hosts a fully online bachelor of science in finance. UMC offers the same tuition rate to students regardless of state residency, making the program an ideal choice for distance learners around the country.
UMC offers benefits for online students, including small class sizes and individualized faculty mentorship. Distance learners also have multiple opportunities for applied learning, including professional internships and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Internships and research offer the chance to make professional connections in the finance field.
The university's emphasis on professional preparation and research translates into strong graduate outcomes. The school reports a 93% placement rate for students within six months of graduation, with most finding employment in their field of study.
|Denver, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Highlighting the role of the global economy in modern finance practices, Regis' bachelor of science in finance builds fundamental knowledge in management and financial analysis. The program prepares graduates for several professional certifications, including series 7.
Regis' online bachelor's degree in finance comprises 120 credits total, with 33 credits dedicated to upper-division finance courses. At the program's conclusion, all candidates must complete either an applied capstone project or a course in business policy and strategy.
Regis offers several joint bachelor's/master's degrees, which enable students to combine their bachelor's in finance with a related graduate degree, including accounting, marketing, and organizational leadership. By helping candidates reduce the total number of credits required to complete both programs, a combined degree saves both time and tuition costs.
What Else Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Finance Program?
The fast-paced world of finance is a complex and high-stakes field, and those who are naturally analytic, confident, and comfortable with risk-taking and decision-making may do very well in an industry that offers unlimited opportunities with the right credentials.
Students pursuing a finance degree online learn how capital markets and financial institutions function, including the principles of corporate finance, and how to execute an organization's financial policies. Because most of the subject matter is based on theory, the curriculum translates extremely well to an online learning environment.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN FINANCE
|Concentration||Description||Careers This Concentration Prepares For|
|Financial Accounting||Within this concentration, students learn how to analyze, summarize, report, and interpret financial data. For most employment opportunities, a bachelor's degree is sufficient, but in some cases licensure may be required (particularly for stockbrokers, auditors, and accountants).||Accountant, auditor, tax examiner, and stockbroker|
|Corporate Finance||Learners gain a core set of skills in financial planning, risk management, financial reporting and analysis, and taxation within corporate enterprises.||Venture capital and private equity firms, development positions in Fortune 500 companies|
|Risk Management||Students pursuing a concentration in risk management learn how to assess, identify, communicate, and control the exposure of risk within an organization.||Risk analyst, risk manager, risk control supervisor, and chief risk officer|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S DEGREE IN FINANCE
While there are slight variations in curricula from school to school, the best online finance degree programs teach students the fundamentals of raising capital, sound planning, intelligent investments, and fiscal responsibility. For example, students enrolled in these programs can expect to take courses on the following subjects:
- Financial Management: This course provides the tools necessary for making sound financial decisions at the enterprise level. Topics covered include a firm's capital structure, concepts in the time value of money, stock and bond valuation, capital budgeting, portfolio management, dividend policy, and derivative instruments. By examining actual cases faced by real firms, students are exposed to the challenges faced by managers and executives around the world and, in turn, students learn how to apply financial management concepts and techniques to real-world situations.
- Commercial Bank Management: This course analyzes the role of commercial banks in the financial system and focuses on understanding what banks actually do, how they make money, what risks they take, and how they manage those risks. Students learn how to analyze and evaluate bank financial statements, develop an appreciation for the complexity of risk in banking, and understand the role and responsibility of regulators.
- Statistics: Statistics is a branch of mathematics that pertains to the collection, analysis, interpretation, presentation, and organization of data. The course covers topics in general statistics, including basic sample descriptives, categorical data analysis, including odds and risk ratios, estimation and hypothesis testing. Data analytic projects are an integral part of this course, and the course places a particular emphasis on understanding and interpreting outcomes and findings.
- Economics: A discipline that examines the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth, economics includes the theory of consumer demand, production, distribution, pricing, and production in competitive industries. Students examine national income accounting and explore topics such as unemployment and inflation, as well as policies designed to combat these and other contemporary problems.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN FINANCE?
Most online finance degree programs require the completion of 120 to 130 credits to graduate and take at least four years to complete. If that seems like a long time, consider programs that offer accelerated sessions of five, eight, or ten weeks, compared to the traditional 16-week semester. If you are a quick learner and have the time required to successfully complete a fast-paced program, you could graduate in less time by opting for an accelerated online distance education program. Other factors that determine the length of a program include requirements like a final capstone project, where students apply coursework to real-world business situations, or internships and practicums, which give students the opportunity to gain industry experience and increase employment options after graduation.
CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A BACHELOR'S IN FINANCE PREPARES FOR
With the appropriate licensure, graduates with an online degree in finance are qualified to hold a variety of positions. Examples include certified financial planners, chartered financial analysts, stock brokers, security brokers, and certified internal auditors:
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification demonstrates knowledge and competence in portfolio management, investment analysis, economics, and professional and ethical standards. Professionals who hold this license help individuals and organizations manage their investment portfolios. Because the certification process entails the successful completion of a three-tiered examination, the process can take upwards of 18 months (and at a cost of about $2,500) before licensure is granted by the non-profit CFA Institute.
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification demonstrates competence in risk control and information technology. In addition to a bachelor's degree, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the regulatory body governing licensure, requires individuals to have two years of internal audit experience before entrance to the three-tiered examination. You typically have to wait about 18 months to receive certification and it costs just under $2,000.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Finance Degrees
Colleges and universities voluntarily seek accreditation to determine if their programs and faculty meet certification standards. When a school successfully meets accreditation standards, the institution is accredited and then regularly reassessed. Accreditation comes in several different types, including institutional, which refers to an entire institution, and program-specific, which relates to individual programs of study within an institution.
National and regional accreditations also exist. As implied by the name, regional accrediting organizations operate in specific regions of the country, and they grant accreditation to those schools that meet their standards of quality. While national accreditation sounds more prestigious,this is not necessarily the case. Regionally accredited colleges are more academically-oriented, and prefer not to accept transfer credits from nationally accredited institutions because they haven't met the same standards.
You may be wondering who monitors all the different accrediting agencies. The answer is simple: accrediting agencies apply to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) for federal recognition, which is granted upon satisfying criteria set forth by the DOE. The DOE maintains a list of recognized accrediting agencies at its website. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a regulatory body, monitors the quality of 60 institutional accrediting organizations, including regional, religious, private, career, and program-specific accrediting organizations.
When you're shopping around for a college, don't just check if a school is accredited. Check that the accrediting agency is also recognized by the DOE or the CHEA. If the agency is not recognized, you may want to consider another choice.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Finance Degree?
From accounting to managing and financial analysis, an online finance degree can prepare you for careers in a multitude of exciting and fulfilling fields. If you enjoy working as a part of a collaborative team, and if you have a knack for learning and using digital financial software like Microsoft Excel, a career in finance could suit you well! Those working in this field should be open to going above and beyond their basic expected duties. Professionals should be exceptionally reliable, as the world of finance requires pinpoint accuracy and consistency. An online finance degree will help you hone these important skills.
Financial Analyst: Financial analysts primarily serve to guide individual clients and businesses in their investment practices by analyzing and assessing things such as stocks and bonds. Through analyzing these different methods of investment, financial analysts can recommend how their clients invest. A wide, current, and ongoing knowledge of business and economic trends is expected of those in this position.
Accountant: Often known for helping clients prepare taxes, accountants also work as consultants for businesses seeking to lower costs and increase profits. Accountants analyze the financial records of their clients to help their businesses run at peak efficiency. Importantly, accountants also make sure that all financial statements are accurate and lawful.
Financial Manager: Similar to an accountant, financial managers work to ensure the health of a business's finances through careful financial planning and analysis of investments and financial reports. Financial managers are expected to have an excellent understanding of new technologies used to create financial reports.
Financial Services Sales Agent: Financial services sales agents work with clients to make them aware of all services available to them, and they provide guidance and advice on when to buy and/or sell various securities. Professionals in this field may also buy and sell securities and commodities like stocks, bonds, oil, and gold.
Personal Financial Advisor: To help clients plan and achieve their financial goals, personal financial advisors work on a more personal, one-on-one level with their clients. Professionals in this field help clients navigate investment options, risks, and financial services.
What Will I Learn in My Bachelor's in Finance Program?
Investments: In this course, students learn about security markets and how they are organized. Students also learn about various legal aspects of investing and survey related processes.
Corporate Finance: This course prepares students to manage corporate capital. Students learn about risk and return, policies, and how to forecast and plan for corporate investments.
International Finance: Students in this course focus on making financial decisions in international settings, survey policies, and processes associated with these decisions.
Accounting: This course provides students with a foundation in the basics of accounting. Course topics may include financial statement preparation, tax policies, and how to properly communicate associated policies to clients.
Risk Management: Students focus on evaluating risk faced by individual clients and businesses in investments. Students learn how to effectively identify and manage risks, and how best to make risk management-related decisions.
Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Finance Graduates
Careers in finance are growing at an impressive rate and median salaries for many jobs in the finance field are desirable. An online finance degree not only opens the door to high earnings but also provides the opportunity to entertain an array of career opportunities. Pursuing a finance online degree is the first step to entering one of these exciting fields.
|Job Title||Median Salary|
|Financial Services Sales Agent||$71,550|
|Personal Financial Advisor||$89,160|
Finance Licensure and Certification
While most careers in the field of finance do not require special licensure or certification, there are a few that do. Beyond meeting requirements, gaining certification adds qualifications to your resume, which in turn adds a boost in hireability. When pursuing an online finance degree, it's wise to keep these various licensures and certifications in mind.
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP): By gaining CFP status, professionals are understood to be highly qualified in the field. CFP status evidences a professional's adherence to crucial governing principles, including confidentiality, professionalism, and integrity. This certification is earned through a test overseen by the CFP Board.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA): As per guidelines and requirements set forth by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), candidates officially become certified public accountants upon passing the Uniform CPA Examination. Many states require the completion of 150 semester hours of education before candidates may take the exam.
- Financial Risk Management Certification: Generally considered the highest qualification for financial risk management professionals, FRM certification is earned through an exam overseen by the Global Association of Risk Professionals. The certification helps distinguish risk management professionals stand out from their peers and may be particularly helpful in high-competition markets.
When working in the field of finance, professionals are wise to maintain an operating knowledge of the various professional organizations, conferences, and programs that can help contribute to professional development. Attending events such as the Financial Planning Association's NorCal conference will not only help you network and discover potential job opportunities, it will also allow you to keep a finger on the pulse of the field as a whole. Here are a few examples of the most prominent organizations in the field:
- Association for Financial Professionals
The AFP's stated purpose is to aid its members and the organizations for which professionals in the field work. The organization also administers its certified treasury professional and the certified corporate FP&A professional certifications, and each year the organization hosts the largest conference for finance professionals in the nation.
- The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business
The AAFPB caters specifically to management accountants (for example, the organization operates the Institute of Management Accountants, founded in 1919). The group also administers its certified management accountant certification.
- Financial Planning Association
The FPA is the premier organization among Certified Financial Planners. In addition to retreats and residency programs, the FPA offers an annual conference for finance professionals.
Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Finance Program
As with any undergraduate program, students entering an online finance degree program must complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for most forms of funding, including scholarships and loans. You can also work with your advisor or your school's career center to seek out paid finance internship opportunities. These opportunities can help fund your finance degree online while providing you with valuable career experience.
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