In order to keep up with the latest industry trends and technology, financial institutions need professionals who are continually improving their skills and knowledge. An online graduate certificate in finance can help current financial professionals advance their careers, or it can introduce new financial recruits to the field. No matter the case, the demand for professionals working in finance is strong. Based on information for financial analysts and financial managers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that finance jobs will grow between 7% and 12% over the next seven years.

What are the best best finance programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
3 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY
4 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
5 George Washington University Washington, DC
6 Boston University Boston, MA
7 University of St. Francis Joliet, IL
8 Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO
9 The University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, TX
10 City University of Seattle Seattle, WA

2020 Best Accredited Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 98%

Harvard Extension School offers a corporate finance graduate certificate ideal for professionals serving in the financial services sector or those responsible for making financial decisions within an organization.

Students take two classes on valuation and corporate finance plus two electives based on their interests and career objectives.

To start the graduate certificate in finance program, students may simply register for courses without submitting an application for admission. They must maintain a B grade or better in each of the four classes to proceed. Learners may take up to three years to secure the certificate, but most finish within 18 months.

All students pay the same tuition, even if they do not reside in Massachusetts. Students may apply the credits they earn to a related degree, such as a master's degree in finance or management. Harvard is regionally accredited by the New England Commission for Higher Education.

2

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 89%

Financial professionals can earn a graduate certificate in finance through the online MBA@UNC program. Students acquire a variety of skills to serve them well across many industries.

The 14-credit curriculum features four classes focused on principles of finance, financial accounting, and financial statement analysis. A course on corporate financial strategy examines the needs of modern corporations, including their dividend policies, governance systems, and capital structures.

All learning takes place online in an asynchronous format, with no set log-in times. Although students may take time off between classes, most finish the certificate program within 18 months.

Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. The online graduate certificate in finance program is part of the renowned UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

UNC-Chapel Hill is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

3

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 74%

Stony Brook's 18-credit graduate certificate in finance sets students on a path to success in careers like financial analysis, investment banking, corporate finance, and portfolio management. The part-time program allows working professionals to continue to meet their obligations while pursuing the certificate.

The program features a hybrid mix of evening and weekend courses delivered both in-person and online.

Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit a personal statement, GMAT scores, a resume, and three letters of recommendation. Distance learners may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer term.

Recipients of the graduate certificate in finance may apply the credits they earned to a Stony Brook MBA or MS in finance. Stony Brook is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

4

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

Located in Greenville, North Carolina, ECU delivers an MBA add-on graduate certificate in finance that builds on students' knowledge in specific financial tools and techniques. The program prepares individuals to serve as highly skilled financial managers, bankers, financial analysts, and real estate professionals.

The program's design allows students to complete all requirements in 30 weeks of coursework, and most secure the certificate within one year.

Applicants must provide their resume and official college transcripts. The program only accepts students currently enrolled in an ECU master's degree program or another graduate program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

All learning in the ECU graduate certificate in finance takes place online in an asynchronous format. Nonresidents taking online classes benefit from discounted tuition. ECU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

5

George Washington University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

Based in Washington, D.C., GW offers a 12-credit graduate certificate in financial management focused on three main concepts: securing capital, investing capital in operations, and distributing profits. Students also learn how to assess an organization's financial performance.

Required courses include financial decision making and investment analysis. Students may then choose from electives in financial statement analysis, securities regulation and financial scandals, and financial simulation.

Eligible students must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Applicants submit their official college transcripts, a resume, and at least two letters of recommendation. The program also accepts students currently seeking a business graduate degree at GW.

Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA across all courses to receive a graduate certificate in finance. GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

6

Boston University

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 88%

BU delivers an online financial management graduate certificate that strengthens skills and knowledge in financial planning, analyzing markets, investment management, and portfolio diversification.

The 16-credit program includes three required courses covering mergers and acquisitions, financial markets, and investment analysis. Students then choose one elective class. Options include fixed income analysis, derivative securities, and international finance.

Individuals who complete the graduate certificate in finance leave prepared to take the exam for the chartered financial analyst certification. They can also apply their credits to a BU master's in management program. Most learners finish the certificate within nine months.

Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution. All BU students pay the same tuition, even if they live out of state. BU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission for Higher Education.

7

University of St. Francis

Joliet, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 62%

Based in Joliet, Illinois, USF's online graduate certificate in finance offers an opportunity for students to acquire the skills they need to thrive in a small business or corporate setting.

The 12-credit program features four classes on small business finance, international finance, advanced financial management, and derivatives valuation. Students must earn a B grade or better in each course while completing all requirements within three years.

Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited program. Once enrolled, students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer terms.

All learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate, regardless of where they live. Students complete their coursework online in an asynchronous format, with no set log-in times. They may also apply the credits they earn toward a USF master's degree.

USF is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

8

Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

Based in Fort Collins, CSU offers an applied finance graduate certificate focused on mastery of key concepts in advanced corporate finance, global finance, and credit markets. The 11-credit program delivers all online courses asynchronously to meet the needs of working professionals.

Students select from a variety of classes to complete the graduate certificate in finance. Options include portfolio management, corporate risk management, personal finance, real estate market analysis, and securities valuation.

CSU allows learners who earned a B or better in any certificate course to apply those credits to a MBA program.

Eligible applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, along with a minimum 3.0 GPA. All students pursuing the certificate pay the same tuition, even if they live outside Colorado.

CSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

9

The University of Texas at Arlington

Arlington, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

The UTA public budgeting and financial management certificate prepares professionals to excel in the public and nonprofit sectors. Graduates leave the program with comprehensive knowledge on government revenue sources, borrowing mechanisms, and budgeting techniques.

The 15-credit program includes courses on public capital budgeting, urban economic policy, and urban financial management. Although students may take all classes online, some electives feature only in-person sessions.

The graduate certificate in finance program requires all incoming students to hold at least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants must also possess a minimum 2.8 GPA across their previous 60 credits of college-level coursework. Prospective students who do not meet this requirement may receive admission based on their professional work history.

UTA's campus is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex of north Texas and is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

10

City University of Seattle

Seattle, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: N/A

CityU offers an online graduate certificate in finance that provides a solid foundation of knowledge across multiple topics in finance. Graduates acquire the skills necessary to move into managerial and finance roles in businesses and organizations.

The 18-credit curriculum features six courses. Coursework covers capital formation, banking and capital movement, nonprofit financial management, equity markets, managerial accounting, and strategic financial management. All learning within the graduate certificate in finance takes place online, using an asynchronous structure.

To apply, applicants must provide official college transcripts indicating they hold at least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution.

Students may later apply the credits they earn toward a CityU master's program. In-state and out-of-state residents pay the same tuition. CityU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

What Will I Learn in an Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Program?

Course content will vary from program to program, but in general, graduate certificate in finance online programs offer students a strong foundation in financial theory, analytics, and accounting. The programs also help students develop their skills in problem-solving and, through the use of business case studies, challenge them to apply what they learn. Courses commonly offered by these programs include:

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis A foundational course for most online certificate programs, this class teaches students how to write financial statements according to strict accounting rules. Students will also learn to review and analyze financial statements so that companies can make informed economic decisions.
  • Economics Economics courses cover consumer behavior, market forces, and financial trends. By introducing them to basic microeconomic and macroeconomic concepts, these courses teach students how business decision making derives from basic principles of supply and demand.
  • Capital Markets and Investments Professionals working in finance must have knowledge of modern portfolio theory, which is about how portfolios can be structured in order to maximize returns and mitigate risk. This course will explore topics such as capital markets, securities trading, and financial instruments.
  • International Finance This course explores how international trade is conducted and how financial managers do business overseas. Topics include foreign direct investment, multinational corporations, and foreign exchange exposure. The class also looks at trends in international banking, exchange rates, and the cost of doing business in various parts of the world.

What Can I Do With a Certificate in Finance?

Finance professionals are highly motivated to succeed. Students who acquire a graduate certificate in finance have access to a broad range of professional opportunities across numerous fields. Financial professionals will have the knowledge and skills required to excel in areas such as risk management and private equity. Outside the industry, they will be poised for success management consulting, nonprofit management, and related fields.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts serve their organizations by helping to formulate financial strategy and by establishing best practices. They monitor institutional spending and prepare budget reports for use in a variety of business environments.

Median Annual Salary: $73,840
Projected Growth Rate: 3%

Financial Manager

Financial managers oversee the financial operations of businesses and organizations. They are responsible for preparing and reviewing financial reports, conducting financial forecasts, and investigating ways to improve company profitability.

Median Annual Salary: $121,750
Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors work with individuals to help them plan their long-term financial strategy. They consult with their clients to make smart decisions regarding investments, college savings, tax planning, and retirement.

Median Annual Salary: $90,530
Projected Growth Rate: 30%

CERTIFICATE IN FINANCE SALARY

The BLS projects continued growth in financial services through the year 2024. Predictably, the best job markets in the industry can be found in the nation's traditional financial hubs — New York, Chicago, and Boston — along with California and Texas. New Yorkers earn the highest mean annual wages in the industry, while Texans earn almost $40,000 less. Aside from location, your experience also impacts the annual earnings of financial professionals. The following table features BLS data for the best-paying states in finance.

State Employment Employment per thousand jobs Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
New York 49,050 5.39 $62.33 $129,640
California 34,100 2.14 $52.72 $109,650
Texas 23,710 2.02 $44.67 $92,920
Illinois 13,840 2.34 $46.32 $96,350
Massachusetts 13,700 3.96 $46.49 $96,700

EDUCATIONAL PATHS

Students who complete an online certificate program in finance have the option of furthering their studies. Many schools permit students to transfer credits earned through a certificate program into an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree. Students considering this option should inquire about credit transfer rules before starting any program. It is also important to note that even in circumstances where certificate credits can be transferred to other graduate programs, completion of a certificate does not guarantee admission to other programs.

  • Bachelor's of Arts / Bachelor's of Science in Finance: A bachelor's of arts or bachelor's of science in finance is a minimum requirement for many jobs in financial services. These degree options are popular for those pursuing careers in corporate finance or financial planning and allow students to pursue further studies at the graduate level.
  • Bachelor's of Science in Management: Students can leverage their background in finance to pursue a more broad-based degree in business management. These degrees educate students in the basics of economics, statistics, accounting, human resources, and strategic decision making.
  • Master's of Business Administration: A master of business administration (MBA) offers a springboard for professionals to take on leadership roles in business. Aside from commanding higher salaries, professionals with MBAs possess the know-how to start and maintain businesses in a complex global marketplace.

Accreditation for Graduate Certificate Programs

Before you choose the right graduate certificate in finance online program, you should verify the school's accreditation status. Accreditation ensures that the programs offered by colleges meet established standards for academic excellence. There are two main types of accreditation: regional and national. Most regionally accredited colleges are traditional non-profit, degree-granting institutions, while the majority of nationally accredited universities are for-profit schools that offer vocational, technical, or religious programs.

Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two designations and guarantees that the program you choose will be recognized by the state and federal government, potential employers, and other universities. The U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee six regional accrediting agencies throughout the United States. There are also independent bodies that accredit programs in specific disciplines. For finance, you should check that your program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. You can also check the CHEA website to verify your school's accreditation status.

Professional Organizations

Several professional organizations offer valuable networking and learning opportunities for financial professionals. These organizations allow you to stay abreast of the latest trends and best practices in the field, while also giving you opportunities to make professional contacts that can advance your career. In addition to student chapters and discounted student memberships, many professional organizations offer career resources that can help you land a job after earning your online graduate certificate in finance.

Financing Your Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Program

A variety of financial aid options are available to students seeking to pay for a graduate certificate in finance online program. The first step for any student is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines your eligibility for federal financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study awards. If traditional financial aid isn't an option, you may be able to secure funding from your employer, take out a private loan, or formulate a payment plan with your school.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.