A master's in business administration (MBA) in finance degree prepares students for careers in business management. In the program, students will gain a graduate-level understanding of foundational business principles like accounting, management, marketing, and finance. An MBA in finance is a popular choice for professionals who need additional education to reach their career goals, and for students interested in starting their own business.
What are the best finance programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD|
|2||Boston University||Boston, MA|
|3||The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill, NC|
|4||Carnegie Mellon University||Pittsburgh, PA|
|5||Lehigh University||Bethlehem, PA|
|6||Villanova University||Villanova, PA|
|7||University of Texas at Dallas||Richardson, TX|
|8||North Carolina State University||Raleigh, NC|
|9||American University||Washington, DC|
|10||Colorado State University||Greenwood Village, CO|
You can enroll in an MBA program either full-time or part-time, and your choice will depend on where you are in your career. Full-time study is intended for those who are recently out of college and can afford to spend a few years studying. There are also two different types of part-time MBA programs: a regular part-time MBA and the executive MBA (EMBA). An EMBA is designed for students who have experience in executive or leadership roles, while part-time MBA students have a limited background in leadership. EMBA candidates are typically in their 30's or early-40's, while part-time MBA candidates are generally much younger.
There are many benefits to earning an MBA in finance. Students develop hard and soft business skills that are difficult to acquire quickly without formalized training. In an MBA cohort, you will make plenty of professional connections with other students and faculty, which can provide encouragement during the program and form a network of connections for your future. MBA graduates also enjoy higher employment rates on average, since they tend to have more work experience than graduates fresh out of college.
An MBA in finance provides a broad education that produces favorable economic outcomes for graduates when compared to similar graduate degrees, like a master's in finance. Master's in finance curriculums are much narrower than what you'll find in an MBA program, and while master's of finance graduates can enter the workforce quickly, MBA graduates tend to have a wider range of skills. As a result, MBAs can move into managerial jobs much quicker and they enjoy higher wages on average.
Graduates with an MBA in finance can work as financial advisors, marketing managers, human resources specialists, logisticians, fundraisers, and financial advisors, just to name a few positions. When entering the job market, MBA in finance graduates will find that their skills are in-demand, as the BLS projects that positions for financial analysts will rise 12% by 2024.
Learn more about what you can do with an MBA in finance and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Accredited Online MBA in Finance Programs
Choosing a graduate school program is a personal decision, and only you can determine what school may best meet your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online MBA in Finance program for you.
If you are considering an online MBA in Finance, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific requirements and offerings.
Johns Hopkins University
|Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 93%||
Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University is a private research institution that enrolls over 26,000 students annually. Learners can earn an online master of business administration with a financial businesses concentration. This comprehensive, part-time program totals 54 credits, which candidates generally complete within three years.
Foundational coursework covers topics like accounting and financial reporting, marketing management, and the firm and the macroeconomy. Through the financial businesses concentration, students take advanced classes covering topics like corporate finance hedge fund strategies. They also develop practical skills related to big data analysis and machine learning.
Applicants need at least two years of work experience and adequate GMAT scores. They must submit a resume or CV, a recommendation letter, and two essays. This online MBA in finance program maintains full accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
|Boston, MA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 88%||
Boston University delivers online coursework asynchronously through Blackboard. Distance learners at BU can enroll in an online master of business administration program that is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Students can follow a general management, executive management, social impact, or health sector management pathway. Learners in the social impact program can further individualize their degree by pursuing one of seven concentrations, including finance.
The 64-credit MBA curriculum teaches candidates core business concepts in collaborative teamwork and ethical leadership. Students who choose the finance concentration delve into topics like managerial accounting, fixed income markets, and macroeconomics in the global environment. They learn to make competitive decisions and assess financial risks, options, and futures.
To enroll in this rigorous online MBA in finance program, applicants need stellar GMAT/GRE scores. Additional application materials include a current resume and a recommendation letter.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
|Chapel Hill, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 89%||
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill serves about 30,000 students each year. Students at UNC-Chapel Hill can access a fully online master of business administration designed for working professionals. This MBA track offers five concentration options — including finance — and emphasizes leadership training that learners can immediately apply to their jobs.
In addition to nine core classes, finance students complete advanced coursework in their concentration. Topics include real estate, tax accounting and preparation, and international business strategies. Distance learners gain hands-on skills by attending two in-person summits.
UNC-Chapel Hill offers a yearly cohort start date in the summer. Prospective students must submit a current resume or CV, GRE or GMAT scores, two recommendation letters, and two or three personal essays. This online MBA in finance program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Carnegie Mellon University
|Pittsburgh, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 89%||
Carnegie Mellon University offers research-focused and career-relevant academics to about 14,500 students from around the world. In addition to a comprehensive catalog of on-campus offerings, CMU provides a part-time master of business administration. Students may choose to complete a fully remote curriculum or a hybrid option, taking some courses at CMU's campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The program offers 12 concentrations, including finance.
Students who pursue the finance concentration prepare to work for corporations, treasury programs, and Fortune 500 companies. Courses include investment analysis and venture capital/private equity. Most candidates complete this online MBA in finance program in 32 months.
Application materials include GRE or GMAT scores and a resume. CMU's School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.
|Bethlehem, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 87%||
Lehigh University first opened its doors in 1865 to a class of 39 learners. Today, the institution serves nearly 7,000 students, many of whom pursue their degrees remotely through programs like the FLEX master of business administration. This track allows candidates to choose whether they want to complete asynchronous online coursework or attend classes at Lehigh's campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Participants can choose a finance concentration or one of six other options.
Required classes cover topics like managing information, basic statistics, and the organization and its environments. The finance concentration teaches students to evaluate complex investments and global economic markets. Students round out the program by completing a capstone experience that integrates case studies, simulations, and a cross core project.
Lehigh's College of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Although the online MBA in finance program does not maintain strict academic requirements, the average incoming student has a 3.3 GPA.
|Villanova, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
Villanova University provides comprehensive certificates and degrees across its six colleges, including an online master of business administration focused on how technology affects the operation of companies and organizations. This two-year program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Distance learners follow a prescribed course sequence that includes analyzing and leveraging data, global political economy, and management for innovation and creativity. Through an optional finance concentration, students can examine investment strategies and analytical methods for data mining. This online MBA in finance program requires learners to complete three capstone experiences, including a campus residency.
Applicants should submit GRE or GMAT scores, a resume, two personal essays, and two professional/academic recommendation letters. Villanova offers several financial aid opportunities, including multiple scholarships for MBA students.
University of Texas at Dallas
|Richardson, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 72%||
Through its School of Management, the University of Texas at Dallas offers over 40 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Programs include an online professional master of business administration that has helped graduates earn leadership positions at major companies like Goldman Sachs, Raytheon, and FTI Consulting. Students can choose from 21 concentration options, including finance
With three start dates each year and no on-campus requirements, the program allows online MBA candidates to graduate within 21 months. Required courses include international business management, organizational behavior, and statistics and data analysis. Students who use their elective credits to complete a finance concentration can follow a corporate financial planning or financial securities and investment portfolios track.
The average MBA applicant at UT Dallas has a 3.6 GPA and eight years of work experience. Participants can take advantage of a career management center to access career coaching, internship placements, and networking opportunities.
North Carolina State University
|Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
North Carolina State University is a longtime leader in distance education, offering a comprehensive catalog of certificates and degrees through Moodle. Students can complete the university's remote master of business administration program within 21 months. Students can also create a hybrid learning experience by taking some classes in Raleigh or the Research Triangle Park.
Core coursework includes data-driven managerial decisions, leading people, and principles of operations and supply chain management. Students can pursue a finance emphasis, taking six credits of classes that delve into global financial management practices while emphasizing foreign exchange exposure and direct and portfolio investment abroad. Online MBA in finance candidates must also complete two three-day campus residencies.
Applicants need to have at least two years of post-bachelor's work experience. They also need to submit GRE, GMAT, or MAT scores and demonstrate leadership potential.
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Based in Washington, D.C., American University serves over 14,000 students annually. The university delivers a fully online master of business administration designed for mid-career professionals who want to strengthen their strategic management and communication skills. In lieu of the conventional two-year degree plan, candidates can accelerate graduation by enrolling in 18-month, 15-month, or 12-month tracks.
The 48-credit curriculum includes foundational courses like managerial economics and strategic thinking for decisions. Students can choose from six pre-designed focus areas, including finance. Individuals who pursue a finance focus learn to manage risk and make investments in a perpetually evolving economy. This online MBA in finance program also requires candidates to complete two in-person immersions.
Prospective learners should submit responses to two essay prompts, two recommendation letters, and a current resume or CV. However, they need not submit standardized test scores.
Colorado State University
|Greenwood Village, CO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Colorado State University delivers online coursework asynchronously through Canvas. Through CSU's Global Campus, graduate students can access 14 degree options, including a fully online master's degree in finance that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Monthly start dates and accelerated coursework enable candidates to complete this program largely at their own pace.
Like other MBA in finance programs, this degree track prepares students to manage investment portfolios by covering quantitative analysis and applied research skills. Distance learners can choose a specialization in accounting, fraud management, or strategic digital information marketing. The program culminates in an integrative capstone project.
CSU prefers applicants with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students who do not meet this threshold can apply for provisional admission by submitting a 500-word statement of purpose, an up-to-date resume, and SmarterMeasure Assessment scores.
Choosing an MBA Program
DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?
Yes, previous work experience is a clear way that admissions committees determine whether an applicant has past experience as a leader and collaborator in a business-related role. The typical MBA student is admitted with 1-2 years of experience, generally in a full-time position. Unpaid internships and other experience gained during a student's undergraduate studies will also suffice, especially for full-time applicants coming directly from college.
HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT MBA IN FINANCE PROGRAM FOR ME?
Do your due diligence when searching for schools. Students considering an MBA should ask themselves "what do I want out of an MBA program?" and, more broadly, "what are my career goals in business?" Once you've answered these questions, you should search for a school with a complementary program or specialization that will prepare you for your industry of choice. Other considerations include whether to study full-time or part-time, and whether to study in-person or online.
CAN I WORK WHILE I COMPLETE MY MBA IN FINANCE?
Yes, students can continue to work while completing their MBA in finance, regardless of whether they have part-time or full-time status. Part-time students tend to keep their day job while pursuing their MBA. Full-time students are usually fresh out of college, so they likely haven't fully entered the workforce yet, but should have time to maintain a part-time job on the side.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING AN MBA IN FINANCE?
MBA-holders enjoy increased earning potential. They also have more flexibility, and can start their own businesses or change the trajectory of their career while maintaining a full-time day job. Some students say that the networking opportunities alone make an MBA worth the investment.
WHAT ELSE CAN I EXPECT FROM AN ONLINE MBA IN FINANCE PROGRAM?
|Timeline||18 months to 2 years|
|Program Costs (when available)||$10,000 to $25,000 in annual tuition|
|Concentrations||Management, Leadership, Project Management, Finance, Economics, Marketing, Human Resources|
|Accreditation||Association of MBAs (AMBA), AACSB International, EQUIS|
|Additional Considerations||Previous work experience is required to show that applicants have an aptitude for leading and collaborating in a business setting.|
Employment Outlook for MBA in Finance Graduates
Job Placement: MBA in Finance
The job market for MBA in finance graduates is growing. MBA in finance curriculums cover several business topics, which positions graduates to pursue managerial positions in the field.
Work experience plays an important role in getting MBAs into highly-paid roles. A survey of MBA graduates from PayScale measured average work experience and salary. The survey found a clear connection between higher work experience and a higher salary.
|Occupation||Project Job Growth (2014–24)||Change in Number of Jobs (2014–24)|
|Chief Financial Officer||6%||147,000|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Salary expectations for employees with an MBA in finance will vary greatly depending on their specific job title, as well as other factors like their degree specialization and their location. Many MBA graduates already have relevant work experience, and will be able to jump into management positions upon graduation. The table below looks at career salary growth projections for five of the most common career paths among employees who hold an MBA in finance.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Chief Financial Officer||$95,000||$112,000||$142,000||$154,000|
Of the five occupations listed on the table, the average rate of career growth was 40% between entry-level jobs and late-career. Financial directors and chief financial officers saw the highest growth by far, with each increasing 62% over 20 years. Financial controllers placed third with a 30% increase over 20 years.
Career and Further Education Opportunities
All MBA in finance graduates enter the workforce prepared to work in a range of management positions, with individual specializations that vary from person to person. Below, we've covered five common career paths for graduates.
Budget Analyst: Budget analysts work with public and private organizations to organize their finances. The primary tasks of a budget analyst include creating budget reports and monitoring institutional spending. The end of the year can be busy for a budget analyst, as they may be tasked with creating annual reports or helping with tax filing.
Chief FInancial Officer (CFO): A CFO's responsibilities vary greatly depending on the size of their organization. CFOs are commonly responsible for controllership and treasury duties, as well as economic strategy and forecasting. CFOs can direct and oversee an organization's financial and budgetary activities and may analyze financial statements, sales reports, and other performance indicators.
Financial Manager: A financial manager's chief concern is the overall financial health of their organization. They produce financial reports, direct the organization's investments, determine long-term financial goals, and develop strategies for achieving them. This role is changing rapidly in response to technological advances that make reporting and monitoring much easier than in the past. As a result, modern financial managers do much more data analysis than their predecessors.
Accountant: Sometimes called "auditors," accountants prepare and examine financial records for an organization. The primary task of an accountant is to ensure that financial records are accurate and that taxes are paid properly and on time. They also assess financial operations and work to help ensure that all functions run efficiently.
Financial Analyst: Financial analysts are responsible for guiding their clients to making sound investment decisions. A financial analyst can work for an organization or an individual. They will assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other types of investments for their clients and provide recommendations on how to get the best return on investment.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary||Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)|
|Chief Financial Officer||$102,690||6%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
MBA Professional Organizations
Knowing the right people can have a major impact on your career, and this is especially true in finance. Professional organizations are a great resource for students who are leaving school to enter the job market. These organizations can help your job search and offer certifications, networking opportunities, and professional development opportunities that can help you start your career on the right foot. Below you'll find three prominent organizations that can help accelerate your career in finance.
- Association for Financial Professionals (AFP): The AFP is a professional society dedicated to advancing the success of its members. The AFP hosts an annual conference of over 6,500 corporate finance professionals, which could prove useful for young professionals in the industry. It also created the Certified Treasury Professional and Certified Corporate FP&A Professional credentials.
- The Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business (IMA): Also known as the Institute of Managerial Accountants, IMA is a worldwide network of accountants and financial professionals in business. The organization offers the Certified Management Accountant certification, a standard certification that is earned by many accountants and financial professionals. IMA also offers an education center, career resources, and many more benefits exclusively for their members.
- American Association of Finance & Accounting (AAFA): AAFA is a cohesive network of search organizations throughout North America. AAFA's 40+ search firms assist young professionals in their search for career advancement opportunities, seeking to match them with member organizations that are seeking new talent.
Financing Your Online MBA in Finance Program
Most students still need financial assistance to pay for their MBA in finance, even if they work during their time in school. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about your financial aid options.
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