Many MBA programs offer specializations in finance, which grew more popular as an MBA focus following the economic recession of 2008. Finance leadership currently ranks as one of the most in-demand MBA specializations.
An MBA in finance also opens doors to a variety of lucrative career paths. Personal financial advisors, for example, earn a median annual wage of $87,850, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 4% growth for the field from 2019-2029.
Online MBA in finance programs offer working professionals a flexible, accessible pathway to refining their skills and advancing their careers. This guide offers an overview of this popular degree, ranking the best online MBA programs in finance and detailing what students can expect from those programs.
The 5 Best Online Finance Degrees
|1||University of Florida||Gainesville, Florida|
|2||University of Massachusetts, Amherst||Amherst, Massachusetts|
|3||Northeastern University||Boston, Massachusetts|
|4||North Carolina State University||Raleigh, North Carolina|
|5||Lehigh University||Bethlehem, Pennsylvania|
What Is Finance?
The finance industry likely traces back to the earliest iterations of banks and investments. The term "finance" encompasses everything involving money and investment, including banking, credit, debt, and capital. Every business and organization requires a careful keeping and analysis of financial records, often employing financial advisors and analysts to provide guidance and oversight.
Finance professionals work in a variety of capacities. Some may work as independent consultants, providing contracted financial guidance and analysis. Others join finance firms that work with other organizations to oversee investments and capital. Some finance professionals find jobs within the federal government, for credit and insurance companies, or for banks.
The term "finance" encompasses everything involving money and investment, including banking, credit, debt, and capital.
Approximately 487,800 people work as financial analysts in the United States, not including other finance-based positions. Although many finance positions require a bachelor's degree at minimum, employers often prefer candidates with master's degrees and some experience in the industry.
Since Harvard University opened the first MBA program in 1908, these programs continue to grow, accommodate all kinds of learners' interests, and prepare graduates for careers in a variety of industries. Online MBA in finance programs provide the credentials students need to excel in this growing field.
Why Get a Finance MBA?
The number of learners holding graduate degrees has doubled since 2000, with 13.1% of adults over 25 holding an advanced degree as of 2019. This growth in popularity has led to academic inflation. Employers tend to seek out candidates with higher degrees due to the abundance of such candidates.
Higher Earning Potential
- Those with a master's degree earn more on average than those with just a bachelor's. Earning a finance MBA may lead to a higher earning potential, as this degree opens doors to more advanced positions.
More Job Opportunities
- Earning an advanced degree may make job-seekers more appealing to employers, providing the necessary credentials and experience for advanced positions. This may lead to more abundant job opportunities than those available to candidates without a graduate education.
- Graduate programs in finance enhance learners' existing skills and knowledge in business, building on the foundation they acquired in undergraduate study. MBA in finance programs hone finance-related knowledge and skill sets to prepare learners for advancing their careers.
Ranking the Top 10 Online MBAs in Finance
#1 University of Florida Warrington College of Business – Gainesville, Florida
|The Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida offers an online Master's of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance. Students with the proper academic background may waive up to 16 hours of this 100% online MBA that has been recognized as the 5th best program in the nation by the Princeton Review and U.S. News and World Report.|
An online Master's of Business Administration with a specialization in Finance is featured at the University of Florida's Warrington College of Business. Among this program's many national recognitions include its being named as a top-five online MBA degree by U.S. News & World Report, the Princeton Review, and Financial Times, as well as #15 by Quacquarelli Symonds. Qualifying students can complete this degree in as little as 16 months while taking 32-credit hours of coursework. The total tuition cost of this 100% online MBA is set at $48,000 for those students completing the degree as an accelerated program in 16 months and $58,000 for those completing it in 27 months. The Warrington College of Business enjoys excellent national accreditation through the AACSB while UF receives its regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. Some students have reported an average early career salary of $74,600 upon completing this degree, revealing a sound return on the investment of education. Both timeframes require applicants to have at least two years of professional experience and to visit the campus for required coursework one weekend every four months.
Located on a 2,000-acre campus in Gainesville, Florida, the University of Florida is a four-year, public school that currently oversees 50,000+ students seeking degrees at the associate, undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. The university's graduation rate of 87% is one of the highest on our list and is a testament to the school's high standards and its students' over-all satisfaction of education. Currently, UF operates as a public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university that can trace its roots back to 1853, but that has been established in Gainesville since 1906. With a long history of success, the athletic program at the University of Florida competes at the NCAA Division I level as a flagship member of the Southeastern Conference and has racked up 35 national team championships and over 270 individual national championships.
Estimated Program Tuition: $48,000
#2 University of Massachusetts, Amherst Isenberg School of Management – Amherst, Massachusetts
|An online Master's of Business Administration with a Finance concentration is featured at the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Isenberg School of Management. This 45-credit program enjoys excellent accreditation and is priced at an attractive $37,125 in total tuition making it an incredible online MBA for discerning students.|
The University of Massachusetts Amherst's Isenberg School of Management offers an online Master's of Business Administration with a focus in Finance. This 45-credit hour program features nine credits of Finance-intensive electives from the following courses: Advanced Negotiations for Managers, Data Management for Business Leaders, International Finance, Investments, Leadership & Beyond, Negotiations Theory & Practice, and Private Wealth Management. The Isenberg School of Management makes the application process streamlined and accessible by linking applicants to its online student information system (SPIRE) and allowing applicants to check the ongoing status of their application throughout the admissions process. Priced at $825 per credit, this 45-credit program features a total tuition cost of $37,125 while some students have reported an average early career salary of $62,200 upon graduating with this degree. This program has been the recipient of many recognitions including being named by Financial Times as the 3rd best program in the nation, ranked #20 by Quacquarelli Symonds, #23 by the Princeton Review, and ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the #12 program in the country.
Offering 111 undergraduate, 75 graduate, and 47 doctoral programs within nine schools and colleges, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a large, four-year, public school which features a student body of just under 30,000. Receiving its regional accreditation through the New England Commission of Higher Education, UMass Amherst is a research university categorized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and reports an excellent graduation rate of 78%. Founded in 1863, the university was established to equip and educate the citizens of Massachusetts in the "agricultural, mechanical, and military arts." With a nod to the historical minutemen of the Revolutionary War, the school's sports teams compete as Minutemen and Minutewomen at the NCAA Division I level and within the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Estimated Program Tuition: $37,125
#3 Northeastern University D'Amore-McKim School of Business – Boston, Massachusetts
|Northeastern University features an online Master's of Business Administration with a focus in Finance at its D'Amore-McKim School of Business. Featuring a robust curriculum and accreditation through the AACSB, this online MBA is a great choice for students looking for a competitive edge in distance learning.|
The D'Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University offers an online Master's of Business Administration with a specialization in Finance. This 50-credit hour program is priced at $825 per credit making the total cost of tuition $75,650. Some students have reported an average early career salary of $73,000 upon graduating with this degree named by the Princeton Review as the 17th best in the nation. Other noteworthy rankings for this program include a #13 national ranking by Financial Times, Quacquarelli Symonds ranking them at #23, and U.S. News & World Report recognizing it as the 42nd best in the country. This 50-credit, 100% online MBA is divided between 13 core courses and five Finance-intensive electives which include courses like, Investment Analysis, International Finance Management, Financial Strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions, Entrepreneurial Finance for High Tech Companies, and Sustainability and the Economics of Markets. This degree greatly benefits from the excellent business accreditation the D'Amore-McKim School of Business receives through the AACSB and Northeastern University's regional accreditation through the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Classified as an R1 institute by the prestigious Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education because of its exemplary research programs, Northeastern University is a four-year, private, not-for-profit university situated in Boston, Massachusetts which offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels to the 19,940 students currently enrolled there. While over 75% of NU students receive some form of financial aid, the school reports a positive graduation rate of 84% and receives high marks for student satisfaction. Home of the Huskies, the athletic department at Northeastern supports 18 varsity teams which compete at the NCAA Division I level within the Colonial Athletic Association. The school can trace its roots all the way back to 1898 when it was known as the Evening Institute for Younger Men and held courses in the Huntington Avenue YMCA.
Estimated Program Tuition: $75,650
#4 North Carolina State University Poole College of Management – Raleigh, North Carolina
|The Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University offers an online MBA with a Depth Area in Financial Management as well as a Finance Certificate. Students looking for an award-winning program will be please to know this online MBA has been ranked by the Princeton Review as the 9th best in the nation.|
An online Master's of Business Administration with a Depth Area in Financial Management or Finance Certificate is featured at the Poole College of Management at North Carolina State University. This 100% online MBA offers students the flexibility of completing all coursework in as few as 21 months or up to six years, depending on the student's schedule. The Poole College of Management, which receives its excellent business accreditation through the AACSB, does require online students to attend two residencies on campus to network and experience group-dynamic learning. This program has been recognized by several reputable ranking organizations including being named the #18 in the nation by Financial Times and US News and World Report as well as the 9th best in the U.S. by the Princeton Review. This 40-credit hour program features a total tuition price of $42,195, and graduates report an early-career salary of $65,000. Required courses and electives within this MBA with a Finance concentration or Finance Certificate include: Advanced Corporate Finance, Investment Theory and Practice, Equity Valuation, International Finance, Options and Derivatives Pricing.
North Carolina State University, situated in Raleigh, North Carolina, is a four-year, public institution of higher learning offering degrees at the associate, undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels to its ample 34,015-member student body. Receiving its regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, the school currently reports a 75% graduation rate. Home of the NC State Wolfpack, the school's athletic program supports 11 men's varsity and 11 women's varsity teams which compete at the NCAA Division I level within the Atlantic Coast Conference. With a tradition of winning, NC State has won eight national championships and still fosters a healthy rivalry with the Tar Heels at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Estimated Program Tuition: $42,195
#5 Lehigh University College of Business and Economics – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
|An online Master's of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance is featured at the College of Business and Economics at Lehigh University. With a total tuition rate of $38,700, some students have reported an early career salary average of $69,100 revealing a positive return on the investment of education for this 36-credit hour program.|
Lehigh University offers an online Master's of Business Administration with a specialization in Finance at its College of Business. Lehigh's Flex MBA offers students the chance to complete coursework through Classroom Live, a set schedule of real-time classroom-based teaching opportunities, or through Classroom Online, which allows students to access pre-recorded class videos at any time online. Both interfaces are 100% online experiences, feature three start times each year, and typically take between 24 and 72 months to complete. This 36-credit hour program is priced at $1,075 per credit making the total cost of tuition $38,700. Some students have reported an average early career salary of $69,100 upon completing this MBA with a Finance concentration. This program is nationally ranked at #13 from Quacquarelli Symonds as well as sits at #21 with US News and World Report. The College of Business and Economics, which receives its exemplary business accreditation through the AACSB, requires its applicants to submit an online application with corresponding $75 fee, essay, current resume, GMAT score, official transcripts, and two letters of recommendation before being considered for acceptance into this program.
Considered one of the nation's "Hidden Ivies" of the Northeast, Lehigh University retains this distinction by offering a reputably distinctive education to a smaller student body of qualified and academically-advanced students. Established in 1865 by businessman Asa Packer, Lehigh was known as the wealthiest university in the United States in 1879, a fact that attracted many of the nation's brightest students who would then go on to become some of the country's most successful leaders of business and industry. Today this four-year, private, not-for-profit institution of higher learning, situated in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, offers degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels to a student body of 7,054. Reporting an excellent graduation rate of 88%, the school is regionally accredited through the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Estimated Program Tuition: $38,700
What to Expect From Online Finance MBA Programs
MBA in finance programs combine the key elements of a master of finance degree with a traditional MBA, allowing students to focus their studies on finance while building their management skills at their current jobs. MBAs in finance often suit students with existing corporate experience aiming to further develop their existing skills.
Online finance MBA programs offer various pacing options and formats. Traditional programs typically require 30-60 credits and can take 1-3 years to complete, depending on enrollment. Accelerated programs allow students to complete requirements faster and potentially test out of certain courses or earn credit for work experience. These programs can take as few as 12 months to complete.
MBA in finance programs combine the key elements of a master of finance degree with a traditional MBA
Online programs may require some synchronous elements, like proctored exams, live webinars, or in-person intensive campus residencies. However, many online finance MBA programs follow a fully asynchronous format, allowing students to continue working full time while earning their degree.
Learn more about the admissions process and popular MBA in finance courses in the sections below.
The MBA Admission Process
MBA in finance programs require more detailed, professional application processes than undergraduate institutions do. Graduate programs typically involve more elements and higher fees, though exact requirements may vary among schools.
Applicants generally must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. Some programs look specifically for applicants with academic backgrounds in business or closely related fields. Others allow applicants from any major. Most finance MBA programs, however, look for candidates with work experience.
Many programs require a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. However, most admissions take a more holistic approach, considering and weighing all factors of a candidate's application rather than looking only at GPA and test scores.
MBA in finance programs may require GRE scores or official GMAT scores. Minimum score requirements vary, often based on each applicant's other admissions materials.
Finance Degree Options
In addition to the MBA in finance, students can pursue a variety of other degree options.
MA in Finance
- Master of arts programs emphasize the liberal arts, particularly in core or foundational courses. MA programs may focus on research and theory over practice and application.
MS in Finance
- Master of science programs in finance highlight quantitative skills and analysis, often emphasizing coursework in statistics and accounting.
Master of Finance
- Master of finance programs dive into all aspects of finance, encompassing both qualitative and quantitative studies and hands-on, practical experience.
MBA in Finance
- MBA programs emphasize skills in leadership and management. Pursuing an MBA with a specialization in finance often combines studies in finance (accounting, financial analysis, etc.) with studies in business and management.
MBAs in finance best suit learners looking to take on advanced positions in finance, including upper-management and supervisory roles. MBA programs typically offer a variety of concentrations and allow finance students to tailor the degree to their career goals.
Popular Finance Courses
Online MBA in finance programs typically feature courses in subjects like accounting, management, and investment analysis. Courses in these programs combine the MBA emphasis on leadership and management with skills in financial analysis and theory.
MBA in finance programs generally include a required core curriculum and electives, often concentrated in finance. Some programs may culminate in an exam, project, or capstone course.
Although actual course offerings vary from school to school, the courses below provide a sample of classes typically offered in finance MBA programs.
- Financial Management: This course examines the structure of corporate finance, including capital, investments, policy, portfolio management, and budgeting. Students explore finance through the lens of a corporation, using hands-on practice and examining a real corporation's opportunities to assess financial risks and overall impact.
- Management and Ethics: This course explores issues of ethics in decision-making and management. Students approach and inspect decision-making and management processes through an executive perspective. This course asks students to consider financial and ethical cost of achieving each objective.
- Financial Accounting: Financial accounting hones students' financial reporting skills. Learners develop a practical understanding of accounting theory and practice, exploring the process of analyzing and presenting financial records. The course also examines financial obligations and policy.
- Organizational Leadership: A crucial aspect of most MBA programs, this course dives into topics and issues in upper-level management and executive positions. Students examine the factors that influence individuals' behaviors within the workplace setting, and how those behaviors impact the overall organization. Students develop stronger problem-solving and mediation skills, and a deeper understanding of motivation and group dynamics.
- Capstone in Finance: Capstone courses take place in a student's final year or semester of study. These courses often vary in topic from year to year. Some take place as seminars and others consist of faculty-supervised independent or group projects. These seminars and projects allow students to practice skills learned during their program.
How Much Will an Online MBA in Finance Cost?
As with any graduate degree, an MBA in finance may entail a significant financial investment. Tuition for graduate courses typically costs more than undergraduate fees, and choosing an out-of-state school may incur even higher costs. However, many schools now offer affordable pricing and flexible payment options for MBA students.
Online MBA in finance programs often provide discounted or flat-rate tuition options, charging students the same rate regardless of residency or credit hours. Other schools may offer distance learners lower tuition rates or special grants for online learning.
Students can take advantage of a variety of funding options to help finance their degrees. Scholarships, grants, and fellowships do not require repayment, while learners must repay private and federal loans. Many schools also offer need- and merit-based grants for graduate students and working professionals, making graduate degrees more accessible and affordable.
Jobs for MBAs in Finance
Earning an MBA in finance opens doors to more advanced careers and a higher salary potential across a spectrum of industries and sectors. These programs provide students with the skills and credentials they need to excel in finance-based roles at any organization or business.
MBA program graduates often land lucrative positions within three months of graduation. Surveys show this degree lands graduates jobs regardless of their program's prestige.
Earning an MBA in finance opens doors to more advanced careers and a higher salary potential across a spectrum of industries and sectors.
Fortunately, MBA in finance programs emphasize skills that make graduates marketable to employers in a wide variety of fields. MBA programs prepare students to serve as strong leaders and managers, armed with robust problem-solving skills and a mind for ethics and decision-making.
Some graduates stay in the finance industry, working as financial analysts or personal financial advisors. Others may pursue careers in healthcare as health services managers, making a comfortable median annual salary of $100,980.
The positions outlined below serve as just some examples of potential career paths for MBA in finance graduates.
By monitoring the performance of general investments, stocks, and bonds, financial analysts help organizations make informed decisions about where to invest their money. These analysts employ historical and current market data, analyze the organization's financial records, and develop plans for investments and spending.
Medical and Health Services Managers
Medical and health services managers handle the finances of healthcare facilities like hospitals. They may manage a single department, or oversee the entire facility, handling all billing, fees, and financial records. These managers also ensure the facility meets codes and policies, and operates efficiently and effectively.
Personal Financial Advisors
Personal financial advisors work with individuals to plan and manage investments and funds. They may work within a larger business, like a bank or financial firm, or as independent consultants. These advisors help clients manage their resources and plan financial goals, advising them of any issues or changes they may need to make to meet those goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an MBA in finance worth it?
Yes. Earning a master's degree tends to lead to a higher salary potential and opens the door to more advanced job positions and career paths. These programs also prepare students to work in a variety of lucrative industries.
What does an MBA in finance do?
Graduates of MBA in finance programs may go on to pursue a variety of careers, usually taking on advanced roles and leadership positions in upper management. They typically work in some kind of finance-centered position.
What kind of finance degrees are there?
Students may pursue a variety of graduate degree types in finance, including an MA, MS, MFin, or MBA. Each of these degrees suits a different type of learner with unique career goals and interests.
Is an online MBA respected?
Yes. Graduates from online programs earn the same degree and diploma as their on-campus counterparts. Online education continues to grow in popularity as a great option for working professionals to earn their degree.
Are people with finance MBAs in demand?
Yes. The demand for qualified finance professionals continues to grow, with many fields growing much faster than other occupations. For instance, the BLS projects jobs in medical and health services management will grow by 32% in the coming years.