Online MBA in Finance: What to Expect

Updated August 18, 2022 | Amy Boyington

Online MBA in Finance: What to Expect

Are you ready to discover your MBA program?

If you enjoy working with numbers and want to become a business leader, consider pursuing a finance MBA online. This versatile degree covers advanced business topics with a financial emphasis. Graduates can pursue employment as financial analysts and other similar roles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial analyst employment is projected to grow by 6% from 2020-2030.

Earning this degree can increase your earning potential and lead to work in fulfilling supervisory roles. By gaining expertise in finance, you demonstrate to employers that you possess the skills and knowledge needed to help a company thrive.

How to Choose an Online Program in Finance

With so many available options, finding the best online finance MBA for your needs takes time and research. Below, we outline some important factors to consider when researching schools, such as cost, class format, and accreditation. Many programs list this information on their websites, but prospective enrollees should contact the schools' admissions offices with any relevant questions.

Colleges and universities offer programs in different formats. Some schools only allow students to take classes in person. Other programs take place entirely online or through a mix of in-person and online courses.

Pursuing an online finance MBA typically suits working professionals, as the online flexibility makes it easier to manage full-time employment while earning a degree. Some online programs deliver courses asynchronously without set class times.

A program's support level can affect student success. Tutoring services, database libraries, and 24-hour tech support can contribute to a positive educational experience.

The professor-to-student ratio can also affect student support, as professors with smaller class sizes can often provide more individualized attention to enrollees. Some schools also offer financial support through academic scholarships or paid graduate positions.

Individuals with budget constraints should consider schools in their home states, as colleges and universities often offer reduced tuition rates for in-state students. However, some programs allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates, regardless of residency.

Keep in mind that programs with more credit requirements may have higher tuition, as many schools charge on a per-credit basis.

Admission requirements vary by school. However, most programs require an applicant to submit transcripts, an admission essay, and recommendation letters. Some schools also feature minimum GPA and/or GMAT score requirements.

Setting realistic expectations can prevent students from applying to programs out of their reach. Individuals can also retake undergraduate courses and entrance exams to improve their credentials.

Researching student outcome data is a helpful way to evaluate a program's quality. Knowing the number of graduates who find employment in their field within three years of completing their studies can offer insight into the effectiveness of a program's curriculum. Some institutions do not post this data on their website, but most admissions offices will provide it upon request.

Many programs form partnerships with local businesses and other community institutions. These partnerships can provide students with real-world experience through internships and capstone projects. Pursuing a degree through a program with local partnerships can help students secure full-time jobs before finishing their studies.

Prospective students should always consider accreditation status when researching schools. The U.S. Department of Education grants third-party agencies permission to oversee accreditation for colleges and universities at the regional or national levels.

Regional accreditation is more prestigious than national accreditation. Some doctorate programs only accept degrees from regionally accredited schools. Within institutions, specific departments can also receive programmatic accreditation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is one of the top accrediting agencies for business programs.

Applicants can learn more about programs by speaking with current students and alumni. These individuals can provide a first-hand account of the pros and cons of the program. Graduates can also offer perspective on the job search process and how coursework prepares students for career requirements. Admissions counselors can typically connect applicants with current students and alumni.

Finance Curriculum

Finance coursework varies from school to school. Reading class descriptions can help individuals prioritize which programs to apply for and save time on lengthy application essays. Although the following courses may appear with different titles, you can expect to learn about similar topics in most finance programs.

  • Corporate Finance: In a corporate finance course, students learn to work with corporate boards to identify investment opportunities and enhance profitability. Enrollees can discover the basics of the time value of money, interest rates, and risk-return tradeoff. They learn to make budgets for corporations and communicate with program directors on budget requirements. Coursework also focuses on cash flow analysis and how to enhance a business's profitability.
  • Financial Markets: A financial markets course teaches risk management and behavioral finance basics. Learners can refine their financial leadership skills to help insurance and banking industries deliver optimal client support. Students also discover how to monitor the stock market and use current and historical data to make recommendations for investors. They explore the relationship between financial markets and government regulations.
  • Investment Management: This course teaches students how to use financial data to advise investors and borrowers. Students learn about monitoring financial markets and analyzing pension and sovereign wealth funds. Coursework also covers active and passive investments, benchmarks, and features of equity. Learners leave this class with knowledge and skills in client investment objectives and portfolio theory.

Comparison of Finance Degrees

Colleges and universities offer several different graduate finance degrees. For example, a student can pursue an MBA in finance, master of science in finance, or master's in accounting or taxation degree.

The best program depends on an individual's career goals. For instance, learners who wish to work as chief financial officers should pursue MBAs in finance, while individuals hoping to work as accountants can earn master's in accounting or taxation degrees.

Students explore concepts like operations management and business regulations. Enrollees also learn about financial institutions and capital markets, along with how they relate to corporations and other businesses. Unlike an MBA in finance, which blends business and finance courses, this program focuses solely on the finance industry and financial analysis. Students with master's degrees in finance often pursue work as financial planners to help individuals with investments.

Cost and Length of a Finance Degree

Earning a finance degree requires a significant investment of time and money. Choosing an affordable program can lower student loan bills. Many schools offer affordable in-state tuition rates, and some extend this rate to all online students.

Additionally, public institutions typically cost less than private universities. When budgeting for college, students should also factor in living expenses and the cost of books and other learning materials.

Length can also impact program cost. Since schools often charge tuition on a per-credit basis, programs with fewer credits may cost less. Typically, an MBA in finance takes learners 2-4 years to complete. The exact length depends on credit requirements and personal commitments. Some programs feature accelerated formats that allow students to graduate more quickly.

Working professionals can benefit from the flexibility of online MBAs in finance by pursuing degrees while still earning income.

Careers in Finance

Graduates with finance MBAs can pursue job opportunities in many industries. Having an idea of which career you want to pursue upon graduation can help guide your studies. For example, an aspiring financial analyst can center the program's capstone project around analyzing finances for a local small business.

Below, we outline five common careers for graduates with an MBA in finance.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts review finances for nonprofits, corporations, and public institutions. They help clients reduce costs and improve profit margins by reviewing quarterly budgets and making adjustments. Budget analysts also work with department directors and notify them about available funds. The BLS projects this career to grow by 5% from 2020-2030. The median pay for these professionals was $79,940 per year in 2021.

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Financial Analyst

These analysts help businesses and individuals make wise investment decisions. They closely watch the stock market, using historical and current financial data to advise their clients on when and where to invest. BLS projections indicate that their employment will grow by 6% from 2020-2030. These professionals earned a median annual income of $81,410 in 2021.

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Financial Manager

Financial managers oversee organizations' long-term financial plans. These professionals use financial reports to improve profitability, oversee investment decisions, and monitor market trends to identify expansion opportunities. Financial managers typically find employment with banks and investment firms. The BLS projects employment for these professionals to grow by 17% from 2020-2030 and reports a median pay of $131,710 per year as of 2021.

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Loan Officer

Loan officers review loan applications for individuals and businesses. They evaluate the risk of lending money on behalf of financial institutions. The BLS projects employment for loan officers to grow by 1% between 2020-2030. As of 2021, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $63,380.

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Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors help individuals meet financial goals. For example, they often help clients save for retirement by creating investment portfolios. Many personal financial advisors work as self-employed agents. The BLS projects this career to grow by 5% from 2020-2030, and the median pay for these professionals in 2021 was $94,170 per year.

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Finance Scholarships

This scholarship provides graduate students from minority groups with up to $5,000 each year for their studies. Each applicant must declare an accounting major and possess a minimum 3.0 GPA with 30 completed credits. The AICPA accepts applicants from December through March.

The Government Finance Officers Association awards this $20,000 scholarship to a full-time graduate student who plans to work in a finance-related role for the state or national government. Each candidate must declare an accounting-related major and submit official transcripts with their application.

Graduates can receive up to $5,000 and a free one-year membership to the Greater Washington Society of CPAs from this scholarship fund. An applicant must pursue accounting degrees leading to CPA certification and attend eligible universities in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

The Government Finance Officers Association awards one $10,000 award to a graduate student from a minority group pursuing a financial career in government. Each candidate must be enrolled at least part-time and in an eligible finance, business administration, or public administration program.

Common Questions About Online MBAs in Finance

Does an MBA in finance require math?

Finance MBA courses require a significant amount of math. If succeeding at math does not come naturally to you, you can still pursue this degree. With practice, you can refine your math skills and succeed in a finance role.

Is an MBA in finance difficult?

An MBA in finance requires dedication and time. The level of difficulty can vary among programs, but you can expect to spend several hours per week studying outside of class. You can learn more about the program's difficulty level by speaking with alumni or admissions counselors.

What are the best online MBA programs?

The best online MBAs in finance typically feature regional accreditation, flexible scheduling options, and well-rounded curricula. They also include internships or capstones for learners to apply their skills in real-world scenarios. Texas A & M International University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offer excellent online MBA in finance programs.

What does an MBA in finance teach you?

Top online MBA in finance programs teach budgeting and financial analysis, along with crucial business concepts like marketing and strategic operations.


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