Finance directors oversee finance departments and teams in creating and implementing financial strategies. Finance directors possess advanced skills in accounting and financial analysis, projection, and reporting, and they typically need master’s degrees in business administration, finance, or related fields. As managers, these leaders also hire and evaluate finance staff. Finance director median annual salaries are about $112,749, according to PayScale data.
Top 5 Online MBAs in Finance 2021
Are you ready to discover your MBA program?
Online MBA degrees in finance often enable career transition or advancement for professionals who want to retain their current jobs while in school. Today’s top online MBA programs have similar content and rigor to on-campus programs, and finance MBAs emphasize foundational business management skills relevant to business and financial occupations — which pay nearly twice the nation’s median annual wage.
Online finance MBA programs differ considerably in quality, structure, and curricular foci, so take the time to research and compare prospective programs carefully. The following guide surveys possible curricula, career paths, and salaries associated with this degree. Readers can also find scholarships and professional organizations beneficial to online finance MBA students.
What Is an MBA in Finance?
Designed as preparation for business and financial management careers, MBAs in finance integrate coursework in management, finance, and marketing. Students also cultivate knowledge and skills in accounting, budgeting, and compliance. This versatile degree program can lead to careers in many fields, including marketing management, financial advising, and fundraising.
Due to growing demand for advanced business acumen and managerial skills, financial managers enjoy good job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 16% growth in financial manager positions between 2018 and 2028. PayScale projects that the annual median salary for professionals holding finance MBAs is $97,000.
Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Finance?
Unrestricted by commuting constraints, online students may consider the nation’s best online MBA programs. The location and schedule flexibility afforded by distance learning MBA programs allows working professionals to use their after-work hours to acquire new skills, expand their career options, and increase their salary potential. Often populated by working professionals, top online MBA programs in finance offer excellent networking opportunities that can lead to career advancement.
Working professionals also pursue finance MBA programs in hopes of promotion and/or salary advancement. Unlike MA or MS degrees in finance, which prepare students for finance-specific positions, MBAs in finance provide diverse and flexible general skills that prepare graduates for more various, higher-paying careers in finance.
Experienced financial controllers earn annual median salaries of about $88,000 per year, according to PayScale. Salaries for financial directors and financial managers amount to about $112,000-128,000 annually. Keep in mind that salaries vary based on job title, employer, and industry, and that other factors such as work experience and location also influence salary potential.
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What Can You Do With an MBA in Finance?
Certified Public Accountant
Accountants and auditors produce, organize, prepare, and review tax documents and other financial records, checking for accuracy and compliance with tax laws. These professionals may work for companies, governments, organizations, or private clients, and may specialize in areas such as auditing, financial planning, or valuation. CPAs sometimes help their employers streamline financial processes such as bookkeeping. PayScale’s CPA career page indicates that these professionals earn a median annual salary of $65,633. The BLS projects 6% job growth for accountants and auditors between 2018 and 2028.
These professionals oversee financial departments such as accounting, auditing, or budgeting. Financial controllers frequently generate financial analyses, projections, and plans. This role also involves regulation compliance paperwork and financial reporting duties. Financial controllers need excellent communication, problem-solving, and quantitative skills. Most financial controllers hold related master’s degrees and professional CPA, financial accountant, or financial manager certifications. Financial controllers earn a $82,486 median annual salary, according to PayScale.
Tasked with ensuring their organizations’ financial health, financial managers create financial goals, strategies, and plans to safeguard and improve their companies’ financial success. These professionals need analytical and leadership skillsets to analyze data and market trends, direct investments, and supervise financial staff. Types of financial managers include credit or cash managers, treasurers, risk managers, and financial controllers. According to the BLS, financial managers enjoyed a mean annual salary of $127,990 in 2018. The BLS also projects 16% growth for this profession between 2018 and 2028.
Financial analysts advise public companies or private clients regarding financial investments. Financial analysts evaluate existing investments, such as stocks and bonds, and recommend new investments based on analysis of risk and market trends. These professionals may also evaluate company financial statements and management teams. Financial analysts need analytical, quantitative, and communication skills as they analyze and report to clients regarding investments and other financial information. Financial analysts earned a median annual salary of $85,660 in 2018, according to the BLS. The BLS also projects a 6% increase in financial analyst positions from 2018-2028.
Online MBA in Finance Curriculum
Online finance MBA program curricula vary by school, but most programs integrate core business management coursework with finance-related courses such as budgeting or financial planning. See below for descriptions of three sample MBA in finance courses.
Budgeting courses cover cost/benefits analysis, risk analysis, and financial data analysis. Students learn how to create operating budgets by calculating expenses, production, and revenue.
This course cultivates skills in financial analysis and planning, teaching students how to utilize financial statements and variance analysis to estimate differences between budgeted and actual expenses.
Financial compliance courses familiarize students with current compliance rules and regulations. Subtopics covered often include security, risk management, ethics, and fraud.
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How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Finance Program
Aspiring graduate students in finance may choose from many related master’s degrees, so take the time to compare available program types, curricula, and attendance structures.
Recent college graduates or inexperienced professionals interested in finance-specific careers such as investments or securities trading often opt for the master of finance, an MS degree which focuses only on finance courses and does not require prior work experience. Meanwhile, the tax-focused curriculum of the MS in taxation and accounting prepares aspiring accountants and tax professionals seeking CPA licensure.
Unlike these two narrower paths of study, the finance MBA program curriculum includes finance coursework and a focus on foundational business management skills and topics. As you decide where to apply, consider your career interests and goals carefully. Keep an eye out for MBA programs offering concentration options tailored to your desired industry, field, or position.
Finance-related master’s programs also vary in quality, so take care to apply only to accredited schools and programs. Top online MBAs in finance boast regional accreditation status. High-quality business programs usually also boast accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business or the Accreditation Council for Collegiate Business Schools and Programs.
Your schedule limitations should also factor into application decisions. New college graduates and others with flexible schedules and considerable eagerness may consider full-time or accelerated MBA programs, while busy working professionals often prove better off in part-time programs. Experienced business leaders frequently opt for part-time executive MBA programs.
Top online MBA programs usually require capstone thesis or on-site internship components, so before you apply, make sure that you can meet these in-person requirements. Also keep in mind that school name-recognition and existing partnerships between local schools and businesses can enhance networking, internship, and employment opportunities.
Scholarships for Finance MBA Programs
MBA degrees often carry high price tags, but scholarships and other financial aid can help college students defray education expenses. You may qualify for general or business-related scholarships based on identity, financial need, academic merit, or area of study. See below for a sampling of available scholarships.
Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Women pursuing business-related programs at accredited schools within Zonta districts or regions may apply. Application requirements include two recommendation letters and a 500-word statement of purpose.
Association of Women in International Trade Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Female part- or full-time students may apply if attending accredited U.S. schools and interested in international trade. Applicants submit a 1,000 word essay response to an application prompt about international trade.
Amount: $1,500 + one year WIIT membership and mentorship
Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) awards this scholarship to outstanding minority students enrolled in business-related degree programs who plan to pursue careers in governmental finance.
Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship
Who Can Apply: GFOA’s Goldberg-Miller scholarship grants $15,000 to one full-time graduate student pursuing a career in government finance.
Patsy Mink Foundation Education Support Awards
Who Can Apply: Low-income single mothers (with minor children) may apply for these scholarships while pursuing their first professional, undergraduate, or graduate degree at an accredited nonprofit school.
Professional Organizations for Finance
Financial professionals typically rely heavily on networking when advancing their careers. Many financial professionals and students utilize networking opportunities afforded by the conferences, online forums, and career centers run by professional organizations. Most professional organizations also administer certification programs and other continuing education courses that increase financial professionals’ skills, knowledge, and marketability.
Also called the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business, IMA connects financial and accounting professionals, certifies management accountants, and provides career advancement resources.
Since 1978, AAFA has connected executive search firms hiring accounting and finance professionals across North America. AAFA provides talent-identifying tools for employers and job-finding tools for financial and accounting professionals.
This multidisciplinary community boasts dozens of local chapters around the country. FSP provides publications, conferences, education, and professional development opportunities.
This professional association connects and supports financial and treasury professionals through conferences, continuing education, and other career advancement resources.
The CFP Board establishes professional standards and provides related certifications for financial planners. This board boasts diverse resources including a career center, professional toolkits, and publications.
2021’s Top Online MBA Programs in Finance
It’s important to select just the right university for your MBA program, but knowing what to look for can be tough. That’s why we’ve determined the top five online MBAs in finance for 2021. Every school on this list is accredited regionally or nationally, and some programs are also accredited through industry-specific bodies. Accreditation, a process of independent review, assures that a school offers high-quality education. The schools below may be accredited by:
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Accredited Online College Programs
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