Prospective students can use the following rankings to find top online MBA programs in financial planning. This page also discusses further details about financial planning MBA programs, including curricula, careers, scholarships, and professional organizations.
What Is an MBA in Financial Planning?
An online master's in financial planning prepares learners to understand the intricacies of the global financial markets so they can form financial plans for their future employers. They may learn about currency exchange, domestic and foreign securities, and financial management. The degree also readies students for financial reporting, budgeting, and dealing with regulatory issues.
With a focus on critical thinking as applied to financial decision-making, many programs prepare students to take the certified financial planner (CFP) exam, an industry standard that represents excellent and deep knowledge of the field.
What Can You Do With an MBA in Financial Planning?
Often employed by large firms, financial planners assist individual clients on a long-term basis, advising them on personal financial matters including investments, retirement, estate planning, and tax matters. They must communicate effectively with clients, boiling down complex issues into understandable language. According to PayScale, financial planners earn an average wage of $63,000, while the BLS projects an uptick in demand for personal financial advisors of approximately 7% between 2018 and 2028.
Financial analysts make specific investment recommendations to corporate or individual clients. They may focus on portfolio management, fund management, or risk analysis. As of May 2018, the BLS reports annual average earnings of $85,660 and projects 6% job growth from 2018-2028 for financial analysts, at a pace with the national average.
Typically employed by financial institutions, trust officers work directly with individual clients to help manage their trusts. They may prepare trust funds for clients and help them to develop investment strategies, oversee their organization's regulatory compliance, and coordinate necessary paperwork. PayScale reports that trust officers earn an annual average wage of around $69,000.
Financial controllers oversee the financial operations of organizations. Their duties include managing and coordinating between departments such as accounting, budgeting, purchasing, and auditing. They prepare budget updates and other reports for executive management, and ensure regulatory compliance. PayScale reports average annual earnings of around $83,000 for controllers.
Financial managers handle overall financial operations for their organizations, ensuring good investment choices and analyzing data to help them develop strategies for long-term growth. They track and report the financial health of organizations, oversee budgets, and study markets for investment opportunities. The BLS reports that financial managers earned an annual median wage of $127,990 as of May 2018, and projects a 16% growth in demand for financial managers from 2018-2028 -- far faster than the national average for all occupations.
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Online MBA in Financial Planning Curriculum
By pursuing a top online MBA in financial planning, students receive a strong foundational education in business administration and financial planning. Because curricula vary by school, prospective students should check with their schools of interest to discover what they may offer.
Investment Theory and Portfolio Management
Coursework in emerging business technologies focuses on principles, theories, and processes of technology design and development. Students explore technological innovation, technological trajectories, and cycles of technology as they apply in business settings.
Tax Theory and Business Decisions
This course provides a foundational overview of business structure as it relates to taxation. Topics include tax policy, operational strategies, and taxation responsibilities for financial managers.
Theory and Practice of Financial Reporting
A critical skill set for financial planners, financial reporting requires knowledge of balance sheets, cash flow statements, and income statements. This course covers cash flow analysis, credit risk assessment, receivables and inventory, and financial reporting for owners' equity.
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How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Financial Planning
Learners should consider a variety of factors when selecting a program, including accreditation, program focus, structure, cost, and extracurricular requirements.
Accreditation holds schools and programs to a set of officially approved standards. Regional and national accreditation analyze the school as a whole. Students pursuing an online MBA should also verify programmatic accreditation from an organization such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Program focus varies among top online MBA programs in financial planning. Some programs focus more on personal finance, emphasizing estate and retirement planning. Others focus on corporate finance. Students seeking careers in financial planning should research each program carefully to ensure the curriculum aligns with their career goals.
Prospective students should also consider program structure, including location and cost. Some schools allow full- or part-time study, while others offer only one format. Some schools allow distance learners to pay in-state or otherwise reduced tuition regardless of state residency, while others charge higher rates for nonresidents. Consider any in-person MBA requirements, too, as distant locations involve increased travel costs.
Finally, students should seek programs with corresponding experiential components aligned to their career goals. Some schools require internships, capstones, or a final thesis, which could offer opportunities to gain relevant experience. A top online MBA curriculum may also include experiences such as trips to financial hubs like Chicago or New York.
Scholarships for Financial Planning MBA Programs
Aspiring financial planners can find a variety of scholarships, fellowships, and grant opportunities to help fund their studies in a top online MBA program. Many local organizations, state offices, and professional associations offer scholarships and grants. The list below offers details on a few scholarships available to MBA students.
Who Can Apply: Students attending an accredited MBA program who maintain a 3.25 minimum GPA may apply for this scholarship. Candidates must submit a 1,000-word essay, a high school transcript, and a list of extracurricular activities.
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Who Can Apply: Student members of the Institute of Management Accountants can apply for this merit-based scholarship designed for those planning careers in accounting, management, and finance.
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Who Can Apply: Outstanding scholars enrolled in an accredited master's program for accounting or finance may apply to AFWA's finance and accounting scholarship. Membership is not required, though chapter recommendations may boost applications.
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Who Can Apply: Students working toward a business degree who hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and AfterCollege membership can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must submit a 200-word personal statement and a list of hard and soft skills.
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Who Can Apply: The Government Finance Officers Association awards this scholarship to a graduate business student with demonstrated intent to pursue a career in state or local government finance. Candidates must submit academic records and letters of recommendation.
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Professional Organizations for Financial Planning
Students and graduates can boost their careers through membership in professional organizations. Professional organizations can inspire students to better serve their fields and help set them up for career success. Member benefits typically include online networking, local chapter membership, annual conferences, and other opportunities for professional development.
Serving a membership of commission-free personal financial advisors, NAPFA offers a wealth of professional development opportunities. Member benefits include industry news, professional discounts, and an active online community.
AFP supports financial professionals and treasurers through two prestigious professional credentials. Additional membership benefits include live and recorded training sessions, virtual roundtables, in-person events for networking, and career tools.
Designed for certified financial professionals and students who plan to seek certification, FPA advocates for the highest standards in the business. The association supports its members through a robust online community, 86 local chapters, and certified continuing education webinars.
Dedicated to supporting insurance experts and financial advisors across industries, NAIFA represents its members through legislative advocacy. Member benefits include monthly meetings, a consumer directory, a virtual library, and leadership opportunities.
With a membership that includes accountants, CPAs, insurance experts, and financial advisors across a variety of expertise, FSP offers regular publications, local chapters, and ongoing continuing education.
How We Rank Online MBA Programs
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Top Financial Planning Online MBA Programs
A Jesuit university in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton offers an online MBA in financial planning that students can customize to meet their career goals. Aimed at working professionals, the 33-credit program adjusts to meet distance learners' needs. Those just getting started enjoy a well-rounded business education, while more experienced professionals can choose a more advanced path. Students are able to complete the degree in under two years.
Creighton's curriculum features core courses in leadership, business policy, and ethics. It also includes courses in managerial finance, financial reporting, and economic analysis. The finance concentration adds nine credits of specialized material. Degree candidates can add additional certificates and even another major to their program. Certificates include complementary areas such as financial planning, financial psychology, and business analytics.
Creighton graduates boast a salary 20% higher than the median of the average MBA graduate. The university's business programs carry accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
More than 90% of students in Marist's online MBA program complete their master's in financial planning while continuing to work. The Poughkeepsie, New York, college's convenient online format features scheduling flexibility. Marist set up the 36-credit degree program for part-time study and all courses run asynchronously.
The AACSB-accredited curriculum provides online learners with a comprehensive overview of business and management. Marist prides itself on the breadth of its program, and students explore management, economics, marketing, accounting, and operations in the core.
The financial concentration grounds MBA candidates in the three pillars of finance. They learn how to successfully manage and value companies, gaining insights into investments, financial planning, financial analysis, and markets.
Marist requires the GRE/GMAT for those students without an advanced degree. Applicants must submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, and a resume.
Center Valley, PA
Set in Pennsylvania's Central Valley, DeSales offers an MBA influenced by the school's Catholic heritage. The university's online MBA in financial planning boasts accreditation from the prestigious Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The 39-credit curriculum emphasizes development of executive skills, management ability, and business ethics.
The course of study combines traditional MBA coursework in accounting, marketing, communication, and leadership with a deep dive into finance. The capstone in policy and strategy allows distance learners to practice the theoretical concepts they studied in class. Graduates leave the program with the qualifications needed to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Examination.
The university uses rolling admissions, and the program features several annual start dates. The only applicants who need to submit GMAT scores are those with an undergraduate GPA of less than 3.0. DeSales welcomes candidates no matter the field of their bachelor's degree.
Rutgers' virtual campus hosts an online MBA in investments and portfolio management that prepares learners for successful MBA careers. The program runs asynchronously, and distance learners can complete all components while maintaining full-time employment. The average attendee brings more than 10 years of experience to class, making for unique networking opportunities.
The university's focused learning module in investments and private wealth management involves four classes in financial planning. Students learn about securities, capital building, risk, markets, portfolio management, and even new innovations in investing, like Bitcoin and Etherium. The module also covers topics such as insurance, law, and estate planning.
This top MBA program stresses leadership, decision-making, and critical thinking. A global learning opportunity gives degree candidates the chance to solve real-world business problems in an international setting. Applicants must submit previous college transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and GMAT/GRE scores.
The largest school in the Florida State University System, FSU offers a financial planning degree as part of its online MBA in risk management. The curriculum takes just seven semesters to complete. The Tallahassee institution designed the AACSB-accredited program for those currently working in business, but opens the program to learners from all backgrounds.
The 39-credit degree revolves around a core of nine classes that lean heavily toward management. Through these courses, students develop skills in IT, communication, problem-solving, creative thinking, and leadership.
The financial planning specialization requires completion of four additional courses. Degree candidates can use the risk management framework for their concentration or pick any four classes in finance to design their own plan.
FSU does not require an undergraduate degree in business, but expects applicants to have familiarity with calculus, statistics, management, economics, and accounting. In surveys of recent graduates, 90% said they would recommend the FSU program to a friend. Distance learners pay the same tuition rate as Florida residents.
The corporate world serves as the focus of UIU's online MBA in financial planning. Students learn how financial strategies and risk affect a company's bottom line. On the small private university's digital campus, learners build a foundation in investments, portfolios, and financial management. All learning takes place across the web, with no trips to Fayette, Iowa, necessary.
UIU's 36-credit corporate financial management curriculum opens with work in the traditional disciplines of an MBA, including accounting, marketing, economics, and leadership. In asynchronous classes, distance learners work through coursework in management, discovering how to assess business practices against theories and models. Degree candidates must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0.
Full-time students can complete the program within two years or less. Classes run in five accelerated eight-week sessions, as well as one six-week summer term. UIU accepts as many as 12 transfer credits toward the degree.
A small private business school, Cleary offers a top online MBA rooted in more than a century of business education. The university established its financial planning program to create effective managers and prepare students for the CFP exam.
The curriculum consists of 11 largely asynchronous classes. Program participants get a thorough education in such topics as estate planning, taxation, investments, risk management, employee benefits, and insurance. The culminating capstone tests degree candidates with real-world financial planning cases.
Cleary employs an innovative cohort-based model, giving students the kind of team structure many of today's businesses use. This provides both a supportive environment and an opportunity for networking. The university keeps classes small, creating more interaction between professors and peers.
Cleary's simplified admissions process does not require GMAT or GRE scores. Students must submit their resume and transcripts. Graduate school applicants must hold a GPA of 2.5 or better.
UB designed its online MBAaround six themes. Students explore managing innovation and strategy, managing the value chain, interfacing with stakeholders, managing performance and risk, leveraging technology and business intelligence, and leading people. Every class addresses one or more of these themes.
The university promotes the flexibility of its AACSB-accredited MBA. Degree candidates can work entirely from home or take some classes on campus. They can select from a specialization or create their own using electives.
Students can even customize the 36-credit managing financial performance concentration, focusing on corporate finance, investment management, or financial institutions. Electives allow participants to pick and choose between classes in assurance, financial reporting, risk management, and forensic accounting. Those with a business background may receive a waiver for the 12 foundational MBA credits.
Six start dates allow distance learners to begin at their convenience. UB considers the GMAT/GRE optional.
Dakota Wesleyan University
DWU established its online MBA to prepare graduates for careers in financial planning in the North-Central region. Thus, the Methodist institution emphasizes the business skills and acumen needed to run small, non-publicly traded businesses.
DWU's MBA in financial planning focuses on trust management. Available entirely online, the 36-credit program equips students with the tools to help corporate and individual clients manage their wealth. Program participants learn the best business leadership techniques and acquire a firm understanding of general finance and trust law.
Accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE), the program uses an asynchronous format. Students without an undergraduate degree in business may need to take some additional classes through Peregrine Academic Services.
DWU requires official transcripts, a resume, and an essay. Applicants must hold a 2.75 GPA or better. The university does not request standardized test scores.
A small private university in Boca Raton, Florida, Lynn offers graduate students the opportunity to fulfill MBA requirements in a single year. Using asynchronous classes, the school's online MBA allows distance learners to work full time while learning the leadership skills that can advance their careers.
The 37-credit program boasts an array of unique specializations, including a concentration in financial valuation and investment management. In small virtual classes, aspiring financial planners discover how to measure risk, assess value, and optimize a portfolio using discounted cash flow and equity valuation models.
Highlights of the program include coursework in leadership, communication, mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, forecasting, and financial analysis. Lynn's business degrees carry accreditation from the IACBE.
Lynn does not require the GRE or GMAT. The university takes a holistic look at each applicant's resume, letter of recommendation, and undergraduate record. Candidates should hold a 2.5 GPA or higher.