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Best online master's in finance 2021: Top picks

If you like working with numbers and have an interest in money matters, a finance master's degree prepares you for careers across various fields.

Professionals in finance work as analysts, managers, and advisors in public and private sectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects positions in business and financial occupations to grow 8% by the year 2030, which makes an advanced degree in finance a desirable credential to hold in this economy. Whether you already work in finance or not, a finance master's will help you develop the skills and credentials to succeed in the field. 

Below, we've ranked the top online master's in finance degrees for 2021. Check out our list to find the right program for you.

The best online master's in finance degrees

ZDNet's ranking methodology takes numerous factors into consideration to help you choose the best online master's in finance. By looking at cost, convenience, curricula, and overall outcomes, our rankings provide insight into the top finance master's degrees. 

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. University of Miami

Coral Gables, Florida

About the program: UM's online master's finance degrees include a master of finance and an MBA with a corporate finance focus. Students can also earn certificates in financial decision making and corporate finance as part of their degree.

Acceptance rate: 27%

Graduation rate: 83%

Annual net price: $46,949

Time to degree: 16 months

GRE/GMAT: GRE preferred, GMAT accepted

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: The University of Miami is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

2. Georgetown University

Washington, District of Columbia

About the program: Georgetown's online master's degree in finance integrates the institution's core Jesuit ideals with comprehensive coursework in financial markets, accounting, and econometrics. As part of the program, learners complete two residency requirements. 

Acceptance rate: 14%

Graduation rate: 94%

Annual net price: $28,909

Time to degree: 21 months

GRE/GMAT: GRE or GMAT

Minimum GPA: N/A

Enrollment periods per year: One

Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: Georgetown University is regionally accredited by the Middle School Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

3. West Texas A&M University

Canyon, Texas

About the program: WTAMU's online master's degree in finance and economics allows learners to concentrate more on finance or economics or explore both topics equally.

Acceptance rate: 69%

Graduation rate: 51%

Annual net price: $12,761

Time to degree: Two years

GRE/GMAT: GMAT

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: West Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

4. Texas A&M University-Commerce

Commerce, Texas

About the program: As part of TAMUC's online finance master's degree, learners can minor in one of 11 possible areas. Students also have options to earn one of five available certificates.

Acceptance rate: 43%

Graduation rate: 55%

Annual net price: $13,017

Time to degree: Two years

GRE/GMAT: GRE or GMAT

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Synchronous

Accreditation: Texas A&M University-Commerce is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

5. University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dearborn, Michigan

About the program: Within UM-Dearborn's online master of science in finance curriculum, students have options to pursue specializations in corporate finance or investments. 

Acceptance rate: 62%

Graduation rate: 55%

Annual net price: $11,472

Time to degree: Two years

GRE/GMAT: GRE or GMAT

Minimum GPA: 2.0 

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of MIchigan-Dearborn is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

6. Creighton University

Omaha, Nebraska

About the program: Creighton's 33-credit-hour online master's degree in finance emphasizes managerial topics alongside advanced study of corporate finance and investments. Students also have an option to earn a dual MBA and master of finance degree.

Acceptance rate: 74%

Graduation rate: 76%

Annual net price: $31,400

Time to degree: Two years

GRE/GMAT: GMAT

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Creighton University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

7. University of Scranton

Scranton, Pennsylvania

About the program: In accordance with its Jesuit mission to develop the whole person, Scranton offers an online master's degree in finance that includes eight core classes and two elective courses. 

Acceptance rate: 76%

Graduation rate: 77%

Annual net price: $33,374

Time to degree: One to two years

GRE/GMAT: GRE or GMAT

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of Scranton is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

8. University of Massachusetts Lowell

Lowell, Massachusetts

About the program: UM Lowell's online finance master's degree emphasizes advanced understanding of the role and function of financial markets in corporate and global environments. 

Acceptance rate: 73%

Graduation rate: 57%

Annual net price: $19,119

Time to degree: 18 months

GRE/GMAT: GMAT

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Four

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of Massachusetts Lowell is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). 

9. Saint Joseph's University

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

About the program: As part of SJU's online finance master's degree, students can specialize in financial analysis, real estate finance, or financial planning.

Acceptance rate: 75%

Graduation rate: 78%

Annual net price: $33,375

Time to degree: One to two years

GRE/GMAT: GRE or GMAT

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Saint Joseph's University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

10. University of Houston-Clear Lake

Houston, Texas

About the program: Within UHCL's comprehensive master's degree in finance, learners have opportunities to complete elective coursework in topics such as portfolio management and real estate investment analysis.

Acceptance rate: 74%

Graduation rate: 70%

Annual net price: $10,612

Time to degree: 18 months

GRE/GMAT: GMAT

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: The University of Houston-Clear Lake is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). 

11. Webster University

Saint Louis, Missouri

About the program: Webster offers an online master of science in finance degree alongside a dual MBA and master's in finance option. 

Acceptance rate: 57%

Graduation rate: 64%

Annual net price: $22,768

Time to degree: Two years

GRE/GMAT: N/A

Minimum GPA: 2.5

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation:

Webster University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

12. Colorado State University

Aurora, Colorado

About the program: As part of CSU-Global Campus's online master's degree in finance, students complete 12 credit hours of coursework in one of 17 available specialization areas. 

Acceptance rate: 99%

Graduation rate: Not publicly available

Annual net price: $9,000

Time to degree: One to two years

GRE/GMAT: GRE or GMAT

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Colorado State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

13. Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

About the program: SNHU offers an online master of science in accounting finance and an online master of science in finance. Within the latter, students can specialize in corporate finance or investments and securities.

Acceptance rate: 88%

Graduation rate: 47%

Annual net price: $41,095

Time to degree: One to two years

GRE/GMAT: N/A

Minimum GPA: 2.75

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Southern New Hampshire University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). 

14. Bellevue University

Bellevue, Nebraska

About the program: Within BU's online master's degree in strategic finance, students choose to specialize in one of 20 concentration areas. Options include interdisciplinary business, human capital management, and healthcare.

Acceptance rate: Not publicly available

Graduation rate: 46%

Annual net price: $15,616

Time to degree: One to two years

GRE/GMAT: N/A

Minimum GPA: 1.5

Enrollment periods per year: Rolling

Course delivery method: Asynchronous

Accreditation: Bellevue University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). 

15. SUNY Empire State College

Saratoga Springs, New York

About the program: ESC's 36-credit-hour online finance master's degree focuses on international perspectives and ethical standards of finance. Students can specialize in corporate finance or international finance.

Acceptance rate: Not publicly available

Graduation rate: 44%

Annual net price: $12,142

Time to degree: One to four years

GRE/GMAT: N/A

Minimum GPA: Not publicly available

Enrollment periods per year: Three

Course delivery method: Asynchronous 

Accreditation: SUNY Empire State College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). 

Insights from a finance master's graduate

Johnny medina, a man with dark hair, smiles at the camera.

Johnny Medina earned a master of science in finance from John Hopkins University. He is co-founder and CEO of Nabla Financial. Nabla tackles wealth inequality through proper financial planning, investments, and guidance by making it accessible and affordable to all. Johnny hopes Nabla can carve the path for many individuals in a financial aspect. He also has over five years of finance experience, starting from his time as a Research Analyst Fellow in the Bureau of the Census. He is a proud member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. 

ZDNet: In what cases is a finance master's program worth it to pursue? In what cases might it not be worthwhile? 

Johnny Medina: When completing an undergraduate degree in finance, you typically get an overview of what finance is. However, with a master's degree, you learn a lot more about the subsectors of finance. There's much more to finance than meets the eye. For example, wealth management focuses on combining behavior with finance, and asset management focuses more on statistics. 

A master's in finance might not be something to pursue if you completed an undergraduate degree in finance, and you're now working for a company where you can easily see a growth path for yourself. You may be able to get to where you want to go without a master's degree in finance.

ZDNet: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your master's in finance program that you may not have gotten otherwise?

JM: Finance fundamentals always remain the same, but the methods and channels that finance is used for are constantly changing. My master's in finance program taught me how to take my fundamental finance knowledge and use it in a proactive way. As technology continues to drive the world, finance is no exception, and it was essential to learn how both worlds merge. 

I like to think that my master's program upgraded my fundamental finance knowledge to the next level. Then, I got to refine the sub-sector of finance that I wanted to pursue. 

ZDNet: What was the most challenging, rigorous course you took in your finance master's program? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

JM: I would definitely say the most challenging course was behavioral finance. Humans are constantly evolving and unpredictable, which is the opposite of finance, where everything can be quantified. 

For anyone taking this course in the future, I would say don't underestimate the difficulty of a course with an easy name. You'll be surprised how much you don't know. The professors in Behavioral Finance have also conducted multiple research projects and are great resources when you catch yourself struggling. 

What to expect in an online master's in finance degree program

An online master's degree in finance trains students to be competitive in any financial field through coursework in economics, accounting, and investments.

Elective classes give students the opportunity to focus on an aspect of finance, like international finance, corporate finance, and finance for nonprofit management. Research coursework teaches learners to collect, assess, and interpret financial data.

During a master's in finance program, students work independently and as part of a team. Learners complete projects and presentations to help them apply classroom knowledge to real-world scenarios. 

Finance courses

While finance master's programs vary in specific course offerings, there are common classes offered across curriculums. A master's degree in finance includes foundational coursework in economics, financial reporting, quantitative research, and financial accounting.

Financial economics

Coursework in financial economics introduces students to the functions and structure of financial systems. Learners develop understanding of financial mathematics, financial instruments, and financial documentation while building skills to solve value problems, explain stock and bond markets, and identify financial trends. 

Financial reporting and analysis 

Classes in financial reporting and analysis integrate accounting, finance, and economic fundamentals to develop financial decision-making skills. Students learn about different types of financial documentation alongside tools and techniques to make decisions based on the information they contain. Specific topics include asset valuation, income determination, and financial forecasting.

Quantitative methods in finance

Quantitative methods classes emphasize statistical methods and models used to make financial decisions. Students explore topics like probability theory and distributions, hypothesis testing, and how to calculate the time value of money as they learn how to use computer software common to the field of finance. 

Financial accounting

Students learn to prepare and assess financial activities by exploring the fundamentals of accounting and developing skills to apply accounting concepts and practices to finance. Topics include transaction recording, cash flow and valuation, and managing credit risk. 

Finance degree levels

Depending on your educational background, professional experience, and career goals, there are several finance degree options. Undergraduate degrees in finance include two to four years of coursework and prepare students for entry-level careers in the field. Finance master's degrees and doctoral programs help professionals advance to leadership and executive roles.

Associate in finance

  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $8,000-$20,000
  • Post-grad careers: Bookkeeper, accounting clerk, finance associate

An associate degree in finance includes two years of introductory coursework in accounting, economics, and financial practices. Coursework includes fundamentals of financial planning, personal finance, and the stock market and investments. 

By applying financial theory to real-world scenarios, students gain practical skills to pursue entry-level careers in finance. A finance associate degree also equips learners to continue onto a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field. 

Bachelor's in finance

  • Length: Four years
  • Cost: $14,000-$100,000
  • Post-grad careers: Financial advisor, auditor, commercial banker 

A bachelor's degree in finance provides learners with essential knowledge and skills in accounting, statistics, and economics. With an emphasis on business, finance bachelor's degrees often integrate coursework in management, corporate finance, and financial markets. Coursework blends independent learning with group projects and cooperative learning activities. As part of a bachelor's degree in finance, learners often have opportunities to complete an internship. 

Some institutions offer bachelor of science and bachelor of arts finance degrees. A bachelor of science in finance focuses on technological and statistical aspects of the field to prepare students to enter the workforce. A bachelor of arts in finance provides a more comprehensive curriculum, ideal for students who want to pursue a career in finance or continue onto graduate study. 

Master's in finance

  • Length: Two years
  • Cost: $18,000-$90,000
  • Post-grad careers: Financial planner, venture capitalist, financial analyst

Finance master's degrees hone existing knowledge and skills to prepare students for leadership roles in the field. A master's degree in finance includes classes in financial economics, modeling, and assessment alongside coursework in quantitative methods and analysis. 

When exploring options for a finance master's degree, students may opt to pursue an MBA with a concentration in finance. As one of many MBA concentration options, learners who focus in finance compute comprehensive business coursework with specialized courses in topics such as corporate finance, international banking, and investment management.

Doctorate in finance

  • Length: 3 to 5 years
  • Cost: $30,000-$95,000
  • Post-grad careers: Chief financial officer, finance professor, investment researcher

A doctorate in finance emphasizes theoretical aspects of finance while training students in advanced financial research and assessment. Learners explore topics such as macro- and microeconomics, asset pricing and portfolio management, and financial markets and institutions through didactic coursework.

Students complete an assessment examination, followed by an advanced research project and the completion of a dissertation. By looking closely at an issue or problem within the world of finance, learners apply theoretical modeling and empirical testing to the world of finance. 

In conclusion

No two finance degrees are exactly alike. If earning a degree in finance sounds right for you, take a look at the programs ranked on this page to help you decide. We've provided comprehensive assessments of the top online master's programs to help you take the next step in earning your finance degree.