Master’s Degree in Finance

A Master’s Degree in Finance enables students to develop skills required in high-ranking jobs in investment banking, corporate finance and private wealth management. Students enrolled in these programs would have to complete coursework in a wide variety of areas in finance, such as statistics, business leadership and financial reporting. Most Master’s Degrees in Finance would also require the completion of a capstone project. If you want to learn more about a Master’s Degree in Finance and what opportunities you can avail with it, the following guide will provide you with all the information you need.

Opportunities with a Master’s Degree in Finance

The financial services industry is a vast and widespread field with countless opportunities for jobs and growth. Graduates of a Master’s in Finance can find careers that require management and monitoring of money. In addition to that, finance professionals have a strong understanding of the money markets, and end up developing good communication skills to be able to serve their clients comprehensively. This opens up many opportunities in the diverse business field. Students may be able to find work as accountants, budget analysts, financial analysts or market research analysts, among other opportunities.

How long does it take to earn a Master’s Degree in Finance?

A Master’s Degree in Finance would typically take around 2 years to complete with a full-time study schedule. However, there are universities that offer accelerated options that can be completed in 1-1.5 years as well. Students who take summer classes might also be able to finish the degree sooner than 2 years.

On the other hand, many universities also offer part-time and online programs for the convenience of students who are enrolled while also employed. Part-time programs typically take longer than 2 years, while online programs can be completed with a standard 2-year timeline.

How much does a Master’s Degree in Finance cost?

The total cost of a Master’s Degree in Finance would vary based on certain factors, such as the format of the degree, residential facilities and options for financial aid or student loan. The per-credit cost of an online finance degree is estimated to be between $450 and $1,140, as per data from US News. Students can expect to pay a total tuition cost of $14,000 to $41,000. There are some master’s degrees that might even be as expensive as $100,000 in total tuition.

Even though the cost of a Master’s Degree in Finance is significantly higher than that of a bachelor’s degree, it must be noted that the earning potential of the former is also far greater than that of the latter. The median earnings for a bachelor’s degree holder working a full-time job was $66,536 in 2019, as per statistics from the US Census Bureau. On the other hand, those with a master’s degree made median earnings of $81,636 in 2019.

Should I get a Master’s Degree in Finance?

If you have strong problem solving skills and have a strong interest in mathematics and statistics, a high-ranking career in finance might be the right fit for you. A Master’s Degree in Finance can give you a major advantage in the search for a career in finance, as it prepares you to take on advanced and more complex roles. This degree would help students explore career-driven courses in corporate finance, risk governance, asset allocation and foundations of banking among others. Thanks to this wide base of skills, graduates of a Master’s in Finance program can expect to remain in demand for a long time to come. The world is in a constant need for finance professionals to resolve complex money matters in different business fields. In addition to that, the average salary and expected growth for finance careers is also high, as per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What should I expect from a Master’s Degree in Finance?

A Master’s Degree in Finance would typically be at least 30 credits long and students can expect to complete it in 1.5-2 years, depending on the structure of the program. Courses studied during this program would include those in Financial Reporting and Analysis, Corporate Finance, Business Communication, Investment Analysis, Business Taxation, Econometrics, Asset Management, Statistical Analysis and so on. In addition to core courses, students will also be expected to take a certain number of elective courses. The exact coursework requirements would vary based on the concentration chosen. For instance, students can go for a concentration in Computational Finance and Trading Systems, Derivatives, Computation and Programming etc. Please note that nearly all Master’s Degrees in Finance would require the completion of a capstone project or final year thesis, along with a mandatory internship in the finance sector.

How to choose a Master’s Degree in Finance?

When looking for the ideal Master’s Degree in Finance, students are advised to consider certain important factors.

  • Structure of the Program:  One of the first things to consider is the structure of the program – whether it is online or on-campus. Most higher education institutes would allow applicants to work at a pace that is ideal for them, as long as they meet the minimum criteria. However, certain colleges would require students to work along a predetermined schedule and graduate at the same time as their peers.
  • Career Goals: Another matter to take into account while choosing a Master’s Degree in Finance is the long-term career plans of the student. For this, applicants will need to figure out whether a particular degree plan supports their individual career goals or not. They will have to look at the concentration options, coursework and resources available.
  • Financial Aid and Cost: The cost of a degree is one of the most important concerns for most people when choosing a program. According to the College Board, 74% of master’s degree students have significant student loans when they graduate. Therefore, costs must be considered before enrolling in a program.
  • Accreditation for a Master’s Degree in Finance: Students ought to choose master’s programs that are nationally or regionally accredited by credible organizations. Colleges that have national accreditation from organizations registered with the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education should be considered. Master’s programs in finance may also be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

How to get into a Master’s Degree in Finance?

In order to enroll in a Master’s Degree in Finance, students will have to fulfill certain eligibility criteria.

  • Minimum GPA:  Most universities would require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
  • Prerequisite Courses: Before enrolling in a Master’s Degree in Finance, students ought to have completed coursework in applied business statistics, introduction to finance theory and business finance.
  • Work Experience Requirements: Some programs might require students to complete a few years of work experience before enrolling in a Master’s Degree in Finance. Students who have relevant work experience might also be able to earn some transfer credits.

In addition to the above eligibility criteria, applicants in a Master’s Degree in Finance would have to provide certain documents, such as standardized test scores, recommendation letters and a personal statement.

What can you do with a Master’s Degree in Finance?

Once you have completed a Master’s Degree in Finance, there are several popular career paths you can take. Let’s take a look at some of these careers:

  • Accountants:  Accountants are trained professionals who create and review the financial records of a business. They are also responsible for monitoring the financial health of a company. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accountants made an annual median income of $73,560 in 2020.
  • Budget Analysts: These professionals are responsible for the creation of budgets, review of budget proposals and counseling of top-level executives regarding budget plans. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Budget Analysts made an annual median income of $78,870 in 2020.
  • Financial Analysts: These professionals analyze the markets and suggest stock and bond options to investors, based on their learnings. Financial Analysts also determine a company’s value as per its financial statements and tax returns. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median wage for Financial Analysts in 2020 was $83,660.

How much money can I make with a Master’s Degree in Finance?

The amount of money you make with a Master’s Degree in Finance would depend on your chosen career path, as discussed in the section above. In general terms, finance and business occupations paid an annual median wage of $72,250 in 2020, which was much higher than the average for all occupations of $41,950.

License and Certifications

License and certifications are required in certain occupations in finance. For instance, in order to become a Certified Financial Assistant (CFA), students will have to complete the relevant certification. Financial Analyst positions that require the sale of financial products can only be taken up by professionals licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Similarly, Personal Finance Advisors also require a combination of licenses according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.