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Finance Master’s Degrees: Best Programs, Jobs, and Salaries

María Elena González - November 03, 2021


Getting a Master’s Degree in Finance is one of the best ways to achieve your career goals . A finance degree will allow you to pursue a variety of positions within a wide range of industries. Throughout this article you’ll learn about some of the best master’s degree programs for finance majors, as well as some of the top-paying jobs you’ll qualify for.

What Is Finance?

Finance is a discipline that consists of administering and managing activities related to banking, credit, capital markets, debt, financial management, and other transactions. Finance specialists reduce the risks associated with commercial transactions by studying the company’s current economic status and the market.

What Is a Finance Master’s Degree?

A Master’s Degree in Finance is an advanced college degree that prepares you for careers like financial accounting, investment management, financial management, corporate finance, risk management, financial modeling, and capital markets. This graduate degree takes two years to complete.

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Finance Master’s Degree Requirements

To be admitted to a master’s degree program in finance, you need to have an undergraduate degree in finance or a related field such as math, data science, or economics. Additionally, you must go through the school’s admission process. This usually involves an online application, an interview, letters of recommendation, and an assessment of your skills.

How Much Does a Finance Master’s Degree Cost?

According to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), the average tuition cost for a master’s degree is $19,792 , although it will vary depending on the school. The NCES uses data from all types of institutions, including public, non-profit, and private colleges.

Finance Master’s Degree Financing Options: How to Pay for Your Finance Degree

You can pay for your master’s degree with scholarships, student loans, grants, the GI Bill, payment plans, and upfront payments. Each institution will have its own set of available payment options, so it is important to consult with your school of choice.

Best Finance Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Columbia University Master of Science in Financial Economics Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Harvard University Master of Liberal Arts in Finance New England Commission of Higher Education
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Master of Finance New England Commission of Higher Education
Northwestern University Master of Business Administration in Finance Higher Learning Commission
Stanford University Master of Mathematical and Computational Finance Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges
University of California, Berkeley Master of Financial Engineering Western Association of Schools and Colleges
University of California, Los Angeles Master of Financial Engineering WASC Senior College and University Commission
University of Chicago Booth Master of Business Administration in Finance Higher Learning Commission
University of Michigan Master of Business Administration, Finance Track Higher Learning Commission
University of Pennsylvania Master of Business Administration in Finance AACSB – the International Association for Management Education

Best Colleges for Finance: Top Finance Master’s Degree Programs

Listed below are detailed descriptions of some of the best finance master’s degree programs of 2021. In addition to being some of the top institutions for finance, they each provide flexible learning options and offer benefits that are unique to the school culture.

Master of Science in Financial Economics | Columbia University

Columbia University is a private institution located in Manhattan. Columbia University offers a master’s degree that provides insight into finance science. It covers the theory and technical skills needed to succeed in the finance sector. This program is held on campus and is STEM eligible.

Master of Liberal Arts in Finance | Harvard University

Harvard University is a prestigious private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts that was founded in 1636. Its finance master’s degree covers fundamental and advanced finance topics like corporate finance, financial statement analysis, principles of finance, and business valuations.

Master of Finance | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The MIT Sloan School of Management is one of the most known business schools in the world. It offers graduate degree programs in finance, business analytics, and other related fields. This school’s program is focused on teaching core elements of finance such as financial markets, financial engineering, and data science.

Master of Business Administration in Finance | Northwestern University

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is known for its master’s degrees in tech, finance, and healthcare. This finance program provides real-world practice in up-to-date topics like investment banking, private equity, and corporate finance.

Master of Mathematical and Computational Finance | Stanford University

The engineering school at Stanford provides a master’s degree program in mathematical and computational finance, which was developed for students pursuing a career in finance as data scientists, risk managers, or financial technologists. This program combines both finance and technology.

Master of Financial Engineering | University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley is extremely reputable and known for being partnered with several renowned research institutes such as the Space Sciences Laboratory. This school offers an in-depth master’s degree program in financial engineering. This program is a combination of financial theory and computational methods.

Master of Financial Engineering | University of California, Los Angeles

The University of California, Los Angeles has one of the most reputable management schools in the region. The Anderson Management school focuses on graduate programs with a concentration in business. This school offers a finance program that combines qualitative and quantitative finance skills to help you succeed in today’s financial markets.

Master of Business Administration in Finance | University of Chicago Booth

The University of Chicago’s finance program is customizable, which means you can choose a concentration in financial instruments, portfolio management, or financial markets and institutions. The full-time program provides students with internship opportunities to gain real-world experience.

Master of Business Administration, Finance Track | University of Michigan

The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business offers both MBA and PhD programs in finance. This particular degree in finance will teach students about corporate strategies, operations management, financial reporting, and other fundamental analytical skills used in advanced finance.

Master of Business Administration in Finance | University of Pennsylvania

This school offers a master’s degree program where you can specialize in economic theory, quantitative methods, or statistics. The program also emphasizes the importance of analytical skills and persuasive speaking skills.

Best Online Finance Master’s Degree Programs and Schools: Overview

School Program Accreditation
Auburn University Master of Science in Finance Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Boston University Master of Science in Financial Management New England Commission of Higher Education
Creighton University Master of Finance Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Georgetown University Master of Science in Finance Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Indiana University Master of Science in Finance AACSB International
Pennsylvania State University World Campus Master of Finance Middle States Commission on Higher Education
University of Massachusetts-Lowell Master of Science in Finance New England Commission of Higher Education
University of Miami Master of Science in Finance Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
University of Missouri Master of Science in Finance Higher Learning Commission
Washington University in St. Louis Master of Science in Finance Higher Learning Commission

Best Colleges for Finance: Top Online Finance Master’s Degree Programs

Online master’s degree programs are ideal for anyone wanting to advance their education with flexibility and convenience. In the following list, you will see some of the best online finance master’s degrees.

Master of Science in Finance | Auburn University

Auburn University is a public institution located in Alabama and is known for its business management and marketing programs. This master’s degree program is offered entirely online without compromising on quality. It covers the most relevant finance topics, such as corporate financing, investments, and market analysis.

Master of Science in Financial Management | Boston University

Boston University is a private institution that offers an online master’s degree program for finance majors, which consists of 10 courses. Students will learn about quantitative methods for finance, corporate finance, ethics, and financial markets.

Master of Finance | Creighton University

Creighton University is a private Catholic university located in Omaha, Nebraska, and is most known for its business management, healthcare, and marketing programs. This school offers a finance program that requires online and in-person classes. Graduate students study topics such as investment management, equity analysis, managerial finance, fixed income, and derivatives.

Master of Science in Finance | Georgetown University

Georgetown University’s online master’s program is designed to help students discover their potential in the finance industry. It covers financial risk management, cutting-edge derivative methods, big data analysis, and financial modeling.

Master of Science in Finance | Indiana University

Indiana University was ranked number two in US News’ Best Online Business Schools Offering Finance report. Its Master’s Degree in Finance program will cover financial management, risk management, economics, and capital markets.

Master of Finance | Pennsylvania State University World Campus

Pennsylvania State University offers a master’s of finance degree to help you prepare for highly reputable professional certifications in the financial industry, such as the Certified Financial Planning (CFP) and the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certifications. This program covers relevant finance topics like business statistics, cost of capital, and valuation.

Master of Science in Finance | University of Massachusetts-Lowell

This school’s master’s in finance degree program lasts around 18 months and is offered completely online. It covers topics like financial derivatives, fixed income security, and accounting information management.

Master of Science in Finance | University of Miami

The University of Miami is a private institution and research center that was founded in 1925. It offers a Master of Science in Finance degree program that typically lasts 16 months, but allows flexible schedule options. Through this program, you will earn the Certificate in Corporate Finance and the Certificate in Financial Decision Making.

Master of Science in Finance | University of Missouri

The University of Missouri is also mentioned in the US News’ Best Online Business Schools Offering Finance report, ranking as number 34. This school offers a finance program that covers fixed income, financial modeling, derivatives security, and data analysis .

Master of Science in Finance | Washington University in St. Louis

This school has a prestigious finance faculty that offers an online Master’s Degree in Finance. In this program, you will learn about data analysis and financial fundamentals.

What’s the Average Finance Master’s Degree Salary?

A computer displaying a chart and statistics. Finance Master's Degrees
With a Master’s Degree in Finance you can specialize in a particular concentration such as financial management, corporate finance, or banking.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a financial manager is $134,180. You can obtain other positions with a graduate degree in finance, such as a financial analyst or accountant.

Top Finance Master’s Degree Jobs and Salaries: Overview

Finance Master’s Degree Jobs Average Salary
Stockbroker $136,264
Financial Manager $134,180
Actuary $111,030
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) $107,680
Financial Controller $90,368
Financial Advisor $89,330
Financial Analyst $83,660
Financial Examiner $81,430
Investor Relations Associate $73,273
Corporate Investment Banker $64,770

Best Finance Master’s Degree Jobs Explained

Stockbroker

Stockbrokers work in organizations that deal with market analysis, stock trading, and investments. They’re responsible for giving financial advice on the trading activities of securities, and in other cases, they’re in charge of managing the investments.

Financial Manager

Financial managers are in charge of developing new strategies to meet a company or organization’s long-term financial objectives. They must also conduct research, create reports, and oversee the performance of other members of the financial team.

Actuary

Actuaries use a complex set of mathematical skills, statistical skills, and financial theory to analyze, manage, and provide solutions to financial risks within an institution. Most actuaries work for insurance companies, although some work for banks, investment firms, or other organizations.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Chief financial officers (CFO) make financial decisions at the highest corporate level. They evaluate the company’s financial strengths and drawbacks and develop a plan to improve the organization’s financial performance.

Financial Controller

  • Average Salary: $90,368
  • Job Outlook: 17%**
  • Number of Jobs: 681,700**
  • Highest-Paying States: New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia**

Financial controllers typically work under the chief financial officer and manage the accounting, budgeting, and financial transactions of a company or client. They share many of the responsibilities of financial managers and directors, but with a focus on accounting.

Financial Advisor

The role of financial advisors is to help clients and companies eliminate or reduce risks in their financial affairs. Financial advisors usually help with new projects and retirement plans, primarily guiding clients on how to meet their long-term financial goals.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts evaluate the performance of different investments, including stock, bonds, pension funds, and insurance. They help clients assess their needs and find what type of investment is best for them.

Financial Examiner

Financial examiners monitor and assess financial institutions’ financial management and procedures to ensure they’re following the relevant policies and laws. Most financial examiners work in finance, insurance, and government industries.

Investor Relations Associate

  • Average Salary: $73,273
  • Job Outlook: 17%**
  • Number of Jobs: 681,700**
  • Highest-Paying States: New York, New Jersey, District of Columbia**

Investor relations associates are usually employed by an organization to manage their communication with their investors. The responsibilities related to this position vary depending on the type of investor they’re managing communication with. However, they often arrange meetings, provide feedback, and mitigate concerns on both ends.

Corporate Investment Banker

  • Average Salary: $64,770
  • Job Outlook: 4%*
  • Number of Jobs: 466,300*
  • Highest-Paying States: New York, Connecticut, District of Columbia*

Corporate investment bankers help companies obtain investment funding by partnering with investors for corporate bonds. These professionals help companies raise their capital and manage transactions like mergers and acquisitions.

*Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data on Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents

**Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data on Financial Managers

Benefits of a Finance Master’s Degree

  • It’s reputable. Master’s degrees are highly respected in the financial industry. A master’s degree is one of the highest levels of academic accomplishment, which significantly boosts your appeal to employers.
  • Maintains relevancy. Unlike other forms of educational accomplishment, a master’s degree never loses its value. Despite the time, effort, and cost, it’s an investment that will pay off in the long run.
  • Higher earning potential. With a master’s degree, you can expect to earn a higher salary than you would with an undergraduate degree or bootcamp certification.
  • More job opportunities. A master’s degree qualifies you for many senior-level positions. Additionally, top companies often have a plethora of candidates per open position, so a master’s degree may give you an advantage over other professionals.
  • It qualifies you for a PhD program. Most PhD programs require applicants to have already earned a master’s degree. By earning your master’s degree, you’re already qualified for a PhD program if you ever want to pursue that.

Should You Get a Master’s Degree in Finance?

You should obtain a Master’s Degree in Finance if you’re prepared to study highly complex finance topics. Although it requires a lot of time, effort, and money, it’s an investment that quickly pays off. With a master’s degree, you qualify for many senior-level positions within the finance field and are compensated with a very comfortable salary.

Finance Master’s Degree FAQ

Is finance harder than accounting?

Accounting is often thought of as a more difficult career than finance positions, as it involves a more advanced understanding of mathematical procedures. However, there are similarities between the two fields.

Does accounting or finance pay more?

While it depends on the exact position, finance professionals usually have higher salaries than accounting professionals. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for accountants is $73,560, while financial analysts make $83,660.

Does finance require a lot of math?

Finance does require a lot of math. Some of the disciplines you’ll need to understand include statistics, probability, algebra, and trigonometry.

What skills are finance professionals required to have?

Some of the most important financial skills that you’ll be required to have are data analytics, data visualization, python, and big data skills. Employers will expect to see these skills listed on your resume.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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María Elena González

About the author: María is a seasoned content writer. After earning her Bachelor's Degree in Broadcast Journalism from Universidad del Zulia, María started working as a writer, journalist, video editor, and digital marketer. María’s other professional interests include forensic psychology and journalism, where she wants to use technology to share statistics and conduct research.

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