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Degrees for Aspiring Financial Controllers

Oct 11, 2019

A financial controller oversees the fiscal operations of a corporation or organization. Aspiring financial controllers can get a foundational knowledge in this field through a bachelor's degree or an MBA with a financial concentration.

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Essential Information

Individuals enrolled in bachelor's degree programs in finance study all aspects of financial strategy, utilization and management. While Master's of Business Administration (MBA) programs with a concentration in finance offer training in advanced topics and are often aimed at individuals who are working in the field. These programs include courses in business leadership, organizational performance and corporate governance. After completing school, new finance professionals may consider pursuing voluntary certification.


Bachelor's Degree in Financial Control

The coursework in bachelor's degree programs in finance emphasizes traditional business topics such as international finance, risk management, corporate engineering and more. Prerequisites for the bachelor's degree program include a high school diploma or GED, satisfactory standardized test scores and a minimum GPA.

The curriculum of these programs is composed of a set of core finance and business courses along with a healthy regiment of finance electives. The electives allow degree candidates to focus their studies on a particular element of business and finance theory. Below are listed some sample core courses.

  • Markets and institutions
  • Corporate taxation
  • Real estate investment
  • Organizational theory
  • Ethics and investing

Master's of Business Administration

MBA programs in finance train students in the business and accounting skills required to manage fiscal operations. The coursework teaches degree candidates how to create successful financial strategies, develop problem-solving skills and enhance leadership capabilities. These distance-learning programs can be completed on a part-time basis while students continue to work. Prerequisites for an MBA program include a high school diploma or GED, coursework in business, accounting or finance. Direct business experience strongly recommended.

In addition to the core finance and business courses, most programs feature either an internship or a master's thesis as a degree requirement. Most online programs offer degree candidates the thesis option, allowing students to complete the program entirely via distance learning. Below are listed some sample core courses.

  • Leadership and strategic planning
  • Accounting tools
  • Organizational performance
  • Intervention and change in business
  • Corporate governance

Popular Career Options

Graduates of this degree program will be eligible to pursue a wide range of business and corporate job opportunities. Below are listed some popular career options.

  • Credit management officer
  • Payroll and benefits coordinator
  • Risk management analyst

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that employment opportunities for financial managers are expected to increase by 16% between 2018 and 2028 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also states that competition for these positions will be severe and that those individuals with graduate degrees will have the best chances. The BLS reported in 2018 that financial managers made a median annual salary of $127,990.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Doctoral degrees in finance are available for those who want to continue their education past the master's degree level. These programs are generally designed for those seeking research or academic careers in business and finance.

While certification or licensure is not generally required for financial controllers, there are several pathways to certification that may increase employment or advancement opportunities. The Association for Finance Professionals offers several different certification tracks as well as networking and employment information (www.afponline.org).

Students interested in pursuing a career as a financial controller or financial manager, will need to graduate with either a bachelor's degree in financial control or an MBA with an emphasis in financial control. While employers may accept either, competition will be better for applicants with a master's degree.

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