Students who want to study financial services at the master's degree level may enroll in either a Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. Both programs provide training in business and financial analysis. Some courses may be offered online.
Master of Science in Financial Services
The goal of a Master of Science program in Financial Services is to prepare students for careers in a financial services-related field, such as financial planning or financial analysis. Students gain advanced knowledge in financial planning tools, analysis strategies, and implementation methods.
Programs require 30-36 credit hours. Some programs are offered online, but necessitate that certain requirements be fulfilled on campus. Common course titles include:
- Acquisitions and mergers
- Analyzing business' value
- Derivative markets
- Capital markets and financial institutions
- International finance
- Portfolio management and security analysis
Master of Business Administration in Financial Services
In addition to the generalized business courses of an MBA, these programs incorporate courses specific to financial services. They tend to emphasize financial technology and communications more than MS programs. The goal is for graduates to be able to apply their knowledge to specific business environments based on the financial interests of customers or companies. Example course titles include:
- Accounting practices and concepts
- Administration strategies
- Management and reporting
- Management Information Systems
- Marketing management
- Real estate business
Financial service careers are available in a wide variety of settings, including:
- Attorneys' offices
- Investment firms
- Life insurance companies
- Retirement planning service providers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that for financial analysts will increase by 12% between 2014 and 2024. These workers earned a median salary of $80,310 in 2015, according to the BLS.
Certification and Continuing Education
After three years of experience, graduates of programs registered with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. may sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFC) examination. Eligibility also includes passing a background check and the standards of conduct of the board.
Certification must be renewed biannually. Requirements include a 2-CEU class in either ethics or standards, as well as 28 hours in other accepted topics. Independent study programs, teaching and live presentations may be acceptable for up to 15 hours of the required CEUs.
In conclusion, MS and MBA programs in financial services prepare students for high-level careers in the field and professional certification.