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Online Degrees in Financial Management: Overviews by Level

Find out about online financial management courses and in which degree programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

Essential Information

There are many programs in financial management online at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. Bachelor's degree programs may focus on personal financial planning for individuals or financial management for businesses. These programs can usually be completed totally online.

Master's degree programs may be in finance or accounting. Some schools offer Master of Business Administration degree programs with a concentration in financial management. These programs may be totally online or in a hybrid format that requires some time on campus. Students can communicate through online forums, and class participation is an important component of a master's program. A thesis will probably be required as well.

Licensing and certification are required for individuals who sell certain types of investment instruments such as stocks and bonds. Requirements for licensing vary by state. Students should ensure that any online program they are considering meets these requirements. Students also might want to look into professional certification for financial managers. While this is not legally required, many employers prefer to hire someone who is certified.

Bachelor's Degree in Financial Management

Some schools allow financial management majors to specialize in personal financial planning for individuals, while other schools focus on managing finances for businesses of varying sizes. Graduates with this degree have an understanding of basic business and economic concepts and how they relate to domestic and international financial markets. A bachelor's degree in a business or finance can also be helpful for those wishing to pursue a Master of Business Administration.

Program Information and Requirements

This program can be completed online in approximately four years. Some prospective students are expected to demonstrate attendance and participation by posting questions and comments to bulletin boards in addition to completing required homework assignments. Some programs include live discussions via video conference or chat room.

Online students need a computer connected to the Internet, along with up-to-date anti-virus software and a number of plug-ins to view varying file types. Students should also be able to open and create files in Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel and Word. Some assignments may require a sound card, speakers, audio or video software as well as hardware such as a DVD drive, microphone and headphones.

Course Topics

Most bachelor's degree programs require general education courses in written and oral communication, humanities, mathematics, social sciences and computer skills. Courses for financial management majors in particular provide an overview of basic economic concepts before progressing to courses in topics like banking, investment and accounting.

Accounting

Baccalaureate-level students in this field often take multiple accounting courses, beginning with basic concepts and progressing to more advanced levels. Accounting courses instruct students on how to keep records of revenues and expenses. Students also learn to prepare and understand financial statements as tools for evaluating the financial condition of a business or individual.

Money and Banking

This class discusses the structure and function of banking institutions and the monetary system. Lectures cover the Federal Reserve and government regulations affecting banking activity, along with the importance of savings, credit and interest rates.

Investment

Types of investments include stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate. Students learn to plan investments and evaluate the risks and potential returns of investment options.

Microeconomics

Lessons cover the economic behavior of individual consumers and businesses. Students learn how market forces affect production and labor costs and guide economic decisions.

Macroeconomics

Students look at economic behavior and policy at the national and international levels. They discuss issues in trade policy, unemployment and poverty, along with fiscal and monetary policy and its effect on inflation.


Master's Degree in Financial Management

Some graduate schools offer a master's degree program in finance or accounting. Others offer a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with concentration options, including financial management. MBA programs include a core business administration curriculum, and most electives are also focused on finance.

Program Information and Requirements

At some schools, this program can be completed entirely online. Others offer a hybrid program, in which some courses must be taken on campus. Students are expected to participate fully in class activities and discussions; often, a certain number of substantive comments must be posted each week relating to the material currently being discussed. Many schools require a thesis project. In some programs, this includes a presentation that may require audio or video capabilities.

Online courses can only be completed by those who own a computer with Internet access and an e-mail account. Some programs specifically require Microsoft Internet Explorer for a browser and Outlook Express for e-mail. Students should also have current virus protection software.

Course Topics

Graduate students learn about global and domestic financial markets, along with investment and risk management. In a traditional MBA program, students complete core business classes as well as finance concentration classes, including coursework in management and leadership.

Risk Management in Financial Institutions

Students familiarize with risks facing different types of financial institutions, including specific risks associated with derivatives. Topics include risk measurement, the use of insurance and other methods for managing and minimizing risks.

International Finance

Building on macroeconomic concepts, students gain an understanding of issues affecting multinational corporations and financial markets. Courses also cover exchange rate systems and the financial implications and risks associated with political developments in different countries.

Investment Management

This course addresses financial instruments, including securities. Students learn about risks and returns in the securities market as well as the skills needed for successful portfolio management.

Research Project

Many master's degree program curricula include a research project. To complete this project, students attend courses in research methods and design. They choose a topic, develop a project and write a paper. A presentation may also be required.


Career Information

Graduates often find work as financial managers who keep track of finances, make investment decisions and manage cash flow for banks, local government agencies and businesses. A bachelor's degree is often considered the minimum required for this position, though many employers prefer master's degrees. Financial managers usually work in offices, and may work 50-60 hours per week; the median annual salary for the position was $117,990 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Other positions for those with this degree include financial analysts and accountants.

Many employers in the financial field prefer to hire candidates who hold master's degrees; however, for some financial manager positions experience is valued over advanced degrees. Graduates may also find work as financial analysts who provide advice on mutual funds or assist banks or non-profit organizations on investment decisions. The median annual salary for financial analysts was $80,310 as of 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other positions available to graduates with this degree include personal financial advisers and accountants.

Online degree programs that offer training in financial management include both bachelor's and master's in financial management, finance, accounting or business administration. Some programs may be completed fully online while others may require some on-campus classes or internships.


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