Online Post-Graduate Study Options in Finance

Research online finance courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

Essential Information

Online post-graduate certificate and degree programs in finance are relatively easy to find and can be completed entirely online. Just like on-campus programs, they can help students acquire the leadership qualities and analytical skills they need to work in a variety of financial careers. However, online programs may not include the same opportunities for internships, professional networking and simulated trading experiences, though some will require a residency.

Graduate-level online program options include certificate programs in finance, Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs with a concentration in finance and Master of Science in Finance programs. Those seeking a doctoral-level program can find online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs that include specialization options in finance. The benefits of earning a post-graduate degree in finance include the opportunity to pursue more advanced positions in the field. Students who are interested in becoming financial analysts may need a professional certification and/or license, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst. Candidates for licensure are usually sponsored by their employers. Depending on the level of the degree, programs will generally require applicants to already possess a lower-level degree in a related area.

Post-Graduate Certificate in Finance

Post-graduate certificate programs in finance can provide students who have earned a bachelor's or master's degree with advanced-level instruction in financial statement or investment analysis, corporate finance and financial management. Students can also acquire training in the use of accounting and financial software.

Program Overview and Requirements

In general, a post-graduate certificate can require anywhere from 4-21 credits to complete. Lectures and course materials are available online through the school website, so students must have access to a computer with an Internet connection. Communication with instructors and fellow classmates is accomplished by e-mail, online chat sessions or message boards.

Course Topics

The curriculum for a post-graduate certificate in business or finance may include topics in decision making, investment analysis, managerial accounting and short-term financial management. Students should be aware in advance that some courses may have prerequisites in accounting, economics or financial math.

Corporate Finance

This course introduces students to the basic principles of corporate finance, including capital costs and investment strategies, company or project evaluations, financial statement analysis and performance metrics. Students also learn how to apply these principles to real-life business issues.

Financial Management

Through a general or short-term financial management course, students learn about the factors that influence the decision-making process at financial firms. A firm's relationships with banks may be covered, as well as topics in cash forecasting and management, borrowing, liquidity analysis and risk management.

Financial Statement Analysis

In this course, students learn how to compare balance sheets with income statements. Additional topics may include financial leverage and ratios, common size statements and decomposition analysis.

Investment Analysis

This course is designed to show students how to manage an investment portfolio and assess the values of bonds, stocks and other securities. Concepts covered include diversification strategies and how to evaluate risk-return.

Financial or Managerial Accounting

The focus of this course is on how accounting information is collected and processed. The role of accounting in financial decision-making and management planning is also covered.

Master's Degree in Finance

Students seeking online master's-level programs can find both MBA and Master of Science options. The difference between these two programs is that the latter typically allows for a more specialized course of study in finance and may require less time to complete. The MBA programs are designed to help students enhance their critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills, while becoming familiar with corporate concepts and procedures. Areas of specialization may include financial management, general business or international business. Students who are specifically interested in corporate, personal or public assets and liabilities may want to consider a Master of Science in Finance.

Program Overview and Requirements

An MBA or a Master of Science in Finance online program can require 30-36 credits or up to five years to complete, depending on whether students enroll on a part-time or full-time basis. Students follow the same online learning protocols as those found in the certificate programs, and additional requirements may include a research project.

Course Topics

Students enrolled in an online master's degree program may have to complete a basic business core that includes courses in business organization and management, business ethics, economics and managerial accounting, along with other subjects. The curriculum for a concentration or a degree in finance may cover additional topics in capital finance or markets, corporate finance or international investing, among other areas.

Business Organization and Management

In this course, students learn about the effects of organizational culture on corporate behavior and operations, employee attitudes and productivity. Course content may also include topics in change management, leadership, teamwork and strategic planning.

Capital Markets

Students find out how financial assets, such as bonds and stocks, are assessed and traded, with particular attention paid to the public and private information used in the valuation process. The institutions and markets involved in the capital process are covered, along with topics in financial regulations and interest rates.

Lending in the Consumer and Corporate Markets

Through this course, students learn how consumers and companies borrow money, including what types of loans are available and the steps involved in securing funds. In addition to a historical overview of the lending process, the curriculum will cover topics related to lender judgment and negligence, consumer misconduct, ethics and regulations.

Management in Banking and Financial Services

Learning outcomes associated with this course include the ability to analyze the banking and finance industry in the United States and its relationship to the global economy. Students learn how to assess banking and financial service trends, use portfolio tools and discuss the finer points of acquisitions, loans, mergers and risk management.

Doctoral Degree in Finance

In general, applicants to a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program should hold an MBA or a master's degree in a related area. The curriculum typically expands upon topics covered in undergraduate and graduate business classes, while introducing more complex theories in finance, accounting, international business and leadership.

Program Overview and Requirements

Students who decide to pursue an online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program with a concentration in finance should be prepared for a 7-year commitment and the rigors of writing and defending a dissertation. Prerequisites for a doctoral program include advanced-level computer, research and statistical skills. In addition to online coursework, requirements can include researching, writing and defending a dissertation. Students may also be asked to participate in a short, in-person colloquium or residency.

Course Topics

Like the MBA, the DBA curriculum includes topics in leadership, management and markets. Students who specialize in finance should also expect to pursue additional studies in advanced analysis, financial management and international business principles and theories.

Financial Leadership

This class teaches students how to provide effective and ethical leadership in an organization. In addition to learning about advanced financial and economic theories and methods, students have the opportunity to review real-life case studies. National and international monetary markets are explored, as are budgeting and planning techniques.

International Financial Management

This course teaches students how financial systems function in the global environment and covers topics in currency, foreign markets and trade. Issues that affect financial markets are discussed, including why exchange rates fluctuate and their subsequent impact on international business.

Strategic Business Planning

In this course, students analyze business strategies from a theoretical, practical and research point of view. Case studies are used to help develop the critical thinking skills necessary for effective business planning. Other topics include corporate structure, financial analysis, competitive environments, talent development and globalization.

Career Information

Graduates of post-graduate certificate or master's degree programs are prepared to advance their careers as financial analysts, financial planners or financial managers. Financial analysts can look forward to a 12% increase in jobs from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and personal financial advisors could experience an increase of 30%. In May 2015, financial analysts earned a median annual wage of $80,310 and financial advisors had a median salary of $89,160.

Qualified graduates of a DBA program may obtain top-level positions as chief financial officers (CFO), chief operating officers (COO) or chief executive officers (CEO). According to the BLS, employment opportunities for top executives in this highly competitive field are expected to increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024, which is about as fast as the average rate when compared to all other occupations. However, chief executives are among the highest paid workers in the U.S., with a median annual wage in May 2015 of $175,110. Salaries vary widely by industry, and some top executives may also receive bonuses, stock options and other corporate perks.

For individuals seeking further education in the finance industry, there are a number of advanced degree programs available to them online, depending on their careers goals. The job market in this industry is quite positive, with stable to aggressive job growth over the next several years and very competitive salaries for financial experts.

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