Online School for Financial Advisors: How to Choose

Bachelor's and master's degree programs are available online that can prepare students for a career in financial advising. Online and hybrid programs for prospective financial advisors can be found at various colleges and universities, usually through those schools' business colleges.

Several online financial advisor degree programs are available to students which can be completed in finance or accounting. When selecting an online program, remember to look into important factors such as degree level, technical requirements needed, hands-on work experience and if the program has preparation coursework for licensure.

How to Select an Online Financial Advisor School

Applicable programs include those in fields such as finance, accounting and economics. Students interested in financial advising should consider their field of specialization, program delivery, technical requirements, internships and licensure preparations before selecting the best online program.

Award Level

Educational programs for financial advisors lead to a bachelor's or master's degree. Since there are numerous specializations in the field, there is no clearly designated major for financial advisors. Students can choose from majors in finance, business, law, accounting and economics. Earning a master's degree can qualify graduates for higher-level positions.

Program Delivery

Depending on the school, programs may be offered entirely online or in a mix of online and on-campus classes. A few schools may also offer accelerated or self-paced study options that allow students to complete courses at their chosen speed. Master's degree programs, as well as bachelor's programs in finance and accounting, are often available fully online.

Technical Requirements

Online degree programs require reliable access to a computer with a broadband Internet connection. The computer needs word processing software such as Microsoft Office and the ability to play videos. Students will need some level of technical fluency to open and use downloaded course materials, as well as to familiarize themselves with financial advising software that includes programs such as Asset Allocation Analyst, or the Web-based Floodlight application.


Some online programs encourage students to gain hands-on experience by taking internships or by managing a student investment portfolio under the guidance of industry leaders and instructors. This can provide valuable experience

Licensure Preparation

Financial advisors must be licensed to practice in their chosen field. To receive a license, graduates must pass an examination in the area of their specialization. Students will want to find a program that can adequately prepare them for this exam.

List of Common Online Financial Advising Programs

Online Bachelor of Science in Finance

An online program in finance is offered as a 2-year completion program for students who have already earned their associate's degree or a full 4-year bachelor's degree program. All assignments and correspondence with faculty and students are conducted online. Many programs feature online discussion forums and podcasts of lectures. Students take courses in:

  • Risk management
  • Business information systems
  • Supply chain management
  • Financial and managerial accounting
  • Investment and portfolio analysis

Online Bachelor of Science in Accounting

An online bachelor's degree in accounting typically takes four years of full-time study. Some schools offer a combined program in which some courses in the bachelor's program can count toward a master's degree program in accounting later. Coursework in accounting will help prepare students for the decision-making process of accounting operations for individual and corporate clients. Video lectures and course packets help guide students through the preparation and interpretation of financial reports and statements. Areas covered include:

  • Business communication
  • Cost accounting
  • Micro and macroeconomics
  • Organizational behavior for managers

Online Master of Science in Finance

A graduate degree in finance will offer students the knowledge and training necessary for advanced positions in financial management. Students in these programs learn to measure the risks of financial policies and understand how these policies can be used to achieve financial goals and meet the market demand.

The majority of online master programs in finance require little to no campus attendance. Some schools offer an accelerated degree option through a combined bachelor's and master's degree program. Typical course topics include:

  • Valuation and modeling
  • Capital investment
  • Accounting management
  • Financial econometrics

Schools with Online Programs in Financial Advising

Penn State offers an online bachelor's degree program in finance that prepares students for a career as a financial advisor. Throughout the program, students will study investing, corporate finance, business, accounting and other topics in finance. This program also helps prepare students for CFA exams.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers finance program at the bachelor's degree level the focuses on business, financial plans and marketing conditions. In addition, SNHU also offers a master's program in finance which includes coursework in investment, banking, financial management and risk management. A graduate certificate in finance is also available online.

Georgetown University McDonough School of Business has a master's degree program in finance which is conducted as a blended classroom. In a blended classroom, students participate in a live session that is fully online. This session ensures students can interact just as those do on campus. Students will also be required to complete a one-week residency on campus and a capstone project.

Understanding all of the options of online finance programs is important when choosing a school. When deciding on a school, look at the degree options available, requirements of the program and if any licensure preparation courses are included.

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