Preparation to manage money in business and other organizational settings is the substance of a finance degree. Bachelor's and master's programs teach the core principles of finance while fostering an ability to analyze, take on leadership roles and understand related subjects like accounting and economics.
Many schools offer bachelor's and master's degree programs in finance that can be completed entirely online. Students watch lectures and complete assignments and exams via the Internet, working at their own pace within certain deadlines. They can interact with instructors and other students through e-mail, chat programs or online forums. Students will need Microsoft Office Suite software.
Bachelor's-level students may be finance majors or business majors who have chosen a concentration in finance. The program gives them an overview of finance, with courses including accounting basics, global finance, business ethics and financial management.
Students in a master's degree program must hold a bachelor's degree. They can earn their master's degree in finance or in business administration with a concentration in finance. Courses cover management and administrative topics including financial markets, financial strategy and international finance.
Bachelor's Degree in Finance
A finance degree gives students an in-depth understanding of business and the financial practices that keep it running. Through their study, students build a strong foundation in accounting, economics and analytical skills. The bachelor's degree is offered from within the sciences or business administration. Students may learn under a specific finance major or as business majors with a concentration in finance.
Program Information and Requirements
Online bachelor's degrees take four years to complete and often can be done entirely off campus. Distance learning students generally follow a school calendar, though they complete their coursework asynchronously; that is, they choose to complete courses at their convenience within the larger framework of the semester or quarter. Assignments and exams must be submitted by certain deadlines. Most colleges provide students with a virtual campus system where students can turn in work online, connect with their peers and instructors and follow their course schedules.
Most schools recommend students have access to a computer with both ample memory and hard-drive space plus access to a high-speed Internet connection. Students should also have a Web browser compatible with their college's portal system, checking the requirements in advance. In general, students must have Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
Bachelor's Level Finance Courses
Finance majors take both the general education requirements plus classes in their field, accounting, business and economics.
Principles of Accounting
The course lays the foundation of accounting, which will become a central part of the overall finance program. Students learn about financial reports, cycles and creation of statements.
Students gain an understanding of common financial practices, honing their analytical skills in the process. The course covers topics such as budgeting, capital management, capital markets and risk analysis.
The course covers ethics and corporate social responsibility. Students discuss values, conduct and moral issues as they relate to the business environment.
Students explore financial management through the prism of international business. The course takes a look at topics like global strategy and foreign trade.
Master's Degree in Finance
An advanced finance degree allows students to gather a comprehensive understanding of the financial industry and attain the skills to become a leader in it. Those enrolled in a master's program can expect to learn more advanced financial skills and to enhance their knowledge of finance, including investments, management, operations and regulations. Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree prior to admission. Students can choose from a finance degree or a broader business administration degree with a concentration on finance.
Program Information and Requirements
Graduate programs in finance can take between 12-18 months to complete online. Most schools create an online environment that closely mirrors the traditional classroom but can be done asynchronously. Students log into their college's portal system to check and submit assignments, interact with their classmates and instructors and follow their course schedule. The course length will depend on the school, but classes generally span eight to ten weeks each. Most distance education programs in finance are designed for completion entirely online.
Master's Level Finance Courses
At the graduate level, finance majors build up their knowledge of markets and capital while sharpening their analytical and decision-making skills.
Students are introduced to common financial markets and the agencies that revolve around them. The course also covers the role of the Federal Reserve as well as other related financial institutions, regulations and policies.
Students learn the ways to work with capital within a business entity. They gain an understanding of acquisitions, buyouts, restructuring, venture capital and other financial transactions. Case studies are a common part of the course.
Knowledge of the global market is the primary role of the course. Students learn about exchange markets, international banking and trade tariffs. They study the impact of foreign business on a country's society, the economy and its politics.
A bachelor's degree in finance can be the first step toward a job as a financial manager, a field that is expected to grow by seven percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The median salary of a finance manager in May 2015 was $56.73 per hour, or $117,990 a year, according to the BLS.
With a master's degree, graduates may find work as a financial analyst or an economist. Financial analysts earned a median of $38.16 per hour or $80,310 annually in May 2015 while economists had median earnings of $47.68 per hour or $99,180 a year, according to the BLS.
Between 2014 and 2024, growth for financial analyst jobs is expected to be 12%, which is much faster than all other occupations, according to the BLS. Over the same period, growth for economists was estimated at six percent, which is slower than average.
Continuing Education Information
Those looking to advance in the corporate setting and expand their business acumen can enroll in a master's of business administration or a master's in finance program. Depending on a person's long-term goals, other professional certifications such as a chartered financial analyst or a management accountant are also available.
At both the bachelor's and master's degree levels, students have fully online options for majoring in finance or choosing a finance concentration in a business program. These programs educate future financial managers, financial analysts, and economists in finance fundamentals, global finance, financial strategies and business ethics.