Best Graduate Degree for Financial Planning

Feb 15, 2019

Individuals who are seeking careers in financial planning may increase their chances of landing a job in this field by obtaining a graduate degree to further develop their skills and add to their credentials. This article discusses three of the best degrees for financial planning by highlighting what kind of coursework students will take in these programs, what makes them ideal for financial planning careers, any other unique information about them.

Best Types of Graduate Degree Programs for Financial Planning

Master's Degree Program in Finance

With a master's degree in finance, students will be well-positioned to pursue a career in financial planning, as these degree programs equip students with a wide variety of skills in finance theory, financial engineering, corporate finance, and financial analytics. Additionally, some programs may offer courses or concentration areas in topics like asset management, retirement finance, and banking markets, three fields that are highly relevant for financial planning. Generally, these programs can be completed within two years, though some programs may offer accelerated options that can be completed in as little as one year. These programs may also offer or require hands-on experiences or internships, during which time students can gain real-world experience, and could include a thesis option.

Master's Degree in Accounting

Another program that may be a good option for aspiring financial planners is a master's degree in accounting since a financial planner with a strong background in accounting will likely be appealing to many employers. These programs typically require that students complete a core curriculum that is heavy on advanced accounting courses, like financial accounting and managerial accounting, in addition to elective courses that students can select according to their interests. Some programs may also include a strong business curriculum component to supplement the accounting core courses, which may be particularly helpful for individuals pursuing a career in financial planning, especially if they wish to start their own business. Master's in accounting programs also prepare students to take the CPA exam following the completion of the program if they have not already done so after their undergraduate degrees.

Master of Business Administration Degree

Master of Business Administration degrees can prepare students for many different careers, including financial planning. The curriculum of an MBA program may include some required core courses but often these programs allow students to pursue their interests through elective courses, so students interested in financial planning could select courses that are most relevant to that field. Some universities and colleges even offer MBA programs that have specific concentration areas in financial planning specifically. These programs are typically completed over two years and can prepare students to take the Certified Financial Planning Exam following their graduation.

Admission Standards for Graduate Degree Programs in Consulting

Because the three programs discussed above are different, their requirements for admission will likely vary to some extent. For example, MBA programs often expect applicants to have significant work experience, while this may not be as strong of a factor for master of accounting programs. Both finance and accounting programs will likely require that students have a background in these fields as exhibited through undergraduate coursework. The application process for all of these programs will include some similar components, however. For example, when preparing an application, students will need to compile undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, resume, and GRE or GMAT scores. Additionally, they must submit a completed application form and may be required to go through an interview process.

In summary, master's degrees in finance, accounting, and business administration all have the potential to prepare students for careers in financial planning. Deciding which degree suits an individual best will likely depend on their specific goal and interests.

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