By OADP Staff
Earning a master of finance online can be a smart choice for several reasons. For example, going to graduate school can help early career professionals with a bachelor’s degree in finance or business give their résumé a boost (and maybe even earn a promotion at their current workplace). It’s also a great way for finance professionals of all ages/experience levels to earn a specialized credential, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), or ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) designation.
Of course, an MS in Finance could also be useful for just about anyone who likes applied math, is interested in business and wants to make a career change. Plus, the convenience and affordability of online learning just make the decision that much easier!
Ranking the 25 Best Online Finance Master’s Degrees
All of the data for this ranking came from either the National Center for Education Statistics (College Navigator or the IPEDS Data Center) or the schools’ websites.
This ranking focuses on public and private non-profit institutions that offer online graduate programs in finance. A program must be actively graduating students each year and must provide a full MS finance curriculum (MBAs don’t count) to qualify for consideration. Also, we only considered schools with annual graduate tuition rates below $40k.
We assessed the quality of each program in three main areas: Functionality (How useful is the degree? ), Flexibility (Does it offer options to fit many different interests and schedules? ), and Focus (Is there a special focus or different emphasis options for students with unique career goals? ).
To answer these questions, we collected data on five key attributes:
- Tuition & Fees: This falls under the “functionality” category (i.e. the program is only useful if it is budget-accessible to the average student!). 10% of total score.
- Certification Prep: This was another way to assess functionality, as programs that prepare degree candidates to earn specific qualifications are especially useful in the job market. 10% of total score.
- Elective Component: This falls under the “flexibility” category. The percentage of the curriculum that students can customize (whether through open electives, a set list of concentration options, or both) is one indication of how much they can personalize the program to their unique needs. 25% of total score.
- Concentrations: This falls under the “focus” category. The number of concentrations a program offers speaks to its ability to train students for specific sub-fields based on individual interest and/or industry demand. 25% of total score.
- Extent of Finance Programs: This falls under all three categories. It refers to the total number of online programs and certificates the school offers in finance/related areas. The more programs, the more online courses students can access to for concentrations, electives, dual degrees, etc. A large number of programs also indicates that the college is especially devoted to providing resources (and funding) for finance education. 30% of total score.
In the end, each school earned a final score out of a maximum 70 points. None of the programs below earned a perfect score, but some definitely came close!
25. Pace University
Pace’s MFP (Masters in Finance for Professionals) stands apart for its unique and highly organized curriculum. All coursework falls into one of six topical modules which students complete in sequence as they take classes in everything from corporate finance (Module 1) to risk management (Module 5). Before graduation, they’ll also take a final seminar and complete a research project. And while courses are primarily available online, the program also incorporates six-weekend residences on campus. But considering the entire degree takes only one year to complete, this is still one of the best online masters in finance for working adult professionals.
Annual Net Price: $29,680
24. University of Maryland-University College
Although UMUC’s affordable MS finance online program doesn’t directly lead to a certification, students graduate well prepared to sit for many financial management and accounting industry certifications. Beyond the typical coursework in how to manage finances for a corporation, students can also choose electives to narrow their studies; examples include “Government and Not-for-Profit Accounting” and “Fraud Examination.” And for those who can spend time on campus, student groups like the Business and Management Club provide ideal opportunities to network. The program culminates in a research-based capstone project that focuses on a current issue or trend in the field.
Annual Net Price: $10,323
23. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
True to its name, the Penn State World Campus’s top online MS in finance degree places a strong emphasis on international issues, complete with big-picture classes like “Multinational Managerial Finance.” At the same time, the university’s cohort model of online learning ensures that students have access to a close-knit community of peers with whom to interact. Participants will also connect in person during the program’s five-day on-campus residency. Held at the Great Valley campus just outside Philadelphia, the residency provides a valuable crash course in analysis and modeling, as students use a sophisticated simulation tool to assess a variety of financial risk scenarios.
Annual Net Price: $20,216
22. Webster University
The accredited online finance master’s degree at Webster is perhaps best suited for early career professionals who want to take a deeper dive into the world of finance. Broad topics and related areas of study – such as accounting and economics – don’t get much real estate in the curriculum, but Webster more than makes up for this deficit with specialized classes like “Entrepreneurial Finance and Venture Capital” and “Derivatives.” Even the capstone course is unusually focused; students take a close-up look at another highly specialized topic (mergers and acquisitions) as they read and analyze current literature in the field.
Annual Net Price: $12,690
21. West Texas A & M University
Offering a 100% online program as well as a hybrid study option, West Texas A&M brings its students the best of all worlds. While individuals all across the country can enroll in this top master of finance online and take their classes over the web, those who live locally can also sign up for on-campus courses whenever they please. And yet, the school’s flexibility doesn’t end there. West TAMU also lets degree candidates customize their schedule, whether they want to move at the traditional two-year pace or opt for the condensed, one-year version. But no matter what, this program comes at a great price; in fact, it’s the most affordable on our list!
Annual Net Price: $6,688
20. University of Miami
The University of Miami aims to meet every prospective student’s needs by offering two certificate options – Corporate Finance and Financial Decision Making – in addition to its accredited MS finance online program. (There is also the option to earn either one – the certificate or the degree – separately). In addition, UM embraces flexibility through its optional on-campus orientation, where admitted applicants kick off their studies and meet their classmates during a weekend at the Coral Gables campus. As if that weren’t enough, all students have access to the school’s innovative Launchpad, a venture consulting program that can take entrepreneurial ideas from vision to reality.
Annual Net Price: $35,216
19. University of Houston-Clear Lake
UHCL’s affordable online masters in finance should appeal to recent undergrads and working adults alike thanks to its part- and full-time enrollment schedules. The part-time degree takes 24 months to complete, while the full-time option cuts that duration in half. Admitted applicants can also choose between a fully online and hybrid delivery. Those who select the latter will complete half their coursework online and half in the classroom. And while the general program, which features broad coverage of finance and investment topics, will easily satisfy most students’ needs, UHCL also offers an atypical concentration in healthcare administration. (Note that this 12-credit-hour concentration does require on-campus study, however.)
Annual Net Price: $12,745
18. Bentley University
Although it’s certainly possible to earn their Masters of Financial Planning from Bentley without setting foot on campus, students might nonetheless want to plan a few trips to the Massachusetts school. Why? Because Bentley runs an innovative, interactive facility known as the Trading Room, where participants use the best simulation software, databases, and hardware to conduct research and complete hands-on exercises. But for those who can’t make the commute, don’t worry: Bentley still offers one of the best online finance master’s degrees in the country. The program even lets students watch courses in real-time, they can ask questions and participate in active discussions from anywhere in the world.
Annual Net Price: $34,380
17. Creighton University
Creighton wants to make its affordable online MS in finance degree widely accessible, and it does so by offering rolling admissions and conditionally accepting students who haven’t yet taken the GMAT. Once enrolled, program members will find a curriculum styled according to traditional Jesuit values: namely, an ethical approach to leadership. In fact, they’ll need to complete one of two ethics-based electives. Finally, budding finance professionals will round out their studies with additional electives in managerial economics and a topic of their choosing in order to hone the degree to meet their specific career interests.
Annual Net Price: $16,424
16. Suffolk University
Though it offers plenty of well-rounded appeal, Suffolk’s MSF program serves the biggest benefits to students with specific job goals. Career planning and professional development are baked into the accredited master of finance online curriculum. For example, all degree candidates take a required one-credit Effective Career Planning course, which begins with a self-assessment to help identify their goals. The next step is to develop a detailed career plan and participate in Suffolk’s professional workshops, which place particular emphasis on skill development. Finally, online learners bring their career goals and academic interests together in one of three focused concentrations: Risk Management, Investments, or Corporate Finance.
Annual Net Price: $32,385
15. Northeastern University
Faculty clearly designed Northeastern’s top online MS in finance degree with working adults in mind. First, the part-time, 16-month program offers six start date each year to fit a wide range of schedules. But on top of that, the university also provides GMAT waivers to applicants who have five or more years of related work experience. Even the curriculum itself reflects the needs of ambitious professionals by offering separate tracks in Corporate and Investment Finance. And for the particularly motivated, Northeastern supports a dual degree that combines MSF and MBA coursework into one challenging – but highly marketable – graduate program.
Annual Net Price: $24,258
14. Saint Xavier University
Potential applicants who are skeptical about online education should look to Saint Xavier to assuage their concerns. The Chicago-based school is uniquely dedicated to helping its online learners succeed. Its efforts include an alumni mentorship program that provides students with guidance at every step of their education. This accredited master of finance online is also particularly suitable for people who crave hands-on work, as Saint Xavier prides itself on the innovative use of industry software and lab simulations to provide relevant experience. It’s also worth noting that the curriculum places an overall focus on risk management – a strength that stems from Saint Xavier’s strong belief in the importance of corporate ethics.
Annual Net Price: $15,550
13. Saint Josephs University
Students typically need two and a half years to complete Saint Joseph’s accredited online finance master’s degree, which is a bit longer than the average program. That’s because Saint Joseph’s offers the 30-credit degree on a strictly part-time schedule. It also allows online learners to take some evening classes on campus. That being said, degree candidates who study “aggressively” may be able to complete the entire program in a single year. But regardless of their graduation timeline, all those who make it from start to finish will earn the same reward: a top-notch degree and eligibility to test for CFP certification.
Annual Net Price: $16,092
12. Kansas State University
K-State puts a different spin on its affordable online masters in finance by focusing on the personal element of financial planning. While a few classes maintain the big-picture focus of a traditional degree, most concentrate on niche topics like “Insurance Planning for Families,” “Investing for the Family’s Future,” and “Estate Planning for Families.” In another departure from the norm, K-State lends some customizability to its degree by allowing students to choose how they want to fulfill their elective requirements. “Option A” includes a field study, seminar, and professional practice course, while “Option B” requires the completion of an intensive research project.
Annual Net Price: $16,611
11. Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration
Those who don’t live in Michigan probably won’t want to apply to Walsh College’s accredited MS finance online program, which incorporates a good deal of on-campus work. The hybrid degree requires on-campus attendance for many of its classes, which typically balance every two hours of online work with a two-hour face-to-face session. That being said, local students surely won’t mind these visits to the Troy campus, which hosts a state-of-the-art Finance Lab. This facility is fully staffed with certified specialists who provide relevant training in research tools, databases, and software programs. The Michigan Alpha Project, a student-centered investing initiative, provides yet another opportunity for hands-on learning.
Annual Net Price: $18,135
10. Ohio University
Like Walsh, Ohio University’s accredited master of finance online isn’t for everyone. But this school’s select appeal has nothing to do with location; rather, it’s the program’s specialty in financial economics that defines its range of attraction. And for young professionals who specifically want to enhance their understanding of the relationship between the economy and financial markets, there is perhaps none better than OU. Indeed, nearly three-quarters of the coursework directly reflects the “Candidate Body of Knowledge” (CBOK) recommendations set forth by the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute. What’s more, just last year the Financial Times named this MFE to its ranking of the top 15 MFE programs nationwide.
Annual Net Price: $13,506
9. Johnson & Wales University
For an accredited MS finance online program with widespread appeal, look to Johnson & Wales University. Attractive for its convenience and flexibility, this degree takes just 15 months to complete and is available fully online, with zero on-site visits required. Additionally, the program offers GMAT waivers for all applicants with an undergrad GPA north of 2.85. Johnson & Wales marries these broad accommodations with a tightly focused, career-oriented curriculum that permits degree candidates to choose from two tracks. One is designed for individuals who want to pursue careers as CFAs, while the other – thanks to a partnership with the CFP Board – leads directly to certification as a financial planner.
Annual Net Price: $11,826
8. Colorado State University-Global Campus
CSU-Global offers a remarkably affordable online MS in finance degree with an attractively balanced curriculum. Walking the line between the general and specific, CSU’s finance curriculum combines general core courses with an extensive list of specialization options. The size of this list is partly because it is generic to all CSU grad programs and so includes options across many academic areas. But finance students will nonetheless find plenty of relevant choices, including Fraud Management, Accounting, and Business Intelligence. Most require the completion of an additional four courses, and of course, they are all available 100% online.
Annual Net Price: $9,000
7. Northern State University
Northern State University’s accredited online masters in finance ranks among the most specialized programs on this list due to its near singular focus on banking. The program provides online learners with an in-depth look at this unique field by addressing questions that range from how bankers can best serve their customers to how banking institutions operate at a macro level. They’ll learn the theoretical underpinnings of the field while also hearing about real-world applications of theory from faculty and staff, all of whom have extensive experience in banking organizations. The program officially consists of 36 credits, but those without an undergraduate business degree should expect to take four additional classes to meet course requirements.
Annual Net Price: $11,289
6. University of Georgia
UGA wants to ensure that everyone enrolled in its top online finance master’s degree program has the chance to participate in hands-on work. The university has incorporated two “directed study courses” into the curriculum to meet this goal. These student-led, student-designed classes can take the form of a faculty-guided research project, an internship or practicum, or an elective course is relevant to the individual’s career goals. And for an extra boost of real-world experience, UGA has crafted a final capstone course that focuses on practical problems. In this course, online learners demonstrate their financial expertise by completing a theory-to-application case study project.
Annual Net Price: $18,561
5. Bellevue University
Although earning an affordable master of finance online from Bellevue University comes with many perks (including low tuition rates), perhaps the most significant benefit is the customizability of the curriculum. Like Colorado State, Bellevue permits students to choose a specialization from a generic list that spans the entire business program. MFin degree candidates have no shortage of relevant options, either, including Acquisition and Contract Management, Human Capital Management, and Global Economic Threats. A leadership-focused class rounds out the curriculum for all concentrations, leaving program members well-prepared to apply their work at the highest level.
Annual Net Price: $10,335
4. Loyola University Chicago
Two primary traits set Loyola’s top online finance master’s degrees apart from the competition. First, Loyola holds partnerships with some of the industry’s most important professional organizations, including The CFA Institute, the Association, and the Global Association of Risk Professionals. These partnerships provide valuable perks to MSF students, from exam prep and scholarship eligibility to networking opportunities at industry events. Second, Loyola is unconventionally progressive in its use of technology. For example, all students must take a coding class, and many courses teach problem-solving with the help of computational tools and visual models. The MSF program even earned a STEM designation for its commitment to technological training.
Annual Net Price: $19,442
3. Southern New Hampshire University
Whether students are interested in corporate finance or investments and securities, Southern New Hampshire University has an accredited MS finance online program to fit their needs. SNHU’s roots as an accounting school provide the foundation for this well-rounded degree, which provides coursework that incorporates topics in finance as well as accounting, economics, and international business. Along with a test prep course, this degree will also prepare graduates to take the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam. Graduation also comes with access to SNHU’s extensive alumni network, which can provide valuable networking opportunities.
Annual Net Price: $18,810
2. New England College
When students graduate from New England College with a Master of Science in Finance, they’ll be prepared to sit for any one of three professional certifications: the CFP, CFA, or ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant). In addition, this affordable online MS in finance degree offers an optional concentration in global finance trading, an attractive choice for those who would like to develop an international perspective on currency management and multinational financial markets. The program should also be particularly appealing to individuals who lack a relevant academic background but don’t want to waste a lot of time with prerequisites; the 10-course curriculum doesn’t require an undergraduate business degree and typically takes just 15 months to complete.
Annual Net Price: $13,735
1. Golden Gate University
There are plenty of reasons to rank Golden Gate University’s program as the best online masters in finance, but its curriculum, which balances broad-spectrum coursework with a unique degree of customizability, is perhaps the biggest factor. Whereas most schools provide concentrations of just three or four courses, GGU extends this component to a full 18 credits (six courses). This means that online learners – who choose from concentrations in general finance, corporate finance, and investment management – develop a more comprehensive understanding of their chosen specialty than could be expected at other colleges. And all three paths include coursework in financial modeling to ensure that students graduate with the computer skills they need to succeed in an increasingly technology-driven industry.
Annual Net Price: $17,635