Students studying finance can quickly find themselves an indispensable asset to the company they work for–whether large or small. A great way to study finance and get a finance degree is through online finance programs.
In a nut shell, finance degrees focus on the study of how best to manage, allocate, and use capital–money–to make a business successful.
Although the jobs and functional job requirements available to those with finance degrees can vary greatly, it’s important to note that in most cases there is a distinction between finance and accounting majors. In general–although it can vary from school to school and from program to program–someone who majors in finance will learn more about the strategy of leveraging and managing capital, while someone who studies accounting is more apt to be well-versed in the record keeping and tracking of money.
About Online Finance Degrees
Finance degrees lend themselves especially well to online learning, as the majority of the knowledge, skills, and experience you’ll gain through a finance degree program can easily be done at home or online.
In this field, you’ll take courses that cover topics such as financial analysis, budgeting, accounting, and financial strategy. All of this coursework will culminate into a strong understanding of how to analyze and manage financial assets to meet corporate, government, or personal goals.
Within the finance sector, students often choose to focus on specific areas of study like portfolio management, investments, insurance, or other specific markets and specializations.
Online Finance Degrees Offered
There are various levels of available degrees in the field of finance.
Although the job market for finance graduates remains fairly strong and many students are able to secure employment with a bachelor’s degree, others choose to pursue higher levels of education, which can lead to further promotions and management opportunities.
Bachelor of Science / Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance (B.S., B.S.B.A., B.B.A.)
A Bachelor’s degree in finance is generally the lowest level of degree offered for those pursuing a career in finance. This can lead to an entry-level position in finance, which will allow you to gain additional skills and experience in your career. Some positions may require that you obtain additional board certifications.
Schools and programs may offer different classifications of Bachelor’s level degrees in finance (B.S., B.S.B.A., B.B.A.) depending on how their programs are structured and accredited. But, generally speaking, these degrees are seen as relatively interchangeable as an undergraduate degree in the study of finance.
Master of Science in Finance (M.S.-Finance)
There are available programs for students to earn a Master’s degree focused specifically on finance. But, these programs are much less common–and less popular–than MBA programs with a finance emphasis.
Coursework for these programs may be comparable to an MBA, but could possibly require less coursework related to general management and business practices.
Master of Business Administration with a Finance focus (MBA in Finance)
The most common form of Master’s level finance degree is an MBA program that features a focus of study on finance. As the name implies, this degree will require a broad range of business-related courses but emphasize advanced study of financial management.
This track will prepare students for management or director-level positions within organizations in the finance industry.
Additional Finance Certifications
In addition to conferred degrees, there are a number of separate certifications that can be obtained by finance workers who wish to prove their competency or expertise in specific areas of practice.
Some of those certifications include:
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)
These certifications are usually offered and administered by industry regulatory organizations associated with each certification and cannot be obtained through regular coursework.
Online Finance Programs and Fields of Study
Most finance programs do not offer specific or unique “tracks” of study, but instead require students to take a broad range of courses related to various aspects of finance. Students can, however, choose to focus on specific areas of interest to improve their knowledge and understanding of a certain industry or function within the finance profession.
Although finance degrees are generally distinct from accounting degrees, almost all finance programs will include a number of required accounting principals courses. In these courses, students will learn how to track and record financial transactions, as well as how to read and understand financial statements and ledgers.
Coursework on investments will cover the principals of evaluating and executing various types of investments. It will include a primer on assessing risk, determining returns, and making sound judgements when investing capital.
Risk is one of the biggest factors in the finance industry. These courses will introduce ideas related to measuring, assessing, and planning for various types of risks that face businesses in various markets, as well as strategies for managing, transferring, and offsetting those risks.
Learn to evaluate and analyze factors related to buying, selling, and trading all types of securities. This can include analysis of stocks, bonds, futures, options, and other financial assets through both qualitative and quantitative methods like financial statement analysis and competitive strategy analysis.
Financial analysis focuses on reading and analyzing financial documents, as well as applying various statistical modeling techniques to estimate and forecast financial strategies.
What to Look For in an Online Finance Degree Program
Students can pursue an online finance degree from a number of colleges and universities. But, it’s important to clarify the need to closely evaluate and compare your options to ensure that you’re choosing the right program for you.
Look at the accreditation of the college or school that you are interested in attending. Is it both reputable and well-respected broadly, and within the finance industry? Many finance programs are accredited by a finance-specific organization that evaluates them based on quality and student outcomes. Research any accreditation claims to prove their legitimacy, as well as the legitimacy of the organization issuing the accreditation.
Finance degrees are often regarded as one of the best in terms of return on investment. The job market is generally strong for finance graduates, and the average salary for employees in the field tend to be above average. Even so, the cost of obtaining your finance degree should make sense for what you’re hoping to get in return.
Compare costs for different programs, but remember that cheaper isn’t necessarily better. Don’t forget to factor in time to graduation and ease of gaining employment upon graduation.
If you’re planning to pursue a specific career path or a job within a certain company or industry, then you’ll want to consider which types of finance courses are available in the programs you’re interested in. If you want to specialize in corporate finance, then you’ll need to make sure that there are courses available to give you the knowledge and skills you need to be a strong candidate for those types of positions.
It’s incredibly important to know what, if any, additional board certifications will be required for the finance job or career that you hope to pursue. Keep this in mind when you are evaluating different schools and programs. Some may adequately prepare you to sit for these board certifications, but others may not.