Best Master’s in Finance Degrees 2021

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Best Master's in Finance Badge

Finance professionals forecast economic trends, advise clients on investments, and recommend financial strategies. Earning a master’s degree in finance builds the analytical and decision-making skills required for high-paying careers in finance.

A master’s in finance degree prepares professionals for supervisory responsibilities in a variety of roles, such as financial manager. Financial managers analyze the risk of investment strategies, manage budgets, and monitor cash and credit for organizations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial managers earn a median salary of nearly $130,000 per year. The BLS also projects much faster than average job growth for financial managers, translating into strong demand for professionals with a master’s degree in finance.

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By choosing one of the best finance master’s programs, professionals can advance their current career or transition into the high-paying, growing field of financial services. In addition to ranking top programs, this article introduces salary and job outlook data, common master’s in finance courses, and scholarships for finance graduate students.

Top 10 Best Master’s in Finance Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
2 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
3 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
4 Stanford University Stanford, CA
5 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
6 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
7 Princeton University Princeton, NJ
8 University of Chicago Chicago, IL
9 New York University New York, NY
10 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX

FAQ


  • What is finance?

    The field of finance encompasses money management, financial markets, banking, and investments. A finance degree builds financial analysis and management skills.


  • How long does it take to earn a master's in finance?

    Finance master’s programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete. In an accelerated program, degree-seekers can earn their master’s in less time.


  • Can I study finance online?

    Yes, many schools offer online master’s in finance programs. Accredited online programs meet the same academic standards as on-campus programs.


  • What is the difference between finance and economics?

    Finance and economics both examine financial markets and economic systems. However, finance focuses on money management techniques, while economics focuses more on production and consumption.


 
 

Best Master’s in Finance Degrees 2021



Choosing the right master’s program can shape a finance professional’s career. Our list ranks the best finance master’s degrees to help prospective applicants find the right fit to reach their career goals. By including data on the most affordable finance master’s programs, our ranking also makes it easy to find budget-friendly options.

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a truly dynamic Masters in Finance degree through their Sloan School of Management. The Masters in Finance program or MFin was created in 2008 to equip leaders in the finance industry. Students are immersed in all aspects of financial literacy, from management to theory, quantitative work to highly complex problem-solving. The MFin program is designed for completion in 12 or 18 months.

    Program Features

    MIT’s high caliber Master of Finance program builds off of its rich legacy in the financial world. With world-renowned alumni and prominent figures in finance currently serving in faculty positions, students are engaged in a network that is second to none. Coursework is rigorous but noted for its approachable, informal delivery. Classes in the MFin program include:

    • Financial Markets
    • Fundamentals of Financial Mathematics
    • Advanced Analytics of Finance
    • Corporate Finance

    Details

    MFin students gain exceptional career preparation from MIT’s “learning by doing” approach. Offering students a proseminar or research practicum, incredible real-life experience in the financial industry is gained. MIT’s incredible global networking offers opportunities in all aspects of finance. Students will also have the option of choosing a concentration in their studies, in either financial engineering, corporate finance, or capital markets.

  2. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Harvard University’s Extension School offers a Master’s degree in Finance that is tailored to fit the needs of multiple student populations. Whether you choose to complete your degree on-campus or online, you will receive a top-tier financial education. International students are able to complete their finance degree with a combination of online work and on-campus training at Harvard Summer School. There are 12 courses necessary for degree completion.

    Program Features

    Students in the finance program are given a thorough understanding of the highly complex world of finance through Harvard’s challenging and engaging coursework. Financial theory and analysis, as well as quantitative skills, are expounded on by Harvard’s esteemed faculty. Finance degree classes in the program include:

    • Investment Theory and Applications
    • Managerial Finance
    • Principles of Finance
    • Foundations of Real-World Economics

    Details

    Master of Finance students at Harvard is able to tailor their education to their career aspirations by choosing a graduate certificate. Available in Business Economics, Corporate Finance, Accounting or Principles of Finance, with planning students can also align their electives and earn a second certificate. With rich learning opportunities in business valuation, strategy, business rhetoric and more, graduates are equipped to be leaders in finance.

  3. Columbia University in the City of New York
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Columbia University’s Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research offers a Master of Science degree in Financial Engineering. This program trains and equips students for the highly specialized and complex world of finance. Whether interested in a career in fund management, at a consulting firm, in a corporate treasury environment, or another area of finance, Columbia’s program can help you succeed.

    Program Features

    Students begin their studies in Financial Engineering by understanding the foundations and methods of finance and how they function. Then students are able to focus their studies with specializations and electives. Specializations include Asset Management, Computational Finance/Trading Systems, Computation and Programming, Finance & Economics, Derivatives. Classes offered in the program include:

    • Monte Carlo Simulation
    • Statistical Analysis and Time Series
    • Professional Development & Leadership
    • Mathematics of Financial Engineering Primer

    Details

    The Financial Engineering program can be fulfilled on a full-time basis only and requires 36 points for completion. Students benefit from attending the Financial Engineering Practitioners Seminar, where respected professionals share their work and industry experiences. Students can also enhance their studies by taking coursework through other schools at Columbia, such as International and Public Affairs or the School of Law.

  4. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Stanford University’s Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering offers a Master of Science in Mathematical and Computational Finance. This unique, interdisciplinary program provides students the financial mathematics foundations that will help engage and evolve the complex financial issues that are pressing modern times on a local, national, and global scale. Stanford’s forward-thinking, brought about the creation of the Financial and Risk Modeling Institute, a center point for financial research and change.

    Program Features

    Students in the ICME Master’s program are given opportunities in computational mathematics, applications, statistics and more. Mathematical and Computational Finance students are immersed in all areas of finance. Regulation reform, investment strategy, hedge funds, and derivatives are all expounded on by faculty scholars and through strong connections with professionals in the field. Coursework in this exciting area includes classes like:

    • Discrete Mathematics and Algorithms
    • Credit Risk: Modeling and Management
    • Financial Markets
    • Debt Markets

    Details

    Students must complete 45 units of course study for program completion. Career opportunities in for Mathematical and Computational Finance students include working in technology, information science, regulation, risk management or other financial sector areas. This program is closely aligned with the Mathematics, Management Science and Engineering and Statistics area. Students may choose to use their MCF degree as a springboard into doctoral studies.

  5. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Johns Hopkins University offers a Master of Science program in Finance through their highly regarded Carey Business School. This 36 credit hour program is distributed in two formats. The full-time program is able to be completed in 1 year and can be a fantastic option for those who are new to finance. The part-time program can be completed in 2 years and works well for those already engaged in professional capacities. Online coursework that is delivered either synchronously or asynchronously is also available.

    Program Features

    Coursework in the MS in Finance degree is taught by faculty scholars and industry professionals who are committed to student success and mentorship. Foundational courses offer students the practical theories and development of financial thought. On-campus students can choose from coursework available on either the Washington, D.C. or Baltimore locations. Classes in the major include:

    • Business Leadership and Human Values
    • The Firm and the Macroeconomy
    • Financial Modeling and Valuation
    • Business Leadership and Human Values

    Details

    Online students are mandated to attend an on-campus residency for 3 days as part of the Business Communication course. This valuable time gives students the chance to connect with Johns Hopkins classmates, mentors, faculty, and alumni while participating in hands-on learning experiences. With high career placement after graduation in some of the largest and most respected financial institutions in the nation, the MS in Finance degree from Johns Hopkins clearly prepares competent and highly sought after professionals.

  6. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Pennsylvania offers a finance degree as a major of study in their MBA program. This in-depth program is run through the highly lauded Wharton School of Business. Finance degree students gain an incredible depth of knowledge in areas of competency such as theory and analytics, mathematics and statics and more. Proficiency exams must be passed for degree completion.

    Program Features

    Coursework in this program prepares students for a vast array of opportunities in banks, non-profit organizations, international finance, brokerage and other areas of the increasingly complex financial landscape. Students are engaged in relevant coursework, taught by University of Pennsylvania faculty scholars. Courses in the finance degree include:

    • Corporate Finance
    • Macroeconomics and the Global Economic Environment
    • Real Estate Investment: Analysis and Financing
    • The Finance of Buyouts and Acquisitions

    Details

    Students are able to complete the program by either completing a thesis or independent study project in an area of finance that is not explored in class. The faculty encourages students to take coursework in a wide-arching range of topics in finance and not limit themselves by overly specializing in one area or concentration. MBA students are also eligible for integrated or dual degree studies with other programs at Johns Hopkins such as law, advanced international studies, and more.

  7. Princeton University
    Location

    Princeton, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Princeton University offers a Master of Finance degree through their unique Bendheim Center for Finance. This program can be completed in 4 semesters, consisting of 5 core courses and 11 electives. Students gain proficiency in analysis, engineering, methods, and economics from a foundational and also a practical, hands-on level. Whether interested in a career in finance or other industry, this degree offers educational excellence in all aspects.

    Program Features

    An interdisciplinary program, strengths are drawn from the Department of Computer Science, the Departments of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, and the Department of Economics, amongst others. Courses are designed with the understanding that finance is an increasingly complex landscape. Students can take courses such as:

    • Asset Pricing I: Pricing Models and Derivatives
    • Corporate Finance and Financial Accounting
    • Fixed Income: Models and Applications
    • Financial Modelling

    Details

    Students can tailor their program to a course track of study. These include Financial Engineering and Risk Management, Quantitative Asset Management and Macroeconomic Forecasting, or Data Science & Financial Technologies. A Masters Project of research can be taken as part of the program for students. Internships are actively organized for students and encouraged. New students are welcomed to the program with a two-week Math Camp and three day Boot Camp enrichment programs.

  8. University of Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business offers a full-time MBA degree and with a concentration in Finance. This program asks and engages the important questions in business, finance, and investment thought and enables students to give astute answers. Students are taught to be wise managers and knowledgeable leaders and alumni of the program are highly visible in a vast array of finance and non-finance positions.

    Program Features

    Coursework in the finance concentration can be individualized towards specific career goals. Booth School of Business prides itself on its robust and intellectual culture, where debate and critical examination are prominent. Students learn that questioning and remaining inquisitive are key elements to a better understanding of big issues. In the increasingly complex area of finance, this is a critical skill gained. Students take 20 courses in their MBA, with concentration courses using their elective space. Finance coursework includes:

    • Portfolio Management
    • Advanced Investments
    • Financial Instruments
    • Financial Markets and Institutions

    Details

    MBA students are able to participate in the Leadership Effectiveness and Development program, giving key experiences in leadership. Students are also able to participate in Lab Courses, where real-life problem-solving strategies are highlighted. Finance students also benefit from other activities that enhance their time as an MBA finance student like the Hedge Fund Group, Bank Week, and the Corporate Finance Group.

  9. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    New York University offers an incredible option for finance students with their Master of Science in Global Finance. This one year program is run through a unique partnership with NYU’s Stern School of Business and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Classes are set-up in 7 highly engaging modules. Balanced between the Asian and American campuses, 4 modules meet in Hong Kong, 1 module is held in Shanghai and the remaining 2 modules are in New York.

    Program Features

    Coursework in the HKUST-NYU Stern Master of Science in Global Finance degree prepares students for the global implications and challenges in the financial sectors. Due to the geographical changes, students are working directly in dynamic markets and solving real, hands-on problems that are happening right where they are studying. Group exercises, presentations, and a variety of other learning formats keep student engagement high. Courses offered in this program include:

    • Foundations of Corporate Finance
    • Financial Markets and Corporate Finance in China
    • Risk Management in Financial Institutions
    • Derivatives Markets

    Details

    A highlight of the program for many students is the capstone Integrative Group Project. Throughout the year, students work collaboratively in a small group and under the advisement of a faculty member. At the end of the program, groups present their findings and research to faculty and peers. By solving a problem and applying the concepts gained from their class experiences, students are able to demonstrate mastery of class theory and financial foundations.

  10. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Texas-Austin Master of Science in Finance degree from the McCombs School of Business creates qualified professionals, ready for a vast array of careers. The program can be completed in an efficient 10 months, running from July to May. No previous work in finance is necessary for admission, making it a superior opportunity for any student who has the financial aptitude.

    Program Features

    36 credit hours total for completion, finance students are challenged with the theory and quantitative skills that are relevant in today’s highly dynamic financial landscape. The University of Texas-Austin is proud of their high faculty engagement with students, due to small classes. Students can choose a focus in their studies in either Asset and Investment Management, Corporate Finance or Consulting, or Energy Finance. Coursework in the MS in Finance also includes:

    • Financial Statement and Security Analysis
    • Energy Technologies
    • Raising Capital
    • Valuation

    Details

    UT offers students opportunities for authentic connection in the financial industry through a practicum project. This piece of the degree program allows students to interact with corporations and complete a project that remedies a problem. Sometimes leading to future employment with agencies, this program is a highlight for many students. Career coaching is also available to students to ensure placement success.

Career and Salary Outlook for Finance



The best finance master’s programs prepare graduates for a variety of jobs, such as financial analyst, budget analyst, portfolio manager, and financial manager. Financial managers set budgets, create financial reports, and recommend strategies to meet an organization’s financial goals. Risk managers limit financial loss from uncertainty, while finance officers oversee investments.

This section introduces the job duties, earning potential, and projected job growth for common finance career paths.


  • Financial Analysts

    Financial analysts advise clients on investment decisions and manage financial portfolios of stocks and bonds. They recommend investments to individuals and businesses, evaluate financial data, and project economic trends. Financial analysts also determine the value of companies and recommend financial strategies to managers.


  • Budget Analysts

    Budget analysts evaluate an organization’s budgets, prepare budget reports, and recommend strategies to decrease spending and increase profits. They monitor spending and evaluate funding requests to make sure organizations stay on track. Budget analysts also evaluate proposed budgets to ensure compliance with the law.


  • Financial Managers

    Financial managers oversee an organization’s financial health. They analyze financial reports, evaluate market trends, and develop plans to meet their organization’s financial goals. Financial managers also manage staff who prepare reports, forecast financial trends, and create budget reports. Some employers prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree.


  • Personal Financial Advisors

    Personal financial advisors recommend savings and investment strategies for clients. They advise clients on investment options when saving for specific goals like college and retirement. Personal financial advisors also monitor the performance of clients’ investments to recommend changes and modify investment strategies.


Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Financial Analysts $81,590 5%
Budget Analysts $76,540 3%
Financial Managers $129,890 15%
Personal Financial Advisors $87,850 4%

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Finance Degrees

Accredited schools meet the highest standards for educating students and granting degrees. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For instance, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions.

In addition to choosing an accredited school, finance grad students can look for accredited finance programs. Typically, finance programs hold accreditation through business schools. Several organizations accredit business programs, including the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Learn more about why accreditation matters in our accreditation guide.

Courses in a Finance Master’s Program



During a master’s in finance program, graduate students take courses on topics like financial markets, corporate finance, and financial statement analysis. They may also take classes in areas like risk management, investment banking, and financial management.

In addition to simulations, case studies, and team projects, finance graduate students often complete internships and capstone projects to strengthen their skills and prepare for the workforce.

This section introduces popular finance graduate courses. While each program offers slightly different courses, the following sample curriculum includes courses commonly found in these programs.

This course covers topics like the relationship between financial institutions, core theories about markets, and the historical development of financial markets. Graduate students also learn about investment vehicles, stock and bond valuation, and behavioral finance theories. The class prepares learners for advanced finance classes.

This course builds advanced financial statement analysis skills. Students examine the relationship between financial statement analysis and decision-making while learning valuation strategies. Learners also strengthen their risk analysis skills. The course prepares graduates for decision-making roles in finance.

In this course, learners examine investment and financing strategies from a corporate perspective. They learn about capital budgeting, derivative pricing, valuation techniques, and capital structure. Through case studies and simulation analysis, students strengthen their corporate finance skills. The course prepares graduates to maximize a corporation’s profits while following legal and regulatory requirements.

This course trains students to identify risks in financial markets, quantify risks, and manage the dangers caused by risk. Learners examine derivative securities, the relationship between derivatives and their underlying securities, and how to use derivative securities in risk management. Topics may also include international finance, risk mitigation, securitization, and corporate risk management.

Students in this course learn how to manage investments, apply portfolio theory to practice, and analyze investment strategies. The course also covers investment instruments, asset classes, and asset allocation strategy. The coursework prepares graduates for leadership roles in financial services organizations, such as portfolio manager.

Scholarships for Finance

Master’s students in finance can use scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial assistance to help pay for their degree. Professional associations, financial services organizations, and private foundations all offer scholarships for finance students. This section introduces several scholarships for finance students. In addition to the following opportunities, degree-seekers can research scholarships based on their career plans, state, or institution.

Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offers a scholarship for graduate students enrolled in at least six credits per term at an accredited program. Recipients must be studying finance or a closely related field with the goal to work in an anti-fraud field.
Amount: $10,000

GFOA Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Government Finance Officers Association awards several scholarships for graduate students considering careers in public finance. For example, the Daniel B. Goldberg Scholarship grants $20,000 to full-time graduate students.
Amount: $10,000-$20,000

AFWA Master’s Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Accounting and Financial Women’s Association offers graduate scholarships to women earning a master’s in finance degree. Applicants must be attending an accredited institution.
Amount: Varies

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