Best Master’s in Finance Degrees 2021

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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.

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 5 Best Master’s in Finance Degrees

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX
3 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
4 Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
5 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI

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.


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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

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. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public research university located in Gainesville, UF offers a master of science in finance (MSF). Students may choose from one of two combined degrees: a BS to MS in finance or a JD/MS in finance.

    The master's program includes 32 credits, with students specializing in corporate finance, financial markets, or investments. Students take courses such as business financial management, money and capital markets, measuring and managing value, and entrepreneurial finance.

    Current bachelor's students apply for the master's program with a 3.5 undergraduate GPA during the second year of studies. For law students, applications begin after acceptance to the law school, and students may apply up to 12 JD credits to the MSF. Law students must submit standardized test scores (LSAT) and a statement of purpose.

    UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

  2. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public university based in Austin, UT Austin's McCombs School of Business offers a master of science in finance. The program prioritizes financial modeling and technical, quantitative skills. Students can complete the program in about 10 months.

    Students begin the 36-credit curriculum with two courses: financial management and valuation. Students also participate in courses such as investment theory and practice, financial statement and security analysis, and intermediate accounting. Students take practicums for real-world skills application and study niche topics such as private equity, valuation of energy investments, and computational finance. All students can access career services and participate in STEM certifications.

    Students must possess an undergraduate degree and submit GMAT or GRE scores to begin the application process. UT Austin is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

  3. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A premier research university located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins offers a master of science in finance degree with a STEM-designated concentration in financial econometrics.

    The 36-credit curriculum offers students training with courses such as advanced corporate finance, big data machine learning, the firm and macroeconomy, and cryptos and blockchain. These unique approaches to finance prepare students for the realities of innovative new technologies and concepts facing the finance world. Students prepare to sit for the CFA exam and study a functional core of computational finance concepts in econometrics. Full-time students may take part in the official econometrics concentration.

    Students must submit GMAT or GRE scores to begin the application process and need an undergraduate degree showing quantitative preparedness from an accredited institution. Johns Hopkins is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

  4. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private research university based in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt offers a master of science in finance through the Owen Graduate School of Management. Students take two courses per seven-week module. Students can complete the program in about 10 months.

    The 33-credit program includes such course topics as financial modeling, corporate valuation, and professional development and communication. Students then choose a variety of electives from disciplines such as business or accounting. Topics may include applied investment management, accounting mergers and acquisitions, game theory and business strategy, or corporate restructuring for stressed firms. Students may also apply to the law school during their second year for a dual juris doctorate degree.

    The school strongly recommends that students possess prior work experience before applying. The school does not accept transfer credits. Students must submit GMAT scores, and the average GPA for accepted students is 3.65.

    Vanderbilt is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

  5. University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Madison, UW offers a master of science in financial economics for students needing advanced quantitative analysis training for economics. Students receive training and mentorship from both the economics and finance faculty.

    Many students complete the 30-credit program in 3-4 semesters. Core courses include investment theory and practice, derivative securities, econometrics, and financial microeconomics. Students choose six credits of electives, including options such as mergers and acquisitions, machine learning for economists, international finance economics, and data analytics for economists.

    Students may submit GRE scores to strengthen an application, but the school does not require them. Applicants must also complete a math preparation form to record their ability to handle high-level mathematics. Students do not need to possess previous work experience. UW is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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