Perhaps you’ve been in your current work position for a while but realize it’s time to take that next step. You’ve thought about furthering your education and increasing your financial career options but there are so many different degrees nowadays the process can seem overwhelming. Should you go on for a Master’s degree or a designation? What about doing the program online? Would the degree be more general, like the Masters of Business Administration, MBA or a specialized Masters in areas including Finance, Economics, Investment Management or Financial Crime. There are also MBAs with concentrations in similar areas, including Finance, Enterprise Risk Management and Fraud Management. With so many of these sounding similar, it’s difficult to make distinctions and find the right one for your career.
We discuss the benefits of online Master’s degrees, which are well-received by employers in finance. Some may be better suited for students interested in an internship. We’ll let you know which degrees and programs have practical curriculum by offering Capstone courses and looking at whether the faculty have relevant work experience which could enrich class discussions. We reveal which professional associations have affiliations with which online Master’s degree programs. This is important because it immensely helps students who wish to also achieve professional designations and certifications. This helps keeps curriculum up to date, makes professionals more marketable and earn more compensation. And of course, which Master’s degrees increase your pay the most upon completion.
Online Master’s in Finance
The online Master’s in Finance degree is probably for professionals who know they want to work directly in a finance role. The curriculum will be heavily concentrated in finance –specific topics such as financial reporting, capital budgeting and cost analysis. Typically, these programs take 2 years but certain programs are accelerated and can be completed in as little as 1 year. The programs usually require about 30 credit hours of finance and often end with a Capstone course which is a hands-on student project often tackling a real-world business case. Not all online masters in finance programs offer a Capstone but we highly recommend pursuing a program that does. It offers valuable research, teamwork and presentation skills that may be required in the field. Sometimes, the project’s findings are presented to a local business which can aid in networking.
Online Masters in Investment Management
An online Masters in Investment Management degree is a program that teaches students the tools and considerations needed for the investment decision making process, including discounted cash flow analysis, equity valuation and portfolio management.
The program should have an affiliation with a professional organization since the investing landscape changes so rapidly. Some online Masters in Investment management programs partner with the Chartered Financial Analyst, CFA Institute and the curriculum comes from the CFA program. This makes a very intriguing combination since you’ll receive not only a Master’s degree but also have a leg up if you try and attain the CFA designation, which is a very big deal to employers. If you’re thinking about becoming an analyst, portfolio manager or really any career in investment management, this might be the Master’s degree for you.
Online MBA in Finance
The online MBA with in Finance is a program designed to give the student a broad business background covering areas such as marketing, management, leadership, ethics and business statistics. This program is perfect for a student who may have received their bachelor’s degree in a non-business major. This way, they get caught up with the essential core business concepts that an MBA provides but also allows a deeper dive into finance-specific coursework. Also, the technology of finance (FinTech) is advancing so rapidly, it helps to see some of the trends that may be coming and how they affect all the different departments of a company. This may result in a better-rounded candidate in the eyes of an employer.
Online MBA in Enterprise Risk Management
The online MBA in Enterprise Risk Management is a graduate level program designed to offer students the insight and tools necessary to assess the different risks of today’s modern company with the goal of determining an appropriate risk-tolerance level. Cyber-security attacks, an onerous regulatory environment, insider fraud concerns, strategic threats from a new competitor and lack of financial control are all factors addressed in this program.
This degree is for professionals who want the comprehensive overview of general business but the chance to explore an exciting and fast-growing area of finance, risk management. It may give professionals looking to get into compliance a real advantage. The degree demonstrates a maturity that should be well-received from employers given the emphasis companies are now paying towards risk assessment. Additionally, MBA programs tend to enhance teamwork skills through group projects. These skill sets could translate into a management position down the road. Some online MBA in ERM programs can be completed in as little as one year which presents an attractive timeline for aspiring professionals looking to advance their career.
Online Masters in Financial Crime
As technology advances, so do the threats and the complexity in combatting the crimes. Unfortunately, an economic or financial crime against businesses and organizations is all too common. Roughly one-third of all businesses have experienced an economic or financial crime.1 The concern is even greater for financial services firms with nearly half of respondents have experienced a financial crime in their history. The largest area of crime is asset misappropriation (embezzlement or skimming) but cybercrime and money laundering are also increasing concerns. In fact, money laundering is a five times more likely to occur in the financial services area than any other industry.2
An online Masters in Financial Crime and Compliance Management degree is growing in popularity as the need for risk managers is at a premium. The program teaches students the skills needed to detect, deter and stop financial crimes in the real world. Also, compliance departments have really become a focal point for many executives given the punitive penalties for non-compliant operations. This degree should make you stand out for any compliance position, which is well-paying with good job security, although not always the flashiest.
Online Master’s in Economics
An online Masters in Economics is a graduate level program with a deep study of economics. Topics typically covered include various economic theories, statistical analysis, macro and micro-economics, public and labor economics and a final Capstone project. The subject material in economics is advanced but the degree makes a real impression on employers because they know the candidate is, if nothing else, very bright.
Economists collect and analyze data in order to forecast movements of economic variables and assess their impact on consumers (if working in private sector) and taxpayers (if working in public sector). Economists are some of the highest paid professionals in finance and are courted by banks to help manage risks for loan portfolios and by government agencies to help set public policy.