Money and finance power the world of commerce, and there will always be a great demand for finance professionals, from financial planners, to financial analysts, to financial executives, among others.
It is for that reason that many ambitious students and professionals earn a master’s degree in finance. This is a two or three year graduate degree that provides you with a good grounding in financial accounting, analysis, economics, financial management, and quantitative analysis.
Earning this degree is a good choice because there is growing need for many finance-related jobs. In fact, CareerBuilder reports that 35% of employers in the financial services field added jobs in 2014.
3 Types of Finance
There are three basic types of finance career that you can embark upon, depending upon the degree and your interests:
- Personal finance: Involves working with individuals and families to maximize their personal finance situation. Involves personal finance principles that include financial protection, tax planning, investment, retirement planning and estate planning.
- Corporate finance: Provide funds for and manages assets for a business’s financial activities. Financial managers in corporate finance focus on balancing risk and profitability; studying and forecasting economic trends; reviewing company reports; maximizing stock value; managing investment portfolios; and applying financial risk management principles.
- Public finance: Focuses on the financial affairs of states, and also school districts or government agencies at the local, state and federal levels.
Whatever your interest in finance with a master’s degree, you will probably be focused on one of the three above, or a combination of them.
Why Earn a Master’s in Finance?
The business and financial fields are experiencing good growth; the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that job demand for all business and financial roles in the US will increase by 8% by 2024. This means a total of 632,000 jobs will be created in the sector by 2024.
The increase in jobs in the finance sector is being driven by increased economic activity after the last recession. Also, experts state that there is a stronger financial regulatory environment at the national level, which drives demand for more financial managers, accountants and auditors.
Specifically, there is a growing need for financial analysts, with a 12% increase in demand by 2024. There are various types of financial analysts, and all of them are seeing a growing need.
These finance professionals evaluate various investment opportunities, and often work for pension funds, mutual funds, securities firms, insurance companies and related businesses. They include:
- Portfolio managers: Select the mix of products, types of industries and regions for a company’s investment portfolio.
- Fund managers: Work for hedge funds or mutual funds
- Ratings analysts: Evaluate whether a company or government can pay its debts.
- Risk analysts: Evaluates the level of risk for various types of investments for companies or public organizations.
Earning a master’s degree in finance will provide you with many in-demand skills in the business and finance world that you can use in roles such as financial analyst.
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Most master’s in finance programs are competitive for admission. Depending upon the quality and rank of the master’s program, you can expect to have these types of admissions requirements, such as at Georgetown University:
- Official copies of GMAT or GRE scores
- 0 minimum GPA
- Your overall academic record also will be examined, looking for your performance in more difficult finance and accounting related courses. Many finance programs will expect you to have a strong background in accounting, finance and statistics
- Updated resume that reflects your business, finance and accounting experience
- Work experience in the finance field is strongly valued
- Admissions essay about why you want a career in finance
Curriculum and Courses
Earning a master of science in finance will provide you with the tools you need for a career of success in finance. The University of Southern California offers a one year, intensive, online finance program.
It is built upon a 36 unit finance curriculum that features both core and elective classes. You have the option of customizing your experience with mentorship that is offered by USC’s high quality and experienced professors.
The program begins with a week long boot camp on campus in Los Angeles, focusing on mathematics. There also is plenty of team building and networking with classmates and professors.
Your required courses will include:
- Accounting Concepts and Financial Reporting
- Managerial Economics
- Quantitative Methods in Finance
- Corporate Finance
- Corporate Financial Policy and Corporate Governance
- Forecasting and Risk Analysis
- Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management
- Money and Capital Markets
- Financial Analysis and Valuation
Career Outcomes and Job Titles
Professionals who earn a master’s in finance will find themselves well suited for many exciting financial roles. Job titles that you may qualify for include:
- Financial manager
- Financial analyst
- Personal financial planner
- Budget analyst
- Accountant or auditor
- Cost estimator
- Financial examiner
- Insurance underwriter
- Loan officer
- Management analyst
- Tax examiner or tax collector
Job and Salary Outlook
There are many types of occupations that professionals with a graduate degree in finance may enter. The most popular jobs include the following:
- Financial Examiner – Financial examiners ensure local, state and federal compliance with laws that are issued by various government agencies. They must carefully review balance sheets, evaluate loan risk and assess bank management and finances. The job outlook in this field is strong, with 10% more jobs anticipated by 2024. Implementation of financial regulations will create more need for these professionals. The median salary in the field is $78,000, and the top 10% earn up to $149,000 per year.
- Loan Officer – Loan officers are responsible for evaluating, authorizing and recommending the approval of loan applications. These professionals can work in commercial loans, consumer loans, mortgage loans, and in general loan underwriting. Job demand for loan officers will rise 8% by 2024. It is anticipated that there will be more demand for loan officers in mortgages, consumer loans and auto financing as the economic recovery gathers momentum. The median salary in this field was $63,400 in 2015, with the top 10% earning $130,000 per year. Many professionals in this field are paid mostly on commission, with a base salary and commissions on each loan closed.
- Management Analyst – Another very popular field for master’s in finance professionals is management analyst or management consultant. These management professionals often have a background in finance, business or accounting. Their job is to propose ways for businesses to improve their overall efficiency and to make higher profits. Some management analysts are self employed, while others may work for consulting firms. Job outlook in this field is very solid, with 14% more jobs expected by 2024. There should be especially strong demand in healthcare, so consider focusing your finance career on healthcare organizations, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Median pay in the field was $81,000 in 2015.
Scholarships and Grants
You have many options for scholarships and grants in finance. Consider these:
- University of Florida: This university offers a Master of Science in Finance Scholarship Fund. It was first set up in 2005, and it supports people with significant finance work experience. It also supports top notch students with limited work experience and do not have the ability to attend an MBA program.
- University of Illinois: Offers several merit based scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students in accounting and finance.
Students who want a career in finance should look into these related finance resources:
- Association of Financial Analysts: Formed in 2008, this organization is now a leading network for financial professionals, and has more than 25,000 members around the world.
- Commercial Finance Association: An international trade association that is focused on asset based lending, factoring and supply chain finance.