What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Finance?

What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Finance?

Finance is an extremely lucrative but competitive field. A master’s degree in finance can put you in an excellent position to compete for top jobs and leadership opportunities. Mastering in finance gives you the knowledge and skills necessary to enter a wide range of jobs focused on managing money and understanding economic developments.

Whether you plan to become the chief financial officer for a major company, a securities and commodities authority, or the principal figure in your own consulting firm, an advanced degree in finance will prepare and qualify you to lead. A master’s in finance can also substantially improve your earning power in a broad range of professional settings including publicly traded companies, government agencies, and non-profit groups.

[Note: Some universities may offer an advanced degree in finance through a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. To learn more, find out what you can do with a master’s degree in business administration.]

Just getting started in the field? Check out our look at the finance major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in finance.

If you’re ready to earn your graduate degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Finance.

Or read on to find out what you can expect as a Finance master.

Featured Programs

Why Get a Master’s Degree in Finance?

A master’s in finance is an extremely versatile degree, one that can help you advance toward a leadership role in a wide variety of settings. Your master’s in finance could lead to a career in the financial sector as an accountant, investment banker, or private wealth manager, or you could become a finance expert in a broader context such as retail, healthcare, or public services. In other words, with a degree in finance, you could apply your skills virtually anywhere that important financial decisions are made.

Today, top influencers in finance are bringing greater illumination to such topics as the behavior of emerging economies, the fight against global poverty, trade theory, and much more.

Learn more about these and other top influencers in the finance field today!

How Can I Qualify To Get a Master’s Degree in Finance?

Some, but not all, finance master’s degree programs may require you to complete a Graduate Record Examination (GRE). If the GRE is needed, your program may either require a general exam, or a GRE specific to the subject of finance.

If your finance master’s degree is a concentration within an MBA program, you may be required to pass an admission exam called the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Some programs may require you to meet a certain scoring threshold while others may merely require that you complete the exam. These requirements will vary from one finance master’s program to the next.

There are many finance master’s programs which do not require a GRE, and many MBA programs which do not require a GMAT. If no GRE or GMAT is required, the primary requirement for gaining eligibility into a finance or business master’s program is completion of a bachelor’s degree from a properly accredited undergraduate school. While programmatic accreditation is not specifically required in this field, most regionally-accredited graduate schools will require that your bachelor’s degree be granted by a regionally-accredited college or university.

Some colleges may offer bundled bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, where you could earn your advanced degree in one continuous five-year program. This option could save you time and money if you already know that you’ll be pursuing your advanced degree. However, the accelerated pace of such a program may make this a challenging way to earn both degrees. Find out if your school offers this bundling option and ask about eligibility requirements. But be sure you’re up to the added challenge!

For any additional questions about eligibility, refer to your intended program and learn more about application requirements and any additional requirements such as work experience, academic performance thresholds, and referrals.

If you’re still working on building your qualifications, check out our look at the finance major to find out how you can get an undergraduate degree in finance.

What Kinds of Advanced Finance Degrees Are There?

The type of advanced degree you pursue in finance will depend on the setting where you plan to apply your skills and knowledge. Some degrees can help strengthen and focus your practical skills, while other advanced degrees are designed to prepare you for a career in education or research:

  • Master of Finance (MS, MA, or MBA): A master’s in finance typically requires two years to complete and 30-45 credits. At this level, specialization is expected, so be prepared to pursue a concentration like corporate finance or international finance, and to complete courses in advanced topics, such as data analytics in finance, or financial engineering. These programs also typically require a professional experience component and a thesis research project.
  • PhD or DBA in Finance: The highest level degree you can earn, a PhD or doctorate of business degree typically takes three-to-five years to complete and requires a combination of advanced coursework, professional experience, instruction, and a dissertation project. A PhD is more focused on work in research and academia, and prepares you for roles as a post-secondary administrator or teacher, or as a top finance researcher. A DBA, on the other hand, is a professional doctorate, suited for top-level executives.

What are Some Popular Finance Specializations?

Finance is a varied field. Your skills can be applied in a wide range of settings. Your specialization will help you hone in on that setting. Popular master’s of finance specializations include:

  • Corporate Finance
  • Public Finance
  • International Finance
  • Investments and Securities
  • Risk Management
  • Financial Management

What Courses Will I Take as a Finance Master?

Your specialization will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a finance master. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as Financial Economics and Financial Modeling. But you’ll also have the opportunity to shape your advanced degree program according to your personal and professional interests.

Common finance courses include:

  • Econometrics
  • Financial Reporting
  • Corporate Valuation
  • Data Visualization and Analysis
  • Asset and Risk Management
  • Corporate Financial Policy
  • Applied Investment Management
  • Bond Markets
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Entrepreneurial Finance

Is a Master’s Degree in Finance Worth It?

A master’s degree in finance can significantly improve your job candidacy in this highly competitive field. A master’s degree could help you begin or advance a career as a financial analyst ($81,590; median pay, 2019), personal financial advisor ($87,850; median pay, 2019), or financial manager ($129,890; median pay, 2019). And in fact, master’s degrees in finance offer among the highest wage premiums of any profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents enjoyed a 90% wage improvement over their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees.

Career Outlook for Students with Finance Degree

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Degree Level: Master's

  • Location: The U.S. (Private Schools)
  • Avg. Cost of Degree*: $11,392
  • Avg. Expenses*: $17,912
  • Avg. Starting Salary*: $77,780
  • Avg. Cost Recoup Time**: 4 years
  • Job Growth: 5.79%
  • Number of Jobs: 6,097,600
  • * denotes ‘annually’
  • ** denotes ‘at 15% of annual salary’

Career Salaries

CareerJob GrowthAvg. Salary
Chief Executives-8.21%$161,191
Financial Managers15.98%$125,312
General and Operations Managers4.20%$94,699
Financial Risk Specialists8.15%$89,827
Business Teachers, Postsecondary7.01%$86,765

Average Career Salaries

Bottom 10%MedianTop 10%

Promising Job Markets

StateCost of LivingAvg. Salary
#2 New York5% higher than average$116,857
#3 Virginia5% higher than average$93,080
#4 Michigan15% higher than average$79,830
#5 Ohio14% higher than average$80,280
#6 North Carolina11% higher than average$81,347

Top Industries

IndustryAvg. Salary
Chief Executives$161,191
Financial Managers$125,312
General and Operations Managers$94,699

What Are The Top Jobs With a Master’s In Finance Degree?

Finance masters occupy a diverse array of jobs in both the public and private sectors. With a master’s degree in finance, you can serve in a leadership role for a government agency, corporation, or at the head of your own consulting firm. Your advanced degree in finance can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:

Curious how far you could go with a master’s degree in finance? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!


Now that you know how to earn a masters in finance, check out:

Check out the full list here and get started on your path to an advanced finance degree.

And if you’re still shopping for the right college, be sure to bookmark our Resources on critical issues like Accreditation, Scholarships, Financial Aid, and more!

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