A bachelor’s degree in finance could be one of the best career decisions students choose to make. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that more than 7 million Americans work in business and financial operations occupations. The BLS also estimates that the median hourly wage for at least 50% of this group is $32.55. Workers in this group make around $67,000 per year, and students seeking a profitable career gravitate toward the high earning potential of finance occupations.
Finance careers can be very demanding, and students pursue higher education to gain the knowledge and skill set they need to perform a vast array of duties. With technology, more students pursue their degrees online, and finance majors can apply for reputable online bachelor’s degrees in finance programs. In our guide, we break down the curriculum for bachelor’s programs in finance, plus scholarships, job outlook, and salary. We also cover school and program accreditation to help you find the most qualified schools.
The Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Finance 2018
Deciding which college to go to is no easy task, so ACO evaluated more than 3,500 colleges to give you the information you need to make the search more manageable. Our 2018 college rankings are based on statistical data from trusted sources, eligibility criteria and various ranking factors
Each college must be located in a state (US territories and Washington DC were excluded)
Each college must have at least one online program 1
Each college must have a maximum four-year tuition of $25,000 or a maximum two-year tuition of $5,000
Several individual data points were objectively evaluated to calculate a score for each ranking factor listed above. For affordability, the most impactful data points were tuition2 and grants; for quality, graduation and acceptance rates; for flexibility, part-time enrollment options; and for program, degrees granted in that specific program area. Each score was then weighted, with affordability being the most highly weighted factor for all ACO rankings.
1 Best Vocational Programs included data for both online and campus programs.
2 Both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates were used in our methodology; however, our rankings tool currently only displays in-state rates.
A dash in our Rankings Tool indicates IPEDS data was not available.
Tuition displayed in in-state and per year unless stated otherwise.
A good bachelor’s in finance program offers experienced and helpful faculty members, a broad curriculum, and experiential learning opportunities. The following ranked schools feature stand out from other programs in these respects. We looked at graduation rates, tuition costs, degree requirements, and other factors to rank the schools with the best online bachelor’s programs in finance. Our data comes from the Integrated Postsecondary Education System and other sources that specialize in higher education statistics.
How Much Can You Make in a Finance Career?
The below list provides a detailed description of five different occupations within the finance field. Students can use this information to become familiar with different career options and get an idea of the path they want to take after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in finance. A degree does not guarantee a career or salary, but it does help workers get their foot in the door in the professional world. Colleges encourage internships, and students use their schools’ career services departments to network and secure job and internship placements.
Personal finance advisers assist clients looking for ways to invest money, save, buy real estate, or make other financial decisions. Advisers educate clients on the financial systems that dictate investing, retirement, and other business activities. Personal advisers tend to work with individual clients instead of large corporations. As an adviser, they look at clients’ bank accounts to determine their financial situations and suggest changes. Clients also use advisers to file taxes and find insurance products.
Financial analysts perform some of the same duties as personal financial advisers, but the professions differ in a few ways. Financial advisers work primarily with businesses and companies to help them invest money and assess their financial health. These advisers assist companies ranging from startups to large-scale corporations. Analysts study the economy, paying specific attention to economic trends. They use this information to suggest investments to build the company’s investment portfolio.
Financial managers examine data to write financial reports. They work on teams with other financial advisers to help senior executives brainstorm ideas to maximize profit. There are a few different types of financial managers. Controllers prepare income statements, balance sheets, and other special reports for companies. Treasurers take charge of companies’ financial budgets, suggesting strategies to help them meet their goals. Risk managers devise strategies to prevent or correct financial loss.
Securities and commodities sales agents include brokers, investment bankers, investment banking sales agents, and traders. Brokers sell securities, better known as stocks and bonds, to clients, while advising them about their financial options. Investment bankers act as liaisons between businesses and investors. They help businesses find funding through investors. Investment bankers coordinate initial public offerings, mergers, and acquisitions. On the other hand, investment banking sales agents and traders handle orders for stocks, bonds, and commodities. They work for investment banks, commercial banks, private equity groups, and hedge funds.
Institutions use budget analysts when they need assistance managing their finances. Analysts review each department’s budget, consolidating them into one organizational budget. They also monitor and assess funding requests. Budget analysts project the cost-benefit of various financial activities. They also evaluate companies’ programs to decide if they need to adjust funding levels and monitor spending accounts to let company officials know how much cash or credit is on hand.
Many students want to know if the degrees they pursue will benefit them in the long run. Salary and job growth data provides pertinent information regarding employment trends in the industry. The Bureau of Labor statistics tracks this data to provide a comprehensive look into business and financial operations occupations. On average, workers in this industry make $36.70 per hour. The District of Columbia boasts the highest concentration of business and finance jobs, with over 100,000 employees working in the industry.
What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Finance Degree?
A bachelor’s degree in finance curriculum incorporates principles from marketing and accounting into students’ course loads. Financial occupations require professionals to buy and sell products, so students must understand how business and the economy works. Course names and assignments differ by school, but learning outcomes remain the same between most programs. The following guide lists the types of courses finance students take. For specific course requirements, refer to the school’s website or academic departments.
Intermediate Accounting I
This course covers advanced accounting techniques, such as working with complex financial statements. Students review introductory concepts concerning the accounting cycle and adjusting journal entries.
Students use managerial decision-making techniques to make capital budgeting and structure choices. Students learn about firm valuation, dividend policies, and quantitative risk assessment.
Fundamentals of Investments
Students analyze different types of investments, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and mutual funds. By the end of the course, learners understand how and where financial advisers invest client funds.
Principles of Marketing
In this course, learners examine different aspects of marketing, such as customer behavior and product pricing. Students also explore the science behind marketing to culturally diverse groups.
Multinational Corporate Finance
Course instructors teach students how to financially plan for international corporations. Students research ways to source corporate funds for foreign investments. They also discuss foreign exchange rates.
How to Choose the Best Online Finance Program
Committing to a higher education institution is a big step for students. They must account for factors including cost, accreditation, degree requirements, and faculty before making a final decision. Students should research schools as thoroughly as possible and talk to the admissions department, faculty members, and students before selecting a school. This section features some questions students ask while researching bachelor’s in finance programs.
What’s the Difference Between an Online Finance Degree and a Traditional Degree?
In traditional on-campus bachelor’s programs, students attend classes on-site at scheduled time periods. For online courses, schools offer fully online or hybrid courses. Fully online classes require students to submit their work digitally and interact with others through email and discussion boards. Hybrid courses take place primarily online, with occasional in-class meetings.
How Many Credits Do I Need to Graduate?
To graduate with a bachelor’s in finance, you need at least 120 credits. Schools may add more or fewer depending on their degree requirements, but most programs require at least 120 credits.The credit requirement spans four years of study, and each course is worth one to four credits. Students with transfer credits must apply to have their credits approved. Students without previous credits start receiving college credits as first-year students.
Can I Pursue a Finance Bachelor’s Degree Online While Working Full or Part time?
Many working professionals opt for online courses, which offer schedule flexibility. Online students can access their assignments and course materials through an online learning management system, like Blackboard. Students get round-the-clock access to the learning system, enabling them to complete coursework on their own time. Depending on your schedule, you can work full- or part-time, and pursue a bachelor’s in finance.
Do I Need Certification to Work in Finance?
Yes, certain financial careers require certification. Students who want to work as accountants apply for their certified public accountant credentials. Learners who want to become analysts may apply for the chartered financial analyst certification. Other certifications include financial risk manager and certified credit potential. To receive certification, candidates must submit an application and take an exam. Certain professions, such as accounting and insurance sales, require certification and licensing.
Will I Get a High Paying Job Immediately After Graduation?
According to Payscale.com, entry-level financial analysts make $57,000 per year, more than the average national salary of $50,620. By mid-career, financial analysts make around $67,000 per year. These numbers fluctuate based on geographical location — in cities like New York and San Francisco, for example, analysts make significantly higher salaries over the course of their career. Starting salaries in other finance-related careers vary, but employees generally enjoy decent incomes.
Scholarships & Financial Aid for Finance Programs
Students entering a bachelor’s in finance program may explore different financial aid options while searching for the right school. Many students prefer gift aid, such as scholarships and grants, over loans, because gift aid does not require repayment. Both private and public institutions award scholarships to students based largely on their academic merit. Banks and other lending institutions distribute loans to people who meet certain income and credit thresholds. The organizations on our list give scholarships exclusively to students pursuing bachelor’s degrees in finance or finance-related subjects.
The Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals supports the insurance compliance community by providing opportunities and education to its members. One of its scholarships, the Rich Guggolz scholarship, awards three students with $1,500 for their college tuition and fees. Eligible candidates must be full-time undergraduate students attending an accredited school. They must declare a major in finance or a finance-related field, and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The Wells Fargo banking institution awards this scholarship to American Indian and Alaska Native college students pursuing careers in finance, accounting, information technology, human resources, management, and administration. Applicants must submit documentation certifying their American Indian ancestry. They must be college undergraduate students in their junior or senior year at an accredited U.S. institution. Candidates also submit forms showing financial need.
The Government Finance Association began in 1906 to help public finance officials. The association seeks to advance public understanding and interest in government financial management. To help with these efforts, they provide various scholarships for student members interested in government finance and budgeting careers. The Goldberg-Miller Public Finance scholarship honors Daniel B. Goldberg. The scholarship gives a full-time graduate student $15,000 to support their education.
The Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance created this scholarship to motivate women in their journey as leaders in the accounting and finance fields. These scholarships provide financial aid to women pursuing their degrees. The Paula Zanni scholarship offers an additional award to a student who already received an award from the alliance. The alliance provides several undergraduate and graduate scholarships to women pursuing accounting or finance degrees. Another scholarship, the diversity undergraduate scholarship, helps women of color secure funding.
The Geoffrey Beene Foundation presents scholarships to students in various disciplines who plan to work in the fashion industry after graduation. The foundation gives four students $30,000 to major in finance, merchandising, marketing, or another finance-related field. Four runner-up finalists receive $10,000 for their financial needs. The foundation works closely with the Council of Fashion Designers of America to create endowments and other funds for students and fashion industry professionals.