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Best Graduate Online Finance Certificate Programs

A solid background in finance is essential for high-level positions across the modern workforce. Read on to learn about the best online finance certificate programs and what they can do for your career.

Author: Quinn Dannies

Editor: Staff Editor

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Five professionals discussing around a conference table with laptops and documents, in a bright office with a large window and presentation screen displaying Graduate Health Informatics in the background.

Whether you’re currently immersed in corporate banking or aspiring to carve a niche in finance, a graduate certificate in finance can equip you with the insights to thrive in your field. This certification not only facilitates progression within your current role but also positions you to take on more significant responsibilities. Some online graduate certificate in finance programs also go the extra mile by preparing you for the professional exams needed for certification.

We know the prospect of returning to a classroom setting might seem daunting, and traditional education structures don’t suit everyone. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of exceptional online finance graduate certificate programs offering flexible scheduling, along with the convenience of studying from the comfort of your home. Many of these programs are also tailored for professionals like you, ensuring that you’ll learn alongside industry peers.

You’re probably curious about the top programs, how to finance your education, and potential career paths open to someone with a graduate certificate in finance. Continue reading to learn more about the best online finance certificate programs and address these questions and more.

College Spotlights: Best Online Finance Certificate Graduate Programs in 2024

There are plenty of options for financing graduate certificate programs, especially if you are considering attending school online. So how do you pick the best one? Even though your career goals and program needs may be unique, we’ve looked into many programs across the web and ranked them based on key factors like price, quality, and student support. Here are a few of our favorite programs to get you started on your research; check back for a complete ranking list later in 2024.

Missouri University of Science and Technology

The logo of Missouri S&T's online graduate health informatics program is in dark green with stylized script, featuring an interlocking design between the letters 's' and 't'.

Missouri University of Science and Technology offers both general finance and financial technology graduate certificates. Both programs require only four completely online courses. Students in the finance graduate certificate program gain foundational knowledge in a range of subjects, including investment strategies, risk analysis, and financial markets.

Students who earn this certificate tend to pursue careers in financial advising, corporate banking, and budget analysis. Additionally, this program is an excellent option for people from a non-finance background to improve their skills in preparation for a promotion or career shift.

The financial technology graduate certificate program is designed to keep finance industry professionals and aspiring professionals up to date on innovative tools and current practices. Students in this program will gain a solid foundation in established financial technological practices and explore currently developing methods such as artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies. This program is ideal for students who want to shape the future of the financial sector.

Wilmington University

The logo of Wilmington University, featuring stylized text "Wilmington University" in green with an illustration of a church steeple on the left and a horizontal yellow line beneath the text, represents its commitment to online programs.

The advanced finance certificate program at Wilmington University is all about developing real-world skills. As a result, the program’s curriculum is constantly evolving to ensure that students are knowledgeable about the most current research, technologies, and practices. With the professionals working in the industry as professors, you will have unparalleled access to expertise and networking opportunities.

Besides offering a world-class online finance graduate certificate program, Wilmington’s structure is flexible to accommodate students’ diverse needs. Because classes are asynchronous and entirely online, students can study anywhere at any time. Plus, courses start every eight weeks, so it’s easy to take courses immediately or take a break when needed.

Students considering pursuing a graduate degree in finance or business will be excited to learn about Wilmington’s dual-credit advantage program which ensures that the credits you earn for this certificate can and will be counted towards other degrees or certificates in the future.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Logo of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, featuring an illustration of the Old Well in white against a dark blue background, with the name of the university in white lettering and highlighting their Online Programs.

Overseen by the prestigious UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, the online finance certificate from the University of North Carolina is a top-tier program with a high reputation in the industry. The program also offers a well-rounded curriculum with an emphasis on networking and diversity that are not common in other similar institutions.

As part of their diversity and inclusion efforts, the program has a holistic application process and flexible work options to allow students from all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in this rigorous program. For example, standardized test waiver is offered to experienced professionals, and there are also flexible and multiple start dates.

Most of all, the school understands that professionals need to stay on top of the rapidly changing landscape of finance. To that end, the school’s dynamic curriculum incorporates emerging trends and technologies including challenging long-standing assumptions about finance and its practices.

Top Reasons to Get a Graduate Certificate in Finance Online

Online certificate programs offer all the advantages of an advanced certification without the drawbacks of in-person commitments. Earning your certificate online is an affordable, flexible opportunity to develop in-demand skills and provide access to better opportunities. Earning your finance certificate online also offer the benefits outlined below.

Deepen Your Knowledge

Whether you are looking to advance your career in finance or develop a foundational knowledge of finance to work in another field, a finance certificate is an efficient and affordable way to achieve these goals. Certificate courses, including investment strategy and risk analysis, can help you make the best decisions for your clients and business.

Advance Your Career

Earning your graduate certificate in finance demonstrates that you have the essential skills to move into higher-level positions, including in banking, analysis, or underwriting fields. Furthermore, pursuing additional certifications demonstrates the initiative and commitment required for lifelong learning. Employers want and value both of these traits in their employees. Additionally, if you intend to seek professional certifications, graduate certificate programs can help you prepare to ace your exams.

Study While Working

Many people are hesitant to take time off from work or quit to pursue a graduate certificate. They worry that they may be giving up essential work experience to attain additional credentials. Not to mention, it will be more financially difficult to leave a steady paycheck. With online graduate certificates in finance, you won’t have to choose between these two paths. Online finance certificate programs are designed with working professionals in mind, meaning they offer the flexibility to attend part-time enrollments, take breaks, or complete the coursework on a timeline that fits your schedule.

What You’ll Learn in Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Finance

Most finance programs are designed to build essential knowledge in all the key aspects of finance to prepare you to pursue professional certifications or new work across or outside the industry. In addition, some programs even offer specialization in areas of finance such as financial technology, corporate finance, or applied finance. Generally, regardless of the program, there will be one or two required courses, and you can choose the rest of your classes from various electives. The best graduate certificate programs in finance include a combination of the popular courses described below.

Popular Courses

Risk Management

Managing risk is an essential skill for finance professionals. Ultimately your ability to make responsible choices that maximize gain and minimize exposure will dictate your success in many finance careers. These courses cover strategies, technologies, and best practices to manage risk, policies, and legislation, and how to adapt management strategies to meet your client’s financial goals. These courses can also help you pass the financial risk manager exam (FRM) which will provide you with professional certification.

Principles of Investing

This course covers the fundamental elements of investment practice, including investment policies, market factors, buying and selling strategies, balancing portfolios, and basic management principles. Additionally, some courses will dig into overarching fundamentals to ensure that students understand the behavior of financial markets, trade procedures, reporting conventions, and market techniques.

Financial Accounting

Even if your career aspirations don’t include accounting, a strong understanding of financial accounting principles is essential for many career paths. Students in these courses will dive deep into how accounting and reporting can be used to make informed investment decisions, put together performance portfolios, and even conduct employee assessments.

Financial Markets

These courses delve into all the elements of financial markets. Topics might include the history and purpose of various markets, the structure of different portfolio types, interest rates and pricing, and basic investment theory. In programs where this course is included, the course is a starting point for more in-depth explorations of risk management, investing, and other topics.

Corporate Finance

These types of courses are generally offered as an elective option in most certificate programs. The content of the class covers the specific financial situations of larger companies. Students will typically learn how to identify and report a corporation’s financial activities, measure and prepare documents on financial performance, and contextualize a firm’s financial strategy within global markets and economic outlooks.

What is the Difference Between a Graduate Finance Certificate and a Professional Certification?

In the finance world, there are various professional certifications, including certified financial planner, chartered market technician, and financial risk manager. You gain these professional certifications by completing a required course or passing a rigorous examination. As you begin to specialize in your career, you may pursue one or more of these certifications.

In some cases, graduate certificate courses prepare you for certification examinations. Other graduate certificates can help you get a leg up or a foot in the door by demonstrating deep knowledge of a specific topic. Additionally, people in other industries, such as business or nonprofit management, may pursue graduate certificates to demonstrate well-roundedness and qualify for upper-level positions.

What Can You Do with a Graduate Certificate in Finance?

Earning a finance graduate certificate provides you with a world of opportunities. If you are already working in the finance industry, you may be able to seek promotions in your current organization or take on responsible management and decision-making roles in other companies. For example, banking industry professionals may be offered opportunities to take on larger clients.

For entry-level employees, your certificate can give you an edge when applying for your first finance job. Of course, this will help you get your foot in the door across the industry. More importantly, your advanced credentials can give you more job opportunities within your chosen specialty.

Outside the financial industry, your background may qualify you for leadership and strategic roles in a range of companies and nonprofits. Finally, if you are considering graduate school, you’ve already earned valuable knowledge and some credits toward your master’s degree.

Accreditation for Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Finance

Whichever online finance program you choose, your course must be accredited. The accreditation system ensures that your school’s academic quality is on par with other reputable institutions. Without accreditation, there is no guarantee that your future employers or future schools will accept your credentials.

With finance programs, you want to ensure that your school is accredited by a regional accreditation body. These groups are authorized by the US Department of Education to oversee the quality of higher education institutions in a specific geographic area. This accreditation should be proudly displayed on the school’s web page so it will be easy to check. If you are unsure about a school’s reputation, you can look them up on the Department of Education’s accreditation database.

Unlike some disciplines, financial programs do not have an additional, subject-specific accreditation body that works with schools at a program-by-program level. However, since many finance programs are administered by a school’s business program, you can check to see if the business school is certified by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. While many good schools do not carry this additional accreditation, you can be sure that those who do represent the cream of the crop.

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Graduate Certificate – Finance

As someone interested in finance, you’ve probably already considered how to finance your certificate program. There is nothing wrong with self-financing your tuition or taking out student loans. Still, there are many opportunities to decrease your out-of-pocket cost. Many schools have excellent need or merit-based financial aid programs that apply to graduate certificate programs. Additionally, you should investigate whether your employer offers tuition assistance or professional development funding that you could apply to your program.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve dedicated an entire page to financial aid, where we discuss all of your funding options. Plus, to help you get an idea of your potential tuition bill, we’ve broken down the cost of a few quality programs below.

What Your Finance Graduate Certificate Online Program Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

11

$998

$10,978

16

$955

$15,280

12

$570

$6,840

Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Online Finance Certificates

What is the Difference Between a Graduate Finance Certificate and a Master's Degree?

Graduate finance certificates focus on a specific area or skill set. These programs can be completed more quickly than a master’s program and are generally more affordable. Graduate certificates offer an excellent stepping stone to a promotion or can help you acquire a job in finance.

On the other hand, master’s degrees in finance provide much more in-depth knowledge. These extended programs are geared toward students or industry professionals with specific, high-level career aspirations. If you’re considering pursuing an MA in finance, we have all the details for you in this guide to finance master’s degrees.

A graduate certificate is a great way to test the waters if you’re unsure about your long-term goals. Many master’s programs will accept course credits from your graduate certificate towards their curriculum requirements.

What Are the Admissions Requirements for Online Graduate Certificate in Finance Program?

Applications for online graduate certificates are generally pretty quick and easy, especially when you compare the process to a master’s program. For example, the online corporate finance graduate certificate at the Harvard Extension School doesn’t even require a formal application. However, most schools require at least a little bit of leg work. Common application components include:

  • Résumé or CV. This is your chance to share your achievements and demonstrate your potential. You can highlight relevant work experience and skills if you are currently in the industry. Recent graduates may choose to highlight academic achievements and relevant coursework.
  • Standardized tests. Some certificate programs, especially those that are pathways to master’s programs, do require applicants to submit their GRE/GMAT scores. However, more and more schools are moving away from this requirement. Additionally, some schools will waive test requirements for applicants who can demonstrate a specified number of years in the industry.
  • Previous coursework. Some programs require students to have completed specific undergraduate classes before they can enroll in the certificate courses.

How Long Will It Take to Finish My Finance Graduate Certificate Online?

The program you select, and your course load will significantly impact how quickly you finish your degree. When estimating timelines, most schools assume a full course load of 12 credits. If you can commit to full-time school, you can earn many certificates, like the one from Ball State University, in as little as 16 weeks. Or programs like the ones offered at the University of Cincinnati will take at least two semesters. Additionally, some schools like the University of Iowa offer 8-week courses to help part-time students speed up their certificate completion.

Typically, online finance graduate certificates do not require that students attend courses full-time, and many allow students to take breaks throughout the program. However, some schools do have time limits on certificate completion, so make sure you do your research.

Can I Earn My Graduate Certificate in Finance 100% Online, or Do I Need to Take Classes on Campus?

It is up to you! Graduate certificate programs cover a spectrum of delivery styles from 100% online to 100% in-person. Online programs are the most popular option since they offer the most flexibility. However, many campuses offer the opportunity to mix and match which courses you take online and which ones you take on campus. In addition, there is a huge variety of certificates available in every format, so you have plenty of opportunities to study where and how works best for you.