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Graduate Degree and Certificate Programs in Finance Overview

Majors Overview May 6, 2015

Get information about graduate degree and certificate programs in finance and their coursework, career choices, and job and wage outlook.

Information on Finance Graduate Degree and Certificate Programs

Finance professionals can continue their education or advance their careers by enrolling in a doctorate, master’s degree, or graduate certificate program. Coursework in a graduate finance program usually focuses on accounting, economics, long-term financial planning, investments, and financial instruments.

The primary focus of many of these programs is on research, analysis, or forecasting market conditions. Armed with a graduate certificate or degree in finance, students can seek jobs as managerial accountants, chief executive officers, business managers, financial advisors, or college instructors.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Finance

Holders of an undergraduate degree can seek enrollment to a graduate program to get further education on financial planning, accounting, financial instruments, or corporate organization. Admittance to some graduate programs is restricted to students with work experience in finance, accounting, or a related field.

After they enroll, students are taught about valuation techniques, mathematical analysis, investing, and financial statements. Students may also be introduced to software employed in the trading of stocks through programs whose primary focus is on investment. Group assignments may also use these programs wherein the performance of major companies is tracked in real time.

Coursework

Coursework may include components dealing with either economics or investment activities. Economics courses include topic areas such as financial policy, monetary theory, calculus, and qualitative analysis. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Asset pricing
•Equity markets
•Portfolio analysis
•Capital investment strategy

Career Choices

Potential employers prefer financial analysts with a four-year or graduate degree. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offers licensure to providers of financial advice; alternatively, they may choose to become Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs).

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, a job growth rate of 16% has been predicted for financial analysts. The growth is due to increases in the level of investment (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2012, financial analysts brought in an average annual wage of $76,950 (BLS).

Graduate Certificate Programs in Finance

Students with a master’s degree may enroll in graduate certificate programs in finance and boost their careers as investors, accountants, and CEOs. Coursework entails advanced training in market forecasting, asset valuation, and financial accounting. While these programs primarily have an analytical focus, ethical practices in the financial industry are also covered.

Coursework

Allocation of capital and assessment of the risks or returns on investment for various investment positions are taught to students before they earn a certificate by covering courses that include those in statistical modeling, capital management, and corporate finance. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Derivatives
•Corporate governance
•Securities
•Financial reporting
•Financial analysis
•Long-term investment
•Finance and investment vehicles

Career Choices

Armed with a graduate certificate, students can boost their career prospects within their current field; however, earning a certificate can also help students in their pursuit of positions focused on financial analysis or management. Enrollment in a certificate program teaches business managers about anticipating future market conditions. They can choose from popular career options such as:

•Securities trader
•Chief financial officer
•Bank manager
•Business manager
•Accountant

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs in Finance

Armed with a doctorate in finance, students can seek careers as researchers, economists, or university-level instructors. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a master’s degree; however, an undergraduate degree may suffice for enrollment to some programs. Schools offer concentrations in long-term financial planning, management, accounting, and human resource management.

Completion of a doctoral study will enable the student to embark on a career armed with advanced skills in research, teaching, and financial planning. Graduates can also become adept at anticipating future market conditions based on microeconomic trends, macroeconomic conditions, and consumer behavior.

Coursework

Advanced coursework in doctorate programs in finance include courses in statistical modeling, econometrics, and microeconomics. Students can apply the knowledge gained when working on a thesis, wherein they will explore a specific type of market condition with the aim of explaining its occurrence. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Accounting
•Financial theory
•Dynamic asset valuation
•Risk evaluation and modeling

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 14% has been predicted for economists over the 2012 – 2022 decade, with greater demand for professionals holding a graduate degree (BLS). In 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $91,860 (BLS). While professors with a graduate degree are sought by most colleges, candidates with a doctorate are usually preferred. Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, a job growth rate of 17% has been predicted for all college instructors (BLS). In May 2012, postsecondary economics teachers brought in an average annual wage of $87,950 (BLS).

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