Graduate Certificate Programs in Finance: Campus and Online - Online and Campus
Updated: February 25, 2022
As the need for finance professionals across industry and consumer needs has increased, so have the number of graduate certificate programs offering professional training and instruction in finance. Graduate certificate programs in finance are ideal for current and aspiring business professionals who wish to focus on financial advising and guidance for individuals and organizations. Examples of roles that could benefit from a graduate certificate in finance include financial managers and analysts, auditors, investors and brokers, venture capitalists, management consultants, and accountants, among other career paths.
Students in graduate certificate programs in finance gain targeted training in quantitative reasoning and statistics, financial analysis, corporate finance management, banking in the national and global arenas, portfolio management and investments, and other key areas to help them optimize financial strategy and decision-making for individual and corporate clients. In general, these programs are designed to be completed in a year or less, so that working professionals can immediately apply what they are learning to advance their careers. In addition, many of these programs offer evening classes and/or online or hybrid course options to enhance flexibility for working students, including students who wish to continue working full-time while pursuing a graduate certificate.
Finally, a major benefit of graduate certificate programs in finance offered at accredited academic institutions is that they can serve as a steppingstone to a Master’s in Finance or an MBA for students who wish to test the waters of graduate school study before committing to a full graduate program. In many cases, the credits completed as part of a graduate certificate program in finance from a regionally accredited college or university can be applied to a master’s degree at that same institution, or a different one (assuming that the university accepts transfer credits and that there is overlap between the courses already taken and courses that are required to earn a master’s degree at that institution).
Finance is a broad field that encompasses capital management, banking, investing and venture capitalism, financial systems management, budgeting and cash flow analysis, and many other key responsibilities that enable a business or organization to be fiscally viable. Finance professionals work in both the public and private sectors to ensure that individual consumers, non-profit organizations, for-profit corporations, and government entities make fiscally responsible decisions that align with their mission statement, growth goals, and/or stakeholder expectations. Quantitative analysis skills, proficiency in financial planning and budgeting, investment and capital management knowledge, and financial model building and analysis are all skills that professionals in finance may be expected to demonstrate on the job.
As finance professionals often work with people from other departments, including leadership, to ensure that all sectors of an organization are aligned in terms of their overall financial goals and benchmarks, they must also possess strong interpersonal communication skills. In addition, they must also have a strong understanding of financial regulations and ethics in areas such as business development, investments/capital and asset management, and local, state, and government policies.
|Featured Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Finance|
Online Graduate Certificate in Finance
Queens University of Charlotte
Online Graduate Certificate in Finance
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
Online Finance Graduate Certificate
Identifying and Classifying Finance Graduate Certificate Programs
As mentioned previously, finance is a very broad field that encompasses many sub-fields such as individual and corporate investment advising, accounting, auditing, capital investments, banking, portfolio management, and venture capitalism. As a result, some graduate certificate programs in finance are designated as programs in tangential fields, but still qualify as preparing students for a career in financial management and analysis. Depending on their specific career goals within the field of finance and financial management/analysis, prospective students should broaden their search to include graduate certificate programs, not only in finance specifically, but also in the specific areas that interest them professionally. Many colleges and universities name their graduate certificate programs after specific areas within finance—for example, some may offer graduate certificate programs in financial accounting, internal auditing, corporate finance, capital management, and/or investment strategy.
Graduate certificate programs in finance are also distinguished by the fact that they only admit applicants who have earned at minimum their bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. As these programs are comprised of advanced, graduate-level coursework, they differ from certificate programs at the undergraduate level that might have more foundational, baccalaureate-level coursework. Graduate certificate programs in finance are therefore suitable for recent graduates of a bachelor’s program who wish to expand their knowledge and skills set, as well as working professionals who possess a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. There are also post-graduate certificate programs in finance that require at least a master’s degree for admission. Therefore, students should always look at admissions requirements before applying to a program to ensure they meet the minimum requirements for admission.
Professional Certifications in Finance
The field of finance is unique in that finance professionals have a wide variety of professional certifications to choose from that can help enhance their credentials and competitiveness in the job market. In order to earn these certifications, candidates must typically take and pass one or more examinations offered through private credentialing organizations. While many of these organizations offer exam preparation materials and/or courses, some graduate certificate programs incorporate curriculum designed to prepare students for professional certification as well.
Examples of professional certifications in the field of finance:
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP): Certified financial planners have received training on all key areas of financial planning, including retirement and estate planning; stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance, and taxes; and financial counseling for a variety of individual and corporate clients. This credential is offered through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA): This credential is offered through the Institute of Internal Auditors, and demonstrates candidates’ knowledge of internal auditing, which includes the assessment of an organization’s internal business processes, risk management strategies, and financial reliability.
- Certified Public Accountant and Personal Financial Specialist (CPA and PFS): Certified public accountants have demonstrated expertise in accounting and tax preparation, while Personal Financial Specialists have received a credential that indicates their knowledge of financial planning. Both certifications are offered through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
- Certified Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis Professional (FPAC): Certified Corporate Financial Planners and Analysts are trained in strategic corporate budgeting and planning, building financial models and projections, business analysis reporting, and financial forecasting and budgeting. This credential is offered through the Association for Financial Professionals.
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): This credential is offered through the CFA Institute, and certifies that an individual has taken and passed three examinations that test their knowledge and competence in accounting, portfolio management, security analysis, economics, and the professional standards of financial accounting and analysis.
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA): Certified Management Accountants are globally recognized through the Institute of Management Accountants for their knowledge of financial planning and management, advanced accounting, and financial analysis and decision making.
- Certified Fund Specialist (CFS): Certified Fund Specialists have demonstrated expertise in mutual fund investments and advising. This credential is provided through the Institute of Business and Finance.
Note: Not all graduate certificate programs in finance prepare students to sit for the professional certification examinations listed above, so prospective students interested in earning one or more professional certifications after completing a graduate certificate program should consult with a program director before applying, to ensure that the program they choose provides instruction and training in their desired area of professional certification.
Finance Graduate Certificate Coursework
In general, graduate certificate programs in finance are comprised of 15-18 credits, or between five and six courses. Course content tends to vary by school—for example, while some programs have a set curriculum of courses, others might allow students to choose from a menu of courses in finance. In general, however, courses in graduate certificate programs in finance might cover the following topics:
- Financial Statement Analysis: The processes and principles of financial statement analysis, including analysis of cash flow, income, budgetary needs, and financial trends, as well as the use of horizontal, vertical, and ratio analyses to evaluate business performance over time.
- Capital Investments and Budgeting: Key topics in capital investment and budgeting, risk assessment, and capital financing and structure. Students also learn how to assist companies in measuring the value of acquired assets such as businesses, buildings and real estate, bonds and stocks, and other forms of capital.
- Corporate Finance Management: Important knowledge and topics in managerial finance, such as designing and implementing corporate finance plans, conducting valuations on company assets, developing capital models, maintaining a corporation’s capital budget, and evaluating a company’s financial information security. In addition, students learn about financial markets and policies, portfolio management, and capital restructuring.
- Globalized Banking and Finance: How financial institutions such as banks and regulatory agencies operate in a globalized economy. Students learn about national and international monetary policies and their relevance to corporations and other businesses, as well as consumers and individual investors.
- Portfolio Management and Investment Analysis: The methods for managing investment portfolios for individuals, groups, and organizations, including valuing stocks and bonds, measuring risk vs. return, optimizing diversification, and determining the value of securities.
- Quantitative Analysis for Financial Decision-Making: The mathematical and statistical tools and knowledge for assisting organizations in managing their financial goals, budgets, and cash flow.
Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Finance
Graduate certificate programs in finance are designed to be flexible, because most students enrolled in these programs already work full-time in finance or the business sector, and want to continue working while earning additional credentials. While some graduate certificate programs in finance offer evening or weekend courses to accommodate working students’ schedules, other programs offer online coursework that allows students to complete their graduate certificate requirements from any geographical location as long as they have an internet connection and a computer that enables them to access a learning management system (LMS). Learning management systems are platforms that host all the course content for a given academic program, including lectures, discussion boards, assignments, examinations, and real-time video presentations and group chats. Examples of learning management systems often used in online graduate certificate programs include Canvas, Blackboard, and Moodle.
Learning management systems often integrate both asynchronous and synchronous instruction into students’ learning experience. Asynchronous instruction entails pre-recorded lectures and course modules, assignments and discussion posts that students can fulfill on their own time, and tests that students do not have to sign in to complete as long as they abide by set deadlines. On the other hand, synchronous instruction includes live lectures and discussions hosted on video, as well as discussions on forums and remote chat platforms that require students to log in at a specific time. All online programs incorporate asynchronous materials into their curriculum; however, not all programs utilize synchronous instruction as it can be a challenge for working professionals across different time zones.
Both programs that use fully asynchronous instruction and programs that incorporate synchronous elements into their curriculum have their benefits and drawbacks, and prospective students should always take into account their learning preferences, schedule, and professional goals before enrolling in a program that emphasizes synchronous instruction over asynchronous instruction, or vice versa.
Examples of Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Finance
The programs described below are examples of graduate certificate programs in finance that are offered completely online through accredited institutions of higher education.
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in Manchester offers an Online Graduate Certificate in Finance that is comprised of 21 credits, or 7 courses, through which students learn advanced skills in cost accounting, corporate financial management, capital financing and budgets, quantitative analysis for financial decision-making, and the use of the latest finance technologies and strategies to oversee investment portfolios. Coursework is available for students 24/7 on a convenient online platform. This program’s credits can be applied to SNHU’s online Master’s in Finance (pending students’ admission into the master’s program). For additional details on the program, visit Southern New Hampshire University at www.snhu.edu.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has an Online Graduate Certificate in Finance that features four courses (16 credits) and can be completed in 6 months of full-time study and up to 18 months of part-time study. This program hones students’ skills and knowledge in financial management and corporate finance strategy, financial statement analysis, and managerial accounting. The online classes feature live discussion sessions that enhance students’ connections with course faculty and peers, and also serve as networking opportunities with students of UNC’s online MBA@UNC program. Learn more about this program by visiting the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill at online.unc.edu.
University of St. Francis (USF) offers a Graduate Professional Certificate in Finance program that provides professionals in financial with training in theories and strategies as they relate to organizational needs, training students in investment analysis, international finance, derivatives valuation, and the principles of financial management. This 12-credit program features asynchronous course content that can be accessed anytime, and students can apply the credits they earn in the program to USF’s master’s degree programs, including its MBA in Finance (pending students’ admission into USF’s master’s-level programs). For more information, visit USF at www.stfrancis.edu.
More Graduate Certificates in Finance
|Boston University||Online; Boston, MA||Graduate Certificate in Corporate Finance|
|North Carolina State University||Online; Raleigh, NC||Graduate Certificate in Finance|
|Northeastern University||Online; Boston, MA||Graduate Certificate in Corporate Finance|
|Northeastern University||Boston, MA||Graduate Certificate in Investments|
|Queens University of Charlotte||Online; Charlotte, NC||Graduate Certificate in Finance|
|San Francisco State University||San Francisco, CA||Graduate Certificate in Finance|
|Stanford University||Online; Stanford, CA||Graduate Certificate in Financial Analytics|
|The University of Iowa||Online; Des Moines, IA||Graduate Certificate in Finance|
|University of California, Berkeley Extension||Online||Certificate Program in Finance|
|University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati, OH||Graduate Certificate in Corporate Finance|
|University of Denver||Denver, CO||Graduate Certificate in Corporate Finance|
|University of Denver||Denver, CO||Graduate Certificate in Finance: Investment Markets|
|University of Massachusetts Dartmouth||Online||Graduate Certificate in Finance|
|University of Miami||Online||Gradaute Certificate in Financial Decision Making|
|University of Miami||Online||Graduate Certificate in Corporate Finance|
|University of Southern California||Los Angeles, CA||Post-Graduate Certificate in Financial Analysis and Valuation|
|University of Wyoming||Online||Graduate Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Certificate|