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MBA in Finance Degree Guide

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A Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a finance specialization is one of several degree options for aspiring financial professionals. An MBA is a highly respected degree in the financial field and it could help you advance your career. Earning an MBA is a smart choice for students who want a broad business degree and a specialized understanding of finance.

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"Someone who is interested in being a generalist should pursue an MBA," says Greg Wilson, a Chartered Financial Analyst with more than two decades of experience in the financial industry. "In my experience, people I worked with that had an MBA had two noticeable advances over those that didn't: they were better coached in public speaking and they had a better (professional) network." 

What You'll Study in a Finance MBA

An MBA in Finance will give you advanced knowledge and understanding of both business and financial topics. The degree is designed to help graduates take on corporate finance, banking, financial planning, and other high-level business and financial roles. To prepare you for the responsibility of these roles, you'll study a broad scope of topics that are essential to business leadership and financial management.

The exact courses you'll take will depend on the school you choose to attend, but there are some core subjects that all finance-focused MBA programs will cover. These include:

  • Business communication—Mastery of public speaking, writing, presenting, and communicating
  • Financial management—Advanced understanding of how to help a business manage its budget, increase its profits, and decrease its losses
  • Investment management—Focus on stocks and other investment opportunities used to increase a company's earnings
  • Risk management—Analysis of financial scenarios to determine potential risks and benefits to support informed predictions
  • International finance—Knowledge necessary to work in financial markets around the world
  • Fundraising—Focus on generation of capital for a business with sources such as donations and grants
  • Team building and leadership—Preparation for leadership roles in a business setting
  • Business ethics—Focus on business practices and how to ensure they are fair, just, and ethical
  • Marketing—Focus on business promotion and gaining new customers to increase profits
  • Economics—In-depth understanding of how the financial world operates on both local and global scales
  • Business communication—Mastery of public speaking, writing, presenting, and communicating
  • Operations—Focus on the day-to-day management of a business, including budgeting and finance

Finance MBA Prerequisites

You'll need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university before you can enter an MBA program. Your undergraduate degree doesn't have to be in finance, business, economics, or a related field. However, if your bachelor's degree is in a very different subject area and you're applying to an MBA program without business or finance work experience, you might need to take some prerequisite classes at the undergraduate level before you can begin an MBA. This might include courses such as economics, statistics, or accounting. Some schools will also require that you take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as part of the application process, although many are no longer requiring testing.

MBA programs are often very competitive. The exact requirements will depend on the program, but application committees are often looking for:

  • Strong GPAs of at least 3.5 in all previous college-level coursework
  • Letters of recommendation from professors or employers
  • A well-written essay or personal statement

How Long Does a FInance MBA Take?

Earning an MBA in finance generally takes two years in addition to your bachelor's degree. The exact timeline will depend on factors such as:

  • Your exact program
  • Any prerequisites you might need to take
  • The format of your classes

Some universities offer accelerated MBA degrees you can earn in a single year. These programs are very intensive and don't include opportunities for internships or elective coursework. They might be a good fit for professionals who want to advance their careers quickly and who can take a year off work to dedicate to full-time MBA study.

Can I Get my MBA in Finance Online?

Many universities offer online MBA degrees. Often, you can complete the full program online and at your own pace. Some programs might ask you to come to campus for a capstone project or that you complete an internship. You'll still complete all of your coursework and testing online if your program has capstone or internship components, but you will also need to complete these in-person degree requirements.

Are There Certifications Available?

An MBA in Finance won't automatically qualify you for any certifications, however, it will help you meet some of the educational requirements for two important certifications:

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification

The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants requires 150 semester hours of education in accounting before you apply to take the exam. Depending on what your undergraduate degree is, your MBA in Finance can qualify you to take the exam.

Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) certification

The Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) certification from the Association for Financial Professionals requires either two years of full-time corporate finance work or a graduate-level degree in finance. Your MBA in Finance will allow you to take the exam without work experience. This certification is a great choice for accountants, budget analysts, budget managers, and any other financial professionals who help businesses meet their financial goals.

MBA in Finance vs Master of Finance

An MBA in Finance is a broad business degree with a financial focus. It gives you a high level of understanding of business leadership practices. You'll gain an advanced knowledge of financial topics, but you'll also study communication, operations, team building, and other business topics.

Conversely, a Master in Finance Degree is intended only for financial professionals. In a Master in Finance degree program, you'll focus strictly on financial coursework. You won't take courses on other aspects of business.

What Jobs Are Available with an MBA in Finance?

Finance is a broad career field that includes several job titles and that is found in multiple industries, and an MBA in Finance can help you advance your career in nearly all financial roles. However, there are some financial roles and industries that are more likely to be seeking out MBA graduates for high-level and well-paying roles, such as financial controller, chief financial officer, certified public accountant, and jobs at firms that manage high net worth clients.

Why Should You Earn this Degree?

An MBA in Finance can be a great fit for people who want their financial career to be focused on business, investments, and banking. Often, earning an MBA can allow you to move into financial management and financial leadership positions. Plus, since an MBA is a recognized and highly respected degree, it gives you an edge when you apply for jobs.

"If you want to be noticed by higher-ups or stand out to companies, get an MBA," says Stanford Nix, MBA, managing partner of The Nix Organization.

Can I Earn More with an MBA in Finance?

Earning an MBA can help advance your career. It might also help increase your paycheck. The exact amount you earn will depend on your job title, experience, and industry, but the 2022 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Compensation Survey found that financial professionals with an MBA had an average annual salary that was 10 to 15% more than financial professionals with bachelor's or associate degrees. 

stephanie behring

Written and reported by:

Stephanie Behring

Contributing Writer

stanford nix

With professional insights from:

Stanford Nix, MBA

The Nix Organization

greg wilson

Greg Wilson

Chartered Financial Analyst

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