What can you do with a master’s in finance?
After spending years working in your industry, you start to get a feel for which areas you appreciate and which ones you could do without. Perhaps you’ve discovered you have a knack for numbers and particularly enjoy projects related to budgeting, financial planning and forecasting. You may even be thinking about advancing into a management role in the finance realm.
You know the specialized knowledge and leadership skills covered in finance master’s programs can help you reach the next level, but there’s a lot to consider when evaluating your options. You may be asking yourself things like:
- What type of program is best?
- What does the curriculum entail?
- What can you do with a master’s in finance after graduating?
Keep reading to uncover the answers to those questions and more.
What types of finance master’s programs are there?
For individuals looking to earn a graduate degree in finance, there are two main paths: earning a Master of Science (MS) in finance or an MBA with a finance specialization. Both programs will provide students with solid foundations of financial knowledge and acumen. Your ideal program choice then depends on the breadth and depth of skills you’re hoping to acquire.
An MS in finance is intended for those who hope to become highly specialized finance professionals, serving as subject matter experts within their organization.
For individuals who have their sights set on eventually serving in a management role, a finance MBA is an ideal option. The curriculum in these programs still covers specialized finance knowledge but also extends into core business leadership skills. This approach helps graduates to develop versatile skill sets plus robust understandings of business strategies and people management.
What can you expect from a finance MBA?
By enrolling in an MBA in finance program, like the one at UMass Global, you can expect to learn the same foundational knowledge as a general MBA, covering topics like statistics, economics, leadership and marketing. But the finance emphasis also offers an opportunity to broaden your expertise in areas like stock market analysis, global economics, corporate finance and investment banking.
“Every type of organization — whether public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit — requires an understanding of finance,” says Dr. Aaron Schmerbeck, assistant professor of finance and economics at UMass Global. “An MBA in finance from UMass Global provides students with a flexible, applied program that relates to real-life financial problems.”
Dr. Schmerbeck explains that students in a program like the one at UMass Global are given opportunities to engage collaboratively with others. They often work in teams on projects, reports, discussions and presentations, gaining important skills in the areas of problem solving, leadership, management and data analysis. He goes on to say,
These applicable skills are a premium in the workforce and are expected to be in demand for the foreseeable future.
The great news for a working professional like you is that institutions such as UMass Global offer degrees fully online to help make earning an advanced degree more feasible.
What can you do with a master’s in finance?
Analyzing potential career opportunities is an important part of weighing an advanced degree. As you consider pursuing a finance MBA to propel your career to the next level, ask yourself whether you can envision a fulfilling career in one of the following four positions:
1. Senior financial analyst
There are both junior- and senior-level financial analysts. Junior financial analysts typically have a bachelor’s degree and anywhere from zero to three years of relevant experience. They may spend their days collecting data, maintaining spreadsheets and crafting financial models. Senior financial analysts, on the other hand, get to dedicate more of their time to developing financial theses and strategizing management teams and investors.
It’s important for senior financial analysts to keep their fingers on the pulse of the industry to help form their investment opinions. Senior financial analysts then present investment ideas to their firm or client. They also regularly evaluate junior analysts’ work, review earnings reports and check in with the trading desk. If you’re currently working in that junior role, an MBA in finance could elevate you to the senior level you may have your sights set on.
2. Financial manager
A financial manager keeps tabs on the overall financial health of an organization. Historically, this position involved crafting detailed reports to monitor a company’s fiscal trajectory. But advancements in technology have streamlined the process, giving financial managers room to evolve in this role. A finance MBA teaches crucial new skills that have become a necessity in this job.
Financial managers are often responsible for supervising all employees who do financial reporting and budgeting. It’s also important for these professionals to stay up to date with market trends to help their organization identify notable expansion opportunities. This role encompasses a number of job titles, including treasurer, controller, risk manager and insurance manager.
3. Investment banker
Many finance professionals are drawn to the lucrative world of investment banking. Entry-level employees quickly come within reach of a six-figure salary, and senior investment bankers could earn millions annually. It’s a competitive field, which is why a master’s degree — particularly an MBA in finance — could set you apart from the pack.
An investment banker will typically work for a financial institution to raise capital for corporations, governments or other entities. Some examples of well-known investment banks include Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Investment bankers specialize in navigating large, complicated financial transactions. That can include acquisitions, mergers and big sales for a client or group of clients.
Another aspect of investment banking is identifying the financial risks of a particular endeavor or project. For that reason, businesses and nonprofit organizations often consult these professionals.
4. Chief financial officer
Chief financial officer (CFO) is a highly desirable executive role, often paired with a multimillion-dollar salary. These professionals are well-compensated because their role is demanding and complex.
A CFO’s work can be summarized in three distinct categories:
- Controllership duties include gathering, reporting and presenting accurate and timely historical financial information for an organization. Stakeholders rely on this information, so CFOs must be meticulously accurate in their reporting.
- Treasury duties include maintaining the present financial health of the organization. They need to focus on how best to invest the company’s money and also zero in on the capital structure of the company to determine the most appropriate mix of debt, equity and internal financing.
- Economic strategy and forecasting duties center on preparing the company for a lucrative financial future. CFOs use economic forecasting and modeling to identify where a company is most efficient and then determine how they can capitalize on this information to help ensure financial success.
Is a career in finance in your future?
So, what can you do with a master’s in finance? Earning an advanced degree in this field can equip you for several leadership opportunities in your industry. The skills and expertise offered by a finance MBA could be the key that unlocks these doors you’ve been knocking on.
To learn more about this education path, and to determine whether it’s the right fit for you, visit the MBA in finance program.
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