Finance is the science of money management. Individuals, businesses, and even governments need the guidance of people educated in this field, so a certificate in finance can open many doors. This is also a quickly expanding sector of the job market. The Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts that employment in finance related occupations should grow by about 5 percent in the coming decade. This is significantly faster than the national average across all occupations.
Why Choose an Online Certificate Program?
These online programs offer a great deal of flexibility in studying, attending virtual classes, and turning in assignments and tests. That flexibility makes them a great choice for non-traditional learners with busy schedules. Online certificates allow people to switch fields completely, pivot to another subsection of the Finance sector, or simply sharpen their skills. Finally, some students earn certificates to lay down the groundwork for a future degree. Many of these programs will credit the courses you’ve taken toward a future bachelor’s or master’s in Finance.
Finance is a broad field of study, but certificate programs narrow that down to specializations. You may be able to find certificates in:
- Nonprofit Financial Management
- International Finance
- Tax Preparation
- Personal and Family Financial Planning
- Corporate Finance
- Banking Management
Some certificates start with an introduction to finance or accounting and move on to intermediate concepts in later courses. Other certificates assume students have a base of financial knowledge and experience. They jump into advanced topics immediately. You may be able to fill in any knowledge gaps before the certificate program with a single course offered through the university. These certificates can typically be earned in 18 months or less. However, you may be able to get credit for certain courses you’ve already taken. This is highly dependent on the program you choose and the university’s policies, so you’ll want to talk to an adviser about your academic plan.
What Do You Earn in This Field?
The median pay ranges depending on the job, from about $55,000 for tax examiners to $88,000 for personal financial advisers. Note that these figures are quoted for people holding a bachelor’s degree. However, many of the graduate certificates listed here are designed to build on a lower-level degree in another concentration. This allows professionals to get started on the career track with a degree in a different field.
|1||UC Riverside Extension||Riverside, California|
|2||Cornell University||Ithaca, New York|
|3||Alamo Colleges District, San Antonio College||San Antonio, Texas|
|4||Boston University||Boston, Massachusetts|
|5||East Carolina University||Greenville, North Carolina|
The 15 Best Online Finance Certificate Programs
We’ve compiled this list of the best online finance certificates that you can earn. This ranking is based on the total tuition for the certificate program and the minimum months to complete the certificate. Other university fees may apply on top of the base tuition.
UC Riverside Extension
UC Riverside Extension is a nonprofit division of the University of California, Riverside. It offers professional studies and continuing education opportunities. UC Riverside Extension has a number of programs including Introduction to Accounting – Specialized Certificate. This program involves two courses (8 credits) covering the basics of accounting, generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and how to process financial information. Classes are held online and year round, giving students a lot of flexibility for course start times and their study and exam schedules.
Cornell University’s online learning platform, eCornell, has over 100 award winning professional certificate programs. These programs, including a Certificate in Financial Management, place an emphasis on classroom collaboration and real-world application. Although it can be earned in just three months’ time, this program is an intense one. Students need to pass six highly accelerated two week courses. These courses will explore topics including raising capital, making capital investment decisions, identifying and measuring risk and return, and evaluating financial performance.
Alamo Colleges District, San Antonio College
San Antonio College is a member of the Alamo Colleges District, a network of five community colleges in the San Antonio, TX area. This program offers a Level 1 Certificate in Banking and Financial Services. The six courses (18 credit hours) involved explore the principles of bank operation including money and financial markets, financial statement analysis, lending, accounting, and the laws governing banking. This college also offers a Level 1 Certificate in Financial Analysis.
This seven course program offered by Boston University Online can give you a Financial Planning Certificate in under a year. It’s a flexible program with rolling admissions and 24-7 access to online course content. Students who have less free time can also take a less demanding study plan, letting them earn the degree in a slightly longer time frame. This program covers accounting principles, financial analysis, the ethics and law governing financial planning, and real-world scenarios that a student may encounter.
East Carolina University
East Carolina University has an online Graduate Certificate in Finance. Over nine months, students will take four courses (12 credit hours) that will prepare them for jobs including Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). The program itself is somewhat customizable. Along with a solid base of investment management theory, students can choose a variety of electives including commercial bank financial management, financial risk studies, portfolio theory, international financial management, and real estate analysis.
University of Kentucky
The Executive Education division of the University of Kentucky offers a number of online certificate programs including a Certificate in Personal Financial Planning. It builds on the foundation of a bachelor’s degree in any subject. The flexible educational schedule is tailored for the needs of working professionals. Its six courses (18 credit hours) delve into regulator issues and ethics, insurance and retirement planning, estate planning, and tax and investment planning. This program culminates in a capstone course where students can develop a personalized financial plan that meets the client’s needs and goals.
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Online
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota offers quite a few certificates in a number of health, computer science, and business-related fields. This includes their one-year, four course Finance Certificate program. The program can be taken alone, launching you to an exciting new career, or the credits can be applied toward one of the related accelerated online MBAs that Saint Mary’s offers. Here students will study financial markets and institutions, security analysis, portfolio management, corporate finance, and international financial management.
Penn State World Campus
If you want to acquire the latest financial planning knowledge with real-life applications, the Undergraduate Certificate in Financial Planning is designed for you. In this 18-credit program, you can learn a broad range of personal financial planning concepts in insurance and income tax planning, retirement and estate planning, and investment strategies. The curriculum is designed to prepare you for career success in the quickly growing field of financial planning.
Alongside numerous day campuses, Park University has a robust online university that offers certificates and degrees in a number of fields. This university furnishes students with an undergraduate Certificate in Personal Financial Planning. It’s a year-long program consisting of seven courses (21 credit hours) covering a wide variety of topics including estate preparation, investment portfolio planning, and income tax law and preparation. Park University also offers other certificates in related fields such as Public Accounting and a graduate certificate in Finance. These have varying prerequisite requirements and course loads.
North Dakota State University
North Dakota State University’s online programs may be financially accessible even if you don’t live in-state. The university is part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (Great Plains IDEA), which offers the same rate of tuition regardless of residence status. You can get a Graduate Certificate in Family Financial Planning here. The six courses (18 credits) teach students about estate planning, family insurance, investments and taxation, and culminate in a capstone course examining relevant case studies. North Dakota State University also offers a 9-month graduate certificate in financial counseling that meets the educational requirement to take the Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC®) Certification Examination.
UC Berkeley Extension
UC Berkeley Extension houses the continuing education branch of this famous research university. It offers both single courses and comprehensive certificate programs in dozens of subject areas, from Accounting to Women and Leadership. The Certificate in Finance offered through UC Berkeley Extension takes longer to complete than some on this list. However, its eight courses (15 units) start by building a solid understanding of foundational concepts in corporate and international finance. The program continues on to more advanced concepts and specialized electives like data presentation and behavioral finance.
Alabama A&M University
Alabama A&M University is a public historically black land-grant university. Its online branch has created a number of schedule-friendly online programs including a Certificate in Family Financial Planning. The seven courses you’ll study here explore the big picture view of a client’s financial decision-making. It places a focus on family financial dynamics and their financial needs over the lifetime. Students will learn about financial planning, income tax planning, financing retirement, selecting the right insurance policy, and finish with a one-semester capstone course that applies what they’ve learned.
Kansas State University Global Campus
Kansas State University was the first public university in the state and continues to offer quality instruction in both STEM and Liberal Arts. Its online Global Campus offers undergraduate and graduate certificates and online bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Many of the certificates’ credits can be applied later to one of those degrees. KSU provides a Graduate Certificate in Personal Financial Planning designed for students who already have fundamental knowledge of financial planning. The six courses (18 credit hours) are just 8 weeks long. This accelerated pace lets motivated students move quickly to certification.
U Online University of Miami
U Online, the online division of the University of Miami, gives working professionals access to both continuing education courses and certificate programs. The four-course Certificate in Corporate Finance begins with intermediate finance studies and builds from there, so a basic knowledge of finance principles and practices is advised. U Online also offers certificates in Accounting Practice and Financial Decision Making. Finally, you can earn a combined Certificate in Finance Decisions and Corporate Finance here for a greater time commitment and 20 credits’ study.
Harvard Extension School
You don’t have to travel to Cambridge to get Harvard’s world-class educational experience. Harvard Extension School, under the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, provides degrees, a pre-med program, professional and liberal arts courses, and academic certificates. The Corporate Finance Certificate requires four courses (16 credits) to achieve. Students will learn about the theory and practice of corporate finance through a variety of focused topics including valuation, mergers and acquisition, investment theory, and real estate.
Still not sure of which finance certificate program to choose? Check out our guides to online colleges to learn more.
Our Ranking Methodology We created an initial list of online finance certificate sources from Google, .gov databases like the NCES, and financial certification organizations. Private for-profit schools and those that were not accepting new students to their finance certificate programs were removed. Then we gathered program information and costs from each university’s website. The 15 schools on our list were ranked on two factors. We considered in-state tuition (cheapest is best) and minimum months to complete the certificate (fastest is best). Both scores make up 50% of the total.
Problems With Your Ranking? Do you work at one of our ranked schools and have noticed an error? Please contact us to let us know. We will correct the information and update this list as needed.