2021 Guide to Online Finance Certificates and Courses

Online finance certificates and courses are graduate-level studies that provide knowledge and practical skills related to a specific area of finance. They can be used to help jump start a career in finance or improve career opportunities for current finance professionals. Their focus varies significantly, from personal finance and financial planning to capital markets or real estate investment.

Can You Study Finance Online?

Yes, online finance certificates and courses require less time to complete than a master’s in finance or a master’s in business administration (MBA). Master’s degrees typically take two years to complete as a full-time student. They can be costly, depending on the program and availability of financial aid. Certificates are typically made up of three to seven courses and can be completed within a few weeks, or longer if you’re a part-time student. Certificate length depends on the program; some last a few weeks, while others take months or years to complete.

The right program for you depends on your goals. For example, do you want to:

  • Gain a better understanding of a specific element of finance to elevate your career prospects or alter your career trajectory?
  • Acquire financial skills to handle the bookkeeping of your small business?
  • Pursue a specific professional license?

Luckily, there are finance courses online to fit your aspirations, circumstances and budget.

Topics in Finance Online Courses

Finance courses online focus on a wide range of topics. Those you choose to study will depend on your knowledge, skills and goals. For example, some courses or certificate programs focus on financial information and skills for entrepreneurs, while others focus on financial information and skills for managerial professionals.

Some examples of common topics in online finance certificates and short courses include:

  • Accounting fundamentals
  • Bookkeeping and financial reporting
  • Excel formulas
  • Capital structure
  • Valuation
  • Financial modeling and forecasting
  • Managerial finance
  • Project finance
  • Financial technology (fintech)
  • Real estate valuation and investment
  • Investment banking and capital markets
  • Venture funding and investment
  • Merger analysis and acquisition financing
  • International finance
  • Individual financial planning

Online Financial Management Certificates and Courses

In financial management courses and certificate programs, you’ll gain a thorough understanding of business finances so you can better participate in financial decision-making. These may be ideal for a finance manager or someone who wants to advance their business plans. You’ll learn how to analyze complex financial data, compare financing options, apply capital structure theory, plan public offerings and more.

Online Financial Modeling Certificates and Courses

In financial modeling courses and certificate programs, you’ll learn to use mathematical modeling of data to forecast business performance or draw comparisons between competitors. Modeling is how financial analysts predict how stocks will perform after certain events. You’ll also learn how to predict the impact of variables, like interest rates.

Online Bookkeeping Certificates and Courses

In this type of online finance certificate program or course, you’ll gain an understanding of accounting basics, such as how to keep accurate financial records, report financial information and produce financial statements.

Online Fintech Certificates and Courses

Financial technologies have disrupted many industries in recent years. Common fintech topics in these programs include blockchain, cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence. You’ll learn how to evaluate speculation in the market, think critically about new technologies and address business problems creatively.

Online Venture Finance Certificates and Courses

Online venture finance certificates and courses focus on venture capital, including how funds are structured and operated. You’ll learn how to raise capital and design partnership agreements that promote effective relationships between limited partners, general partners and founders. You can also expect to better identify and execute on investment opportunities.

Online Real Estate Economics and Finance Certificates and Courses

If you’re intrigued by the convergence of real estate and finance, these programs are for you. In these finance courses online, you’ll examine how to value real estate and make investment decisions based on financial data. You’ll also learn about matters integral to real estate, including land use, property values and the real estate cycle.

Online Financial Planning Certificates and Courses

Online financial planning certificates and courses help you prepare for the Certified Financial Planner exam. You’ll learn how to develop long-term financial plans for individuals and families to help them maximize their income and savings.

Courses in Finance for Non-Financial Managers

There are also finance courses online for non-financial managers. These courses teach the fundamentals of accounting and finance while applying them in a real-world context. This might include learning about financial statements, budgeting, valuations, investment decisions and similar topics.

Is a Finance Course or Certificate Worth It?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of business and financial occupations is expected to increase 7% from 2018 to 2028. Financial analyst positions are expected to increase 6% in the same time period, the BLS reports. Obtaining a finance certificate or master’s degree could be a valuable pursuit for those interested in this growing industry.

The value of an online finance certificate or course depends on how you plan to apply the information you learn to your finance career. If you’re just starting out in business or finance, the prestige stature of a finance course or certificate might set you apart from the crowd. If you want to learn a specific skill to boost your chance of promotion, marketability, a course or certificate might be a good way to gain the necessary knowledge.

It’s also important to consider how much value a certificate, short course or master’s degree provides in your industry. To gauge this, ask yourself these questions:

  • How does your employer regard certificate programs or short courses?
  • Does your company emphasize the importance of continued education or graduate degree programs?
  • Do most professionals in a certain position have a master’s degree?

If you wish to pursue a new career in finance or business, whether an online finance course is worth it depends on where you’re starting from. If you need to bridge a small financial knowledge gap, for example, courses or certificate programs can may be a strategic way to do so. However, if you have a large financial knowledge gap, you’ll probably benefit from a more comprehensive program or series of online finance courses.

Finally, if you’re eyeing executive-level positions, then a more robust master’s in finance or MBA program might be right for you. Having a master’s degree could be a requirement for these leadership positions.

Finance certificate vs. master’s in finance

A finance certificate or course doesn’t provide a comprehensive education. Instead, it is meant to help you develop specific knowledge or skills. A master’s in finance, on the other hand, covers a greater range of topics over a longer period of time. It can help you develop broad financial expertise applicable to many careers.

Finance certificate vs. MBA

An MBA provides a more diverse business education than a finance certificate. You’ll learn about business management, finance and marketing during an MBA program. You’ll study business management, economics, marketing and maybe even entrepreneurship. The education you receive in an MBA program can be applied to many careers that don’t specifically focus on finance. A finance certificate, on the other hand, is more narrowly focused on specialized financial topics.

3 Benefits of an Online Finance Certificate or Short Course Program

1. Stretch your analytical abilities

Some aspects of finance revolve around recording numbers, completing predetermined calculations and accurate reporting. Other elements of finance, however, require a great deal of data analysis to inform business decisions. Learning how to use various financial methods to value, evaluate, compare and predict could help you advance your finance career or manage your own business.

2. Learn financial topics remotely

Going back to the classroom might not be an option if you have a full-time job or family to provide for. You also might not live near a strong on-campus finance program. There are many finance certificates and master’s degree programs that are entirely online, enabling you to further your education and career on your own terms.

3. Develop a new skill in as few as 6 weeks

Depending on your goals, you might not need a comprehensive financial education. You may want to develop specific skills so you can quickly move up in your company or start a new career. Online finance certificates and short courses can teach you new skills in a short period.

Online Financial Courses to Consider

There are many online financial certificates and courses you can complete. To choose which option might be best for you, learn about each program’s accreditation, curriculum, faculty, student diversity and completion rate. Also, investigate whether the college or university offers mentorship, financial aid or job search assistance.

Below are some online finance certificates to consider.

Online Finance Certificate Programs

Online Public Budgeting and Financial Management Certificate Programs

Online Corporate Finance and Real Estate Certificate Programs

Online Certified Financial Planner Certificate Programs

Other Online Finance Certificate and Specialty Programs

Which Online Finance Certificate is Right For You?

An online finance certificate can be the best way a great way to learn a new skill, differentiate yourself from your colleagues or start on a new career path. There are many financial courses online, making it easier to find one that fits your goals, schedule and budget. Which one is right for you?

Last Updated July 2020