What can you do with a master’s degree in finance?

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MSF professionals working on a computer

Professionals seeking to expand their knowledge through a master’s-level education may be interested in the potential career opportunities that can open with an advanced degree. Changing trends in high-demand industries such as banking and finance can have an additional impact on employers’ preferences and demand for specific skill sets.

Corporate hiring trends have favored candidates with the types of financial knowledge conveyed in Master of Science in Finance (MSF) courses, which is why PayScale placed these degrees alongside engineering and medical specialties as top-earning subjects.

Today’s financial climate is built on complex transactions carried out between large entities with global scale, and operating efficiently in such an environment is a job for highly educated and well-prepared teams.The following are a few of the most important factors to consider when weighing the value of a postgraduate degree in banking and finance.

Positive salary expectations

One of the most salient points in favor of seeking a MSF degree is the constant need for employees with a high-level knowledge of financial policy and practices. From high-valuation corporate entities to nonprofits, every organization requires individuals who can keep the budget and expenses on track. This requirement is borne out in data from PayScale’s survey of master’s degrees with the highest salary for employees in the middle stages of their careers, meaning those who have five to 10 years of experience.

Financial master’s programs actually appear on the PayScale top 10 twice, with corporate finance tied for ninth place and finance and economics ranking third. The median salary for a mid-career professional with a corporate finance degree is $126,000, while finance and economics graduates with the same level of experience earn a median of $134,000. The only degree types with greater median earnings are the highly specific fields of telecommunications engineering and nursing anesthesia.

Prospective students who have accumulated years of service in financial roles and are considering a master’s degree as a next step can take confidence from the fact that organizations are in need of people with their qualifications. Financial analysts, chief financial officers, and other high-level employees are essential parts of their respective companies’ teams, and their projected pay reflects this indispensable status.

A wide variety of potential roles

High salary expectations are less promising if there are few openings and advancement pathways for the jobs in question. Corporate finance, however, covers many potential opportunities within companies’ structures.

Graduates of MSF programs can aim for numerous roles. Fortune 500 companies need well-staffed finance departments, as do ambitious and fast-moving firms funded by venture capital. Furthermore, financial knowledge and discipline are necessities at public sector agencies and nonprofit organizations, providing opportunities for MSF graduates to seek positions outside of the corporate world.

The following are a few of the most popular and essential careers that make use of the information acquired through an MSF program:

● Financial Analyst: These investment-focused professionals are in high demand today, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS projects total employment in the role will rise 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, significantly higher than the 7 percent for all roles in every industry. The growth in opportunities is due to the expanding complexity of the investment field, coupled with demand for knowledgeable professionals specializing in particular geographic regions.
● Financial Manager: One step up the corporate ladder from financial analyst is the financial manager. This role will experience an even greater spike in employment, according to the BLS, which projects 19 percent growth over the 2016-2026 period. Financial managers actively create their companies’ strategies for investments and set financial goals. Essential financial reports come from these professionals and their departments.
● Internal Auditor: Organizations today employ teams of experienced and knowledgeable accountants and auditors to ensure their budgeting, tax status, and other financial details are sound and compliant with regulations. These detail-oriented professionals work closely with financial statements and suggest moves to improve operations. The BLS, which counts accountants and auditors as one role, projected these careers will grow at a rate of 10 percent.

Pertinent and applicable knowledge

Studying for an MSF involves coursework directly tied to relevant financial skills and the present industry climate. Individuals who want to apply for new financial roles or move up within their present employers’ organizations can build a useful knowledge base in these classes. Earning an MSF from a top institution means working directly with professors who are active within financial roles and share relevant experience with students.

The following are a few of the key areas of study in MSF programs, ones students will feel the benefits of when engaging with top institutions’ financial departments:

● Theory and policy: Today’s corporate financial climate is determined by a complex web of regulations, international agreements, and ever-changing risk-reward calculations. MSF students gain in-depth experience with all of these factors throughout their education, combining underlying theories with practical and up-to-date examples.
● Investment analysis: One of the top skills demanded by today’s financial employers is an understanding of complex and multifaceted investment scenarios. Corporations are deepening and diversifying their engagement with the markets, and hiring investment experts to cope with the ever-changing market conditions.
● International finance: When transactions cross national borders, regulations and political considerations introduce new levels of complexity. In today’s digitally enabled and globalized world, however, these international dealings have become everyday occurrences. Therefore, the global knowledge gained in MSF programs has immediate real-world applications.

Relevant courses and programs

When students apply to the Online Master of Science in Finance program at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, they gain a new way to acquire relevant knowledge for the furthering of their careers. The all-digital course model allows students to study for their degrees on schedules that make sense to them, accommodating full-time work schedules and allowing applicants to access an accredited and respected university education, whatever their present location.

Financial careers are an exciting prospect for students due to their eternal relevance. Whether the economy is strong or weak, the market will demand knowledgeable individuals to guide corporations to improved profits and stability. This adds value to degrees tied to the financial world, such as the MSF. For more information about Northeastern University’s Online MSF, schedule an appointment with an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:
For-profit or nonprofit financial leadership?

Corporate finance or investment finance: Comparing the two tracks of the Online MSF at Northeastern University

Sources:
Forbes – The Master’s Degrees with the Highest Salary Potential

Monster – The Best and Worst Paying Master’s Degrees

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Financial Analysts

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Accountants and Auditors

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Financial Managers