The Guide to Online MBA in Financial Planning Programs

If you’re considering a career in financial planning or want to become a CFP (certified financial planner), an online financial planning degree achieved through an MBA program gives you a solid business foundation. MBA (Master of Business Administration) programs teach you about business operations principles. With an online MBA in financial planning, you gain knowledge to help individuals and small business owners achieve their business goals.

Online MBA Programs with a Finance Concentration

The Online MBA From Syracuse University

Skip the GMAT and earn a world-class MBA online from Syracuse University’s AACSB-accredited Martin J. Whitman School of Management. The program features a rigorous curriculum with six career-focused specializations.

  • As few as 24 months to complete 
  • No GMAT required to apply 
  • Six concentrations available 
  • AACSB accredited

info SPONSORED

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School – Online MBA

Kenan-Flagler Business School is STEM-designated and prepares professionals to lead in an evolving business landscape. GMAT waivers are available. 

  • Complete in as few as 18 months  
  • GMAT waivers for experienced professionals  
  • 25+ electives available across five concentrations 

info SPONSORED

Earn an MBA Online from American in 15 Months

MBA@American, the online MBA program at American University, prepares business students through engaging course work and in-person immersions. The MBA can be completed in 15 months. No GMAT required.

  • AACSB Accredited  
  • Six focus areas available 
  • Complete in as few as 15 months

info SPONSORED

An MBA Online From University of Denver in 21 Months

MBA@Denver, the University of Denver’s online MBA, allows working professionals to build the skills to advance their careers in as few as 21 months. GMAT Test is optional; bachelor’s required.

  • All applicants are considered for scholarships.
  • The program can be completed in as few as 21 months.
  • GMAT Test is optional

info SPONSORED

The Online MBA from Rice Business

MBA@Rice, the online MBA program from Rice Business, helps aspiring business leaders rethink their approach to finding innovative solutions to modern business challenges.

  • Complete in 24 months
  • Small school, big ideas
  • Join a tight-knit community of bold, entrprenuerial thinkers

info SPONSORED

The Online MBA from the University of California, Davis

The online MBA from UC Davis brings a culture of collaboration and Silicon Valley connections to students worldwide. Earn your MBA in as few as 24 months. 

  • The Graduate School of Management at UC Davis is AACSB accredited
  • Students can complete the program in as few as 24 months
  • Combine business with data in a STEM-designated online MBA

info SPONSORED

Pepperdine Graziadio Business School – Online MBA

In as few as 20 months, students can earn their MBA online from Pepperdine’s AACSB-accredited Graziadio Business School and become part of Graziadio’s engaged network of over 40,000 alumni dedicated to ethical business strategy. Scholarships available.

  • GMAT not required to apply
  • AACSB-accredited
  • Complete in as few as 20 months

info SPONSORED

What Is Financial Planning?

You may wonder: Exactly what does a financial planner do? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial planners help their clients:

  • Create financial goals, like savings and retirement objectives
  • Form a strategy to achieve those goals, including budgeting
  • Choose investment products and understand financial risks
  • Plan for life event expenses, like attending college, buying a home or starting a family
  • Manage inheritances or other financial windfalls
  • Cope with a financial crisis, such as a layoff
  • Navigate tax laws and insurance

Financial planners help individual clients who are single or in a relationship. They also help clients who are starting their own business or want financial planning help for their business.

MBA in Financial Planning vs. Master of Finance

There are several types of business degrees, including master’s programs, that cover finance topics. Two types of finance degrees you may consider include a Master of Business Administration in financial planning and a Master of Finance, often in the form of a Master of Science Degree. Is a master’s in finance better than an MBA in financial planning? It depends on your goals.

An MBA concentration in financial planning includes a general business curriculum, covering topics like leadership, business operations and strategy, and management organization. Additionally, students may take in-depth financial planning courses like tax management and strategy, retirement income planning and financial counseling.

A master’s degree in financial planning is solely focused on finance. All courses are related to financial planning and cover topics like wealth management, estate planning and financial planning research. These programs may also include math courses or valuation topics.

There may be some overlap of courses with an MBA in financial planning and a master’s in finance. With an MBA, you’ll also be equipped with business administration knowledge, which may be helpful if you work with small business owners. An MBA in financial planning may also be helpful if you work in a non-financial role but want enhanced financial knowledge or if the MBA concentration interests you.

Why Obtain Your MBA in Financial Planning Online?

If you want to get an MBA in financial planning, online financial planning master’s programs provide flexibility. Instead of having to relocate to attend class on campus, online students may continue living where they are and save money on relocation costs.

Some online students may continue to work full time by enrolling in a part-time degree program. Some employers may even pay for all or part of MBA expenses as long as you continue to work for them while attending school. Online MBA in financial planning programs enable this.

Some students also learn better in online environments. You can re-watch lectures as many times as you need to understand concepts. The flexibility of online master’s degree in financial planning courses also allows students to learn whenever works best for them, whether that’s late at night or early in the morning.

Wondering how to get a financial planning degree online? Choose a school you’re interested in that offers an online program. As long as you have a connected device with internet access, you can complete your classes, take tests and submit homework through an online portal—from wherever you are. Online students communicate with instructors and classmates online, too. Online MBA in finance programs may include live lectures, email portals, group work and video lessons. Research what the program offers to find an educational style that works for you.

Is an online master’s in financial planning worth it? It may benefit you if:

  • You want to become a financial planner but lack experience.
  • You’re currently working as a financial planner, and you want to expand your business knowledge or work primarily with small business owner clients.
  • You work in financial planning and want to move into a management or more advanced leadership role.
  • You want to earn your MBA, and your current or ideal job involves finance or financial planning knowledge.
  • You’re interested in earning an MBA to advance your career in business, and financial planning is of personal interest to you.

With dozens of MBA concentrations available, consider what your career and/or personal goals are with continuing your education. Speak to admissions advisors to compare programs and how they fit your objectives. Only you can decide if an MBA is right for you.

How Long Does It Take To Earn an MBA in Financial Planning Online?

An online master’s degree in financial planning program takes around one to three years to complete, depending on if you’re enrolled in a full-time or part-time program. Generally, part-time online financial planning master’s programs take around 24 to 36 months to complete while full-time and accelerated options may take around 12 to 15 months to finish.

Accelerated programs generally require a greater day-to-day time commitment whereas part-time programs may be ideal if you want to continue working full or part time while you study. This is because part-time programs generally spread your studies out over a longer period of time than an accelerated program.

How To Get a Financial Planning Degree Online

Master’s in financial planning online programs are available with start dates throughout the year. You can compare different schools’ schedules and program admissions requirements to see what works best for you.

Online MBA in Financial Planning Admissions Requirements

Each school has its own MBA admissions requirements, but there are some common requirements you may find. These include:

  • MBA application: This is generally available to fill out online for online MBA programs.
  • Official transcripts: You’ll need to submit transcripts from your bachelor’s degree program. Some MBA programs require that your bachelor’s degree comes from an accredited school.
  • Test scores: Some MBA programs require you take the GMAT or GRE exam to be considered for admittance. There are programs available that have no GRE or GMAT requirement, as well as potential test waivers if you’ve already completed certain MBA prerequisites.
  • Resume: Some MBA programs require that you submit a resume/CV.
  • Essay/personal statement: You may be required to answer essay questions or submit a personal statement reflecting why you’re applying for the program and how you intend to use your online MBA in financial planning.
  • Letters of recommendation: Some schools may ask for professional references or letters of recommendation from work supervisors or past instructors.
  • Application fee: You may be required to submit an application fee.

Carefully read the application requirements of the school you’re applying to so that you complete all parts of your application. Explore MBA scholarships.

Online MBA in Financial Planning Programs, No GMAT Required

Not everyone does well on standardized tests. Luckily, some MBA schools have no GRE orGMAT requirement. Some schools may waive the GRE or GMAT requirement if you have a number of years of work experience, enabling those with business experience to enter the program without having to study for or pay for a GMAT or GRE test. Some programs, for example, may require three to five years of work experience to waive the standardized test requirement.

If you’re not interested in taking a GRE or GMAT exam but are interested in earning your MBA, research online financial planning master’s programs with no GRE or GMAT requirement.

Master’s in Business Administration in Financial Planning Curriculum

A master’s in business administration in financial planning is a graduate-level degree program, not a certificate program. This program generally includes foundational business courses that all MBA students take. An MBA concentration in financial planning also includes courses specifically related to financial planning. Upon graduation, you’ll have a master’s degree.

In an online MBA in financial planning program, you may expect finance and business courses to cover the topics listed below.

  • Financial principles: Learn financial concepts related to the financial ratio analysis, time value of money, capital structure and financial statements.
  • Tax management: A tax management course covers topics like tax law, income taxes and tax preparation.
  • Risk management: A risk management course focuses on how to analyze and interpret financial market information and economic calculations.
  • Retirement planning: In a retirement planning course, you learn about various retirement planning methods and how to set up retirement investment accounts.
  • Estate planning: An estate planning course covers how an estate plan works, how tax laws affect estate planning and how to execute an estate plan.
  • Financial investment: Financial investment courses cover what type of investment options there are (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) and which ones work for various financial situations.
  • Financial counseling: A financial counseling course covers how to relate to clients and provide client-focused financial planning solutions.
  • Operations/organizational management: These courses cover how to manage business operations and how to manage people.
  • Marketing management: Marketing management courses cover marketing theory, strategy and execution. They may include topics like digital marketing and advertising.
  • Business analytics: A business analytics course focuses on how to collect and analyze business data to make informed business decisions.
  • Business ethics: In a business ethics course, you learn about common ethical dilemmas in business and how to maintain ethical leadership standards.
  • Strategic decision making: A strategic decision making course teaches students how to analyze problems, assess risk and form decisions.

Upon completion of an MBA in financial planning program, you’ll have gained knowledge that may be applied in both general business and financial planning-specific environments.

What Can You Do With an MBA in Financial Planning?

There are several career paths you may pursue with an MBA in financial planning. While someone with a master’s in finance is prepared to work in a finance-specific role, an MBA in financial planning graduate may also work in a finance-related business role or pursue work specifically as a financial planner.

Master’s in finance graduates may pursue finance work as accountants, auditors, budget analysts, financial analysts or financial examiners. These jobs require advanced finance knowledge that’s taught in master of finance programs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a master’s degree and certification may improve a financial advisor’s opportunities for advancement. An MBA in financial planning may then prepare graduates to become a financial planner. Personal financial advisors may also have a CFP certification, which stands for “certified financial planner” and is a common credential firms may require. To become a CFP and earn your CFP credential, there are education, exam, experience and ethics requirements. The BLS notes that certification can help financial advisors attract new clients.

In addition to CFP, you may have heard of the term CFA. That stands for “chartered financial analyst.” Like a CFP, the CFA credential certifies that a financial analyst has met rigorous standards. The CFA Program requires passing an exam that covers investment tools, wealth planning, portfolio management and asset valuation.

With an online MBA in financial planning, you may also pursue a career as a financial manager. This financial leadership role involves managing the financial goals of an organization and working with top executives, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report on the responsibilities of financial managers. The BLS says employers may prefer to hire those with a master’s degree for this role. It’s possible that both a master’s in finance and an online master’s degree in financial planning may prepare you for this career.

Difference Between a CFA and a CFP

The main difference between a CFA and a CFP is that a CFA works primarily with businesses and corporations while a CFP works primarily with individuals. A CFA is generally a wealth manager for a company while a CFP may provide wealth management services to individuals.

Difference Between a Financial Planner and a Financial Advisor

The main difference between a financial planner and a financial advisor is that a financial advisor is a broader term. A financial planner is generally a type of financial advisor who focuses on planning for the long term by devising goals and strategies. A financial advisor may help clients on a short-term basis by providing investment or savings advice, for example. MBA in financial planning graduates may also pursue a role as a financial advisor.

Master of Business Administration in Financial Planning Salary and Career Outlook

Do financial planners need a master’s degree for a financial planning career? Not in all cases. As mentioned above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that personal finance advisors generally need a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree could aid in career advancement. A master’s degree in financial planning may also be beneficial if your bachelor’s degree is in a non-finance field and you want to make a career change to finance. Luckily, everyone’s finance career path is different.

In the paragraphs below, we assess the potential MBA salaries and job outlooks for three careers in financial planning.

Wondering how much a financial planner earns? The 2019 median financial planner salary was $87,850 per year, or $42.24 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report on personal financial advisors. Employment of personal financial advisors is expected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, according to the BLS.

Employment of financial analysts is projected to increase slightly more—5% in the same timeframe, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. To give you an idea of what a CFA salary may be, the 2019 median salary for financial analysts was $81,590 per year, or $39.22 per hour.

Financial managers made more than personal financial advisors and financial analysts. Their 2019 median salary was $129,890 per year, or $62.45 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ outlook on financial managers. Employment of these professionals is expected to increase 15% from 2019 to 2029.

The summary table below offers a comparison of salary and career outlook information for financial planning jobs. Information in this table comes from the BLS statistics cited in the previous three paragraphs.

Career OutlookPersonal financial advisorFinancial analystFinancial manager
Employment change, 2019–2029
4%
5%
15%
2019 median annual pay
$87,850
$81,590
$129,890
2019 median hourly pay
$42.24
$39.22
$62.45

Online MBA in Financial Planning Programs To Consider

If you’re interested in earning your MBA in financial planning online, there are multiple options from schools across the country. Compare some of these programs below.

Online MBA Programs with a Finance Concentration

The Online MBA From Syracuse University

Skip the GMAT and earn a world-class MBA online from Syracuse University’s AACSB-accredited Martin J. Whitman School of Management. The program features a rigorous curriculum with six career-focused specializations.

  • As few as 24 months to complete 
  • No GMAT required to apply 
  • Six concentrations available 
  • AACSB accredited

info SPONSORED

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School – Online MBA

Kenan-Flagler Business School is STEM-designated and prepares professionals to lead in an evolving business landscape. GMAT waivers are available. 

  • Complete in as few as 18 months  
  • GMAT waivers for experienced professionals  
  • 25+ electives available across five concentrations 

info SPONSORED

Earn an MBA Online from American in 15 Months

MBA@American, the online MBA program at American University, prepares business students through engaging course work and in-person immersions. The MBA can be completed in 15 months. No GMAT required.

  • AACSB Accredited  
  • Six focus areas available 
  • Complete in as few as 15 months

info SPONSORED

An MBA Online From University of Denver in 21 Months

MBA@Denver, the University of Denver’s online MBA, allows working professionals to build the skills to advance their careers in as few as 21 months. GMAT Test is optional; bachelor’s required.

  • All applicants are considered for scholarships.
  • The program can be completed in as few as 21 months.
  • GMAT Test is optional

info SPONSORED

The Online MBA from Rice Business

MBA@Rice, the online MBA program from Rice Business, helps aspiring business leaders rethink their approach to finding innovative solutions to modern business challenges.

  • Complete in 24 months
  • Small school, big ideas
  • Join a tight-knit community of bold, entrprenuerial thinkers

info SPONSORED

The Online MBA from the University of California, Davis

The online MBA from UC Davis brings a culture of collaboration and Silicon Valley connections to students worldwide. Earn your MBA in as few as 24 months. 

  • The Graduate School of Management at UC Davis is AACSB accredited
  • Students can complete the program in as few as 24 months
  • Combine business with data in a STEM-designated online MBA

info SPONSORED

Pepperdine Graziadio Business School – Online MBA

In as few as 20 months, students can earn their MBA online from Pepperdine’s AACSB-accredited Graziadio Business School and become part of Graziadio’s engaged network of over 40,000 alumni dedicated to ethical business strategy. Scholarships available.

  • GMAT not required to apply
  • AACSB-accredited
  • Complete in as few as 20 months

info SPONSORED

Last Updated January 2021