Degrees Without Borders: Online Programs in Financial Advising & Planning

Online financial planning programs help students understand the strategic, ethical, and technical sides of money management.

Financial advising and planning are important services for companies, organizations, and individuals. Restaurants, families, hospitals, government offices, and Fortune 500 companies need trained professionals for keeping track of their cash flow, managing debts, identifying investment opportunities, or monitoring finance-related transactions.

Popular careers for students with online financial planning degrees include auditors and accountants, financial analysts, personal financial advisors and planners, loan officers, financial examiners, insurance advisors, and many others. Nearly all industries or organizations are affected by their potential wealth opportunities and financial aspects; thus, there are unlimited opportunities for advancements and career growth in this growing field.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2021) expects that between 2020 and 2030, job openings for financial managers will rise 17 percent nationwide, which is much faster than the average growth projected for all occupations in the same period (8 percent). With the expected addition of 118,200 fresh openings in this industry around the country, the employment climate looks promising for the coming decade.

Another advantage for these professionals is the annual wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020), the 653,080 financial managers around the country enjoyed an annual average salary of $151,510.

Continue reading for information about the benefits of this lucrative field and how to get started.

Fast Facts: Why are Financial Planning Skills Important?

Financial advising and planning skills help in determining the most appropriate investing and financing activities for an organization after all available options have been evaluated.

Here’s why financial planning is so important for any business to become successful:

  • Sourcing funds for businesses – Financial planners help in making sufficient funds available to any business for purposes such as purchasing long-term assets and meeting day-to-day expenses. They ensure that businesses tap appropriate sources of finance to fulfill timely needs.
  • Avoiding wastage of funds – Financial planning avoids wastage of funds or over-capitalization by investing surplus funds in the best possible manner.

Although anyone can pursue a financial planning online degree, these programs are ideal for students with a keen interest in business, math, and helping others. Ideal participants are those who love to crunch numbers and are looking for innovative and new ways of investing money in a responsible, yet lucrative manner.

These online degree programs are fairly convenient for working professionals and high school graduates who would like to earn a degree and maintain their jobs. Distance-based programs offer students the flexibility they need for balancing study, work, and other commitments, while still accomplishing their career goals.

Financial Advising & Planning Experts to Know

Online Degrees in Financial Advising & Planning

There are several options available for those interested in learning more about financial planning and advising, including bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. These can be taken on campus, off-campus through distance learning, or a hybrid of both types.

Online certificate programs in financial planning act as an introduction to this field. People who work as financial analysts or personal financial advisors usually possess a bachelor’s degree.

A financial planning master’s degree is suitable for those who wish to go deeper in a particular area or those who wish to combine their financial knowledge with business skills by taking an MBA with a concentration in finance. Lastly, PhD programs are terminal degrees that prepare students for work in academia, research, or policy rather than consulting directly with clients.

Some notable programs include:

Pennsylvania State University

Penn state’s AACSB–accredited online bachelor of science in finance prepares students for the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and CFP (Certified Financial Planner) examinations. This online program has been accepted into the CFA® Institute University Affiliation Program, which is a unique accomplishment for any online program. The program will help students in developing a strong foundation in the principles of finance, including investment and portfolio management, capital management, personal finance, and financial institutions.

To be accepted into this program, applicants must be high school graduates or have completed their GED. Transfer students require completion of a minimum of 29.1 credits. International applicants require TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Made up of 120 credits, the program includes courses such as financial statement analysis, introductory microeconomic analysis and policy, corporation finance, investment and portfolio analysis, international finance, basic management concepts, strategic management and business policy, and the principles of marketing.

At the end of the program, graduates can take up roles such as financial advisers, securities analysts, managers, or consultants, credit counselors, loan officers, bank branch managers, chartered financial analysts (CFA), and certified financial planners (CFP).

  • Location: University Park, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); AACSB
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $590 to $632 per credit

University of Alabama

The University of Alabama at Birmingham, UAB Collat School of Business offers a fully online bachelor of science in finance covering foundational topics such as portfolio management, real estate investment and analysis, and financial analysis. The program offers actionable and relevant knowledge through a unique and innovative curriculum, a climate that fosters continuous improvement, and technology-driven instructional methods.

This 100 percent online degree helps students in developing analytical skills, problem-solving techniques, and social perceptiveness that finance professionals use daily. Comprising 120 credits, the program includes courses in the principles of accounting, fundamentals of financial management, financial accounting, financial research methods, equity portfolio management, principles of real estate, and intermediate financial management.

On successful completion of the program, graduates can take up roles such as Cost estimators, budget analysts, credit analysts, financial managers, financial analysts, personal financial advisors, real estate brokers, and purchasing managers.

  • Location: Birmingham, AL
  • Accreditation: AACSB; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: lower-division gen ed courses ($433 per credit); upper-level business core courses ($667 per credit)

Regis University

Regis University’s online bachelor of science helps students in understanding every aspect of financial management, including money and banking, forecasting and planning, financial analysis, and managing technologies. Transfer students in this program are allowed to transfer up to 84 credits.

Regis University also allows students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree at the same time through their FastForward Program. This dual degree combination helps students in saving both time and money, giving them the chance to enter the workforce with a head start over their peers.

The curriculum of the 120-credit BS program includes courses such as business finance, advanced corporate finance, fundamentals of investments, ethical decision-making in business, business law, marketing principles, personal financial management, international finance, and corporate capital budgeting.

Graduates of the program can pursue roles such as financial consultants, corporate finance managers, financial planners, business investors, financial analysts, and budget managers.

  • Location: Denver, CO
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $555 per credit

University of Georgia

The University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences offers an online master of science in financial planning which is ideal for students who want to sit for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examination. This non-thesis master’s degree program is conducted in cooperation with the Board of Standards for the Certified Financial Planner® program allowing students to gain the expertise and experience that goes beyond certification all from the convenience and comfort of wherever they are.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, a completed application, GRE or GMAT scores, a current resume, a statement of purpose, unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended, three letters of recommendation, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international applicants.

Consisting of 30 credits, the program includes courses such as financial planning and analysis, practice management in financial planning, estate planning, wealth management, financial counseling and client communication, family tax planning, and research evaluation and theory in financial planning practice.

Graduates of the program will be well-equipped to work as certified financial planners, bank trust officers, claims coordinators, financial advisors, private bankers, private wealth analysts, retirement plan administrators, and wealth advisors.

  • Location: Athens, GA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC); American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $629 per credit

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University allows students to choose from either a master of science in accounting finance or a master of science in finance that offers two concentrations: corporate finance or investments and securities.

Students in this program are provided with hands-on experience through case studies resembling real-world financial reports. Students gain an in-debt understanding of quantitative tools and analysis relative to financial markets, government and corporate applications, and financial institutions.

The faculty of the program includes experienced finance professionals who have current and past experience working in this industry. The curriculum of the MS in finance program is aligned with the Chartered Financial Analysts Institute’s (CFA) competencies and curriculum standards.

Comprising 36 credits, the MS in finance program includes core courses in managerial economics, corporate financial management, investment analysis & portfolio management, financial modeling, international corporate finance, and quantitative analysis for decision making.

The program opens up several opportunities for graduates. They can take up roles such as financial analysts, financial managers, financial consultants, investment analysts, portfolio managers, senior financial analysts, and personal financial advisors.

  • Location: Manchester, NH
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE); Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $627 per credit

Saint Joseph’s University

Saint Joseph’s University offers an online master of science in finance preparing students for success in today’s fast-paced and dynamic financial industry. Students will be able to choose from three available tracks in financial analysis, real estate finance, and financial planning.

The program comprises 30 credits including coursework in shareholder value management, portfolio management, fundamental financial analysis, international finance, personal insurance planning, estate planning, real estate appraisal, and real estate investment finance.

This CFP-certified program prepares aspiring and experienced professionals in creating solutions, introducing new capabilities, improving client relationships, and ultimately contributing to their organization’s bottom line. Graduates will be ready to take up positions such as investment bankers, financial advisors, stockbrokers, and hedge fund managers.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education; AACSB
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,140 per credit

Free (or Low-Cost) Financial Advising & Planning Training

Learning on your own shows that an individual not only has a strong interest in financial planning but also has the motivation to learn at one’s own pace outside of the traditional classroom structure.

The following are some programs that provide more self-directed training in financial planning and advising:


This online education platform offers more than a dozen courses in the fields of financial advising and planning. These are taught by faculty members and instructors at colleges and universities around the world and divided into four or five lessons that can be taken over several weeks or months.

Those interested in financial planning or advising can hone their skills in everything from corporate finance and risk management to pricing models and money markets. Students will also learn more about economic policy, financial-decision making, deal structures, and more with online classes in finance from top institutions worldwide.


This online educational portal provides a variety of financial advising and planning-related courses, including Finance for Non-Finance Professionals, a course that covers the basics of financial valuation, compounding returns, discounting the future, and the time value of money. The course help students in understanding discounted cash flow (DCF) valuation and how it compares to other methods. This five-week course includes topics such as basic principles of financial valuation discounting, capital budgeting tools, measuring cash creation and flow, and evaluating the cost of capital.

There are also several other related financial planning courses such as investment and portfolio management, fundamentals of financial planning, and personal and family financial planning.

Class Central

Self-paced online classes that can be taken over several weeks or months can offer supplemental material or refresh what was learned in college. There are a variety of financial planning and advising courses taught by instructors from various colleges including Yale University and Stanford University. The content for some courses is free, but students will be charged if they want a certificate demonstrating completion.

As a final note, additional free (or reduced cost) training in finance can be found through:

  • Udacity
  • GetSmarter
  • Udemy
Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani

Farheen Gani is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about healthcare, technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).

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