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Best Schools for Finance Majors

Earning a degree from one of the many finance schools in the US is an important first step towards embarking on a career in finance. A finance degree provides you with more than just an academic understanding of finance; it’s also an opportunity to gain real-world experience through internships as well as to begin building your professional network by making connections with faculty, peers, and alumni. There are hundreds of finance degree programs in the US, ranging from undergraduate certificate programs up to master’s and doctoral degrees. Many programs offer specializations in areas such as Corporate Banking, Investments, and Real Estate, among others.

Finance School Facts

  • There are 983 not-for-profit colleges and universities that offer finance degree programs in the US.1
  • 177 schools offer a certificate in finance.1
  • 142 schools offer an associate’s degree in finance.1
  • 717 schools offer a bachelor’s degree in finance.1
  • 319 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in finance.1
Table of Contents
Finance Schools and Programs by State
Best Value Finance Schools with On-Campus Programs
Best Value Finance Schools with Online Programs
College Factual Best Colleges for Finance & Financial Management
Wealth Management’s Top-Ranked Colleges for Financial Planning
Arizona State University Finance Rankings by Research Productivity
Finance Program Profiles
Admission Requirements
What to Expect with a Finance Major or Concentration
Frequently Asked Questions

Finance Schools and Programs by State

We have researched the finance schools and programs offered in each state to help you find the program that’s right for you. Click on your state name in the below list to find a table comparing available programs and degrees, school profiles, and ranking information.

Best Value Finance Schools with On-Campus Programs

To help you find the best values in finance degree programs, we researched the top schools in the US with four-year, on-campus undergraduate finance programs. To be included on our list, a school had to have an undergraduate graduation rate of 84% or higher and an undergraduate net price of less than $20,000 per year. A high graduation rate is a traditional marker of student success, while a low net price is an important factor for many students. In our ranking, we also included quality markers such as the median debt of graduating students and the student loan default rate. We’ve also included national rankings from US News & World Report.

SchoolDegrees OfferedGrad Rate1Student Loan Default Rate1Median Debt2% Tenured Faculty3US News National Rank4Net Price (Undergrad)1Tuition Per Graduate Credit Hour*
University of FloridaBSBA-Finance;
Minor-Real Estate;
MS-Finance;
MBA-Finance
88%2%$15,00047%#30 tie$10,457$449
University of WashingtonCertificate-Real Estate;
BA-Business Administration: Finance;
MBA-Finance;
MS-Computational Finance and Risk Management
84%2.2%$13,00050%#58 tie$10,692$1,050
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignBS-Finance;
MS-Finance;
MS-Financial Engineering;
MBA-Financial Management
85%2.4%$17,75050%#47 tie$14,660$1,735
The University of Texas at AustinBBA-Finance;
BBA-Finance: Corporate Finance & Investments;
BBA-Finance: Banking;
BBA-Finance: Energy Finance;
BBA-Finance: Investment Management;
BBA-Finance: Financial Markets/Banking;
BBA-Finance: Real Estate Finance;
MS-Finance;
MBA-General Finance;
MBA-Corporate Finance;
MBA-Investment Management;
MBA-Energy Finance;
MBA-Real Estate Finance;
MBA-Private Equity Finance
86%2.7%$20,36646%#42 tie$15,502$1,459
University of GeorgiaBBA-Finance;
MBA-Finance;
MBA-Financial Technology;
MS-Financial Planning
87%2.5%$17,10853%#47 tie$15,961$629
University of Wisconsin-MadisonBBA-Finance, Investment, and Banking;
BBA-Real Estate;
BBA-Risk Management and Insurance;
BS-Personal Finance;
MBA-Finance;
MS-Finance;
MS-Global Real Estate;
MS-Real Estate
88%0.8%$19,63948%#42 tie$16,103$882
Rutgers University-New BrunswickBS-Finance;
MBA-Finance;
Master of Financial Analysis (MFinA)
84%3.6%$19,50026%#63 tie$16,873$1,154
University of Maryland-College ParkBSBA-Finance;
MBA-Finance;
MFIN;
Master of Quantitative Finance
87%2.4%$16,50044%#58 tie$17,723$1,582
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBS-Commerce in Finance;
Minor-Finance
86%1.6%$21,11054%#74 tie$18,449
Ohio State UniversityBS-Finance;
Specialized Masters in Finance;
MBA-Finance
86%4.4%$15,50044%#53 tie$18,706$1,297
James Madison UniversityBBA-Finance;
BBA-Finance: Financial Analysis;
BBA-Finance: Risk Management;
BS-Quantitative Finance
84%2.3%$17,59143%$18,708

*Tuition per graduate credit hour is as reported on school websites for the 2020-21 academic year.

Best Value Finance Schools with Online Programs

In response to increasing demand, more schools are offering bachelor’s and master’s programs in finance entirely online or in a hybrid format. The schools in the below table offer online finance programs and have an undergraduate graduation rate of 72% or higher and an undergraduate net price of less than $20,000 per year.

SchoolOnline Degrees OfferedGrad Rate1Student Loan Default Rate1Median Debt2% Tenured Faculty3US News National Rank4Net Price (Undergrad)1Tuition Per Graduate Credit Hour*
University of WashingtonMS-Computational Finance and Risk Management84%2.2%$13,00050%#58 tie$10,692$1,050
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignMBA-Financial Management85%2.4%$17,75050%#47 tie$14,660$1,735
University of GeorgiaMS-Financial Planning87%2.5%$17,10853%#47 tie$15,961$629
University of Wisconsin-MadisonBS-Personal Finance88%0.8%$19,63948%#42 tie$16,103
University of Maryland-College ParkMBA-Finance87%2.4%$16,50044%#58 tie$17,723$1,582
Florida State UniversityMBA-Real Estate83%3.5%$18,05343%#58 tie$12,568$479
Purdue UniversityBS-Finance;
MS-Finance
82%2.2%$17,25068%#53 tie$12,684$695
University of DelawareMBA-Finance81%2.4%$21,25053%#97 tie$17,539$950
Canisius CollegeMBA-Financial Services73%5.6%$20,50032%$19,330$860
Geneva CollegeMBA-Finance72%7.2%$19,27757%$19,400$690

*Tuition per graduate credit hour is as reported on school websites for the 2020-21 academic year.

College Factual Best Colleges for Finance & Financial Management 2021

College Factual has ranked the best colleges with bachelor’s degrees in finance and financial management based on 20 factors including starting salary and the number of students studying finance at the school.5

  • University of Pennsylvania (#1)
  • Bentley University (#2)
  • Boston College (#3)
  • Georgetown University (#4)
  • Lehigh University (#5)
  • University of Notre Dame (#6)
  • Villanova University (#7)
  • Southern Methodist University (#8)
  • Tulane University (#9)
  • Santa Clara University (#10)

Wealth Management’s Top-Ranked Colleges for Financial Planning

The editorial and analysis service Wealth Management surveyed colleges registered with the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board that offer at least an undergraduate option in financial planning to devise its list of the top-ranked colleges for this field.6

  • Texas Tech University (#1)
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison (#2)
  • Utah Valley University (#3)
  • University of Missouri (#4)
  • University of North Florida (#5)
  • California State University-Northridge (#6)
  • Central Michigan University (#7)
  • Indiana Wesleyan University (#8)
  • Delaware State University (#9)
  • Kansas State University (#10)

Arizona State University Finance Rankings by Research Productivity

For finance professionals looking for careers in analytics, research, or academia, research productivity can be an important factor in determining where to study, particularly at the graduate level. Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business Department of Finance has ranked universities according to the annual number of articles published with an institutional affiliation in the top four finance journals. As the academic publication process takes significant time, it is best to look at a range of years. The below ranking takes into account articles published from 2014-2019 (the most recent five-year spread available). Note that as international schools are included in the ranking, US schools are not ranked independently or listed in sequential order.7

  • New York University (#1)
  • University of Chicago (#2)
  • Harvard University (#3)
  • University of Pennsylvania (#4)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (#5)
  • Boston College (#6)
  • Stanford University (#8)
  • Columbia University (#9)
  • Ohio State University (#10 tie)
  • University of Southern California (#10 tie)

Finance Program Profiles

Traditional Programs

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

At the Rutgers Business School at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, students can pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Finance. The program is particularly geared towards those who want to pursue careers as financial managers in diverse environments, though the program also prepares students to become financial planners, analysts, and brokers, among other career tracks. Required courses include Corporate Finance; Derivatives; and Investment Analysis. The educator-practitioner faculty at Rutgers are well-connected to Wall Street, allowing students to benefit from real-world advice and professional networking opportunities that few schools can match. Admission to the Rutgers Business School is competitive; students must complete six required pre-business courses prior to seeking formal admission to a business major at the end of their sophomore year. In addition to the Finance major, accepted students may double- or triple-major in Accounting; Business Analytics and Information Technology; Leadership and Management; Marketing; or Supply Chain Management.

University of Florida

The University of Florida (UF) offers a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in Finance. This on-campus program provides students with an understanding of the fundamentals of finance and business, including management skills and decision-making. The degree requires 120 credit hours to complete, including core courses such as The Legal Environment of Business; Statistics for Business Decisions; and Financial Accounting and Reporting. Students are also expected to complete either a semester-long internship or a semester-long study abroad experience to fulfill degree requirements. The internship track is particularly recommended for students who anticipate continuing on to a master’s program. Graduates are well-prepared for further study. At the graduate level, UF also offers a Master of Science (MS) in Finance and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance.

Hybrid and Online Programs

University of Maryland-College Park

Through the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland (UMD) main campus in College Park, students can earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance entirely online. The curriculum and professors for the online MBA mirror those available for the on-campus MBA, providing students with a world-class education in a remote setting. Experiential learning is emphasized throughout the program, which includes finance-focused courses such as Commercial Bank Management; Applied Equity Analysis; and Financial Restructuring. It is recommended that applicants have multiple years of professional work experience as well as an adequate quantitative background and an acceptable score on the GMAT or GRE. Other admissions requirements include an admissions essay, a letter of recommendation, and an academic history suited to graduate work with a GPA of at least 3.0. UM also offers on-campus programs leading to the Master of Finance (MFIN), Master of Qualitative Finance (MQF), and PhD in Finance as well as an undergraduate finance program and a Plus 1 undergraduate-to-MFIN program.

University of Washington

The University of Washington offers an online Master of Science in Computational Finance and Risk Management (MS-CFRM) that is designed to develop skills in quantitative computational finance and advanced risk management. Based on a foundation of math and statistics, this highly competitive program takes an interdisciplinary approach to CFRM. Students learn from experienced professors who have backgrounds in applied math, economics, statistics, and finance. Students can be admitted regardless of their state of residency, but must arrange an approved exam proctor in their local area in advance of any required test or exam (typically at least a midterm and a final for most courses). Required courses include Investment Science; Options and Other Derivatives; and Monte Carlo Methods in Finance. Students must also take a course designed to develop their background in data processing, which can be met by taking either Financial Data Access and Analysis with SQL, VBA, Excel, or Optimization Methods in Finance. The University of Washington also offers on-campus and online formats for its Master of Science (MS) in Finance, as well as on-campus certificates in Computational Finance and Financial Data Analytics.

Admission Requirements

Finance program admission requirements vary according to the degree level, the competitiveness of a given school or program, and other factors. Be sure to verify admission requirements with the individual programs you are considering. Typically, admission to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program in finance will require a high school diploma or GED as well as scores on standardized admission tests such as the ACT or SAT. To be considered for admission to a master’s program in finance, you will typically need to have a bachelor’s degree; some programs require prospective students to take either the GRE or GMAT to be considered. It is not uncommon for master’s programs in finance to recommend, if not require, one to three years of finance-related work experience. PhD programs in finance typically require candidates to have a bachelor’s in finance and a competitive academic record. Other requirements that can apply to all degree levels include having strong professional and/or academic letters of recommendation and a solid academic track record (especially in finance, business, and math).

What to Expect with a Finance Major or Concentration

At the undergraduate level, finance majors should expect to take courses that build their understanding of the fundamentals of business and finance, including related mathematical concepts and analytical skills. Select undergraduate programs offer the opportunity to specialize in more narrow areas of finance, such as real estate finance or corporate finance; however, these specialization opportunities are more common at the graduate level. Graduate students with a concentration in finance should expect to take more challenging math and analytics courses as well as courses that build their specialization or focus area within the broader field of finance.

Undergraduate Level

  • Behavioral Finance
  • Business Law
  • Corporate Finance
  • Investment Fundamentals
  • Financial Regulations and Ethics
  • Financial Statement Analysis
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Money and Banking
  • Retirement Planning
  • Risk Management
  • Statistics

Master’s Level

  • Advanced Financial Analytics
  • Capital Markets
  • Debt Instruments and Markets
  • Financial Economics
  • Financial Institution Management
  • Financial Management
  • Financial Modeling
  • Investment Analysis
  • Managerial Economics
  • Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Options and Futures Markets
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Real Estate Valuation

PhD Level

  • Advanced Applied Analysis
  • Advanced Topics in Game Theory
  • Dynamic Asset Pricing
  • Computational Finance
  • Corporate Finance Theory
  • Continuous-Time Finance
  • Econometrics
  • Empirical Methods in Finance
  • Financial Intermediation
  • Mathematical Finance
  • Multiperson Decision Theory
  • Theory of Probability

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best finance schools?

The factors that make one school “best” for a given student ultimately depend on that student’s background, academic history, and career goals. Some students’ “best” lists focus heavily on tuition cost, while others are more focused on academic reputation. Still other students give heavier weight to factors like where a school is located or what business affiliations a business school may have. Of course, the variety of courses, the reputation of faculty, and the majors and specializations offered are important, too. It’s wise to consider all of these factors as you make your selections.

How do I know which school of finance is right for me?

Many schools of finance offer prospective students opportunities to come to campus in order to get to know their programs as well as their faculty members. Such opportunities can range from simple evening seminars to full weekend events. Get in touch with the schools that interest you to find out what events they offer for prospective students.

Can I go to finance school online?

Yes, a growing number of finance schools are offering online programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In most cases, the curriculum for an online finance program will mirror that of its on-campus counterpart. While some students find that the reduced networking opportunities in an online format can be challenging, for many students an online or hybrid format carries benefits that outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Do I need to go to finance school to work in finance?

There are a wide variety of finance careers, but in a competitive marketplace, most employers are looking for candidates who have at least some formal training in finance. This can range from a certificate program for some entry-level positions up to a master’s or even doctoral degree for highly competitive career areas. A bachelor’s degree in finance is a very common requirement, which makes it a good idea to strongly consider finance school if you plan to work in this field.

Is it better to get a bachelor’s degree from a finance school that has a graduate program?

Not all schools that have a bachelor’s degree in finance offer master’s degrees in finance. However, if a given school offers a bachelor’s degree that meets your requirements, lacking a master’s program is not necessarily a drawback. Many professionals recommend going to a different school for a graduate degree than the one you attended for undergrad, as this helps expose you to a wider variety of courses and teaching methods. However, if you already know that you want to go to graduate school, it’s also worthwhile to look into 4+1 or 4+2 programs, which generally offer guaranteed or accelerated master’s admission to academically competitive bachelor’s degree students who meet program requirements.

References:
1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Ranking ROI of 4,500 US Colleges and Universities: https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/CollegeROI/
3. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
4. US News & World Report 2021 Best National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
5. College Factual Best Colleges for Finance & Financial Management 2021: https://www.collegefactual.com/majors/business-management-marketing-sales/finance-financial-management/rankings/top-ranked/
6. Wealth Management Top-Ranked Colleges for Financial Planning: https://www.wealthmanagement.com/careers/top-ranked-colleges-financial-planning?full=1
7. Arizona State University Finance Rankings by Research Productivity: https://apps.wpcarey.asu.edu/fin-rankings/rankings/results.cfm