Finance Programs and Careers in Washington

This guide aims to inform students about degrees and careers in finance in the state of Washington. Washington’s finance programs provide in-depth business and financial knowledge to students ranging from new high school graduates looking to enter the field to those with years of business experience hoping to advance their careers. Finance degree programs in Washington offer flexible options, allowing students to work on degrees either full-time or part-time and on-campus, online, or through a hybrid program. Most finance schools in Washington are located in or near Tacoma and Seattle, two of the largest cities in the state, allowing students to network in the financial centers of Washington. Continue reading to learn more about earning a finance degree or certificate in Washington as well as finance career opportunities and salary information in the state.

Quick Facts

For not-for-profit colleges and universities with finance degree programs.

Table of Contents

Washington Finance Program Comparison

We have developed the following table to help you compare all of the finance programs in Washington from not-for-profit schools that offer programs with a concentration in finance. In addition to allowing you to compare the business school’s accreditation, finance degrees that appear in bold are Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute University Affiliation Programs, those that have been recognized for curricula aligned to preparing for the CFA Exam.

SchoolAccreditationFinance Degree(s)Acceptance Rate6Grad Rate1Online Options?Median Debt7Net Price1
Central Washington UniversityAACSBMinor-FinanceN.Av.58%$14,669$16,014
City University of SeattleACBSPCertificate-Finance;
Gonzaga UniversityAACSBBBA-Business Administration: Finance;
Eastern Washington UniversityAACSBBA-Business Administration: Finance;
Northwest UniversityACBSPMinor-FinanceN.Av.58%$12,500$22,010
Pacific Lutheran UniversityAACSBBBA-Finance;
Saint Martin’s UniversityACBSPMBA-FinanceN.Av.67%$19,500$24,596
Seattle Pacific UniversityAACSBBS-Business Administration: Finance;
Seattle UniversityAACSBMinor-Finance;
University of Washington-BothellAACSBMinor-Actuarial Science;
University of Washington-Seattle CampusAACSBCertificate-Real Estate;
BA-Business Administration: Finance;
MBA-Finance specialization;
MS-Computational Finance and Risk Management
University of Washington-TacomaAACSBBA-Business Administration: FinanceN.Av.56%$13,000$10,620
Walla Walla UniversityACBSPBSBA: FinanceN.Av.61%$21,500$22,135
Washington State UniversityAACSBBA-Business Administration: Finance;
Western Washington UniversityAACSBBA-Business Administration: Finance;
BA-Financial Economics

  • — indicates none.
  • N.Av. indicates no data available.

Top-Ranked Schools with Finance Programs in Washington

Forbes’ Best Business Schools 2019

  • University of Washington (#23)

Georgetown CEW’s ROI Ranking by Long-Term Net Present Value 2019

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) has compared 4,500 colleges and universities on graduates’ return on investment (ROI). We use their net present value (NPV) ranking, which is the current dollar value of earning a four-year degree from the school over a 40-year horizon.

  • University of Washington-Tacoma (#137; $1,263,000)
  • University of Washington-Bothell (#141; $1,258,000)
  • University of Washington-Seattle (#159; $1,243,000)
  • Gonzaga University (#295; $1,119,000)
  • Seattle University (#309; $1,111,000)
  • Washington State University (#369; $1,069,000)
  • Pacific Lutheran University (#572; $996,000)
  • Central Washington University (#617; $984,000)
  • Saint Martin’s University (#634; $981,000)
  • Seattle Pacific University (#699; $962,000)7

Princeton Review’s Great Schools for Business and Finance Majors 2020

  • Seattle University

US News & World Report’s Best Undergraduate Finance Programs 2021

  • Seattle University (#21 tie)
  • Gonzaga University (#23 tie)
  • University of Washington (#25 tie)
    • US News & World Report’s Best Graduate Finance Programs 2021

      • Seattle University (#31 tie)

      Select Schools in Washington with Finance Degrees

      Traditional Undergraduate Programs

      Gonzaga University

      Gonzaga University’s (GU) AACSB-accredited School of Business Administration offers a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a concentration in Finance to prepare students for careers in securities, information systems, corporate financial management, and financial services industries. In addition to their chosen major and minor, all students follow a 45-credit common core curriculum that focuses on designated themes that change each year. Business students must also take three additional courses: a broadening course to complement their finance concentration, a course with an international focus, and an experiential course that includes a lab or internship for hands-on application. The Finance concentration consists of 15 credit hours of finance courses including four core courses and one elective. Required courses include Intermediate Finance, Financial Reporting, Investment Analysis, and Financial Management Cases. GU also offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance.

      University of Washington

      The University of Washington’s (UW) AACSB-accredited Foster School of Business offers a Bachelor’s of Business Administration (BBA) with an emphasis in Finance. This CFA Institute University Affiliation Program requires 72 business credits, with a minimum of 53 of these in upper-division courses. The curriculum emphasizes four core areas of finance: Corporate Finance, Investments, Financial Markets, and International Finance. Students are required to analyze case studies and apply financial management tools to solve business problems. Students can opt to specialize in quantitative finance by completing additional coursework. Required coursework includes Business Finance, Global Business Perspectives, and Managerial Economics. Need- and merit-based scholarships are awarded to high-performing students. A build-your-own Master of Business Administration (MBA) option is available for students to craft a finance specialization, as well as a certificate in real estate.

      Western Washington University

      Western Washington University’s (WWU) College of Business and Economics offers an AACSB-accredited Bachelor of Arts in Financial Economics for students seeking careers in corporate finance, real estate and insurance, financial analysis, and government agencies. The program emphasizes core economic concepts and the functioning of financial markets. Students are challenged to apply critical thinking skills and financial theory to solve problems. Sixty upper-division credits are required as well as 12 upper-division economics credits and eight credit hours of finance electives. Required courses include Managerial Accounting, Principles of Finance, and Financial Institutions and Markets. Students must also complete courses in communication and writing proficiency with a minimum grade of “C.” A faculty advisor and department manager assist students in creating their plan of study and fulfilling General University Requirements (GUR). Students must maintain a GPA of at least 2.5 throughout the program. An assessment exam is required prior to graduation.

      Traditional Master’s Programs

      Pacific Lutheran University

      Pacific Lutheran University’s (PLU) School of Business offers a 40-hour STEM-designated Master’s of Science in Finance (MSF) that caters to both new graduates and those with business experience. The AACSB-accredited program prepares students for the Level I and Level II Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) exams. Full-time students can complete the degree in as little as 10 months and a part-time option is also available that can be completed in 20 months. Course titles include Financial Econometrics, Foundations of Finance, Advanced Corporate Finance, and Risk Management. The final course students take, Capstone: Integration and Graduate Research in Finance, requires students to complete a research project before graduation. Prospective students must submit GMAT or GRE scores. A limited number of scholarships and fellowships are available. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis but it is recommended that applications be submitted by March 1st to be considered for scholarships. The School of Business also offers Bachelor’s in Business with a concentration in Finance.

      Seattle Pacific University

      Seattle Pacific University’s (SPU) School of Business, Government, and Economics offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Finance emphasis option. This AACSB-accredited program consists of 45 credits, including 30 credits of advanced coursework and 15 credits of electives in a chosen area of emphasis. Specific prerequisite courses are also required prior to enrolling. Advanced and elective course titles include Financial Analysis; Global Political Economics; Advanced Problems in Finance; and Futures, Options, and Risk Management. Students may choose to complete this degree part-time and classes are offered in the evening. GMAT scores are required for admission, as well as proof of one year of continuous full-time employment after earning a bachelor’s degree. Applications are accepted in August, November, February, and May. A Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) with a concentration in Finance is also available.

      Seattle University

      Seattle University’s (SU) AACSB-accredited Albers School of Business and Economics offers a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) that can be pursued either part-time or full-time. Full-time students can expect to complete the 45-credit program in one year and part-time students can graduate in two years. Seattle University’s MSF is a STEM-designated degree program and is a CFA Institute University Affiliation Program. This finance master’s is designed for students with an undergraduate degree in business; applicants without a business background may have to take prerequisite business courses. Students may choose from three different tracks for the MSF: Financial Analyst/Investments, Risk Management, or Corporate Finance. Course titles offered include Financial Markets and Institutions, Financial Risk Management, Corporate Investment Decisions, and Finance for International Business. New students are admitted each term, and GMAT or GRE scores are required. The MSF can also be pursued concurrently with a second graduate degree. Dual program opportunities include the Professional MBA, Master of Professional Accounting, Master of Science in Business Analytics, and the Juris Doctor (JD). A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Finance is also available as well as a minor in Finance.

      Online and Hybrid Programs

      City University of Seattle

      City University of Seattle’s ACBSP-accredited Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a flexible program that offers a Finance emphasis. Students have options to complete this program fully online, on-campus, or as a hybrid program. This 48-to-54 credit program is designed to give students foundation courses in business as well as a chosen field of specialization to prepare students for a variety of business and financial careers. Finance elective course titles include Equity Markets; Derivatives; Alternative Investments and Debt Instrument Management and Banking; Fixed Income; and the Movement of Capital. Students must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, but GMAT or GRE scores are not required. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The City University of Seattle offers professional development events and online networking for students and alumni, as well as a variety of webinars to help students succeed professionally. A certificate in finance is also available.

      Eastern Washington University

      Eastern Washington University offers an online AACSB-accredited Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance that can be completed in as little as 11 months. The 44-credit hour program with a Finance concentration equips students with skills in international financial management, international investment, and financial statement analysis. Eleven courses are required, which are made up of 28 credit hours of core courses, 12 credit hours of finance courses, and four credit hours of electives. Students who do not hold an undergraduate degree in a business-related discipline will need to complete 12 additional credit hours of foundational coursework. Core course titles include Marketing Management, Corporate Finance, and Advanced Accounting for Managers. A four-credit hour MBA Capstone course is required in the last or second-to-last semester. An in-person Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a Finance emphasis is also available.

      Washington Finance Careers and Salary Outlook

      In Washington, the financial sector is steadily growing, with many banks and corporations based in Seattle, Tacoma, Walla Walla, and Spokane. WaFd Bank, formerly known as Washington Federal, is the state’s largest bank and the state has a number of investment banks, including Meridian Capital and Capital Advantage. Many large corporations also call Seattle home, notably Amazon and Starbucks. Microsoft Corporation is headquartered in Redmond, Washington. Other companies with a significant presence in the state include Boeing, Barrett Business Services, and Nordstrom.

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual salary for all business and financial operations jobs (major group) in Washington in 2019 was $83,400, slightly higher than the national average of $78,130.8 With 164,710 employees, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area has one of the highest employment levels and highest concentrations of jobs.8 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is also one of the top-paying metropolitan areas in the country for all business and financial operations jobs, with an average annual salary of $88,430.8 Financial examiners in Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue earn one of the highest salaries in the country for this occupation at $110,850 annually, which is higher than the national average of $92,330.9 The BLS reports that the metropolitan area of Olympia-Tumwater has one of the highest concentrations of jobs in the country in the categories of financial management and financial and investment analysts, financial risk specialists, and financial specialists, all other.10,11 The Eastern Washington nonmetropolitan area also boasts a high concentration of jobs in the category of financial and investment analysts, financial risk specialists, and financial specialists, all other.11

      Washington state expects continued job growth within the financial sector with jobs expected to grow faster than the national average. The job growth expected for financial clerks in the state is 21.6% through 2028, significantly higher than the national rate of 7.1% over the same time period.14 Financial managers in Washington can expect job growth to reach 22.1% through 2028, which is higher than the national average of 16%.14 Positions in the category of “all other financial specialists” in Washington are expected to grow much faster than the national rate of 6.2%, with projections of 19.3% through 2028.14

      Washington Finance Salary Information

      OccupationNumber Employed8Average Salary8
      Business and Financial Operations Occupations225,940$83,400
      Financial and Investment Analysts and Other Specialists9,500$90,570
      Financial Examiners610$101,660
      Financial Managers12,830$138,140
      Loan Officers7,050$71,600
      Personal Financial Advisors3,820$111,890

      Finance Associations in Washington

      1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
      2. Forbes Best Business Schools 2019: https://www.forbes.com/business-schools/list/
      3. The Princeton Review. The Best 382 Colleges, 2020 Edition. The Princeton Review, 2019.
      4. US News & World Report Best Undergraduate Finance Schools 2021: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/business-finance
      5. US News & World Report Best Graduate Finance Schools 2021: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/finance-rankings
      6. US News & World Report Best Business Schools 2021: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools
      7. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Ranking ROI of 4,500 US Colleges and Universities: https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/CollegeROI/
      8. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Washington: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wa.htm
      9. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Financial Examiners: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132061.htm
      10. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Financial Managers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes113031.htm
      11. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Financial and Investment Analysts, Financial Risk Specialists, and Financial Specialists, All Other: https://www.bls.gov/oes/2019/may/oes132098.htm
      14. Projections Central Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/projections/longterm