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Finance Master's or MBA: Choose the Right Path for You

21 Apr
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You’re a whiz with numbers, an ambitious professional intent on rising through the corporate ranks, and deeply committed to creating value for your organization. You may have a few years of valuable experience under your belt, but you’ve made up your mind that an advanced business degree is your next step to keep your career journey moving on an upward trajectory.

The choice you have to make now is whether to pursue a relatively new master’s degree in finance or that reliable standby, the MBA. Both degrees have their merits, and both can prepare you for meaningful, lucrative roles in your professional future. Read our overview of finance master’s degrees and MBAs to help guide your choice and prepare you to succeed on your own terms.

MBA: A Versatile Degree

For decades, professionals have been pursuing MBAs in order to hone their business knowledge, improve their career prospects, and boost their salaries. The return on investment for earning an MBA can be significant, and it’s not just limited to the five-figure pay increase you’re likely to see upon graduation.1 The best MBAs will pay you back by welcoming you into an elite business network, by helping you build in-demand skills across a wide range of business functions, and by imbuing you with an innovative and focused leadership mindset.

If you are currently a working professional and don’t want to step away from your full-time job in order to pursue your MBA, a number of outstanding online MBA options now exist that can deliver top-quality education while allowing you to manage your own time and responsibilities with agility. If you are interested in going the online route, check out a program like Santa Clara University’s Silicon Valley Online MBA, which takes great pride in offering a broad and versatile range of elective courses and an online learning experience that surpasses all expectations.

Master’s in Finance: Focused on CFO

If you have your sights set squarely on CFO as your long-term career goal, a finance master’s degree may be your most direct path to get you there. These degrees can often be completed in less time than the two year standard for MBA programs, sometimes in as little as one year. A strong master’s program in finance will offer a curriculum that prepares you for a finance leadership role in a corporate setting or to work in the dynamic field of investments. If you intend to go the corporate route, you may also choose to seek out a program that offers elective courses so you can be sure you’re earning a degree that meets your specific needs.

Finance is a field in which long-standing core knowledge and up-to-the-minute digital tools and methods often intersect. For this reason, master’s degrees in finance that center both of these elements are particularly desirable today. SCU’s Online MS in Finance and Analytics is a perfect example of this kind of powerful degree, a finance master’s degree that equally weights core concepts in financial analysis and econometrics with digital competencies in database management and R and Python programming. As finance evolves, a degree like the Online MSFA can keep you on the leading edge and on a smooth climb toward your dream job.

What About MBA Concentrations?

A great way to get the best of both worlds offered by MBA programs and finance master’s degrees is to pursue an MBA with a concentration in finance. MBA concentrations allow you to enjoy the benefits of a well-rounded business degree while still crafting your education experience to meet your specific career goals.

The MBA concentration in finance at SCU is a great example of this approach in action. This concentration augments the program’s robust, Silicon Valley-focused core with a suite of three finance courses designed to prepare you to thrive in either corporate finance settings or investment-focused organizations. Its strong faculty of experienced professionals and well-published academics, its forward-looking curriculum, and its powerful network, combine to make the SCU Online MBA the #10 Best Online MBA for Finance according to U.S. News and World Report.2

Work in Any Industry With Either Degree

Regardless of which path you choose—a general MBA, an MBA with a concentration in finance, or a finance master’s degree—you will set yourself up to thrive in a variety of roles and in any industry you can think of. MBAs are well known for their ability to prepare you for success as a leader in any organization, but more finance-focused degree options can be equally versatile.

One unifying truth across the entire business world is the importance of the bottom line, and every successful company needs qualified, competent, and confident leaders to ensure financial stability and guide sustainable growth. If you know that dollars and cents are your true calling, a finance master’s degree will make you a true organizational asset.

Earn a Top-Tier Online MBA or Finance Master’s at SCU

The Online MBA and Online MS in Finance and Analytics from Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business are both fantastic ways to sharpen in-demand business skills and build a powerful Silicon Valley Network. Learn more about our world-class business faculty, and consider how their connections and accomplishments can be vital building blocks for your career.