Top 5 Online Graduate Certificates in Financial Management

Updated November 8, 2022 · 2 Min Read

A ranking of the best graduate certificates in financial management. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial analysts employment is projected to grow 16% through 2022 - above average - and jobs for financial managers are expected to grow 9%. In an increasingly competitive job market, financial professionals will need specialized skill sets and, ideally, certifications to prove it.

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Chief Financial Planners (CFPs), in particular, will continue to be an essential asset for personal financial planners. The good news is that most of these certification programs are short (hence, relatively cheap). Obtaining certification becomes crucial when you realize that even if you don't have one, chances are your competitor does. So don’t let a few months worth of additional work get in the way of you getting (or keeping) the job you want. Check our top 5 online certification programs in financial management.

Interested in more general information on distance learning? Visit our ranking of the best online colleges.


  • Affordability (1/3): the average out-of-state tuition per credit hour
  • Completion Time (1/3): minimum amount of course work required for certification
  • Academic Reputation (1/3): the rank of the school’s parent institution according to US News
1. Penn State University

Online Graduate Certificate in Public Budgeting and Financial Management

Penn State University offers a graduate certificate in Public Budgeting and Financial Management that takes just three courses: Governmental Fiscal Decision-Making, Government Financial Management, and Governmental and Not-for-Profit Accounting. All classes are taught by experienced experts and designed for maximum flexibility so students can complete coursework on their own schedules. In particular, the curriculum covers fiscal and governmental aspects of budgeting and financial management, development of organizational budgets, and governmental and non-profit accounting in a public policy area of the student’s choice. Graduates will be prepared for a broad range of professions, including as a financial manager, consultant, controller, governmental accountant, community accountant, fiscal policy analyst, and more. Certificate completion time is one year.

2. Thunderbird School of Global Management Online

Executive Certificate in Global Finance

Thunderbird’s School of Global Management offers an executive certificate in Global Finance that consists of 3 courses: Finance Essentials for Global Managers, Advanced Global Financial Management, and an elective. Courses deliver in accelerated 8-week blocks, and students can expect to graduate in just one year after completing a final comprehensive assessment. (Students must also submit two discussion board postings to Weeks 1, 4, and 8 of each course.) Designed for working professionals, experienced executives, and post-MBA grads, among the areas of concentration are: efficient working capital management; fundamentals of foreign exchange, parity conditions, and various foreign currency exposures in multinational firms; identifying international risk; extracting data from financial statements to analyze the operating, investing, and financing activities.

3 (tied). Stanford University

Online Graduate Certificate in Financial Risk Analysis and Management

Stanford University offers a graduate certificate in Financial Risk Analysis and Management that consists of three courses (among these 4): Theory of Investment Portfolios and Derivative Securities, Financial Models and Statistical Methods in Risk Management, Credit Risk: Modeling and Management, and Data-driven Financial and Risk Econometrics. In particular, students learn: analysis and prep for market turmoil, commodities pricing, exchange rates, and contract fulfillment; cash reserve investment for loans and credit in ways that balance risk and expected returns; and risk in general for investment. The certificate is primarily designed for financial officers, venture funding professionals, entrepreneurs, and engineers with financial responsibilities. Students are provided with maximum schedule flexibility and complete their certificates within 1-2 years on average, though may take up to 3 years.

3 (tied). Northwestern University, School of Continuing Studies

Financial Planning Certificate Online

Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies offers a Certified Financial Planner program that consists of 6 courses: Intro to Financial Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Planning, Income Tax Planning, Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits, Estate Planning, and Financial Plan Development and Presentation. With both synchronous courses and asynchronous courses, students have the opportunity to both learn in a live virtual classroom setting and work on their own time, allowing for maximum scheduling flexibility. (There is a traditional face-to-face program on weeknights, as well.) Students can expect to earn their CFPs in as little as 9 months online and 14 months in person. The program is accredited Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

5. Colorado State University

Online Graduate Certificate in Applied Finance

Colorado State University offers a graduate certificate in Applied Finance that requires 3 courses: Quantitative Business Analysis, Financial Principles and Practice, and Financial Markets and Investments. From there, students have the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of electives to tailor their curriculum, including Options and Futures, Corporate Risk Management, Fundamentals of Bond Markets, Fundamentals of Firm Valuation, and Fundamentals of Real Estate Finance, among others. Certificate completion time varies, but students should be able to complete the 11-credit requirements within 2-3 years. All course work is designed for maximum flexibility in order to accommodate students’ busy schedules, and online students have access to a range of resources, including email, advising, career services, social media networking, and library services.

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