Master’s degrees are becoming an increasingly popular choice for people who want to improve their skillset and gain advancement at work. Around 21 million people in the US have a master’s degree, with an MBA having been the most popular master’s program for over a decade.
Finance is one of the core components of any MBA program, and the financial skills gained by completing an online university MBA course will be highly valuable in a wide range of careers. Your MBA finance studies will teach you the skills needed to prepare financial statements and assess how well an organization is performing through analyzing accounts and reports. You will also learn how to provide essential management accounting data to enable managers and directors to make informed operational and strategic decisions.
Many MBA graduates pursue careers in finance-related roles. However, even if you later choose to change career path, many of the skills you gain from your MBA degree will be transferrable to other roles. For example, marketing, business strategy, and business management. If you would like to concentrate primarily on finance, you can select additional finance-related course components for your MBA program.
Here are some of the financial skills which can be gained from MBA courses.
Accounting and financial reporting
This is a broad subject which can encompass a wide range of topics, and it may be subdivided into smaller components for your online MBA. When you have completed this course component, you will understand the role that accounting plays in making decisions for an organization. It will give you a comprehensive overview of financial and management accounting principles, corporate accounting, and finance.
Financial accounting deals with the past. It covers the recording of all financial transactions and the preparation of accounts and reports for stakeholders outside the organization such as lenders, investors, and the IRS.
Management accounting concentrates on making decisions about the future of the organization by analyzing financial and operational data. You will learn how to interpret and make use of financial data for a business, and how to use tools such as activity-based costing to provide data for managers and directors to use in decision making.
Studying financial reporting will give you the skills to understand, prepare, and analyze a set of financial statements and financial reports.
This may include the following.
Profit and loss accounts
You will learn how to prepare income statements, also known as profit and loss accounts, produced either annually or monthly. When compared with statements for previous periods, they can show whether income and profits are increasing or decreasing over time.
You will gain experience in preparing a balance sheet, a snapshot of how a business can be valued at a chosen moment in time, with values ascribed to all assets and liabilities of the business. This can be used to calculate net current assets or working capital.
Your course will also cover the rules of corporate financial reporting. If you are planning a career in finance, it is important to know the legal requirements for financial reporting, and the implications and penalties which could be incurred in the event of failure to meet those requirements. Other topics which may be covered include specialist financial statements, for example for banks, insurance, the oil and gas sector, and real estate.
Learning to prepare financial forecasts helps with planning and managing resources for the coming months or years. Understanding the importance of cash flow for a business, how the cash flow cycle works, and strategies for managing cash flow problems.
Usually prepared at the start of an accounting period, they set expectations for the future, including estimated cash flow. With the knowledge gained from your MBA, you will be able to prepare and analyze a cash flow statement and use it to inform planning decisions for your organization.
You will learn how to apply a set of assumptions to predict the possible outcomes of taking various courses of action. This may be used by managers and directors in a range of situations such as budgeting, valuing a business, deciding on whether to divest certain parts of the business, raising capital, or the payment of dividends to shareholders.
As part of your MBA studies, you may be introduced to some of the many software tools which are available for financial reporting and analysis.
You will learn how the capital markets work, different types of financial instruments, and how to advise a business on its capital structure.
You will gain an understanding of managing risk in business. The focus may be on the financial aspects of risk management, or it may be on using business processes and leadership to manage risks in the organization. In some courses, both aspects may be covered.
An economics component will cover topics such as fiscal policy, interest rates, inflation, banking, and foreign trade.
Global business environment
This subject explores the global economy and how the banking industry operates across the globe. Your course may also cover international law and the legal implications of business decisions for international businesses. It will give you an insight into the legal requirements which influence the strategies and behaviors of markets in other industries.
Studying the global business environment can also help you develop an understanding of cross-cultural management. This will give you an awareness of cross-cultural barriers and how to overcome them for success in the global economy.
Other courses and specializations may include the following.
Forensic accounting covers theft, fraud, and financial misconduct. Studying this subject gives you the skills needed to protect your organization from fraud and other white-collar crime. From learning how to detect and tackle fraud, to how to put measures in place to prevent it, forensic accounting ensures your business has better control over, and protection of, its assets.
Legal framework in business
Gain an understanding of legal requirements for business organizations, including requirements for setting up a business, as well as for operations and management.
Additional skills you will gain from your MBA
Numerical skills: from statistics to preparing a set of accounts, your MBA studies will give you the opportunity to build on your existing numerical skills.
Developing your analytical skills: you will have the ability to analyze financial accounts and use the data to inform a range of decisions for your business.
Develop your reporting and presentation skills: you will learn to prepare reports on the financial performance of a business based on its accounting statements.
Some MBAs are primarily finance-focused, but even in more generalized MBA courses, in addition to the core finance and accounting components there will be other subjects which contain finance elements.
Which MBA concentration is best?
Most MBA programs comprise a mix of mandatory components and elective components.
The specializations which are most suitable for you will depend on your individual career goals. If you already have a chosen career path, research the types of specializations employers look for in the positions you are targeting.
How does an online MBA differ from an on-campus MBA academically?
When you sign up for an online MBAm you are assured of the same high-quality MBA program as you would get if you were studying on campus. The only difference is in the learning experience, which gives you greater flexibility around where you study and when.
Career benefits of studying for an online MBA
Developing your skills through an MBA university online, such as Suffolk University, Boston, gives you the opportunity to access the same teaching excellence and the same digital resources you would have from an in-person degree course, including the online Center for Learning and Academic Success. At Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School, you will develop skills for delivering disruptive innovation, learning to become a more agile thinker with a range of course options to choose from:
- Accounting Principles
- Corporate Accounting and Finance
- Forensic Accounting
- Business Intelligence
- Health Sector Management
In addition to acquiring in-depth financial skills, there are many other benefits to graduating from an online MBA. Studying for an MBA enhances your leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills. MBA graduates also have a wider professional network, often connecting with alumni from all over the world. This helps you to gain an understanding of business issues from a global perspective. Once you have completed your MBA, you will have access to a broader range of career opportunities as well as significantly increased earning potential.
There are many reasons why people appreciate the flexibility of joining an MBA online:
- Your career doesn’t need to be put on pause while you study.
- You can put your learning into practice during your studies.
- You don’t have to sacrifice earnings for the duration of your MBA program.
- There may be flexibility around the length of the MBA course.
- You don’t need to relocate to another city to attend classes.
With the wide range of financial and soft skills you can gain from completing an online business administration degree, you will find a world of opportunities available to you. Naturally, many MBA graduates take up roles in the finance sector. An MBA could set you on a career path to roles such as financial analyst, risk manager, accounting manager, and in time with the requisite experience, treasurer, or chief financial officer.
For online courses, what are the MBA requirements?
Most MBA courses, online or on-campus, will require you to have a good Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score. For some universities, it may not be a pre-requisite for applying, but a good score may put you in a stronger position than applicants who do not have one.
Is it possible to study for an online MBA without work experience in finance?
Some MBA university programs allow you to apply without any work experience. However, most MBA courses specify a requirement for a minimum of two years’ experience in the workplace, and on average, an MBA student will already have three to five years’ work experience. Your work experience does not need to be within a finance department, and it can be in any size organization, from a small nonprofit to a global corporation. Importantly, instead of starting from scratch, your work experience gives you a foundation of knowledge to build upon when you begin your business administration degree.