Your Guide to the MBA Finance Concentration

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs offer an interdisciplinary understanding of how different areas of a business interact with and influence one another.

[Featured image] Two MBA finance students examine financial graphs on a backlit whiteboard

In an MBA program, you’ll experience several business touchpoints as part of your core curriculum. Outside of that core curriculum, you’ll be required to take electives. Electives are higher-level courses in designated subject areas.

As part of your elective coursework, some schools offer the option to complete a concentration, also known as a specialization or major, depending on your program’s terminology. An MBA concentration is a batch of courses that center on a singular subject. Completing a concentration as part of your MBA program can help signal that you have advanced expertise in your area of study.

One common concentration is finance. In this article, we’ll look at what a finance concentration is and discuss some benefits, including potential career paths and salary. Finally, we’ll consider a couple of other advanced courses of study related to finance.

What is a finance MBA?

A finance concentration offers a focused look at how money moves within an organization and throughout the economy.

Many MBA programs will require some introductory finance or accounting courses as part of their core curriculum. Candidates who pursue a finance concentration will examine financial markets and policy more in-depth by taking three to five upper-level classes. Some programs offer even more specialized finance concentrations, like quantitative finance, financial analytics, or financial technology (FinTech).

Types of coursework

If you decide to pursue a finance concentration, some courses you may be able to take include:

  • Bankruptcy and reorganization

  • Behavioral finance

  • Data science for finance

  • Derivatives and risk management

  • International banking

  • Private equity finance

  • Real estate decisions

  • Valuation

If you choose to forgo a concentration, there is still a chance you’ll be able to take some, all, or similar upper-level finance courses to count toward your general MBA elective requirements. Ask your advisor or refer to your program’s course catalog to learn about your options.

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Benefits of a finance concentration

Although you don’t need to complete a concentration to succeed in a specific career path, it can help deepen your understanding of a topic. If your career goals have to do with finance or you have a particular interest in finance, it may be beneficial to consider this concentration.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of an MBA with a finance concentration.

1. Explore an area of interest.

Many MBA programs won’t require you to choose a concentration, which means you have the freedom to take whatever electives you want to take to fulfill your graduation requirements. However, if you enjoy finance, you can further explore your area of interest by pursuing a concentration. This would enable you to participate in higher-level discussions, explore niche interests in-depth, and surround yourself with classmates and professors who share your passion.

2. Apply for careers in finance.

You can secure a finance-related position without completing a finance concentration. However, if you hope to work in finance or at a financial institution, this concentration can help demonstrate your advanced knowledge to potential employers. Additionally, you can build confidence in your financial skill set as you complete the necessary upper-level coursework and seek finance-related business positions.

Some examples of fields that finance MBA graduates may decide to pursue include:

  • Asset management

  • Corporate finance

  • International sales

  • Investment banking

  • Private equity

  • Real estate finance

Additionally, if you aspire to become a Chief Financial Officer (CFO), a finance concentration can be a useful starting point.

3. Nurture a lucrative skill set.

Many factors influence post-MBA salary, including your location, school attended, and years of experience. However, if you have ambitious salary goals, completing a finance concentration may help you reach those goals faster. Finance tends to be among the highest-paying industries for MBA graduates. A US News & World Report survey found that 2021 MBA graduates who entered financial fields earned an average base salary of $138,834, a figure second only to those who entered the consulting field [1].

Why get an MBA?

If you are interested in advancing your business career, there are several reasons to pursue your MBA. You can broaden your business perspective, expand your professional network, and enhance your career opportunities, among other benefits. Learn more about why you might want to consider getting an MBA.


Other advanced finance courses of study

Generally speaking, MBA candidates begin their programs after gaining a few years of work experience with the goal of moving into management or senior-level leadership positions. Depending on your experience and desired outcomes, you may want to consider alternatives to an MBA degree with a finance concentration, such as a master’s degree in finance or a finance certification.

A Master of Science (MS) in Finance is an advanced degree program that focuses solely on finance. These one-year programs are typically designed for students who graduated from college within the past two years and aim to pursue entry-level positions upon graduation.

Learn more about the difference between MBA and MS degrees.

Finance certifications include distinctions such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Each of these certifications signifies expertise in distinct areas of finance and can open pathways toward specific careers. Depending on your desired role, you may be required to acquire these or similar credentials at certain points in your career.

Some people who aim to work in financial fields earn both their MBA degree and a finance certification. If you are considering pursuing both credentials, a finance concentration may help add a larger business context to your targeted certification education.

Keep exploring

Decide whether a finance concentration is right for you by enrolling in the Financial Management Specialization from the University of Illinois Gies College of Business, available on Coursera. Get started for free today, and should you decide to enroll in the iMBA program, you may be able to receive college credit for these completed courses.



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Article sources

1. US News & World Report. “Find MBAs That Lead to Employment, High Salaries,” Accessed April 8, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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