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Question: Are There Part-Time Online Master's in Finance Degree Programs?

Answer: Yes, there are part-time online master’s in finance degree programs. Many online master’s in finance programs are designed to accommodate working professionals and others who may have significant commitments outside of school. Some programs have flexible enrollment, allowing students to choose the number of courses they take per term provided they complete the program requirements within a certain number of years. Other programs may have more structured part-time enrollment plans, whereby students take one or two classes at a time in a set sequence for a certain number of terms. There are also full-time online master’s in finance programs in which students may take three or more classes per semester year-round in order to graduate in as few as 12 to 15 months.

What Constitutes a Part-Time Online Master’s in Finance Program?

A part-time online master’s in finance program is a program that offers all or most of its coursework online; provides instruction and training in advanced financial concepts and practices; and allows students to earn their degree without having to devote a full 40 hours per week to courses and assignments.

Colleges and universities are generally free to determine what constitutes part-time versus full-time enrollment in their academic programs. This has become especially true as more programs have implemented alternatives to the traditional 15-week semester system, moving to academic calendars that use shorter terms during which students can focus on just one or two courses. For example, there are online programs that have five-week terms during which students take one course. Students in a program with this type of structure can complete three courses in the equivalent of a traditional academic semester without having to enroll in more than one course at a time.

Traditionally, full-time enrollment in a master’s program would equate to taking three or four courses per academic semester and spending up to 40 or more hours per week attending classes and completing assignments when school is in session. In contrast, a part-time student might enroll in just one or two courses per semester and spend an average of 15 to 20 hours per week on schoolwork when classes are in session. As a result, full-time students may be able to complete an online master’s in finance program in under two years, or 12 to 15 months if they take classes year-round, while part-time students may take two or more years to complete their degree.

Note: In order to be eligible for some types of financial aid, students may be required to earn a certain number of credits or enroll in a certain number of courses per term. Students who intend to apply for financial aid should contact a school’s financial aid office or a program administrator regarding eligibility requirements. Financial aid is not guaranteed.

Online Master’s in Finance Enrollment Formats

Online master’s in finance programs are typically designed to be flexible enough to accommodate students who intend to continue working while earning their degree or who have significant professional and/or family commitments outside of school. Some programs have a built-in part-time format, which may or may not be tied to a set sequence of courses. Students in programs of this type may be expected to complete one or two courses per term, which can lead to graduating in two or more years. For example, there are part-time online master’s in finance programs that use a cohort model in which groups of students begin and progress through the program together, taking a set sequence of courses for five or more semesters.

Other programs allow students to choose how many courses to take per term within certain parameters. This type of flexible structure gives students the option of enrolling full-time, which might entail completing three or four courses per semester and graduating in 12 to 15 months, or enrolling part-time, which would mean taking one or two courses per semester and graduating in two or more years. Students may also be able to switch between part-time and full-time enrollment, as their schedules permit. Most programs that allow flexible enrollment place a limit on the number of years a student can be enrolled prior to graduating, usually at five to seven years.

It is important to note that enrollment options vary by program, as do program structures. As noted above, while some programs adhere to a traditional academic calendar, offering courses during ten-week quarters or 15-week semesters, other programs break the year into five-week or eight-week terms. Full-time enrollment in an online program that offers courses five or six times per year during shorter terms may only require the completion of one or two courses per term. Part-time students in a program of this type would typically take only one course per term.

The table below provides a comparative overview of part-time versus full-time enrollment in an online master’s in finance program with a curriculum that includes twelve courses and an academic calendar that adheres to the semester system.

Type of EnrollmentFull-timePart-time
Courses per Semester3-41-2
Hours per Week35-4015-20
Total Semesters3-46-12
Time to Completion12-16 months2-4 years

Examples of Part-Time Online Master’s in Finance Programs

The programs detailed below provide a representative overview of three different types of part-time online master’s in finance programs.

Johns Hopkins University: The Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University offers a part-time online Master of Science (MS) in Finance program that requires students to complete a total of 18 two-credit courses. Courses are offered during eight-week terms. Students who take two courses per term for nine terms can graduate in two years. In contrast, the Cary School offers a full-time, campus-based MS in Finance program in which students complete the same number of courses and credits in one year.

The Pennsylvania State University: Penn State World Campus offers a part-time online Master of Finance program that utilizes a cohort model of instruction and that includes one on-campus five-day residency. Students in the program complete nine courses and a capstone project for a total of 30 credits, taking two courses in the fall and spring semesters and one course each summer session in order to complete the program in two years.

The University of Scranton: The University of Scranton offers an online MS in Finance program with a flexible enrollment structure. The program requires the completion of eight core courses and two electives for a total of 30 credits. Courses are offered in eight-week terms, allowing full-time students to complete the program in 12 months, while part-time students can take one course per term and graduate in two years.

For more information about online master’s in finance programs, including part-time programs and programs with flexible enrollment options, refer to our Online Master’s in Finance Degree Programs page.


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