Banking and Financial Services Degree

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What is Banking and Financial Services?

Banking and financial services is a field of study emphasizing the facilitation of financial and economic services for individuals, organizations, and business entities.

Financial services is defined as the economic services offered to consumers from a number of institutions and professionals.  As the largest market resource on the globe, financial services can include a number of services and organizations.  The services provided by financial services firms can include personal financial services, business banking, investing, accounting, investing advice, and advising.  The organization types included in financial services are:

Banks GSE's
Credit Unions Check Cashing
Accountants Currency Exchange
Insurance Lenders
Credit Card Investors
Electronic Data Interchange Interbank Networks
Stock Brokerages Commodity Exchanges
Consumer Finance Private Equity
Venture Funds Advisors
Investment Agencies


Banking, on the other hand, is defined as a type of financial institution that creates credit via deposits from members or the general public. Banking professionals provide loans either directly (consumers, commercial entities) or indirectly (capital markets, fractal investing).  Banking and Financial Services are highly regulated industries to ensure stability and protect consumers.

Top Banking & Financial Services Degrees

For students considering a degree in banking, rest assured there are a wide variety of options.  Degree programs range from undergraduate certificates to graduate degrees in the field of study.  Additionally, students now have the opportunity to earn a banking degree online which effectively doubles your options to consider.

It is common for undergraduate students to add a minor or second major such as economics, finance, business management, or accounting to provide additional heft to the degree.  A summary of online degree programs and on-site degrees can be found below to help you decipher the best program for you and your career objectives.

Certificate Programs in Banking & Financial Services

Certificate programs will typically be found in a course catalog as either an undergraduate certificate or graduate certificate.  Undergraduate certificates are designed to provide a series of short, focused classes in a particular area of emphasis.  Students earning an undergraduate certificate in banking can expect to begin a career in an entry-level position.

Graduate certificates are upper-level classes designed for experience professionals and qualified students to enhance knowledge and skills.  Working professionals typically utilize a certificate program to add specific skills to their toolbox, upskill, remain competitive, advance their careers, and/or prepare for a pending career transition.

Associate Degree in Banking & Financial Services

Online associate’s degrees in banking is typically conferred as an Associate of Science (AS).  Associate degrees are 2-year programs for full-time students while part-time students will take longer to complete the degree.  AS degrees in banking and financial services will meld liberal arts classes such as communications, history, philosophy, art, and sociology with core business classes.

Introductory classes found in the core include classes such as: accounting, finance, business communications, banking, non-traditional banking products, law & regulations, microeconomics, business development, management information systems, math, statistics, asset management, financial statement analysis, liability management, credit risk management, and lending.

Bachelor’s Degree in Banking & Financial Services

An online bachelor’s degree in banking is a 4-year program of full-time matriculation.  Bachelor degrees in the field are conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS).  Like the associate’s degree programs, a bachelor degree blends general education courses with core business classes to provide a well-rounded educational experience.

Core classes found in a banking and financial services degree program will vary by school.  However, students will typically learn about similar business principles.  Examples of classes found in the program include: statistics, finance, law, ethics, business policy and strategy, management information systems, macroeconomics, financial management, investments, financial markets, financial analysis, banking regulation and compliance, corporate finance, consumer lending, non-traditional banking products, credit cards, and commercial lending.

Master’s Degree in Banking & Financial Services

Master degrees in banking can be found in a school’s course catalog as an MBA (Master’s of Business Administration), MS (Master of Science in Banking), or a MA (Master of Arts in Banking).   A master degree will generally take 1-2 years to complete after all prerequisites are met.  Some colleges allow students to establish an area of interest within banking a create a program that meets those specific requirements while others have a standard template graduate students will follow.

Upper-level courses in a graduate degree can include advanced banking, accounting for banking, financial markets, wealth management, financial planning, financial services marketing, compliance and regulation requirements, applied econometrics, consumer lending, commercial lending, international banking, credit analysis, and strategic management.

Benefits of Earning a Banking Degree Online

Colleges both large and small have been scrambling to ad online finance degrees.  The impetus behind the curricular changes are driven by employer demand for quality candidates and student demand for flexible learning mediums.  The evolution of earning banking degrees online will only increase in the years to come as the quality and convenience provide unique learning opportunities for those seeking to upskill in finance.  The most common benefits of earning a degree online include:

Cost Savings

The total cost associated with earning a degree online are generally less that their on-site counterparts for a few reasons.

  • Online degrees allow schedule flexibility allowing students to continue to work and take classes, saving money associated with lost wages
  • Online college degree programs will not require students to live on campus which saves expenses related to room & board
  • Enrolling in a regionally accredited or nationally accredited college will allow you to apply for state and federal financial aid programs

Program Flexibility & Access

Enrolling in an online degree in banking provides you with the ability to log-in and study without the traditional limitations of being in a classroom.  Additionally, location becomes a non-factor as you can live in New York City and take a banking class from UCLA while working full-time.


A bevvy of online degree programs exist from accredited colleges and universities around the country.  Earning a degree from an accredited institution will be essential to your success.  Accreditation bodies are independent organizations that vet a school’s curriculum, procedures, and processes to ensure they adhere to quality academic standards.

Student Pace

Many online degree programs in banking are self-paced in an asynchronous learning environment which provides students the ability to take as many or as few classes as time allows.  It is also important to note that many online degree programs start every week or two instead of the traditional school year schedule.

Curriculum Quality

In addition to accreditation, the quality of the curriculum will often mirror the classroom equivalent program.  Most online degrees will mirror the on-site counterpart with necessary adaptations for distance learning variations.   Seek out online degree programs with a published pathway to completion, capstone courses, thesis projects, cumulative examinations, and board-approved dissertation projects.

Employment & Financial Services Jobs

Financial services and banking students will have a unique set of business skills that can be leveraged after graduation.  Core classes in banking will prepare students for careers in financial services and lending but also various other business tracks.  A sampling of career opportunities to consider for banking degree holders include: financial advisors, business management, marketing, public relations, market research analyst, cost estimating, advertising, underwriting, budgeting, forecasting, auditing, modeling, recruiting, sales, and human resources.

Financial Services Career Outlook

Job growth in financial services is varied as a function of industry and job type.  The majority of financial services careers are growing at a rate that is above average with incomes above average.  To illustrate, the job growth for financial analysts is forecast at  12% while market research analysts top 19% growth and auditors at 10% growth.  The national average rate of growth is expected to be around six percent making these vocations enticing for new graduates to consider.

Income for individuals with a degree in financial services is well above average.  The median annual income average for all occupations is $37,690.  Meanwhile, the average income for all financial service specialties is $67,710 annually.  While the income for each discipline will vary, we have gathered a list of the most common trades along with their current median annual income.

Job Title Median Income
Accountants and Auditors $69,350
Real Estate Appraisers $54,010
Budget Analysts $75,240
Claims Adjusters $64,690
Compensation & Benefits Specialists $62,680
Cost Estimators $63,110
Financial Analysts $84,300
Financial Examiners $81,690
Fundraisers $55,640
Human Resources Specialists $60,350
Insurance Underwriters $69,760
Labor Relations Specialists $63,200
Loan Officers $64,660
Logisticians $74,590
Management Analysts $82,450
Market Research Analysts $63,230
Event Planners $48,290
Personal Financial Advisors $90,640
Purchasing Managers $66,610
Tax Examiners and Collectors $53,130
Training and Development $60,360

Additional Financial Services Resources

For additional resources and insights into the financial services vocation, consider researching the AFA, AFSA, SFSP, and NAIFA.   These national associations offer regional chapters to help support professional growth and learning opportunities in banking and financial services.

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