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Is an Online Associate in Finance Worth It?

An associate degree in finance can help you gain the foundational skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the financial field.
Two people wearing professional clothes looking at a laptop to see if an online associate in finance is worth it

Understanding the Numbers
When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.

You're interested in earning a finance degree, but a traditional campus education might not fit where you are in your life. Have you looked at an online associate degree in finance?

Online associate in finance programs offer flexibility and accessibility, allowing you to study from anywhere at any time. This can be particularly beneficial if you have a lot going on outside of school.

What is an Associate Degree in Finance?

Diana Thatcher, a finance adjunct instructor at SNHU

"An associate degree in finance is a two-year undergraduate program that provides foundation knowledge in finance and related fields," said Diana Thatcher, MBA, MEd, a finance adjunct instructor at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). With 18 years of experience in corporate finance at Fortune 500 firms and over a decade as a financial planning consultant for startups, Thatcher brings a wealth of practical knowledge to her teaching.

According to Thatcher, the degree generally covers financial accounting, economics, banking and basic financial management.

"The degree can provide students with a solid understanding of financial principles and practices, and prepare them for entry-level positions in the finance industry or additional study at a bachelors degree level," Thatcher said.

What Can You Learn in an Associate in Finance Program?

Earning an associate degree in finance can provide you with the knowledge and skills to understand the financial industry. The curriculum is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of various financial principles, practices and tools, preparing you for the real-world challenges of the financial sector.

Marlene Blair, a finance adjunct instructor at SNHU

The program also includes general education courses, which contribute to a well-rounded academic experience. "Online associate degrees begin with a foundation of courses such as English and history," said Marlene Blair, BS, MBA, a finance adjunct instructor at SNHU. "Online students can personalize their general education courses ranging from cultural awareness to written communications."

Blair, a 2021 Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) Teaching Excellent Award recipient, is a highly experienced finance professional. She is the director and founder of a nonprofit that provides financial counseling and education. Her career includes roles such as financial planner, wealth manager, bank vice president and insurance agency owner.

"Curriculum and workload will often mirror the same courses offered in the bachelor's degree program during the first two years of study," said Dr. Russ Bellemare '92 '96MBA, a finance adjunct instructor at SNHU. Bellemare earned his bachelor's in business studies and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from New Hampshire College, now known as Southern New Hampshire University, or SNHU. He brings 46 years of experience in the banking and commercial real estate industry with him to teach others at his alma mater.

As you progress through the program, you'll delve into more finance-based courses. These core courses are designed to enhance your resume and prepare you for a career in finance. According to Blair, these courses can include topics in financial accounting, taxation, business law, management and the perspective of finance in a global environment.

Find Your Program

What Are the Benefits of Earning an Associate in Finance Degree Online?

Pursuing an associate degree in finance online offers several benefits.

Dr. Russ Bellemare, a finance adjunct instructor at SNHU

One is the core knowledge you'll gain. You'll be exposed to introductory courses that can be carried into a finance or accounting bachelor's program, Bellemare said. This continuity can allow for a smoother transition into higher-level studies.

"Another benefit is that an associate degree may give you a leg up on jobs that don't require a bachelor's degree," Bellemare said.

It may also help you in other ways on the work front. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employees with an associate degree had an unemployment rate of 2.7% in 2023, which was 1.2% lower compared to those with only a high school diploma.* Associate degree holders also had a median weekly earnings of $1,058 in 2023, which was about 18% higher than of those with only a high school diploma.*

Earning your degree online can also provide you the flexibility to continue working while pursuing your education.

"Online education in finance and other fields offers many benefits such as flexibility, affordability, accessibility and skill development that can create a pathway to additional education," Thatcher said.

Blair notes that at SNHU, each course is eight weeks long, with learning modules that typically run from Monday to Sunday. She said that as an SNHU student you can connect with your academic advisor each term to help determine a schedule and workload that works best for you.

An icon of a laptop.

This approach helps you create a personalized study plan that suits your needs.

"Students can work at their own pace and have no requirements to be 'online' at any particular day or time," Bellemare said.

This flexibility allows you to manage your studies around your personal and professional commitments, Blair said, making it easier to balance your responsibilities.

Online learning environments often provide enhanced learning tools, too.

"Instructors have access to unlimited resources to develop additional learning tools to enhance the learning experience through audio and visual presentations," Bellemare said.

According to Blair, online learning also compels you to develop time management skills that can help prepare you for a career in finance.

What to Keep in Mind If You're Considering an Online Associate in Finance Program

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Accreditation is an essential factor to consider when choosing a finance program.

"Accreditation is a measurement of an academic institution's quality of education," Bellemare said. SNHU's associate in finance degree is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), ensuring the program meets their educational standards.

Also, consider the support and resources the institution offers, such as access to academic advisors, online libraries and career support. Be sure to also assess the program's cost and your available financial aid options to ensure it fits your budget.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose an online associate in finance program that aligns with your educational, career and financial goals.

What Can You Do With an Associate in Finance Degree?

Whether you want to enter the job market immediately or continue your studies, an associate degree in finance can help prepare you for your next step.

"Finance majors will have a variety of career paths ranging from local retail to finance teams supporting Fortune 500 companies," Blair said. "An associate degree is vital to students with a passion for owning their own business or joining the next generation of family-owned businesses."

Thatcher said online associate in finance degrees can provide practical skills that help prepare you for entry-level jobs. Some of these jobs, according to BLS, include:

  • Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks: In these roles, you'll help produce financial records for organizations, and according to BLS, you can also record financial transactions, update statements and check financial records for accuracy. In 2023, the median salary for these jobs was $47,440, BLS reported.*

  • Financial clerk: As a financial clerk, you'll do all kinds of administrative work, according to BLS, and that includes keeping records, helping customers and carrying out transactions that involve money. In 2023, the median salary for this role was $47,070, BLS reported.*

  • Real estate broker or sales agent: These jobs help clients buy, sell and rent properties, according to BLS. BLS noted that brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses, while sales agents need to work with a real estate broker. In 2023, the median salary for these roles was $56,620, and they are projected to grow 3% through 2032, according to BLS.
A blue graphic with an icon of two white outlined hands shaking

These positions can offer a viable starting point to a career in finance, allowing you to gain valuable experience and begin building a professional network.

Many students who earn an associate degree in finance also choose to continue their education by pursuing a bachelor's degree. "An associate degree in finance usually leads a student moving to a bachelor's," Blair said.

Advancing to a bachelor's degree can open opportunities to more advanced positions. For example, SNHU's associate degree in finance is a step toward becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. You can start with an associate in finance and then move on to a bachelor's in finance with a concentration in financial planning. Once you complete the path, you'll be prepared to take the CFP® certification exam.

Whether you choose to enter the workforce, continue your studies or both, this degree can help you lay the groundwork for success in the finance field.

Thatcher said the best part of working in finance is the impact your role can have on an entire organization. "Finance professionals play a crucial role in shaping economic decisions and outcomes," she said. "The impact can be significant and far-reaching."

Discover more about SNHU's associate in accounting: Find out what courses you'll take, skills you'll learn and how to request information about the program.

*Cited job growth projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Actual salaries and/or earning potential may be the result of a combination of factors including, but not limited to: years of experience, industry of employment, geographic location, and worker skill.

Nicholas Patterson ’22 is a writer and alumnus of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), where he earned his bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing. He is currently honing his craft further as he pursues an MFA in Creative Writing from SNHU. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Center for Financial Planning, Inc. owns and licenses the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and CFP® (with plaque design) in the United States to Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., which authorizes individuals who successfully complete the organization’s initial and ongoing certification requirements to use the certification marks.

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About Southern New Hampshire University

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs. Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.