Fintech is changing the way firms operate by offering new pathways for delivering products and services and stoking transformation across the financial services industry. The tremendous growth in jobs linked to the sector in today’s information-dependent economy has motivated an increasing number of students to seek out fintech-focused programs. This guide is designed to provide an in-depth review of the structure and scope of these programs in order to help potential participants determine if a fintech master’s program may be right for them. Or skip ahead to our directory of all master’s in fintech programs.
What Is a Master’s in Fintech?
A master’s in fintech generally covers a broad range of knowledge pertaining to financial technology and its impact on the financial industry and the economy as a whole. Most programs also feature instruction in the practical application of various fintech products in a business setting and associated techniques for integrating them into managerial and operational procedures.
A broad spectrum of avenues of study falls under the fintech umbrella, including
- Financial data analysis techniques
- Quantitative trading strategies
- Robo advisors
- Blockchain application analysis
- Cryptocurrency analysis
- Investment management
- Financial innovation’s economic impact
- AI and machine learning
- Digital transformation
Students may choose to pursue a fintech master’s for a variety of reasons. Some may be interested in learning about the role of technology in finance and how the combination impacts the economy and society as a whole. Beyond an interest in the subject matter itself, many students who enroll in these programs are driven by the employment opportunities available in the sector. With Salary.com reporting an average fintech salary of $129,298, competition for these jobs is competitive. As a result, some students may choose to get a master’s in the subject in order to help improve their chances of landing a job in fintech.
The fintech sector involves a wide degree of practices and professions in both finance and technology. As a result, a wide swath of potential career paths is available to those who hold a master’s in this field. Generally, fintech graduates are likely to find their studies will have prepared them for careers in finance, tech, or entrepreneurship. More specifically, in careers such as
- Securities analysis and portfolio management
- Securities trading
- Cryptocurrency trading
- Credit analysis
- Marketing management
- Business development
- IT department operations and management
- Transaction services
- Investment banking
- Data mining applications
Or positions such as
- Chief technology officer
- User experience designer
- Blockchain developer
- AI developer
- Cybersecurity analyst
- Financial analyst
Why Universities Are Setting Their Sights on Graduate Fintech Programs
Fintech master’s are a fairly new development in academia. While five years ago they were rare, now there are over 40 schools offering master’s in fintech (or financial technology) programs. What is behind this upsurge? Demand certainly plays a part. As technology has disrupted the financial services industry, financial institutions increasingly rely on experts in digital technology to help them deal with the challenges and opportunities created by this trend.
Colleges are responsive to market forces, and with a rising number of jobs being created in the fintech sector, it makes sense that forward-looking universities would create programs to prepare students to compete for those jobs. This has likely been a major factor in driving the introduction of fintech master’s programs in many universities.
Who Should Pursue a Master’s in Fintech?
Generally speaking, most fintech master’s programs will accept students with or without a previous educational background in finance or technology. However, pursuing a master’s in fintech may particularly appeal to those who have an interest in both finance and technology and the interplay between these two facets of the economy.
For example, students with an expertise in computers or who are fascinated by the stock market or how the economy works may find such a program well suited to their academic interests. This is especially likely to be the case for those who combine interests in financial- and technology-driven subject matter. Students with undergraduate degrees in information technology, math, engineering, economics, finance, and similar fields are likely to find themselves well prepared for the topics covered in a fintech master’s.
Students without a background in finance or tech who are interested in a career in fintech can benefit from a master’s in the topic as well. In addition to developing subject matter expertise, the degree can improve their chances of landing a job in the sector. Given the rapid growth the industry is experiencing, a career in fintech may offer opportunities not available in other less dynamic sectors of the economy. With financial services firms allocating greater resources to technology and data science solutions, the trend is likely to remain upwards for job openings in fintech.
How Master’s in Fintech Programs Work
Master’s programs in fintech typically combine some elements of traditional business master’s degree programs with an emphasis on fintech topics and skills. This section will focus on admission requirements, program types, and curriculum.
Entrance into a master’s program in fintech typically requires a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college. Prerequisite courses may also be required, generally in subjects such as math, computer science, or finance. Some programs may require applicants to graduate from their undergraduate studies with honors, although this is generally not the case.
Typically, undergraduate degrees in subjects related to technology and finance, while regarded as helping prepare a student for the courses included in a fintech master’s, are not required for enrollment. Instead, prerequisites may include specific courses in those areas of study seen as essential to learning the skills needed for a fintech master’s.
For example, one or more or classes in subjects such as corporate finance, quantitative analysis, or investing might serve as prerequisites to gain admission to a program. Additionally, satisfactory scores on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) may be encouraged, although typically not required.
Programs aimed at working professionals, such as New York University’s Master’s of Science Fintech program, may have more selective requirements for admission. In NYU’s case, this includes mandating that candidates have at least five years of full-time professional experience along with a bachelor’s degree and “strong” GPA. Furthermore, the program looks for “demonstrated academic/quantitative preparedness, either through prior coursework, professional experience, and/or certifications” when evaluating applicants.
In addition to numerous universities which offer fintech master’s programs, students interested in pursuing this course of study can choose from several types of programs. These programs generally can be divided into the following three categories:
- Standalone Master’s in Fintech degrees: These programs are specifically focused on teaching students about how fintech is affecting the modern workplace, how it’s impacting the larger economy, and how to implement fintech solutions and practices. Because of the dedication to fintech classes, students in these programs can focus strictly on the subject, avoiding the need to take unrelated coursework.
- MBA in Fintech programs: In addition to covering aspects of a traditional MBA, these programs incorporate instruction regarding how fintech impacts the modern workplace and its use in management practices. Students who are interested in fintech but also want a broad business management degree might benefit from an MBA with a fintech focus.
- Fintech concentrations attached to programs like Master’s in Finance degrees: These programs are often shorter than a full fintech master’s. Typically, they include much of the material found in a full fintech master’s but in more concentrated form, delivered over a shorter period of time. This type of program is ideal for students who want to get a degree in a subject like finance with fintech as an add-on they can benefit from, without dedicating their entire studies to the subject.
While the coursework associated with a particular university’s master’s program will vary, there are significant commonalities. Generally, these programs focus on the big picture impact of fintech on the economy and business practices, along with examining the technical concepts underlying fintech products and procedures and how to use them in a business context. In addition, many programs feature real-world case studies of fintech products in action. A certain amount of teamwork may be required on projects or other collaborative efforts.
These programs are aimed at providing students with knowledge about fintech products and practices in order to enable them to understand, execute, and develop financial innovations in the sector using applicable tools and tactics. The goal is to help them prepare to deal with the varied circumstances they are likely to face in our data-driven modern economy.
Most programs offer a combination of core courses (required) and elective courses chosen by the students. Subjects of study are likely to include digital currencies and blockchains, risk management, credit modeling, machine learning and financial engineering, robo advisors and systematic trading.
Below are examples of courses offered by specific programs.
The Stevens School of Business in New York offers an MBA with a Fintech Concentration that includes the following courses:
- Foundations of Financial Data Science
- Lab: Practical Aspects of Database Design
- Financial Technology (FinTech)
- Blockchain Technologies & Decentralized Finance
- Digital Payment Technologies and Trends
Cornell University’s MBA Fintech Intensive program features the following areas of study:
- Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies
- Business Models
- Fintech Practicum
- Fintech Group Field Project
NYU’s MBA with a Fintech Concentration includes the following classes:
- FinTech Analytics: Data-Driven Credit Modeling
- Digital Currencies, Blockchains, and the Financial Services Industry
- Financial Information Systems
- Robo Advisors & Systematic Trading
- Applications in Entrepreneurial Finance: FinTech
Skills You’ll Learn
The skills taught in fintech master’s programs are designed to prepare students for a career in the field, providing a more advanced level of knowledge and ability than they might gain from a bachelor’s degree program. These skills will enable graduates to
- Create smart contracts
- Design blockchain architecture
- Apply algorithmic techniques, including automated trading strategies for investment management
- Analyze financial markets using quantitative technologies
- Conduct transactions using digital processes
- Utilize innovative technology to inform decision-making
- Apply AI and machine learning to managerial and operational processes
- Use technology to manage governance, risk, and compliance
- Analyze systems from a cybersecurity perspective
Tuition: How Much Do Master’s in Fintech Programs Cost?
Total fintech master’s program costs generally range between $10,000 and $100,000, depending on the type of program, the university offering it, and whether the student is paying in-state or out-of-state tuition.
For instance, near the high end, New York University (NYU) offers a year-long program aimed at working professionals for a total tuition of $83,000, while at the lower end of the spectrum University of Central Florida charges $9,800 in-state and $35,821 out-of-state for its 18-month fintech master’s.
Some other examples
- Duke University’s program can be completed in as few as three semesters, with a total cost of $95,280.
- The University of Texas offers a master’s program for a total tuition cost of $45,000 over three semesters.
- Arizona State University’s program lasts 16 months and costs $48,121 for in-state students and $75,005 for out-of-state.
- University of Connecticut’s Master’s of Science in Financial Technology costs $54,000 in tuition for 36 credits (generally three semesters of coursework). The college’s certificate program in fintech costs $18,000 and consists of 12 credits.
Eighteen months, or three semesters, is a fairly common fintech program length, with one year or shorter being toward the low end and two years toward the high end. Fintech concentration certificate programs (as opposed to master’s programs with a concentration in fintech) typically take from four to six months.
Is a Master’s in Fintech Worth It?
Fintech master’s programs are relatively new. Given the tremendous growth the sector is experiencing, the popularity of these programs is no surprise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) sees strong growth ahead for two job categories likely to benefit from fintech know-how: financial analysis jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 9% from 2021 to 2031; financial managers are expecting even more robust growth with a 17% boost from 2021 to 2031. Combined with the BLS’s finding that students with a master’s degree earn more money than those with just a bachelor’s in the career fields of business and STEM, the motivation for earning a fintech master’s is clear.
However, because of the specialized nature of these programs, students considering enrolling in one should determine if a narrowly focused program is best for them. For those who are firmly committed to working in fintech, such a targeted course of study might give them a leg up in competing for employment opportunities. On the other hand, for students who are less certain about their future career path, it makes sense to carefully consider if it might be better to pursue a more generalized master’s degree.
Those with a master’s who end up working in fintech may benefit from an increased potential for advancement and the opportunity to earn extra income, because of their specialized knowledge.
Students who are not sure they want to work in fintech but who would like to improve their knowledge of the sector and employment prospects if they do end up working there may want to consider getting a traditional master’s in finance or MBA with a concentration in fintech. Another option would be to add elective coursework in fintech to either of those master’s.