MITx MicroMasters® Program Team

By: MITx MicroMasters® Program Team on April 14th, 2020
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How Professionals from Any Discipline Can Benefit from Finance Training Online

Professional Development | MITx MicroMasters® Programs | MIT Open Learning

Finance is core to all business operations, but it isn’t the sole domain of MBA graduates and Wall Street analysts. All professionals benefit from strong finance understanding and capability as they make decisions, manage budgets, and work to advance new ideas and initiatives across their organizations.

Even before the spike in remote work and learning prompted by the COVID-19 crisis, there was growing interest in more flexible, virtual training programs. According to research from Deloitte, online learning is rapidly changing the field of education. Online programs lower barriers to entry for a wider range of learners and help professionals develop capabilities outside of traditional education tracks.

We spoke with MIT Sloan School of Management Professors Leonid Kogan and Deborah Lucas about how online learning programs can help professionals – inside and outside the finance function – build stronger financial acumen. Kogan and Lucas are faculty for MIT Sloan’s residential Master of Finance degree program as well as the new MITx MicroMasters® Program in Finance – a four course online program, launching in Fall 2020, in which learners can earn a MicroMasters program credential, and a pathway toward the residential Master of Finance program.

MITx: Why is advanced training on finance concepts and tools so important?

Deborah Lucas: If you want to be able to effectively champion your ideas in your workplace, you need to speak the language of finance. Finance is central to business decision-making, and financial professionals have a disproportionate amount of control and power within organizations. This is in large part because they are fluent in the language and logic of finance.

All professionals, whether working in the business, non-profit, or government sector, need to a set of financial tools to do their jobs well. They need to know how to value short and long-term investments, weigh financial tradeoffs, manage and evaluate risk, and bring those analyses into their decision making. Any type of organization will make better choices when it has these capabilities.

Leonid Kogan: Learning these skills will help professionals from any discipline advance their careers. For example, someone with a technical background could find that developing these skills leads to a greater scope of responsibility in their current role or that new leadership opportunities open up to them. 

And for those starting out in finance, research supports that a graduate degree or vocational credential typically leads to a wider array of opportunities and a higher salary.

MITx: What are the most critical finance capabilities needed into today’s environment?

Leonid Kogan: We take a holistic view. People need a solid foundation of finance concepts and then a toolbox of approaches and methods to use. That includes an understanding of capital markets and corporate finance and the basic terms and principles of financial accounting. Professionals also need to be able to analyze financial data and interpret results. These foundational skills allow them to better manage risk, allocate resources, fund investment, value financial assets, and solve business problems by applying proven frameworks, theories and models.

Deborah Lucas: Markets change very quickly, as we are seeing with the current COVID-19 pandemic. If you have mastered the fundamentals and have solid financial skills, you can more rapidly filter and assimilate new developments, and adjust to a new challenges and changing circumstances more quickly and effectively.

MITx: MIT Sloan already offers traditional degrees such as a Master of Finance and an MBA. Why are online programs needed as well?

Leonid Kogan: MIT has long-standing and respected residential Master of Finance degree program. Yet, for various reasons, many leaders cannot take advantage of our residential program. We wanted a way to reach a broader range of people with the same high-quality instruction.

The online program was modeled after the experience learners have in the residential program. The medium is different, but the content and the faculty that teach online are all the same as for the residential program. We expect participants to handle the same level of difficulty and develop similar proficiency. Our virtual courses are open to anyone, which is especially important given the current state of the world. These courses are rigorous and comprehensive, but they build gradually over, and we provide support to learners to help them manage the work and succeed.

MITx: Who is the MicroMasters in Finance program designed for?

Leonid Kogan: One audience is individuals looking to pursue advanced education in finance at a top-tier institution following undergraduate work. The program provides learners around the globe the opportunity to be “in the room” with top professors while pursuing the same graduate coursework as those in the residential Master of Finance program at MIT. It will be a great proving ground and may even lead some learners to entrance in our residential program.

Learners who complete and pass each course may apply to the MIT Sloan Master of Finance Program and, upon acceptance, earn credit for the work performed online. This educational pathway allows learners to complete the master’s degree faster.

The program is also designed for mid-career professionals who are looking for accessible online learning options that can advance their careers. This kind of learning is a great match for those who want to further their education while continuing to work.

MITx: Final thoughts?

Deborah Lucas: What’s exciting to me is that the tools and innovations in finance that until recently were only widely deployed in the US and Europe are now accessible to decision-makers worldwide. Like the democratization of financial services we’ve seen in recent years, programs like this are making high-powered ideas readily available to a much broader audience.

Leonid Kogan: All professionals will benefit from bringing financial context and tools to the problems they are trying to solve, whatever their field. We’re excited to help a much broader group of learners develop these valuable skills so they can more quickly advance in their careers.

Accelerate your career in finance or fast-track your Master of Finance degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management. The first online MicroMasters program in Finance course starts this fall.