Recently, I got the itch to spend some time learning more about financial markets. I have a decent background in this area due to an MBA in Finance, but I still find economics and finance intensely interesting. The world of economic thought and market theory is ever changing. In the last decade Keynesian and Behavioral economics are much more in vogue than when I got my degrees. As such, classes now provide a different perspective. I do get considerable inputs from various blogs and magazines that focus on economics, but sometimes the world of academics takes things more in-depth than you would otherwise get in a world focused on execution.
The Searching for Online Finance Education
To this end, I went in search of economics and finance classes. My first stop was Coursera. They have a very large connection of 8-10 week online classes. The cost is free unless you care about a certification from Coursera. Honestly, I didn’t bother with the certificate. At the moment it does not count towards a degree and the certification would do little to help my personal resume. This made the class free. So I chose an 8 week course by Robert Shiller from Yale without certification. Shiller is a very famous economist having won a Nobel Prize in Economics a few years back for behavioral economics. It was very interesting to get his slant on the markets and he brought in several well known financial experts which added to the experience. However, Coursera cut off a portion of his videos to fit them into a few hour bites. As such some of the information I craved was missing and some of the quizzes at the end of the classes, and yes there are short 10 multiple choice questions at the end of each class, make no sense in the context of the missing information.
More Detailed Options
This led me back to the source of the classes itself, Open Yale. This is yet another open source education option which costs nothing. The same course was offered here in its entirety. After completing the course I went back to Coursera and found more economics/finance classes on things like Econometrics, Options, and other advanced topics in financial markets. Cross checking these revealed a whole world of open source options for eduction in the financial world without any cost. However, in every case you do not currently collect a degree for your work. There may be cases where the certifications are of value to some individuals, but for my purposes the classes were for my own edification.
College Today and in The Future
That being said, I feel strongly that this is the future of a college education. In fact, some universities are now offering fully online degrees that are indistinguishable from their live counter parts. These usually have reduced costs, often to the level of instate tuition. Some examples include Georgia Tech where you can get a Masters in Computer Science and Perdue where you can get a Masters in Economics. I personally have been kicking around the idea of attending to collect one of these degrees in the future. It could potentially give me the opportunity to try a career in education later in life as a new experience. I wonder about the long term impact of these changes on the cost of college and also the pay of professors. It would be very ironic if the capability to get a degree cheaply online ultimately undermines the ability to make a living training people towards the degree. Then again it also makes me wonder if we will need 529s and other savings vehicles in 18 years for the education of our kids? I don’t have all the answers and as such I am holding off in the hopes of getting a future employer to foot the bill for further education so I do not have to offset the cost. The world of higher education is changing and you should consider the options and the impact on your plans.