Financial modeling is an in-demand skill. Whether you’re looking to switch careers, angling for a promotion, or have started your own business, you can use financial modeling to forecast future business performance and compare how different factors will affect your revenue.
While you can take financial modeling courses at your local university, there are many online classes you can take that allow you to learn on your own schedule. To help you find the right course for you, we reviewed 13 top financial modeling online courses and evaluated them based on content, cost, and the reputation of the organization behind it. We narrowed down the list to the top five companies that stood out from the competition with their comprehensive courses.
Investopedia offers its own financial modeling class as part of the Investopedia Academy, but to maintain objectivity, we opted to exclude it from this roundup. If you are interested in this course, please visit the Investopedia Academy.
The Best Online Financial Modeling Courses of 2020
- Best Overall: Business and Financial Modeling From Wharton Online
- Best for Start-Up Founders: Financial Modeling for Startups and Small Businesses From Udemy
- Best for Real Estate: Real Estate Financial Modeling From Wall Street Prep
- Best for Investments: The Investment Banker From Financial Edge
- Best Low-Cost Option: Financial Modeling Using Excel From Learn@Forbes
Best Overall: Business and Financial Modeling From Wharton Online
We selected the Business and Financial Modeling Specialization program from Wharton Online because of the university’s outstanding reputation and the class’s cost, content, and self-paced format.
Low monthly fee
No prior experience required
Seven-day free trial
Certificate issued by Coursera, not The Wharton School
Courses start on set dates
Personalized instruction not available
If you’re looking for a financial modeling program from a school with strong name recognition, consider this course from The Wharton School offered on Coursera. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania has an outstanding reputation, recognized as the best business school in the country.
More than 50,000 students have taken the Business and Financial Modeling Specialization program, which has a 4.5 rating from over 13,600 reviews. The program is made up of four different courses:
- Fundamentals of Quantitative Modeling
- Introduction to Spreadsheets and Models
- Modeling Risk and Realities
- Decision-Make and Scenarios
In the program, you will learn how to use your own data to build scenarios and predict future performance.
When you subscribe to Coursera, you can enroll in the Business and Financial Modeling Specialization program and get a seven-day free trial. During the trial, you can cancel without having to pay any fees. Once the trial expires, you can continue the courses for $79 per month. Most students will need six months to complete this program, so your total cost will likely be about $474.
The program doesn’t require you to have prior experience in accounting, but it is recommended that you have knowledge of high school-level math through pre-calculus.
While the course is self-paced, the course only begins on set dates, so you have to wait for the next enrollment period. All of the content is prerecorded, so there is no way to interact with instructors if you need personalized assistance.
While you can earn a certificate upon completing the program, the certificate is issued by Coursera, not The Wharton School, which may be less impressive to employers.
Despite its drawbacks, we chose this program as the best overall financial modeling class because of the reputation of the university behind it and the thoroughness of its materials. And, because the course charges a monthly fee rather than a fixed price, you can save money by completing the course faster.
Best for Start-Up Founders: Financial Modeling for Startups and Small Businesses From Udemy
For start-up founders and small business owners, the Financial Modeling for Startups and Small Businesses course from Udemy is the clear choice due to its low cost and tailored content.
Lifetime access to course materials
30-day money-back guarantee
Low cost for small business founders
Fewer hours of video content than other courses
Must have prior knowledge of Excel
Udemy may lack the credibility of other schools or organizations
Financial modeling can be especially useful for startup founders and small business owners. You can use financial modeling to compare pricing models, calculate how much capital you need, and prepare to meet with investors.
The Financial Modeling for Startups and Small Businesses course on Udemy is offered by two startup founders, and the material is specifically designed for the needs of entrepreneurs. At just $109.99, the course has one of the lowest prices of all the courses we reviewed, and its content is made up of videos, downloadable resources, and articles. Once you enroll, you have lifetime access to all of the materials.
By taking the course, you’ll learn how to build financial models for your business, leverage financial modeling to make informed business decisions, and apply best practices for financial modeling.
The course has a 30-day money-back guarantee through Udemy. If you’re dissatisfied with the course, you can get your enrollment fee back.
The course does require you to have prior knowledge of Excel, particularly when it comes to creating formulas. The course has less video content than some other courses and is not as robust as costlier versions.
You can earn a certificate, but it is issued by Udemy. Course completion certificates from Udemy may carry less weight than if you earned a certificate from a university or non-profit organization.
However, entrepreneurs will likely find the course useful, especially considering its cost and very specific audience. Unlike other courses, which may be overly broad or focus on large corporations, this course is solely designed for startup founders and entrepreneurs by addressing their unique needs.
Best for Real Estate: Real Estate Financial Modeling From Wall Street Prep
Wall Street Prep’s Real Estate Financial Modeling course is the best program for those interested in real estate investments. Its curriculum is specifically designed for professionals who want to learn financial modeling for buying property, developing land, acquiring office buildings, or developing multifamily buildings.
Course qualifies for CPE credit
Specifically designed for professionals and students pursuing careers in real estate private equity
Unlimited access to support center
Students may have to take prerequisite courses
Must pass exam to qualify for a certificate
Private tutoring is an added cost
Wall Street Prep was established in 2004 by investment bankers, and offers both online and instructor-led courses. Its clients include investment banks, private equity firms, and business schools.
Its Real Estate Financial Modeling course is self-paced and includes over 20 hours of video content and reusable real estate Excel modeling templates. Through the course, you’ll learn real estate and development theory and how to build a real estate development model.
By taking the course, you can earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits, a requirement for Certified Professional Accountants (CPAs).
Wall Street Prep’s course is $499, and it includes unlimited access to its online support center, where you can ask questions, download additional resources, and get updates. If you need additional help, tutoring is available online, but there is an added cost for each tutoring session.
You can earn a certificate after completing the course, but you must pass an exam first. You have 24 months after enrollment to take the test.
Before taking the course, be aware that this is a fairly advanced program. You should already have knowledge of accounting principles and be proficient in Excel. If you don’t have that experience yet, you’re encouraged to take Wall Street Prep’s crash courses for an added fee before enrolling in the Real Estate Financial Modeling course.
Because the course is so robust and tailored to real estate professionals, it stands out from other courses that teach students more general financial modeling professionals. Those pursuing careers in real estate will find its in-depth modules most effective in helping them compare and contrast investment decisions.
Best for Investments: The Investment Banker From Financial Edge
For modeling investments, our pick for the best online course is The Investment Banker from Financial Edge. Its comprehensive modules and micro-degree program is recognized by top investment banks, helping you build your career.
Powerful course app available
Course certification recognized by major investment banks
Course purchase gives you just 12 months of access
Must pass four exams to qualify for the program’s “micro-degree”
No refunds or guarantees on course purchases
Financial Edge is a training company used by top investment banks to train their incoming financial analysts. Over 19,000 people have used Financial Edge’s learning platform since 2016.
The Investment Banker course bundle, which costs $499, covers basic accounting principles, financial modeling, valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and leveraged buyouts. The course includes 379 videos, with over 15 hours of content. There are hundreds of Excel exercises you can do along with the video tutorials, helping you build your skills.
Unlike other online courses, you can get answers to your questions from the course instructor, and you can engage with other financial professionals taking the course.
With the Financial Edge app—available through the Apple Store or Google Play—you can download content to work on course materials offline. You can also complete tasks on the app and have your changes reflected on all devices.
To qualify for a micro-degree—a credential recognized by some major banks—you must pass four different exams.
Before you purchase the course, make sure you can finish all of the modules within 12 months. After one year passes, your access expires, and you have to purchase it again to access the materials. Also keep in mind that Financial Edge does not have a money-back guarantee, nor does it offer any refunds.
Financial Edge’s The Investment Banker course bundle offers exceptional value for its cost, with hundreds of videos and downloadable resources. It’s also one of the few options that allow you to interact with the instructor and other students, and it has a powerful app you can use to access content on the go.
Best Low-Cost Option: Financial Modeling Using Excel From Learn@Forbes
If you’re looking for an introductory course that is inexpensive, the Financial Modeling Using Excel course from Learn@Forbes is our top choice. You can take the course during a 14-week free trial, then you can choose a flat fee for the course or subscribe to Learn@Forbes.
14-day free trial
Choose from a flat fee or a monthly subscription for continual course access
No certificate issued
Course only has 1.5 hours of content
Curriculum not recognized by major companies
Learn@Forbes is a program that offers hundreds of courses you can take to further your career. You can choose to pay a flat fee per course, or you can pay a monthly subscription to have unlimited access to all of the program’s courses. Learn@Forbes offers a 14-day free trial, during which you can sample any of its courses without paying a dime.
The Financial Modeling Using Excel course is $129 and gives you 180 days of access. Or, you can sign up for a monthly subscription starting at just $12.50 per month.
During this course, you’ll learn how to build a financial model using Excel and financial statements, projected cash flow statements, and projected income statements. Once completed, the model can serve as a template you can use for other projects.
The course is 100% online and includes 1.5 hours of content. The Financial Modeling Using Excel course is not eligible for a certificate, and, because the course is so short, it won’t enhance your resume like other courses might.
However, it’s still an excellent primer for people who are new to financial modeling and want a basic introductory course without spending hundreds of dollars.
What Is Financial Modeling?
Financial modeling is a process of creating a summary of a company’s expenses and earnings, typically using Excel spreadsheets. Financial modeling is used by companies to forecast how future events or endeavors will affect business. It can help executives identify financial risks or opportunities and determine the value of the business.
It’s also used by financial analysts to predict how stock prices may be impacted by future decisions.
If you participate in a financial modeling online course, you’ll typically learn how to create spreadsheet models, modeling techniques, and common applications. After finishing a course, the organization will often issue you a certificate. By completing a course, you can learn a new skill set that can help you in your career or enhance your own small business.
How Do Online Financial Modeling Courses Work?
While some online courses do have a live instructor component, most online financial modeling courses are self-paced, meaning you can view the materials on your own schedule rather than having to meet at certain class times. The courses usually involve a mix of videos, Excel model templates, and downloadable resources.
Most courses have prerequisites, such as a general knowledge of accounting and basic Excel proficiency.
Can I Learn Financial Modeling on My Own?
It is possible to learn financial modeling without a formal course structure, but it may take more work and time than enrolling in a class. To become skilled at financial modeling, you typically need to develop the following skills:
- Advanced Excel proficiency: Excel is the main tool used in financial modeling, so you’ll need to have an in-depth knowledge of how to use Excel shortcuts and how to create formulas.
- Accounting and business knowledge: You’ll need to learn basic accounting and business practices, such as how to create a profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.
- Create simple models: Once you have the basic foundation down with Excel, you can create simple models, such as how adjusting the price of your products would affect your bottom line.
Learning financial modeling on your own requires more legwork. While there are free tutorials available on advanced Excel tasks and accounting terms, you’ll typically have to do some digging on your own to find useful videos or resources, and it can be difficult to build skills on one another as you learn.
Online courses streamline the process with carefully designed curriculums. Courses will cover how to create Excel spreadsheets and use real-world case studies, and each class will build on the previous one to help you progress.
What Do Financial Modeling Courses Cost?
When it comes to cost, financial modeling courses range from $129 to $1,000 or more. The price of a course is dependent on several factors, such as the comprehensiveness of the course, the organization or school’s reputation, the amount of resources available, and whether the course gives students lifetime access to class materials and tutorials.
Some courses are relatively short primers, with just a few hours of video content, while others include hundreds of videos and tutorials and are designed for more advanced users.
In any course, you’ll generally learn Excel shortcuts and common functions for financial modeling and create basic models.
When Are Financial Modeling Courses Worth Taking?
If you’re considering taking a financial modeling course and are trying to decide if it's worth the cost, think about your goals.
Financial modeling skills are in-demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for financial analysts is expected to grow by 5% by 2029, higher than the average job outlook for all professions. And, the median pay for financial analysts is $81,590, much higher than the median wage for all occupations.
Taking a financial modeling course can be a good idea if you’re a small business owner trying to predict how different factors will affect your revenue, if you’re looking to enhance your skill set, or if you want to qualify for a promotion.
How We Chose the Best Online Financial Modeling Courses
To select the best online financial modeling courses, we researched 13 top courses offered by individuals, schools, and companies. To narrow down the list, we evaluated each course based on its cost, prerequisites, course content, length of the program, and available support. Programs only available on set dates and times were eliminated, as most people who are looking into online courses need flexibility in their schedule.
U.S. News & World Report. "University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)." Accessed October 18, 2020.
The Wharton School. "Why Study Business and Financial Modeling?" Accessed October 20, 2020.
IMarticus. "What Is the Best Way to Learn Financial Modeling?" Accessed October 20, 2020.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Financial Analysts." Accessed October 20, 2020.