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New Graduate Program Launched to Meet Growing Demand for Financial Analysts

Master's degree program designed to meet the demands of increasingly data-driven digital economy.


To meet the demands of an increasingly data-driven digital economy, Christopher Newport is introducing Virginia’s first public university master’s degree program in financial analysis.

The Board of Visitors and higher education regulators recently approved the new program with the first class of students scheduled to begin their studies in fall of 2020.

The master of financial analysis (MFinA) degree will position graduates for higher salaries and quicker advancement in investment, CPA and wealth management firms as well as other financial institutions and accounting and finance departments.

“The MBA is no longer the only or primary graduate degree sought by employers,” said Dean George Ebbs of the Joseph W. Luter III School of Business. “The financial industry is changing rapidly and sophisticated software and artificial intelligence are replacing many entry-level positions. This degree combines the accounting and finance know-how that graduates now need.”

Students in the one-year program will master a range of technical and soft skills that will prepare them to:

  • Advise companies on corporate financial decisions
  • Counsel individuals on investments, insurance, retirement funds, estate and tax planning
  • Perform more efficient and effective audits

“The traditional finance and accounting jobs are disappearing while the demand for employees with strong skills in data analysis and digital technologies is increasing,” said Dr. Reza Espahbodi, the newly appointed director of the program. “Graduates of Christopher Newport’s MFinA should be in high demand and the pipeline we’re building should help the Virginia economy continue to thrive.” Espahbodi comes to Christopher Newport from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, and has an extensive background in pioneering academic programs and serving as a consultant to small and medium-sized businesses.

Students will take a core curriculum where they will learn to integrate data analytics into financial decision-making and auditing while incorporating the latest advances in portfolio management and financial statement analysis. The program ends with a capstone course that will allow students to do research in an area of professional interest.

The MFinA has already won the backing of top regional business executives. “This master’s program is well designed,” said Alan Witt, a CPA, CGMA and CEO at PBMares. “It combines both accounting and finance topics to provide graduates with the skills needed to succeed in a data-driven economy.”

The Luter School has already earned honors for its undergraduate offerings. It ranks among the top 45 in the nation and is climbing quickly in new rankings from Poets & Quants.

Students interested in the MFinA program can contact the director at mfina@cnu.edu.


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