Capital and financial markets are the essence of the financial sector. Both are the driving force of the economic prosperity of the modern era.
Such markets play a significant role in shaping consumers and businesses alike. They can help keep businesses afloat or improve the quality of life of many.
Understanding those markets is key to building wealth. Anyone aiming for a stable, stress-free retirement should learn that knowledge to invest their savings effectively.
Many believe they need to go to college or register for the CFA to learn this stuff (like I did.) However, that is not the case anymore. You can learn about both capital and financial markets anywhere, anytime, from excellent online courses created by top universities or leading organizations.
This blog post will give you an overview of the best online courses to learn about capital and financial markets. My ultimate goal is to help you find the right course that provides excellent value for money.
Affiliate Disclosure: This post from Victory Tale contains affiliate links. We will receive a small commission from a course provider if you purchase capital markets courses through them.
Nevertheless, we always value integrity and prioritize our audience’s interests. Hence, you can rest assured that we will present all courses truthfully.
Things You Should Know
Many prospective students may be curious about what they will learn in these courses.
Essentially, you will learn how capital and financial markets work and understand the basic concepts of each financial asset traded in those markets.
Some courses may drill even deeper. They will lay down a strong foundation for understanding and analyzing the behavior of financial markets and their participants. Upon course completion, you will be able to analyze the markets on your own.
Most courses are beginner-friendly, so you don’t need any background knowledge to start learning. However, some do have prerequisites. Hence, you should only select the course that matches your background or experience.
1. CFI’s Capital Markets & Securities Analyst (CMSA)®
CFI or Corporate Finance Institute is a global provider of financial courses and certifications. CFI courses are very different from traditional ones as they focus on equipping students with job-ready skills.
Therefore, CFI students will be well-prepared for job interviews and perform flawlessly as new hires at financial firms. Unsurprisingly, CFI courses are most suitable for finance graduates. Nevertheless, everyone can still benefit from them and practically use the knowledge in real life.
Regarding capital markets, CFI offers the CMSA Certificate Program for those who want to learn in-depth about them. It will cover the fundamentals of all financial instruments and the structure of each market.
This program has no prerequisites. Therefore, anyone can start taking the courses right away.
The CMSA program comprises 24 courses in three groups as follows:
1. Prep Courses (5 in total)- These five courses help equip your skills to be ready for the program. They will introduce you to the capital markets and review the math needed for higher-level courses.
2. Core Courses (6 in total)- Core courses will cover each financial market one by one: fixed income, commodities, derivatives, equities, and foreign exchange. Furthermore, you will also learn about financial ethics, which are a vital quality of any financial analyst.
3. Elective Courses (13 in total) – These elective courses will enhance your knowledge of financial markets even further. They will drill deep into advanced concepts such as convertible bonds, options, interest rate swaps, and other securities.
You don’t need to take all elective courses for the certification. You only need seven of them to be eligible to take the final exam. If you manage to score more than 80%, you will receive the CMSA certification.
With regards to class materials, CFI has provided high-quality templates, assignments, exercises, and projects to help you learn and grasp the information.
The entire program is self-paced. Thus, you can take your time to complete the courses, as you have one year access to the whole course library.
Typically, students spend 6 months on the courses. Though I have seen some fast, steadfast learners finish it within a month or so, I don’t recommend rushing to get a certification as soon as possible.
Alternatively, you should spend time completing all elective courses so that you will understand all financial instruments by heart.
CFI has provided two options pricing plans for this program as follows (Update: February 2024).
- Self-Study – $597 per year
- Full-Immersion – $847 per year
However, they usually provide a 40% discount. Thus, you should expect to pay subscription fees far less than indicated above.
The self-study plan would provide all access to lectures, quizzes, assignments, tests, and other materials on the platform, including those in CMSA and three other programs: FMVA (Financial Modeling), BIDA (Business Analytics), and CBCA (Credit Analyst)
If you are in college (i.e., sophomore or junior), majoring in Economics or Finance, but are still unsure which internship position you want to pursue at financial firms, I highly recommend subscribing to CFI’s self-study plan.
The CMSA covers everything financial market, while the FMVA goes through financial modeling, valuations, and mergers & acquisitions. The BIDA will drill deep into data analytics and usage of relevant tools (such as Power BI and Tableau)
Consequently, you will be 100% ready to apply to any internship position if you complete all three.
The full immersion plan is essentially the self-study plan with extra support (experts will provide feedback on your work + AI Chatbot assistance), resume & cover letter review, and access to premium tools such as Capital IQ.
I think the self-study plan is more than enough, as all course materials are well-made and self-explanatory. I am confident you can understand all the content without the need for extra support. Premium tool access can be worthwhile, but again unnecessary.
Pros and Cons
- Exceptional training to build job-ready skills for Finance graduates
- Self-paced learning
- Cover all major financial markets in detail
- Build job-ready skills
- High-quality course materials with pre-built assessments
- The new subscription plan provides excellent value for money.
- The final exam can be challenging.
2. Professional Certificate in Capital Markets
This program from NYIF (New York Institute of Finance) on the edX platform is an excellent alternative to CFI’s CMSA program. You will learn with experts from a leading institute that has almost a century of training finance professionals.
Unfortunately, this program is not for absolute beginners. You will need basic knowledge of capital markets and their participants.
The program consists of five courses as follows.
1. Money Markets, Foreign Exchange, and Time Value of Money – This first course will overview the money and foreign exchange markets. These two are the most simple capital markets but highly indispensable.
Later in the course, you will learn about the time value of money and understand why the future value of money is worth less than that of today.
2. Bond and Equity Markets and Equity Valuation – The second course will introduce you to bond and equity markets, which play a significant role in every company’s capital structure.
Subsequently, you will drill deeper into more complicated concepts, including bond issuance, yield curves, and financial regulations.
3. Equity Indexes, Valuations, and Investment Vehicles – This course will explain how equity indexes work, methods to find the company’s fair value, and key major players in the equity markets, including mutual funds and hedge funds.
4. Derivatives, Futures, Swaps, and Options – The fourth course will focus on the derivatives markets, related financial instruments. You will then understand the structure and the proper usage of these sophisticated financial assets
5. Credit Derivatives and Equity and Bond IPO – This final course has two sections. The first section will discuss credit derivatives, particularly CDS (Credit Default Swap) and credit indices.
The second section will explain the difference between primary and secondary markets and the IPO process for both bonds and equities.
Unlike other edX courses, this one has a final examination that you need to pass before receiving a certificate.
The pace of this course is not intensive. NYIF expects students to spend 1-2 hours on the course for six months, thus suitable for full-time employees with a busy schedule.
You can only audit the first course for free, but the rest is behind the paywall. You need to pay $1,395 one time to access the entire program.
Although I like the structure of this NYIF program, I believe the CMSA program from CFI provides more value for money. The CMSA is about 65% cheaper but delves into more advanced concepts.
If you are hesitant between these two options, the CMSA is an apparent winner.
Pros and Cons
- Learn from experts from a reputable institute
- Well-structured curriculum
- Self-paced learning
- Excellent overview of financial instruments and their vital processes
- Easy-to-read transcripts
- Light workload
- Final examination to test your skills
- Extremely expensive
- Not for absolute beginners
3. Financial Markets
This Coursera course from Yale University will guide you through the essence of financial markets and relevant concepts, including risk management and behavioral finance.
Astonishingly, you will learn with Robert Shiller, a noble laureate and a world-class economist, who predicted a dot-com bubble crash back in 2000.
This course is for absolute beginners. You don’t need any background knowledge for the course.
Below is what you will learn from the course.
- Introduction to Financial Markets and Insurance
- Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) and strategies to create an optimal portfolio
- Behavioral Finance and Forecasting
- Bonds and Equities
- Corporation Basics (Market Caps, Share Dilution, Dividends)
- Explore past bubbles, recessions, crises, and financial regulations
- Derivatives (Futures, Options, Put/Call Parity, etc.)
- Investment Banking (IPO, Underwriting, and investment vehicles)
- Nonprofits vs. Corporations
- Modern Finance and its impact on poverty, population growth, etc.
- Career Prospects in Finance
This course offers an excellent overview of the financial sector as a whole. Its content mostly resembles the Finance Economics course (101 level) I took in college. Hence, it works best as an introductory course for absolute beginners.
You can audit the course without charges or pay $49 to purchase the full course.
According to student reviews, the course is not very well-structured. Some parts are even fragmented. Therefore, I suggest you stick to the free auditing option.
Pros and Cons
- Learn with a world-class instructor
- Provide a good overview of the financial sector and critical financial principles
- Informative video lessons
- Numerous real-world case studies
- Offer good guidance for those who make a career shift to Finance.
- Not well-structured. Some parts of the lectures are not connected.
4. Adaptive Markets: Financial Market Dynamics and Human Behavior
This edX course from MIT will not cover financial instruments as two former courses on this list. Instead, it will delve into the nature of financial markets concerning the rationality and irrationality of market participants.
According to the provider, this course has no prerequisites. However, I think you would understand the course content better if you had basic knowledge of financial markets.
Below is a summary of what you will learn from the course.
- Financial Orthodoxy
- Rationality and Market Efficiency and their limits
- Various foundations of human behavior
- Adaptive market hypothesis (AMH) and applications of adaptive markets
- The role of hedge funds
- Deep dive into the financial crisis of 2008
- Future of Finance
This course is more in-depth than it seems. You will look back at past events and recognize how human behavior creates market inefficiencies, which lead to financial bubbles, crashes, and crises.
Finally, you will come up with a conclusion that investors are rational, irrational, or both?
Regarding workload, MIT suggests spending 6-10 per week for 13 weeks, which is considered high compared to typical online courses. However, since the course is self-paced, it is manageable.
You can audit this course for free. However, if you want to access assignments, feedback, instructor support, and a certificate, you need to pay $99 for the course.
Pros and Cons
- Best for those who want to understand why financial markets swung wildly or acted paradoxically during the crisis
- Well-structured curriculum
- Detailed courses
- Learn from numerous compelling stories
- Observe financial markets from different perspectives (i.e., psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence
- Self-paced learning
- Free auditing is available.
- High effort per week (6-10 hours)
5. Electronic Trading in Financial Markets
This edX course from NYIF will explore the impact of technology on financial markets. You will understand how each trade is executed after traders send their orders to the system.
Prerequisites: Basic to intermediate knowledge in capital markets, financial instruments, and market participants. In other words, you should complete one of the first two programs on this list.
The summary of what you will learn from the course is as follows.
- Fundamentals of Market Structure
- History of Electronic Trading
- Fundamentals of Electronic Trading (Order Book)
- Algorithmic Trading
- How all market participants use electronic trading
- Characteristics of financial instruments that trade or do not trade electronically
- Impact of electronic trading on financial stability and current issues involving trading
Upon course completion, you will understand how evolving technology influences the financial market structure, benefits and risks, and many other interesting concepts.
The suggested workload for this course is 1-2 hours per week for four weeks, which is relatively light compared to average online courses.
This course is not free to audit. You need to pay $99 to access the full course.
Pros and Cons
- Best for traders who want to know more about innovative trading systems
- Detailed explanations of electronic trading
- Straightforward curriculum
- Light workload
- Free auditing is unavailable.
6. Investment Strategies (Online)
This program by Columbia University provides excellent insights into capital markets and financial investments in general.
The curriculum focuses only on two core financial assets: stocks and bonds, so it may not be the best option for finance graduates who want to work in sales & trading or market-related departments.
However, I found the curriculum excellent for conservative traders or investors who want to understand the environment well before making important decisions on their portfolios, so I decided to include the program on the list.
The program is structurally similar to a university course. Each week, the course will feature new content. After you finish the lectures, you will need to complete the assignments and quizzes and submit them online.
Below is a summary of what you will learn in the program.
1. Introduction to Capital Markets – The instructor will explain the difference between stocks and bonds. Subsequently, you will learn basic financial accounting and understand how financial statements influence the financial markets.
2. Major Asset Classes – The second week will drill deep into major asset classes such as treasury bills, preferred stocks, etc.
3. Risk and Investing – The third week will teach you how to quantify financial risk. You will learn how to calculate a standard deviation, Sharpe Ratio, and a drawdown of any financial investment.
4. Active Management – The fourth week will delve into the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) to gain insights on active management products.
5. Market Risk Premium – Week 5-6 will discuss the concept of market risk premium. You will create a dividend discount model to evaluate stock attractiveness and find a CAPE (Cyclical-adjusted Price-to-Earnings) Ratio to estimate future stock returns.
6. Patterns in Stock Returns – Week 7-8 will drill deep into stock selections. You will learn about value and growth stocks. Furthermore, the instructors will discuss different theories on stock selections, which lead to various types of investors in the market.
7. Portfolio Considerations – The final week will be about building an optimal portfolio. You will learn to adjust the risks and returns of securities and understand what constructs a well-optimized investment portfolio.
Since the program is on the Emeritus platform, all students can access its premium e-learning features, including the following:
- Live office hours with the program leader
- Cohort-based learning – You can connect with classmates who enroll in the same program
The duration of the program is ten weeks. Columbia recommends spending 4-6 hours per week on the program, which is perfectly manageable.
The tuition for the entire program is $3500. However, you can get a 10% discount if you click on the button below.
Pros and Cons
- Excellent program for investors who want to make better investment decisions and safeguard their hard-earned wealth
- Well-structured curriculum
- Informative and in-depth lectures
- Learn from numerous case studies
- Excellent student support
- Focus only on stocks and bonds
7. Capital Market Immersion
If you are looking for a more affordable course or dislike a formal, college-like course, this Udemy course may be the best option you have.
You will learn with Paul Siegel, an experienced business and financial advisor with decades of experience.
There is no prerequisite for this course, so everyone can start learning right away.
What you will learn from the course is as follows:
- Introduction to Capital Markets (Bonds, Equities, Market Participants, Financial Intermediaries)
- Financial Mathematics (Interest Rates, Time Value of Money, Yield to Maturity, etc.)
- Yield Curves (Duration, Bond Valuation, Forward Rates)
- Various types of fixed income securities
- Equity Products
- Derivatives (Futures, Options, Swaps, Warrants)
- Interest Rate Swaps
- and many more
This course has 24.5 hours of on-demand video and covers all concepts of every major financial instrument in detail. Thus, it is an excellent tutorial for absolute beginners who want to understand the markets in a less formal way.
Rating: 4.5/5.0 from 7,400+ students
Pros and Cons
- Well-explained and informative lectures
- Comprehensive curriculum that covers all major financial products
- Lifetime access (future course updates included)
- Inexpensive (if you buy the course at a discounted price)
- A few reviewers pointed out that the instructor was too hasty in explaining some concepts.
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