M&A Courses & Certifications to Accelerate Your Career in 2023
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are one of the most exciting industries in the business world. It's lucrative, secretive, and highly competitive, and if you are looking to get in or be promoted, there are resources out there that can help.
With this in mind, M&A Science looks at M&A courses & certifications to accelerate your career in 2023.
What is M&A
M&A is a general term used to describe the consolidation of two or more companies through different types of transactions. This includes mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, partnerships, and divestitures.
The purpose of M&A is to achieve strategic advantages such as cost savings, expansion, and improved capital structure, among other things. Some of the world's largest companies achieved much of their success from doing M&A.
When the world's economy recovered from the pandemic brought about by COVID-19, the M&A industry exploded, and the year 2021 hit record-breaking global M&A activity.
This made M&A careers even more exciting, competitive, and challenging to get into.
Investment banking is one of the most common ways to get into M&A. This role entails a mostly sell-side transaction (but sometimes buy-side), which gives investment bankers access to serial acquirers and a thorough understanding of the M&A process.
However, if you want to know more about the existing roles in M&A, here's an overview of what a career might look like or where it's headed from an investment banking perspective.
Jobs in M&A
Whether you are looking to advance your career or finally get your feet in the door of the M&A world, here are the current roles available in investment banking together with the expected salary. Note these salaries are exclusive of year-end bonuses, which can be more than an investment banker’s salary.
An M&A analyst is an entry position job typically for post-undergraduate. They do most of the preliminary legwork for potential transactions and review company fundamentals and financial statements. The average salary for this role is between $70,00 and $100,000.
An M&A associate is the next position following typically three years as an analyst. They oversee the analyst teams and provide financial analysis for businesses preparing to acquire or merge with another company. The average salary for this role is $85,000 to $200,000.
Vice president roles are usually obtained after at least three roles as an associate. Their primary role is to develop existing and build new relationships. It is also their responsibility to manage and train juniors and report upwards, together with the full range of responsibilities of the associate. The average salary for this role in the US range from $150,000 to $300,000.
Next comes the director role. Depending on the size of the bank, a director will either focus on developing relationships and winning clients or other times they do more execution work and project management. The average salary for this role is $200,000 and $450,000.5.
A managing director is responsible for sourcing potential deals, winning clients, and developing relationships, and they’re on the road a lot of the time. They work directly with the CEO, CFO, and COO. The average salary for this role is $400,000 to $600,000.
What to Look for in an M&A Course
Technically, you don't need to take courses to work in M&A, but the essential skills you need are good business acumen, a solid financial background, and a basic understanding of legal terminologies. However, courses are a great way to fast-track your career, gain new skill sets as quickly as possible, or simply refresh your memory.
There are many courses regarding general skills in finance, accounting, and law that can help you in your career, but it is best to find M&A-specific courses.
Also, find one that is based on actual transactions or taught by practitioners. While academic theories are sound, real-life case study examples are much better.
Additional things to consider when selecting what M&A courses to take include availability, location, budget, or where you are in your career.
Are M&A Courses Worth it?
The short answer is yes. There are so many elements specific to mergers and acquisitions that a general education will not suffice. For this, a dedicated course in M&A is required.
We have taken the liberty of listing down the top 11 M&A courses to look at to boost your career, both online and offline.
Top 11 Mergers and Acquisition Courses
- M&A Science Academy: M&A Courses by Real M&A Practitioners
- New York institute of finance M&A professional certificate
- Corporate Finance Institute M&A Modeling Course
- The Law and Economics of Mergers and Acquisitions from LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science)
- Columbia Business School Mergers and Acquisitions Course
- International Mergers & Acquisitions Expert (IM&A)
- Advanced Valuation and Strategy – M&A, Private Equity, and Venture Capital
- Mergers and Acquisitions at Harvard Business School
- Kellogg School of Business: Creating Value through M&A
- Stanford Business Mergers and Acquisitions Course
- CIMA Mergers and Acquisitions Masters Course
1. M&A Science Academy: M&A Courses by Real M&A Practitioners
As mentioned before, academic theories are an excellent way to learn, but experience is still the best teacher.
The M&A Science Academy purely focuses on real-life experiences shared by experienced practitioners. Every student that registers receives unlimited access to a wealth of workshops and networking events. The library has a wide variety of content starting from M&A career paths, sourcing, strategy, diligence, deal execution, integration management, and building up an M&A function.
Students partake in video workshops and virtual summits where they can ask questions directly to industry practitioners - something rarely available in postgraduate courses. The courses are practice-based, with the option to partake in live or pre-recorded video sessions.
Level: caters to any level of experience
Duration: 1 hr per course
Costs: $120/month (billed annually)
- Lessons are based on the instructors' real-life situations and experiences.
- Content is always up to date as the library is constantly growing.
2. New York Institute of Finance M&A professional certificate
This course is one of the best overall M&A packages you will find anywhere, focusing on M&A rationale, decision making, sourcing, pitching deals, pricing transactions, valuations, projections, legal aspects, documentation, taxation, structuring, implementation, and dozens of such topics.
The course is perfect for analysts, associates, or interns looking to break into M&A. Whether you want to prepare for the selection process or impress the MD during your internship/ rotation, this is the course you need.
Level: (Intermediate) for M&A professionals
Duration: 40 hours Online | 5 Hours for in-person
Format: Online and In-person
Costs: $1,550 USD for Online | $3150 USD for in person
Certification: M&A Professional Certificate from the New York Institute of Finance (NYIF)
Prerequisite: Basic MS Excel skills, Principles of corporate finance and valuation, Familiarity with financial markets and instruments
By the end of this professional certificate, you will be able to:
- How to identify a successful merger or acquisition opportunity
- How to structure a variety of M&A deals resulting from different circumstances
- Regulations concerning mergers & acquisitions
- How to model and utilize free cash flow for capital budgeting and evaluation, and integration of acquisitions
- Accounting for mergers & acquisitions
3. Corporate Finance Institute M&A Modeling Course
This course is designed for professionals in investment banking, corporate development, private equity, and other areas of corporate finance that deal with analyzing M&A transactions. It's an excellent way to get to grips with the financial modeling required in M&A, talking students through each part of the model in detail.
In addition to learning the detailed mechanics of building the model, students will also learn how to assess the impact of the transaction through accretion/dilution analysis. By performing sensitivity analysis, users will understand how a change in assumptions impacts future outcomes of the merger or acquisition.
Duration: Approximately 8 hrs to complete
Format: online only
Certification: yes (the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA) certification)
Prerequisite: These preparatory courses are optional, but recommended to complete the stated prep course(s) or possess the equivalent knowledge before enrolling in this course:
- Excel Crash Course
- Building a 3 Statement Financial Model
- Business Valuation Modeling
- How to structure an effective M&A model
- Set up the assumptions and drivers of the deal
- Create a post-transaction balance sheet
- Integrate the acquirer and the target into a Pro-forma model
- M&A modeling
4. The Law and Economics of Mergers and Acquisitions from LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science)
This program will help you understand the structures and navigate the issues of corporate transactions. You'll also learn about the various types of deals, including private M&A, hostile takeovers, and their defenses against hostile takeovers, private equity transactions, and hedge fund activism.
The course draws on financial and economic theory and real-world case studies to offer a practical and holistic overview of transactions' key drivers and frameworks, highlighting the jurisdictional discrepancies across the UK, US, and EU member states.
Level: For legal professionals and non-legal professionals who work in fields like financial services, consulting, and management
Duration: 6 weeks (7-10 hours per week, Self-Paced)
Format: Online Only
Prerequisite: Students must have an active email account, access to the computer, the Internet, and a PDF Reader before opting for the course.
- Students will receive an official certificate after completing the course.
- Learners can download online instructional material and learn through class forums, group discussions, video lectures, and infographics.
- Quizzes and written assignments help students test their knowledge of the program.
- A global success team is available 24*7 to address students' administrative and technical concerns.
- Learn about hedge fund activism and its effects onboard decision-making and accountability
5. Columbia Business School Mergers and Acquisitions Course
In this online certification program, you will learn about a proven offensive and defensive framework and understand the strategy, execution, legal components, and risks involved in M&A. This course will cover several modules, including Strategic and practical considerations, merger agreements and sell-side, valuation, and deal math.
Level: for those who have experience in corporate finance, capital markets, or investment management
Duration: 9 weeks, 4-6 hours per week
Format: Online Only
Certification: digital certificate of completion from Columbia Business School Executive Education
Prerequisite: ideal for those with experience in corporate finance, capital markets, or investment management.
- Access live sessions with faculty, case study, weekly assignment, peer discussion, feedback, and industry examples with real-world financial documents.
- Describe the principles and mechanics of deal documentation and learn about several transaction structures.
- Identify the M&A process of a real-world merger and determine whether the parties involved derived the "benefit of the bargain."
- Explore the responsibility of valuation in the M&A process and identify different valuation methods and the math behind the deal
6. International Mergers & Acquisitions Expert (IM&A)
This course provides a holistic view of the M&A process – from strategy and valuation to execution and post-merger integration management.
It covers four key modules:
The first covers the basics like deal types and the process, strategies, negotiation, success factors, etc. It should give most learners a basic idea of what M&A is.
The second module covers due diligence. This module includes financial due diligence, tax and legal, commercial due diligence, and even HR and cultural fit analysis.
The following module is the valuation module, where all the math happens. DCF, multiples, valuation, payment structure, etc. It is corporate finance 101 and then some.
The final module is all about post-merger integration, where the magic happens. Postmerger is where success is determined, which is why due diligence is so important.
Level: Intermediate (Chief Executives, General Management)
Duration: Onsite and Virtual Live: 30 hours; Online: approx. 60 hours
Format: Online or In-person
Costs: Package $2’990 US ($990 per module)
Prerequisite: Hold an academic degree (e.g., Ph.D., JD, DBA, MBA, or Bachelor Degree); and/or hold one or more professional designations (such as CPA, CFA, CAIA, or equivalent)
Pros: You get to choose which module you want to enroll
7. Advanced Valuation and Strategy – M&A, Private Equity, and Venture Capital
In this course, you will learn all the latest valuation methods, which is helpful for executives that need to value complete strategies and for all students interested in corporate finance and strategy. It has three levels of training:
- Executive Summary - one-week module focusing on critical corporate valuation and strategy insights.
- Student level - that focuses on understanding technical details.
- Honors level - which is challenging, compelling, and engaging for students.
During the classes, you will access the latest tools and learn to apply them in real-life scenarios.
Level: For economics, finance, and business students, professionals like venture capitalists, investment bankers, CEOs, CFOs, and private equity investors
Duration: 16 hours
Format: Online only
Prerequisite: Basic knowledge and experience in M&A
Practitioners will learn:
- Get access to a series of animation videos and new valuation principles for the latest insights into corporate strategy and valuation techniques.
- Learn to apply DCF approaches and offer case applications illustrating the valuation methodology along with historical analysis
- Know about various DCF approaches, the estimation of free cash flows, and multiples valuation
- Improve your knowledge of NPV criteria and various strategic paradigms to recognize the strategic growth options of an organization in the market.
- Review the basic concepts and be able to quantify the flexibility component of the strategic growth option value
8. Mergers and Acquisitions at Harvard Business School
This mergers and acquisitions program provides a holistic view of the M&A process—from front-end target selection and search processes to approach strategies and execution to post-merger integration and management.
You will also learn how to structure M&A deals in the COVID environment and how to manage future M&A deals in a post-COVID world. The experience will include faculty presentations, global case studies, valuation exercises, negotiation simulations, small group projects, and dynamic discussions.
Duration: One Week
Format: online only
The course aims to help you:
- Build stronger M&A strategies
- Identify the right targets and evaluate companies more effectively
- Negotiate complex, multi-party, multi-issue deals
- Integrate new acquisitions effectively
9. Kellogg School of Business: Creating Value through M&A
This interdisciplinary learning experience will teach you how to take a multifaceted approach to any restructuring deal. This course will take you through the entire M&A process, from assessing strategic fit to considering market trends to making financing decisions.
It will also include topics such as the search process, valuation techniques, negotiations, tax-free versus taxable transactions, joint ventures, international M&A, and best practices for developing a custom-tailored post-merger integration plan.
Level: Executives and managers directly or indirectly involved in acquisition/alliance activities, Managers with corporate development, planning, and finance responsibilities
Format: Online and In-person
Costs: $8,250 (online); $10,950 (on-campus)
Prerequisite: With M&A experience
Pros: Practitioners will learn:
- Determine the shareholder value of a target company
- Develop new strategies for acquisitions and restructuring
- Develop a high-impact integration plan
- Test post-merger assumptions
Cons: A bit expensive compared to others
10. Stanford Business Mergers and Acquisitions Course
In this course, you will examine all of the critical aspects of a merger: target selection, alternative valuation and pricing models, deal design, negotiation strategies, accounting, tax planning, and post-merger integration planning and execution. And you will cover these essential concepts in a sequential order that simulates the M&A process.
The course also offers optional refreshers in finance and accounting for those coming from a non-financial background. In the end, students are given a simulation of a deal to learn real-life applications.
Level: senior-level executives and entrepreneurs
Format: In-person Only
Prerequisite: At least ten years of M&A experience
This M&A training includes modules such as:
- M&A team simulation project
- Negotiation: Getting (more of) what you want
- M&A tax planning
- Post-merger integration
11. CIMA Mergers and Acquisitions Masters Course
CIMA (the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) offers highly-regarded certifications in management accounting. The M&A course assumes some knowledge of financial statements, making it attractive to accountants and financial managers.
Because they are an organization that focuses on management accounting, there is a good amount of emphasis on strategy. They also touch on negotiations which not available to others.
Level: This course is designed for those involved in buying or selling public or private companies, whether as principals or advisers. Delegates should understand corporate financial statements, but no prior M&A experience is required.
Duration: 2 days
Format: In-person only
Costs: £1,300 (approx. $1,750)
Practitioners will learn:
- The rationale for deals (commercial and financial)
- Acquisitions and disposals
- Due diligence training
- Deal structuring
- Sources of finance and valuation
What to Look at When Comparing M&A Courses
You cannot go wrong with any of these courses. Some courses are geared toward a particular type of audience and expertise, while others are wider in scope that apply to anyone.
But no matter what course you choose, they will undoubtedly accelerate your learning and career in M&A. It is also important to note that every course in this list offers a type certification, which will serve as a point of recognition on your resume.
When we compared these courses, we ranked the courses available only in person slightly lower. We now live in a virtual world, and we believe that flexibility is essential in learning.
Then we looked at prices in proportion to the value the course will bring to your career. We also considered the duration of learning, as others take too long to finish compared to others.
To conclude, gaining access to courses is a fantastic advantage, especially if you want to accelerate your M&A career. Choosing will all depend on your location and preferred learning format. While others thrive in an in-person environment, not all practitioners have the luxury of going on-site.
Also, if you are open to online classes, you can take some of these courses while working.
This is one of the most significant advantages of M&A Science Academy. Courses from real M&A experts, templates, networking events, and more straight from the best practitioners in the industry.