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M&A Courses & Certifications: Top Courses List (for 2023)

Kison Patel
Kison Patel

Kison Patel is the Founder and CEO of DealRoom, a Chicago-based diligence management software that uses Agile principles to innovate and modernize the finance industry. As a former M&A advisor with over a decade of experience, Kison developed DealRoom after seeing first hand a number of deep-seated, industry-wide structural issues and inefficiencies.

CEO and Founder of M&A Science and FirmRoom

What is M&A? 

M&A, or mergers and acquisitions, is a term describing how separate business entities come together in a way that is mutually beneficial. M&A can be used as a growth strategy for both parties involved.

A merger brings two existing companies together and unites them into one new company; an example would be Exxon and Mobil. An acquisition is when one company buys or obtains another company by purchasing most or all of the shares of the company being acquired; an example would be Google and Android.

M&A leads to greater financial stability for both companies involved, by means of higher market share, more customer influence, and reduced competition.

Jobs in M&A

There are different levels of seniority in the M&A career path and the progression in positions begins with that of an analyst and with the highest level position being that of a managing director. 

An analyst assesses financial reports and studies company processes during a deal’s early stages. Salary range: $70,000-$100,000. 

 An associate oversees the analyst teams and provides financial analysis in deals. Salary range: $85,000-$200,000. 

 A vice president develops and builds new relationships, as well as trains and manages those who work under them. Salary range: $150,000-$300,000. 

 A director can have one of two main roles; developing relationships and attracting potential clients, or executive work and project management. Salary range: $200,000-$400,000. 

 A managing director sources and closes potential deals, wins clients, and develops relationships. Salary range: $400,000-$600,000. 

 What to Look for in an M&A Course

In order to pursue and find the right career path in M&A, some necessary skills to have will be an understanding of business and its proceedings, a financial background, and an understanding of the law surrounding business and finance. If you’re interested in M&A but don’t feel confident in that skillset, there are M&A courses available to build upon that and be ready for your next role. 

While courses exist regarding these general skills as separate entities, the best course to take is one that is M&A specific and covers not only the above, but how those skills relate to M&A. Further, the best M&A courses are based on actual transactions, to qualify the skills that you are learning in the light of what will happen in the real world. Case study examples and lessons from those actually in the field will provide the best basis of knowledge for success. 

Content is also an important factor. In an M&A course, you should learn how to enable growth through M&A processes, gain an understanding of valuation considerations, manage negotiations, understand financial impacts, come up with deal strategies; and execute integration. 

Some other factors to consider include location, budget, and the level of the course; for example,  starting from scratch or looking to brush up on your knowledge base. 

Top 7 Mergers and Acquisition Courses List

  1. M&A Science Academy 
  2. The London School of Business Mergers and Acquisitions Courses
  3. Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA) International M&A Expert Program
  4. Corporate Finance Institute M&A Modeling Course
  5. CIMA Mergers and Acquisitions Masters Course
  6. Stanford Business Mergers and Acquisitions Course
  7. Mergers and Acquisitions at Harvard Business School 

1. M&A Science Academy

Series of M&A Courses by M&A Science offers over 60 online courses with a practical advice delivered by the top M&A practitioners, with academic components as well.

The diligence management course focuses on the due diligence process, the team involved with due diligence, and the necessary questions to ask during the due diligence process. The integration management course teaches how to create objectives, make informed decisions, use Agile, and how to use integration tools.

M&AS academy

The M&A 101 Fundamentals course, designed for beginners, focuses on basic terminology of M&A as well as the process of deals. The HR practices course covers employee interactions and communication, as well as retention strategies.

  • Highlights of the course: Students are able to partake in workshops and forums where they can ask questions directly to the industry practitioners. These workshops are team-oriented and practice-based, with the option to partake in live or pre-recorded sessions. 
  • Primary Topics: Sourcing/strategy, business valuation training, due diligence training, divestitures, M&A integration planning, and Agile M&A. 
  • Level: Beginner - Advanced 
  • Duration: Open-ended, courses are constantly being add.
  • Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of finance and business.  
  • Costs: $120/month paid annually or $150/month paid monthly
  • Pros: Online, flexible format, taught by real practitioners with option for hands-on practice and experience, opportunity for collaboration, and broad range of knowledge. 
  • Cons: Time commitment 
  • Certification: Diligence Management, Integration Management, M&A 101 Fundamentals, and Best HR Practices Post-Close.

2. The London School of Business Mergers and Acquisitions Course.

This five-day course is aimed at beginners, and educates those who have never worked in M&A about the basics of the field. You will explore the M&A deal cycle from start to finish and acquire skills that benefit both you and your company. The course covers the role of M&A within corporate strategy; assessment of targets and bid tactics; valuation of companies; negotiation tactics; and overcoming challenges during post-acquisition integration.

After completion, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the value of M&A and will be able to use M&A to stand out amongst others in their company, while creating more value for their company. 

  • Highlights of the course: Option to study in London or online, held five times/year, taught by business leaders including the head of Deloitte, London, and opportunity to collaborate with other students. Taught by experts in the field who participate in global business research. 
  • Primary topics: Strong acquisitions strategies, how to finance a deal, corporate strategy judgment, and company worth valuation. 
  • Level: Beginner
  • Duration: 5 days 
  • Prerequisite: A background in either finance, business, or law. 
  • Costs: $11,500
  • Pros: Prestige associated with London School of Business and access to top names in finance. 
  • Cons: Intensity level and cost 
  • Certification: Management 

3. Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA) International M&A Expert Program

IMAA's holistic, cross-disciplinary course goes beyond the introductory level and theoretical concepts, focusing on analysis and the entire process of a deal from start to integration. The course is taught by M&A practitioners who share insights and information based on real-world practice. Skills practiced include target identification strategies and deal closing strategies; identifying stakeholders and competitors before the competition; and improving foresight, or value analysis and comprehensive due diligence. The Essentials of M&A module covers fundamentals of M&A, such as deal types, M&A process, M&A strategies, M&A negotiation, introduction to due diligence, success factors in transactions, and takeover strategies and defense tactics. The Due Diligence module covers financial due diligence, tax due diligence, legal due diligence, HR due diligence, commercial due diligence, and more. The Valuation module teaches valuation techniques for M&A, private equity and start-up valuation, deal financing and payment structure, and deal design and structure. The Post Merger Integration module covers integration governance, synergies, function integration, change management, and how to overcome cultural obstacles. 

  • Highlights of the course: Split into four modules, regularly updated content, and taught by leading faculty from academia and the industry. 
  • Primary topics: Essentials of M&A, due diligence training, business valuation training, and post merger integration planning. 
  • Level: Professionals
  • Duration: 30 hours onsite and 60 hours online
  • Prerequisite: An academic degree (i.e. MBA, Bachelors, etc.) and/or one or more professional designations (i.e. CPA, CFA, etc) 
  • Costs: $3,000-$5,000 
  • Pros: Online or in-person options, life-long access, and hard copies of all presentations and materials. 
  • Cons: Cost and higher prerequisite education level. 
  • Certification: IM&A certification

4. Corporate Finance Institute M&A Modeling Course.

CFI's M&A course focuses on transaction analyses from a modeling standpoint; students learn by participating in a simulation of what an actual deal process and structure may look like.

It is an advanced course, designed for professionals in investment banking, corporate development, private equity, and corporate finance. Video-based lessons teach formulas and functions to calculate stub periods, outline sources and uses of cash, perform a purchase price allocation and determine goodwill, create scenarios for synergies and other key assumptions, and integrate all of the above into a pro forma model. This course also covers how to assess the impact of transactions through accretion/dilution analysis and impact on intrinsic value per share. It teaches skills and prepares you for careers in investment banking and equity research, FP&A, and corporate development. 

  • Highlights of the course: Comes with a blank M&A model template and a completed M&A model template and required for FMVA certificate eligibility. 
  • Primary topics: Learn how to efficiently structure M&A models, set all the assumptions and drivers required to build an M&A model, calculate the necessary adjustments, integrate a pro forma model, and calculate key share metrics post-transaction, perform a sensitivity analysis on key assumptions, and assess overall impact. 
  • Level: Advanced
  • Duration: 4+ hours 
  • Prerequisite (optional): Excel Crash Course, Building a 3 Statement Financial Model, and Business Valuation Modeling (all offered through CFI)
  • Costs: $200
  • Pros: Low cost; flexible online format and detailed instruction on financial modeling. 
  • Cons: Sole focus on financial modeling and no live feedback.
  • Certification: CFI Certificate of completion; one of 3 required “elective” courses for FMVA certification. 

5. CIMA Mergers and Acquisitions Masters Course.

This course examines the main processes and issues involved in acquisitions and disposals of UK companies. The focus of this course is management accounting, and provides great detail into strategy as well as what leads to the downfall of deals. Negotiation strategies are also covered in detail. Some knowledge and experience is needed to get the most value from this course. This is an in-person course taught by members of the CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants), a UK organization offering certifications in management accounting.  

  • Highlights of the course: Focus on negotiation and in-depth detail regarding the accounting side of M&A. 
  • Primary topics: Rationale for acquisitions and disposals, initiating the sale process, the auction process, identification and evaluation, legal documentation, deal structuring, buying and selling assets vs. shares, an overview of valuation, introductory M&A math, and fundraising information. 
  • Level: Master course 
  • Duration: 2 days 
  • Prerequisite: Involvement with buying or selling public or private companies and an understanding of corporate financial statements. 
  • Costs: $1,750 
  • Pros: No prior M&A experience required. 
  • Cons: Lack of flexibility with in-person format, cost, focus on acquisitions of UK companies, and does not address regulatory issues in detail.
  • Certification: Certification in management accounting. 

6. Stanford Business Mergers and Acquisitions Course.

Stanford's business M&A course provides the opportunity to learn strategic, financial, legal, organizational, and cultural factors to consider in order to execute successful mergers and acquisitions. The course provides tools for formulation and execution of M&A strategy by combining the expertise of the Stanford faculty and allowing, at the end, the opportunity to participate in a simulated deal. It covers the M&A process from beginning to end and discusses pitfalls to avoid to ensure that your future transactions provide the expected benefits and creates real value. Professor Peter DeMarzo of Stanford University developed an online course in Financial Valuation and Strategy covering the logic for and main steps in building a financial model, the first portion of the course. The next step is the M&A team simulation project based on the skills learned in the online course, with a presentation at the end to present the projects and share their knowledge. Further, the course explores negotiation strategies; M&A tax planning; and the core components of post-merger integration. 

  • Highlights of the course: Combination format of lectures, case studies, class discussions, hands-on learning, and guest speakers. Provides optional refreshers in finance and accounting. 
  • Primary topics: M&A team simulation project, negotiation, M&A tax planning, and post merger integration. 
  • Level: Senior level 
  • Duration: 1 week  
  • Prerequisite: 10 years of experience as a senior-level executive or entrepreneur. 
  • Costs: $14,500
  • Pros: Networking opportunities, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning opportunities. 
  • Cons: Cost, in-person only format, and prerequisite experience necessary. 
  • Certification: Certificate of completion 

7. Mergers and Acquisitions at Harvard Business School

This self-paced, case study based course focuses on M&A process, from strategy and valuation to execution and post-merger management. There is a focus on contingency-planning and creating shareholder value. A unique component of this course is the discussion of how to structure M&A deals in the COVID environment, highlighting the importance of contingency planning and risk allocation as well as managing future deals post-COVID and how they might change.

The course includes faculty presentations, global case studies, valuation exercises, negotiation simulations, small group projects, and discussions. Other topics covered include hedge fund activism, hostile takeovers, cross-border deals, corporate inversions, earn-outs, spin-offs, restructurings, and corporate governance, as well as differences in M&A between private and public companies in various economies. The course is taught by Harvard faculty who are both educators and researchers in the field. 

  • Highlights of the course: Based on case studies, combination of self-paced work, discussion groups, and virtual networking; provides up to date information in the times of Covid-19. 
  • Primary topics: Strengthening of M&A strategies, target identification, company evaluation, complex deal negotiation, and new acquisition integration. 
  • Level: Beginner with professional experience in a senior role. 
  • Duration: 1 week 
  • Prerequisite: No education requirement and professional achievements considered. Nine-twelve hours of self-paced case preparation prior to program start.  
  • Costs: $7,500 
  • Pros: Up to date information, opportunity for networking, ability to move at your own pace, and runs several times per year. 
  • Cons: Flexible, online-only format, and low admissions. 
  • Certification: Certificate of completion 

Recap 

As you can see, there are many factors to take into account when comparing which M&A course will be the best for you, including the content of the course and primary topics, the course level and duration, required prerequisites, course cost,  and the level of certification obtained upon completion.

While M&A Science Academy is the highest ranked on our list and on the lists of many others, there may be another course that is best for you. However, participating in an M&A course will allow you to advance your knowledge and skill set as well as prepare you more fully to enter the field.

Enrolling in one of the above courses is highly encouraged!

MAS academy