Kennesaw State’s new Fintech master’s degree is right on the money, students say

KENNESAW, Ga. | Feb 6, 2023

Each year, companies in Georgia process 118 billion digital financial transactions worth more than $2 trillion, and a new Kennesaw State University master’s program is helping students find or advance careers in the growing financial technology field.

Devendar Bukya
Devendar Bukya

One of those students, Devendar Bukya, works in financial information technology at a consulting company doing banking and accounts payable and receivable. He said he wanted more specific training in technologies and processes used to handle transactions taking place between the parties he serves. He said he’s already noticed the breakneck speed of advancement in fintech. 

“I wanted to get a degree that would help me enhance my current career and introduce me to the theoretical and operational aspects of these new technologies,” Bukya said. “I need to be able to understand what technologies and processes my company and bank partners are using to communicate.”  

Bukya considered similar programs elsewhere but chose KSU’s because it offers exactly what he was looking for, is affordable and can be completed at his own pace.

Classes in the Master of Science in Digital Financial Technologies, housed in the Coles College of Business, began in Fall 2022. Program director Humayun Zafar said KSU is uniquely positioned to help students jump into the center of the action.

“There are millions of daily fintech users, doing things like sending money to a friend using Zelle or snapping a photo of a check using a smartphone, and 70 percent of all transactions on a global scale pass through companies headquartered in metro Atlanta,” said Zafar, who is also a professor of information security and assurance.

Zafar said students of KSU’s online fintech master’s program are trained for careers as blockchain developers, compliance experts, cybersecurity analysts and more. Given the volume of daily digital transactions, companies including FIS Global, NCR, Equifax, Fiserv, and Global Payments are creating an estimated 1,000 new fintech jobs annually.

Ross Colona
Ross Colona

Ross Colona, who serves as assistant director of local government finance for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, knew what he wanted to study and found KSU’s new program fit his needs. He said the program’s flexibility makes it convenient to balance full-time work and school.

And with one semester under his belt, Colona, who already holds two master’s degrees, said the future-focused coursework has been exciting.

“I’ve taken a lot of courses and seen a lot of repeat material, so it’s refreshing to see new ideas that are important about the future of how we’re going to be handling money,” he said. 

Colona said though much of fintech is used for private transactions, it’s just as important that he and his colleagues in the public sector understand advanced financial technologies to be good stewards of taxpayer funds and protect against cybersecurity threats.

“Even though this program isn’t specifically about information security, having a deeper knowledge of fintech can help local government staff protect against financial risks to public funds,” he said. 

Upon completion of his degree in 2024, Colona said he’ll be able to better advise and serve local utilities and governments across Tennessee.

“Being able to have these new sets of skills that our office currently doesn’t have will hopefully allow me to position myself as a subject matter expert on something that we’re going to continue to get questions about from the state legislature and others,” he said.

The new program is an extension of the University’s participation in the Georgia Fintech Academy, which aims to develop a workforce pipeline for the financial industry.

– By Thomas Hartwell
Photos submitted 

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit