Best Online Certified Financial Planning (CFP) Programs

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by TBS Staff

Updated October 13, 2022

Certified financial planners need certification in order to practice. Discover the best online CFP programs, along with information about this career.

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Certified Financial Planner Courses and Programs

An online Certified Financial Planning (CFP) program provides students with a strong option for entering the financial planning field.

These programs take less time than a Master’s degree program and allowing students to study on their own time, without having to make major sacrifices in their professional or personal lives.

Certified financial planners must earn certification through passing the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exam. The best online Financial Planning Certificate programs prepare students for this exam through a curriculum geared toward CFP standards. All the online Certified Financial Planning programs in our list prepare students to pursue careers as financial planners, and to earn CFP certification.

Most people lack the qualifications to accurately develop their own long-term financial plans, often not knowing where to start. However, a professional certified financial planner can simplify the process of financial planning for individuals and families and try to help them get the most of out their money for the long run.

Featured Online Bachelor's in Finance

The Best Online Certified Financial Planning Programs

#1 Best Online Certified Financial Planning (CFP) Programs

North Dakota State University

  • Fargo, ND
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

With its main campus in Fargo, North Dakota State University provides competitive bachelor's degree programs to learners from all walks of life. A leader in online education, the institution supports 5,328 distance learners. Distance learners hoping to advance in the financial planning field will benefit from the college's family financial planning certificate.

Financial planning students can maximize flexibility through modified coursework and the option to pursue part-time study. Learners complete general and advanced coursework, with the opportunity to modify their coursework. Enrollees can choose electives, minors, and other modifications to individualize their studies.

Undergraduate students pay approximately $12,413 in tuition. Enrollees can benefit from scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid through the college. Students at the school are awarded an average of $5,158 in financial aid.

North Dakota State University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 5,328

Total Online Programs: 9

Admission Rate: 94%

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,275
Out-of-state
$12,413
Retention Rate
79%
Admission Rate
94%
Students Enrolled
13,173
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Best Online Certified Financial Planning (CFP) Programs

Husson University

  • Bangor, ME
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Husson University, a private, nonprofit, four-year college, enables study across 20 online degree programs. Undergraduates choose from nine online bachelor's programs at the institution. From its main campus in Bangor, Maine, the school supports an online bachelor's in financial planning program. The program accommodates flexible study, so enrollees can learn at their own pace.

Students complete industry-relevant classes throughout the program, gaining broad and specific knowledge of the field. These classes equip students with financial planning-specific and broad knowledge and skills. While enrolled, learners can customize their studies by choosing electives, minors, and degree concentrations.

A bachelor's degree connects graduates with numerous job opportunities and a higher earning potential. To learn more about admission requirements and financial aid opportunities, prospective students should contact the financial planning department.

Husson University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 1,914

Total Online Programs: 20

Online Bachelor's Programs: 9

Admission Rate: 85%

Average Tuition
In-state
$17,770
Out-of-state
$17,770
Retention Rate
73%
Admission Rate
85%
Students Enrolled
3,744
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
51% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#3 Best Online Certified Financial Planning (CFP) Programs

Bryant University

  • Smithfield, RI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Individuals looking for competitive online learning opportunities should consider Bryant University's online bachelor's degree programs. A leader in online education, the institution supports 76 distance learners. Distance learners looking to earn an online financial planning certificate can enroll in the financial planning program.

Financial planning students can maximize flexibility through modified coursework and the option to pursue part-time enrollment. Students can also customize the curriculum in consultation with an academic advisor.

Undergraduate students can expect to pay $44,498 in tuition. The accredited institution connects students with internal and external funding opportunities, such as scholarships and fellowships.

Bryant University at a Glance:

Online Enrollment: 76

Total Online Programs: 1

Admission Rate: 71%

Average Tuition
In-state
$44,498
Out-of-state
$44,498
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
71%
Students Enrolled
3,640
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

Online Certified Financial Planning Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%

Affordability - 15%

Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

What is a Certified Financial Planner?

Also known as a financial advisor, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), having earned their designation through approval with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, provides their clients with financial advice, helping develop a plan toward the future to achieve financial goals. Whether aiding individuals, families, or companies, a Certified Financial Planner assesses the needs and resources of their clients in order to help them accomplish what they desire financially. The CFP certification shows an individual has met professional standards.

What is a Certified Financial Planning Certificate Program?

Certified Financial Planning Certificate Programs cover the same core curriculum; however, they vary in length, style and the delivery method. The programs, typically composed of six to nine courses, provide students with the education and training necessary to pursue or advance careers in the financial planning field, without requiring the time or monetary commitments a full graduate degree involves. A Certified Financial Planning Certificate Program allows students to focus on the fundamentals of financial planning, taking a direct route toward developing their careers.

The CFP Board, a non-profit organization, fosters professional standards in personal financial planning through establishing and enforcing education, examination, ethics, experience and other requirements for CFP certification. Schools meeting the requirements can provide a CFP Board – Registered program.

How to Become a Certified Financial Planner

To earn the title of Certified Financial Planner, an individual must pass the Certified Financial Planner exam, offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. A certificate in financial planning helps prepare students for CFP certification and meet CFP prerequisites through advanced education, curricula designed to CFP standards, and professional experience opportunities.

Certified Financial Planner Certification

CFP certification requires individuals to meet the “four Es” of initial certification requirements: Education, Examination, Experience, and Ethics. Individuals must pass the CFP exam to achieve financial planner certification, but must meet the qualifications to do so.

Prerequisites for qualification include, at a minimum, individuals have a relevant bachelor’s degree, and must have at least 6,000 hours of professional experience (about three years) via the Standard Pathway or 4,000 hours (about two years) via the Apprenticeship Pathway. Also, CFP professionals agree to follow a code of ethics, set forth by the CFP Board of Standards.

See also: What Can I Do with an Economics Degree? and What Can I Do with a Business Degree?

Certified Financial Planner Jobs & Salary Information

Certified Financial Planners have the option to pursue a variety of general or niche careers in the field of professional finance. Many Certified Financial Planners find success through self-employment, such as through small advisory firms, while plenty of others work for banks, large investment firms, insurance companies, or financial brokerages.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Financial Planner Jobs currently enjoy growth at a much faster rates than other jobs. Considering the rising retirement population in the US due to the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age, sound retirement and financial planning advice from well-qualified financial planners may remain in high demand. Also, lifespan expectancy continues to increase, making for longer retirement periods, and a greater need for people to have effective, long-term financial plans. Also, many companies no longer offer retirement benefits for their employees, as a result, many people develop personal retirement plans of their own, often consulting with personal financial planners.

Due to many financial planners receiving their payment based on a percentage of the money they handle, an ever-growing client base (and an ever-growing pool of money) means average salaries for financial planners may see a steady increase across the board in coming years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average annual salaries for Certified Financial Planner jobs include:

Average Annual Salaries for CFPS
Job Salary
Financial Analyst $81,760
Financial Manager $121,750
Personal Financial Advisor $90,530
Securities, Commodities, or Financial Services Sales Agent $67,310
Source: BLS

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