The 20 Best Online Certified Financial Planning (CFP) Programs

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

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We selected the online CFP programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

The Best Online Certified Financial Planning (CFP) Programs

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4

University of California Los Angeles Extension 

Los Angeles, CA

About this school

The University of California Los Angeles Extension offers a variety of professional training programs, including certificate programs, non-credit professional development programs, and undergraduate credit programs, for non-traditional and working students.

As the professional training extension of UCLA, the University of California Los Angeles Extension serves the unique needs of students seeking professional advancement through a non-traditional educational path.

With numerous corporate partnerships, as well as outreach program affiliations and centers, students develop exposure to opportunities for advancement beyond the classroom, through networking and connection.

The University of California Los Angeles Extension offers an online Personal Financial Planning certificate program, registered with the CFP Board of standards. The program prepares students for the CFP exam.

Students develop foundational knowledge in financial planning with a specific focus on the needs of personal financial planning. Students consider issues such as estate planning, income taxation, and financial analysis in the personal context of the individual client. Students must also complete a capstone project.

The online graduate finance certificate program consists of the following nine courses:

  • Estate Planning
  • Ethics in Personal Financial Planning
  • Financial Analysis in Personal Financial Planning
  • Income Taxation in Personal Financial Planning
  • Insurance in Personal Financial Planning
  • Investments in Personal Financial Planning
  • Personal Financial Planning Capstone
  • Retirement Plans and Other Employee Benefits
  • Survey of Personal Financial Planning
5

University of California – Irvine 

Irvine, CA

About this school

Founded in 1962, the Division of Continuing Education at University of California, Irvine educates and trains working professionals in a variety of fields. The Division of Continuing Education provides certificate programs in areas such as business, education, finance and accounting, and law.

Through a diverse array of course delivery models, including entirely-online programs, blended programs, MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses), and weekend and evening courses, the Division of Continuing Education offers a significant amount of scheduling flexibility for non-traditional students.

The Division of Continuing Education provides an online Certified Financial Planning certificate program, registered with the CFP Board of Standards. The certificate program prepares students for the CFP exam.

Students may complete the program in as little as one year. The curriculum emphasizes the fundamentals of financial planning, including income tax, retirement, and estate planning. The program includes a capstone course.

The online Certified Financial Planning certificate program consists of the following eight courses:

  • Estate Planning
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Insurance Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Personal Financial Planning Practicum (Capstone)
  • Principles of Financial Analysis
  • Retirement Planning
  • Survey of Personal Financial Planning

After completing the graduate certificate finance online program, students may transfer their credits toward the MBA in Financial Planning degree program at California Lutheran University.

6

DePaul University 

Chicago, IL

About this school

With a wide variety of certificate program options available, DePaul Continuing and Professional Education at DePaul University provides students with opportunities for advancement in a diverse selection of fields. Through the Financial Planning Education Center, DePaul University provides students and financial service professionals with training and education to help them excel in the field.

The Financial Planning Education Center offers an online e-Financial Planning certificate program, registered with the CFP Board of Standards. The certificate program prepares students for CFP certification.

With an 18-month completion timeline, graduate certificate finance online students pursue coursework on a flexible, asynchronous delivery schedule. Through focusing on fundamental aspects of the field, including income tax planning and estate planning, students enhance their ability to serve as accurate financial planners for a diverse client base.

The online e-Financial Planning certificate program consists of the following six courses:

  • Estate Planning
  • Financial Plan Development
  • Fundamentals of Financial Planning and Insurance Planning
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits
7

California Lutheran University 

Thousand Oaks, CA

About this school

Offering a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree and non-degree programs, the School of Management at California Lutheran University provides students with the resources and experience necessary to pursue or advance a variety of professional careers in business. Through its online programs, the School of Management provides students with flexibility in their study options.

The School of Management offers a Financial Planning online certificate program, registered with the CFP Board of Standards, designed to prepare students for CFP certification. Allowing for completion in an average time of 18 months, the program prepares students to pursue careers as knowledgeable professional financial planners.

The balanced program develops a strong foundation in the principles of financial planning, including risk management and tax planning. The program culminates in a capstone project.

The online graduate certificate finance planning program consists of the following eight courses:

  • Capstone Course in Financial Planning
  • Employee Benefits and Retirement Planning
  • Financial Principles and Policies
  • Introduction to Financial Planning
  • Investment and Portfolio Management
  • Principles of Estate Planning
  • Risk Management and Insurance
  • Tax Management and Strategy
8

University of Florida 

Gainesville, FL

About this school

Housed in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida, the Department of Family, Youth, and Community Services provides students with a variety of degree and non-degree options for study, at undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels.

The department engages in research programs and community outreach, providing useful services to the surrounding community. The activities provide students unique professional experience and networking opportunities.

The Department of Family, Youth, and Community Services, through the UF Distance Learning Platform, offers an online Professional Development Program in Personal and Family Financial Planning, a CFP Board – Registered program, that readies students to sit for the CFP exam.

Providing a dual focus in both personal financial planning and family financial planning, the non-credit graduate certificate finance online program prepares students to serve the diverse needs of individual and family clients in planning their financial futures.

Utilizing an asynchronous delivery model, the program develops a foundation in financial planning fundamentals through coursework that includes tax planning, wealth management, retirement and estate planning, and a capstone project.

The online Professional Development Program in Personal and Family Financial Planning consists of the following six courses:

  • Introduction to Personal and Family Financial Planning
  • Personal and Family Financial Planning Capstone
  • Personal and Family Insurance Planning
  • Personal and Family Retirement and Estate Planning
  • Personal and Family Tax Planning
  • Personal and Family Wealth Management
9

University of Missouri 

Columbia, MO

About this school

The Personal Financial Planning Department provides a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree and non-degree options for study, including nine CFP-registered programs.

With active participation in research and community outreach, the department advances the discourse of the field, and helps the local community in its financial planning needs.

Through a partnership with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, the Personal Financial Planning Department offers an online Family Financial Planning certificate program, registered with the CFP Board of Standards. The program prepares students for the CFP exam.

The graduate certificate finance online curriculum develops the important concepts of family financial planning, including risk management and employee benefits.

The online Family Financial Planning certificate program consists of the following six courses:

  • Estate Planning for Families
  • Financial Planning – Case Studies
  • Insurance Planning for Families
  • Investing in The Family’s Future
  • Personal Income Taxation
  • Retirement Planning, Employee Benefits and The Family
10

Rice University 

Houston, TX

About this school

The Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University serves a diverse population of students and non-students. The school offers a variety of professional degree and certificate programs, as well as professional development, ESL, and college prep programs.

The Glasscock School of Continuing Studies offers an online CFP certificate program, registered with the CFP Board of Standards, and designed to ready students for the CFP exam. The balanced curriculum develops a strong foundation in the principles of financial planning, including risk management, investment planning, and tax planning. The online graduate certificate finance planning program culminates in a capstone project.

The online Certified Financial Planner certificate program consists of the following seven courses:

  • Estate Planning
  • Financial Plan Development Course
  • General Principles
  • Income Taxation Planning
  • Insurance and Risk Management
  • Investment Planning
  • Retirement and Employee Benefits Planning
11

Pennsylvania State University – World Campus 

University Park, PA

About this school

Penn State World Campus was launched in 1998 as the online campus of The Pennsylvania State University, a space-grant, sun-grant, land-grant and sea-grant university, established in 1855. Penn State World Campus provides over 120 programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as certificate programs. The online Financial Planning Undergraduate Certificate program covers a wide range of personal financial planning concepts in areas such as retirement and estate planning, insurance and income tax planning, and investment strategies.

Experienced Penn State University faculty members who have professional designations such as CFP, CFA, CPA, or attorney along with professional licenses in securities and insurance teach the certificate’s required courses.

Students in the certificate program may be able to apply some of the credits they earn toward the requirements of a bachelor’s degree from Penn State World Campus.

The Undergraduate Certificate in Financial Planning program includes these core classes:

  • Estate Planning
  • Financial Planning Capstone
  • Investment and Portfolio Analysis
  • Personal Financial Planning
  • Principles of Taxation I Or Principles of Taxation
  • Retirement Planning

The Online Financial Planning Undergraduate Certificate program is a Board–Registered Program with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Students who complete the Online Financial Planning Undergraduate Certificate program satisfy the entire education coursework for CFP certification and they’re prepared to take the CFP Certification Examination.

Students need 18 credits to complete the undergraduate certificate.

12

Northeastern State University 

Tahlequah, OK

About this school

The Continuing Education Division of Northeastern State University offers a variety of certificate programs, professional development programs, test prep services, and community enrichment. Additionally, the Continuing Education Division provides youth programs, and community outreach services.

The Continuing Education Division at Northeastern State University offers an online CFP certificate program, registered with the CFP Board of Standards. The certificate program prepares students for the CFP exam.

With a 14-month timeline for completion and flexible options for study, the program allows students to pursue their education while working full-time. The program prepares students for careers as financial planners through a curriculum which covers retirement planning, estate planning, and more, and incorporates a capstone project.

The online Certified Financial Planner certificate program consists of the following courses:

  • Estate Planning
  • Insurance
  • Introduction to Financial Accounting (Income Tax Planning)
  • Investments
  • Professional Financial Planning (Capstone)
  • Retirement and Employee Benefit Planning
13

Florida State University, Office of Distance Learning 

Tallahassee, FL

About this school

The Center for Professional and Academic Development at Florida State University dedicates itself to the advancement and preparation of students of all varieties for their futures. The center offers students academic programs, professional development programs, and test preparation courses. In addition to the programs, the center offers workshops and conferences to assist students in securing potential careers and improving their professional skills.

The Center for Professional and Academic Development offers an online Certified Financial Planning certificate program, with traditional and executive fast-track options, allowing students to complete the program in 20-22 months or under a year. Registered with the CFP Board of Standards, and designed to ready students for the CFP exam, the program utilizes an asynchronous course format and a pay-as-you-go model. The program develops a foundation in important aspects of financial planning, including income tax planning and retirement planning. The program culminates in a capstone project.

The online Certified Financial Planning certificate program consists of the following seven courses:

  • Capstone Course: Developing Financial Plans
  • Estate Planning
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Insurance Planning
  • Introduction to Financial Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Retirement Planning
14

University of Nebraska – Lincoln 

Lincoln, NE

About this school

Offering a wide variety of graduate and professional degree and non-degree programs from across the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, the Office of Graduate Studies serves the advanced educational needs of a diverse student body.

The Office of Graduate Studies provides services catering to the specific needs of graduate students, including online programs and flexible scheduling, as well as career advancement services and professional networking.

Through Partnership with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, the Office of Graduate Studies offers an online Family Financial Planning certificate program, a CFP Board Registered program that readies students to take the CFP exam.

The graduate certificate finance online program provides coursework that covers financial planning fundamentals in the specific context of a family’s financial needs, including areas such as retirement planning and investment for a family’s future.

The Family Financial Planning online certificate program consists of the following six courses:

  • Estate Planning for Families
  • Financial Planning Case Studies
  • Insurance Planning for Families
  • Investing for The Family’s Future
  • Personal Income Taxation
  • Retirement Planning, Employee Benefits and The Family
15

Eastern Illinois University 

Charleston, IL

About this school

Housed in the Lumpkin College of Business and Applied Sciences at Eastern Illinois University, the School of Business offers students a variety of options for study at the undergraduate and graduate levels. With over 2000 enrolled students, the School of Business serves a sizable population. In addition to academic programs, the School of Business has several on-campus research centers, including the Literacy in Financial Education Center. The School of Business also participates in community outreach.

The School of Business offers a Financial Planning Education online certificate program, a CFP Board – Registered program, with coursework focused on the fundamentals of financial planning, including retirement and estate planning, and risk assessment. The programs prepares students to pass the Certified Financial Planner exam and enter the field as well-qualified professionals. Students can complete the program in less than 12 months.

The online Financial Planning Education certificate program consists of the following six courses:

  • Business and Financial Management
  • Financial Planning Case Studies
  • Fundamentals of Financial and Tax Planning
  • Investments
  • Retirement and Estate Planning
  • Risk and Insurance
16

Indiana Wesleyan University 

Marion, ID

About this school

Founded in 2012, the Ron Blue Institute for Financial Planning represents a partnership between Indiana Wesleyan University and Ron Blue, a noted biblical financial planning expert. Combining the fundamentals of theory and practice in financial planning with biblical principles, the Ron Blue Institute seeks to develop students as competent, professional financial planners, with business practices based in Christian teachings.

In collaboration with the DeVoe School of Business, the Ron Blue Institute for Financial Planning offers an online Executive Certificate in Financial Planning program that allows students to earn their certificate in nine months or less.

The program, registered with the CFP Board of Standards, prepares students for the CFP exam. The program allows students to pursue the material at their required level of depth through its Self-Paced Study option. Students can customize their educational experience to their needs while developing a foundation in insurance planning, estate planning, investment planning, and more.

17

Bryant University 

Smithfield, RI

About this school

Providing students with a variety of certificate program options to pursue, the Executive Development Center at Bryant University maintains a commitment to the goal of promoting professional development and readiness in students. With flexible options available through online programs, the Executive Development Center has plenty to offer for students from all backgrounds, especially those with fully-loaded work schedules.

The Executive Development Center offers an online Financial Planning certificate program which prepares students to pursue careers as professional financial planners. The program, registered with the CFP Board of Standards, prepares students to take the CFP certification exam in as little as 12 months.

The Financial Planning online certificate program utilizes an asynchronous model to deliver coursework in foundational areas of financial planning, including investment planning, retirement planning, and employee benefits and culminates in a capstone project.

The online certificate in Financial Planning program consists of the following seven courses:

  • Estate Planning
  • Financial Planning Capstone Course
  • Insurance Planning and Risk Management
  • Introduction to Financial Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits
  • Tax Planning
18

North Dakota State University 

Fargo, ND

About this school

NDSU Distance and Continuing Education, the online and professional wing of North Dakota State University, offers an array of undergraduate and graduate degree and non-degree options for working and non-traditional students. In addition, NDSU Distance and Continuing Education offers outreach through professional development and youth education programs.

NDSU Distance and Continuing Education offers an online Family Financial Planning: Financial Planning Option Graduate Certificate program, registered with the CFP Board of Standards. The program prepares students for the CFP exam.

In as few as two semesters, students emerge prepared to pursue careers as qualified professional financial planners. The curriculum develops a strong foundation in financial planning principles. In particular, the family focus of the coursework allows students to enhance their ability to serve the unique financial planning needs of family clients.

The online Family Financial Planning: Financial Planning Option Graduate Certificate program consists of the following six courses:

  • Estate Planning for Families
  • Financial Planning Case Studies
  • Insurance Planning for Families
  • Investing for The Family’s Future
  • Personal Income Taxation
  • Retirement Planning, Employee Benefits, and The Family

The online graduate finance certificate program provides students with 18 fully-transferrable credit hours, useful should they decide to later pursue a relevant Master’s degree at North Dakota State University.

19

South Dakota State University 

Brookings, SD

About this school

The Department of Consumer Sciences at South Dakota State University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree and non-degree programs available. The department provides students with numerous options to study several different fields under the consumer sciences umbrella, including hospitality, consumer affairs, apparel merchandising, and financial planning.

Housed in the College of Education and Human Science, the department utilizes the college’s resources for academic, professional training, and outreach programs to serve a diverse student and non-student population.

The Department of Consumer Sciences offers an online Graduate Certificate in Family Financial Planning program, a CFP Board – Registered program, which prepares students for the CFP exam.

The balanced curriculum blends financial planning fundamentals, such as investing and estate planning, with a specific focus on the needs of families. The program allows students to enhance their ability to pursue careers as effective financial planners, knowledgeable of the unique needs of family clients.

The online Graduate Certificate in Family Financial Planning program consists of the following six courses:

  • Estate Planning for Families
  • Family Planning Case Study
  • Family, Employment Benefits, and Retirement Planning
  • Insurance Planning for Families
  • Investing for Family’s Future
  • Personal Income Taxation
20

Texas State University 

San Marcos, TX

About this school

The Office of Distance and Extended Learning provides distance and online education programs for Texas State University. The office provides a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree and non-degree programs, as well as continuing education programs for a diverse body of non-traditional students. With many format options available, the Office of Distance and Extended Learning maintains its mission of making education and advancement accessible to all.

In partnership with Dalton Education, the Office of Distance and Extended Learning provides a Financial Planning online certificate program, registered with the CFP Board of standards. The certificate program prepares students for the CFP exam.

Utilizing a live, instructor-led model of delivery, the program allows students to complete their education and sit for the CFP exam in only nine months. Promoting a balanced curriculum that includes financial planning fundamentals, such as investment planning and estate planning, the program prepares students to pursue careers as financial planning professionals.

The graduate certificate finance online program consists of the following six courses:

  • Estate Planning
  • Financial Plan Presentation
  • Fundamentals of Financial Planning and Insurance
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Investment Planning
  • Retirement Planning
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Other Educational Options

Dalton Education

Dalton Education, a CFP Board of Standards-registered educational group, provides financial planning programs through partnership with several universities, designed to prepare students to take and pass the CFP certification exam. Taking nine months to complete, the Dalton Education CFP program offers a balanced curriculum which emphasizes financial planning fundamentals, and utilizes three delivery options: Guarantee to Pass, The Virtual Classroom, and Self-Paced Online. The partnered universities include:

Greene Consulting

Greene Consulting, a CFP Board of Standards-registered educational group, provides an online Certified Financial Planner program, with the goal of preparing students for the CFP certification exam, through university partnerships. Composed of seven courses, the program provides students with a strong foundation in financial planning principles. The partnered universities include:

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.

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.

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:

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: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Financial Planner Associations

Like many professions, financial planners have the option of joining professional organizations, which can help boost their professional network and business through offering useful connections, resources, and recognizable trustworthiness.

The National Associations of Personal Financial Advisors
Membership with NAPFA comes with the benefits of a strong professional network with community engagement, career-search resources, and professional conferences. In addition, membership with NAPFA acts as an attractive stamp of approval to potential clients, signifying quality and trustworthiness. Clients may easily find local financial planners through the NAPFA member search engine. For members 33 years of age or younger, NAPFA offers the Genesis program, with peer-to-peer networking designed to aid individuals new to the profession in getting their careers off the ground.
Financial Planning Association
Membership with the FPA offers access to unique professional development and networking resources. Through local chapters, national conferences, international connections, and newsletters and member benefits, FPA members receive exposure to a variety of tools and venues to build their businesses and careers. Moreover, FPA membership provides a stamp of approval for potential clients, who may utilize the member search engine to find financial advisors local to their area.

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