Phoenix Online Financial Planning Graduate Degrees

Online Financial Planning Graduate Programs frequently aim to help students understand the technical, strategic and ethical sides to money management. Financial planning is a process rather than a product. It factors in client-financial planner relations, client’s personal financial goals, and the tools of analysis used to implement advice about retirement, estates, risk and beyond.

Online Financial Planning Graduate Programs: Basics

Offered at the masters, Phd and certificate levels, online financial planning graduate programs provide convenient learning alternatives to at-work, busy students. A graduate degree in financial planning and certification is seen, in today’s market, as an asset when it comes to advancement in this niche area of finance.i

Holistic curricula are often both practical and theoretical. Functional courses might include classes in taxation, insurance, pension plans and investment strategies that encourage participants to problem solve.

Students might also become familiar with various brokerage, investment advisory and insurance products or services. Other courses might speak to when and how to ethically use various tactics and methods with individual clients in order to help them meet their financial objectives.

Directed study in the form of case studies, research, internships or practicums is often stacked on top of specific financial planner education. Masters level online financial planner

projects sometimes have students create financial plans for hypothetical clients. At the doctoral level, though, candidates might have to contribute new knowledge through their research dissertation.

When it comes to applying, each university sets its own standards. As a very general rule of thumb, applicants need a bachelors degree to apply to masters programs. Things like letters of recommendation, test scores, resume and a personal essay might also be required in a completed application.

PhD in financial planning online programs may want to see both a bachelors and masters degree transcripts. Plus, candidates may need to line up their research interests with those of faculty members.

DID YOU KNOW?
11% of Certified Financial Planners have a Professional degree, 21% a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate.ii

What does Certified Financial Planner Mean?iii

Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) is a professional title attained by a person who has successfully completed the requirements of the Certified Financial Planner Board. There are three parts to this: (1) education, (2) CFP exam, (3) experience.

Online financial planning graduate programs that are registered with the CFP board may have course lists that include required topics. These usually follow course content guidelines to prepare students to sit for the CFP exam.

Some of the fields that may be covered could include, but are not limited to, the examples below.

  • Financial Statement Preparation and Analysis (E.g. debt management, planning liability, emergency fund reserves)
  • Insurance Planning
  • Risk Management
  • Employee Benefits Planning
  • Investment and Real Estate Panning
  • Income Tax Planning
  • Retirement Planning
  • Estate Planning

The CFP Board also requires certified professionals to complete 30 (approved) credit hours of continuing education every two years.

Online Masters in Financial Planning Programs

Online Masters in Financial Planning programs are often planned-out for busy individuals who want to prepare to sit for the CFP exam. While there is some variance in credits and length, the range is about 30 to 42. Full-time online students might complete their degree in about one to two years.

Measure course lists from several masters degrees in financial planning to discover which one lines up with your own professional goals.

Online Master of Science in Financial Planning

An online Master of Science in Financial Planning (MSFP) degree could meld macro and microeconomics, finance, financial planning ethics, computer applications of financial data and counseling skills.

Online MSFP programs generally aim to enable students to build both depth and breadth of knowledge. Required courses may cover CFP exam topics and material, while electives could help tailor their studies around professional interests.

Core MSFP courses often begin with a foundational class. In it, students may be introduced to the practice of professional financial planning - strategies, research techniques, and methods of analysis. This course might also get into ethics, risk management, quantitative methods, cash-flow analysis, and investment strategies.

While generalized, the five topics below are examples of other possible compulsory courses.

  1. Investments and Capital Accumulation
  2. Benefits, Compensation, Retirement
  3. Trusts, Gifts, Estates
  4. Financial Planning Process
  5. Federal Taxation of Income

When it comes to electives, participants may want more insight into money beliefs and behavioral finance. Or, to specifically understand support obligations and the federal tax aspects of separation and divorce. A university typically provides a list of topics to choose from. Here are a few possibilities from partner school, Bentley University.

  • Investment Vehicles
  • Portfolio Management
  • Wealth Preservation Planning
  • Financial Planning for Non-Traditional Families

Online MBA in Personal Financial Planning

An online MBA is a business degree where students could refine management skills. MBA - CFP programs might provide a fairly structured business core along with required courses in personal financial planning.

Core MBA courses often focus on the functions of management and ways to problem solve some of the challenges faced at operational levels. In addition to ethics and regulatory compliance, students could learn how to make data-driven decisions.

  • Business Statistics - forecasting
  • Business Economics – market conditions
  • Marketing Management – integrated marketing communications
  • Accounting and Finance - evaluate international market prices of stocks and bonds

For the financial planning portion, students may need to take about 8 extra courses. One of these is likely to cover foundational principles. In it, participants could study the CFP Code of Ethics, financial and cash flow statements and financing strategies among other key concepts.

Online Graduate Certificate in Financial Planning

An online Graduate Certificate in Financial Planning could be a great option for at-work professionals who want to boost credentials. Usually focused around a single topic, certificates often entail a few courses and full-time students might work through them in about one year or less.

One example is partner school, Kansas State University’s Personal Financial Planning Graduate Certificate. It is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Board-registered program that might enhance personal financial knowledge in six key areas of financial planning.

  1. Insurance Planning for Families
  2. Investing for Family's Future
  3. Retirement Planning for Families
  4. Estate Planning for Families
  5. Financial Planning Case Studies
  6. Personal Income Taxation

Since all courses are graduate level, students may be able to use their earned credits towards K-State’s MSFP program. Contact the school for more details.

Online PhD in Financial Planning

An online PhD in Financial Planning is a research doctorate. While students might enter masters programs to build key skills and pursue CFP certification, PhD candidates dive into research and analysis. 

In a PhD program in financial planning, candidates typically take statistics and research methods to help them test a hypothesis and report data. Professional courses could explore the theory behind family resource management, financial counseling and planning.

Supportive core and elective courses could include research on financial practices during economic decline, preventative techniques and policies that might affect the financial future of individuals and families. See below for some examples, then refer to course lists from individual schools.

  • Retirement Planning
  • Money and Relationships
  • Estate Planning for Families
  • Insurance Planning for Families
  • Personal Income Taxation
  • Financial Planning Case Studies

Some Financial Planning PhD programs might take full-time students about 3-5 years to complete and culminates in a dissertation. This is a work of ample original research overseen by an advisory committee.

Why Consider an Online Financial Planning Degree?

Bring the classroom to you! Many of today’s online financial planning graduate programs target at-work professionals who want to build a portfolio of skills and credentials but need an accessible format. In some cases, students take all their classes online, while in others there may be a few scheduled residencies.

While schools set up their programs differently, some use video conferencing. This enables distance students to live stream regularly scheduled classes from a remote location. Microphones and other interactive technology often makes it possible for participants to interact with their cohorts and ask questions of the professor.

Course materials, tests and case studies are usually completed through an online course management system. Otherwise support may be provided via email, virtual discussion and phone. Essentially, details are good to nail down in advance, so contact each school to learn more about their layout.

Earn Your Graduate Financial Planning Degree Online

Discover the perfect online personal financial planning degree for you. Filter results by degree level to see what programs partner schools offer. Then click to contact these schools. Don’t delay, the next start date might be right around the corner.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/personal-financial-advisors.htm#tab-4 | [ii] onetonline.org/link/summary/13-2052.00 | [iii] cfp.net/for-cfp-professionals/continuing-education

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