Financial Education for Securities, Banking, & Insurance Professionals.

MSFS Master of Science in Financial Services
12 Courses: 10 Required / 2 Elective

The current MSFS program is structured as follows:

  • The program requires two residencies – one residency at the beginning of the program and a second residency at the end. There will be two courses taught in each of the week-long residencies.
    • Residency I courses:
    • GS 803 – Financial Statements and Business Valuation
    • GS 831 – Ethics and Human Values
      Residency II courses:
    • GS 807 – MSFS Case Study
    • GS 808 – Issues in Advanced Retirement Planning
  • GS 803 – Financial Statements and Business Valuation – must be completed before a student can enroll in GS 811 – Security Analysis and Portfolio Management; and GS 811 must be completed before GS 819 – Mutual Funds.

Advanced Financial Planning

Skills and Confidence to Implement Complex Financial Strategies
Today's wealthy clients are seeking increasingly complex solutions to meet their financial needs. The Master of Science in Financial Services (MSFS) provides you with the tools you need to analyze, plan and implement integrated financial and life strategies, helping you grow your business in affluent markets.

Program Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this program, the student should be able to:

  1. Work effectively with high-net-worth clients
  2. Better integrate ethical considerations into the financial planning process
  3. Demonstrate mastery of knowledge in the wealth accumulation process
  4. Work with business owners to develop compensation, succession planning and retirement strategies
  5. Guide individuals in the areas of tax minimization, retirement planning, and estate planning

Is the MSFS Program Right for You?

Practical Education for Advanced Markets

The MSFS program includes practical case studies and client/practitioner scenarios so you can immediately address your clients' needs with expertise and confidence. With the convenience of distance learning, combined with indispensable faculty and peer interaction, the MSFS program also helps you gain entry to advanced markets, corporate clients and larger cases.

Who Should Apply?

The MSFS is designed to advance the careers of a wide range of planning professionals including:

  • Financial planners
  • Life insurance specialists
  • Trust officers
  • CPAs
  • Attorneys
  • Investment consultants
Getting Started

To begin your MSFS studies, you first must be formally admitted to the program. Applicants are selected on the basis of academic and professional criteria. To be admitted into the program, you must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, pay the required application fee, and submit official transcripts from each college or university attended.

No Application Option: You can take up to three MSFS courses without submitting a transcript or completing the Graduate Application form. Courses passed will count towards your MSFS degree. After the third course, you must apply to the program if you wish to continue.

Student Policy Guidelines

Learning Options
Class Schedule
  • Each professional learns differently. Some like the discipline and schedule live online classes, and others prefer self-paced study with strong support tools. However you want to learn, the MSFS program at The American College has a proven educational option for you.

    We have two main categories of learning which are available in various combinations for our degree programs. Click on any of these to learn more, or contact Bonnie McCormick at 610-526-1385 to decide which choice is right for you:

    Live Online Classes (Webinars):

    Attend live, instructor-led classes from your home or office PC. These interactive classes offer a convenient, time-saving way to participate in classes without needing to travel. In most cases, you will be taught by the same faculty member who wrote your course. The final exam is taken online through the College’s Blackboard website or at our EOD centers.

    Download Full Schedule

    Self Study:

    The American College's self-study option, known throughout the financial services industry for flexibility, the best textbooks, and strong results, is available for all of courses in the MSFS curriculum. Self Study allows you the flexibility of self-paced study and the ability to choose your own testing quarter.

    You can study at your own pace, wherever and whenever it is most convenient for you. Complete your program as fast as you like; the self-paced program gives you the opportunity to truly tailor your education to your lifestyle. Our online study aids provide you with the guidance and practice you need to feel confident on the test day.

  • Live Online Courses

    GS 814 - September 14–November 16
    GS 814 - Qualified Retirement Plans
    Date: 09/14/16–11/16/16

    This class meets every Wednesday from 7:00pm to 9:00pm ET

    GS 815 - September 26–November 28
    GS 815 - Advanced Estate Planning
    Date: 09/26/16–11/28/16

    This class meets every Monday from 3:30pm to 5:30pm ET

    GS 842 - October 6–December 8
    GS 842 - Executive Compensation
    Date: 10/06/16–12/08/16

    This class meets every Thursday from 7:00pm to 9:00pm ET

    GS 842 - October 6–December 8
    GS 842 - Executive Compensation
    Date: 10/06/16–12/08/16

    This class meets every Thursday from 7:00pm to 9:00pm ET

    MSFS Residencies


    Residency - Old Program Structure

    GS 808 & GS 831 held at The American College – 11/14/16 to 11/17/16

    Residency I - New Program Structure

    GS 803 & GS 831 held at The American College – 10/24/16 to 10/28/16

    Learn More

    A unique feature of The College's MSFS program is its residency component. The Residency(s) takes place on The College's campus in Bryn Mawr, PA and provides traditional classroom instruction and the benefit of interaction with faculty and other financial services professionals.

    If you were admitted to the Graduate School before 2/1/2015, you will have 1 4-day residency at the beginning of your studies where you will complete GS 808 and GS 831. We recommend you attend the Residency after you have completed two or three self-study courses.

    If you were admitted after 2/1/2015, you will have 2 5-day residency sessions on campus – one at the start of the program and one at the end. Exact dates for the Residency are announced 6 months in advance, and registration materials are sent to all students who are formally admitted to the MSFS program and who are eligible to attend. For more specific information on the residencies, please contact the MSFS Graduate Administration, 610-526-1385 or

    The residency courses conclude with either a paper-and-pencil exam (multiple-choice /short essay) or an assignment or project. Your advance reading materials will describe the format of the exam or final assignment. Residency tuition covers cost of all study materials and instruction during the week. A commuter fee, covering catered breakfasts and lunches at the college, will be charged as well. For the Residency, participants will need to make hotel reservations directly with the hotel. The College will arrange a group rate for participants and provide hotel contact information.

    View Full Schedule
  • *Beginning 7/1/2016, HS 383 - Interpersonal Relationships in the Workplace will no longer be an elective in the MSFS program.

    MSFS Curriculum

    Course Name
    Course #
    Financial Statements and Business Valuation Analysis
    GS 803

    The first part of this course teaches students the "language of business" - accounting. It deals with understanding and analyzing financial statements to evaluate the financial stability and performance of a company. The second part of this course provides students with the knowledge of the fundamentals of equity valuation.

    MSFS Case Study Project
    GS 807

    This course requires the student to develop a comprehensive solution to a financial planning case. The case materials are introduced online. Students are expected to complete both a comprehensive financial plan and an executive summary.

    Issues in Advanced Retirement Planning (Res.)
    GS 808

    This course addresses current issues relevant to helping clients save for retirement and ensure that adequate retirement income lasts a lifetime. The first day focuses on the retirement savings issues including the retirement savings crisis, determining retirement needs, motivating clients to save, and maximizing savings through tax strategies. Day two primarily addresses the issue of choosing an appropriate retirement income strategy but also addresses a very practical issue, when to claim Social Security benefits.

    Security Analysis and Portfolio Management
    GS 811

    Studies two decision processes: setting the optimal asset-allocation mix (using modern portfolio theory) and analyzing and selecting securities within the asset class. While focusing primarily on the first, briefly reviews security analysis models, capital markets and historic risk/return aspects. Presents theory/practice of identifying optimal allocation of wealth among various asset classes. Presents techniques for quantifying expected risk and return for individual asset classes and portfolios; evaluating portfolio performance; portfolio distribution; applying the dividend discount model; and using options, futures and other investments.

    Qualified Retirement Plans
    GS 814

    Course covers qualified defined-contribution and defined-benefits plans, as well as similar arrangements, such as SEPs, SIMPLEs, 457 plans and 403(b) plans. Planning issues are emphasized, with a particular focus on the use of plans in small, closely held businesses. The course includes discussion of the more sophisticated strategies for the small business including ESOPs, 401(k) plans, age-weighted and cross-tested plans and fully insured 412(i) plans, as well as a detailed discussion of life insurance as a qualified plan investment and the tax treatment of retirement plan distributions. The course culminates with the analysis of a comprehensive case study.

    Advanced Estate Planning
    GS 815

    GS 815 is an advanced gift and estate planning course which presents an overview of basic gift, estate and generation-skipping transfer tax law and tax computation processes. GS 815 also discusses the ownership and taxation of transfers of property during lifetime and at death in addition to marital, charitable giving, and life insurance planning. Family business entity planning and buy-sell agreements are also addressed in the course.

    Personal Tax Planning
    GS 817

    Introduces current tax laws, new cases, revenue rulings and regulations for income tax planning. Presents strategies and techniques for tax reductions, including the laws governing income allocation, tax shelters, income shifting and deduction recognition and timing.

    Mutual Funds: Analysis, Allocation, & Performance
    GS 819

    Provides a basic understanding of the concepts, sources of information and fee structure of mutual fund investing. Presents modern portfolio theory, which utilizes mutual funds as asset classes, and explains how computer-based decision tools support the allocation decision across a pre-qualified set of mutual funds. Focuses on recent empirical evidence regarding performance evaluation and risk characteristics used in pre-qualifying mutual funds for investment.

    Ethics and Human Values (Res.)
    GS 831

    Approaches ethics and human values from the particular perspective of the ethical responsibilities assumed by the financial services professional. This course focuses on the specific ethical situations encountered by financial services practitioners. Discusses and evaluates these decisions in terms of their adherence to ethical principles, such as integrity, justice and fairness and responsibility. Focuses on behavior and the implementation of core values through case studies an analysis of ethical dilemmas.

    Business Succession Planning
    GS 838

    Covers advanced topics in business succession planning. Provides an overview of gift and trust taxation to illustrate how charitable transfers facilitate business succession planning objectives. Presents detailed coverage of family limited partnerships and limited-liability companies. Covers sales and gifts of business interests using discounting techniques. The course discusses the use of benefit and retirement plan strategies to facilitate succession planning. The course includes a comprehensive case study. This course is also available as self-study.

    Planning for Impact in Context of Family Wealth
    GS 839

    Focuses on how clients and donors can use financial planning, estate planning, and gift planning to advance their personal financial goals while also having a positive impact on their heirs and on their community.

    Building & Managing Financial Advisory Practice
    GS 840

    This course encompasses the concepts of improving the operational efficiency and profitability of a financial advisory practice. The approach used in this course focuses on two major areas: how to increase recurring revenue, profit, and repeatable processes; and how to structure the practice in such a way that it can be sold for maximum profit, if applicable. The course concentrates on the eight essential business and operational disciplines: client acquisition, client management, the consultative sales/planning process, case development, time management, communication, education, and financial management. The final project for this course is a comprehensive business plan containing each of the disciplines, with a focus on increasing the value of the practice.

    Executive Compensation
    GS 842

    Covers executive compensation plans, emphasizing owner-employees of closely held businesses. Focuses on design of cash and bonus compensation, stock options and other forms of compensation with restricted property; life insurance, including split-dollar plans and other death benefits; nonqualified deferred compensation; health and disability plans; and various fringe benefits. Covers plan installation, financing and administration, as well as ERISA, tax, including sections 280G and 409A and other legal and accounting compliance issues. The course culminates with the analysis of a comprehensive case study.

    Charitable Giving Strategies
    GS 849

    Focuses on the tools and techniques of charitable planning in a financial, tax, and legal context.

    Gift Planning in a Nonprofit Context
    GS 859

    Focuses on what nonprofits call “planned giving.” The course is designed to help board leaders, advisors and nonprofits collaborate to create, count, and steward significant gifts.

  • Study Program Guidelines

    Download Study Program Guide

  • Program Completion Requirements

    Students admitted to the graduate program have 7 years from the date of admission to complete degree requirements. Acceptance of courses completed prior to admission will be determined by the Graduate School Dean. Upon completion of degree requirements, you are eligible to participate in our biennial commencement exercises.

    The Office of the Registrar determines and certifies that you have completed all degree requirements. Once certified, you are considered to have graduated with all the rights, privileges, and obligations pertaining thereto.

    Degrees are awarded on the first day of the second month following the date the last examination is passed. For example, if a student completed the final course in April, they could commence using the degree June 1.

    Students who have completed academic requirements by August 31, and are subsequently certified by the Registrar, are invited to participate in commencement. Diplomas are ordered in June and December and take 6–8 weeks to ship.

    Statement of Academic Integrity

    Academic integrity is essential to any educational institution because the main purpose of such institutions is the discovery and transmission of knowledge and the pursuit of truth. Integrity requires that individuals represent themselves as they are, without pretense or exaggeration. In the case of presenting one's work to be evaluated, it is important that the work of others not be presented as one's own.

    In academic exercises, as in business enterprises, honesty and straightforwardness are essential. To co-opt the work of another and represent it as one's own is plagiarism. Plagiarism is a violation of the academic integrity policy of this institution and a contravention of professional and personal ethics. For those in the business of evaluating the worth of someone's academic work, plagiarism deliberately creates a misrepresentation of the nature and quality of a student's work.

    Just as a true professional must at times put aside personal gain for the sake of doing what is right, a student must reject acting dishonestly or without integrity, and present only that work as his or her own which indeed is his or her work. Anything less is a form of cheating and misrepresentation and is intolerable in an academic community. Acts of cheating or misrepresentation constitute serious violations of academic ethics and can result in the student's failing a course and/or possible dismissal from the program. If a student needs clarification regarding this policy, he or she should seek counsel from his or her course professor or the Academic Dean

    Code of Ethics

    To underscore the importance of ethics standards for Huebner School designations, the Board of Trustees adopted a Code of Ethics in 1984. Embodied in the Code are the Professional Pledge and eight Canons.

    Learn more »

    The 7-Year Rule

    Students admitted to the graduate program have 7 years from the date of admission to complete degree requirements. Acceptance of courses completed prior to admission will be determined by the Graduate School Dean. Upon completion of degree requirements, you are eligible to participate in our biennial commencement exercises.

    Learn more »

  • Refund Requests

    All requests for refunds must be made in writing to the Office of Professional Education, The American College, 270 S. Bryn Mawr Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. We will refund your course tuition less a $125 cancellation fee for 30 days into the quarter for which you are registered. Textbooks do not need to be returned and no refund will be given for these textbooks.

Curriculum and Testing Updates

Register Today

PDF: Mail or Fax a PDF Application

Phone: 610-526-1385

Email: Send Us an Email

Hours: M–F 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET

Tuition & Fees

Tuition: $1,600 (per course)

Residency Tuition: $2950

Admission Fee: $375*

Your tuition includes all required study materials, access to convenient online learning tools, your examination, and shipping.

*Refundable if admission to the MSFS program is denied.

For self-study graduate courses, we will refund your course tuition less a $125 cancellation fee if less than 30 days into the quarter for which you are registered.

MSFS Webcast June 16 1PM EST, Register Now  
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