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What is the CLU® Designation?

A Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) is a financial professional with extensive knowledge of the life insurance industry and the underwriting process. In most states, a CLU® designation exempts you from pre-licensing education and underwriting certification requirements. This means a CLU® has obtained a level of life insurance expertise that exceeds general insurance and basic life insurance underwriting requirements.

A CLU® certification gives advisors:

  • In-depth knowledge of the life insurance industry underwriting process and life insurance law within the guidelines of overall risk assessment
  • The necessary knowledge to help clients and investors address their estate planning needs
  • An understanding of personal finance solutions addressing the life insurance underwriting needs of business owners and professionals

The College is re-imagining your CLU® experience. View the Program Delivery section for more details.

Want more information on the program changes? View the FAQs.


Why You Should Consider the CLU®

For nearly 100 years, the CLU® designation has been the top choice for insurance and financial professionals seeking knowledge on how to become an insurance underwriter and succeed in life insurance certification.

Through the five-course CLU® program, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the practical, legal, and ethical aspects of life insurance underwriting process and learn how to provide the best solutions to a modern and diverse clientele facing a range of risks and financial situations beyond general insurance, including roles like a mortgage underwriter and concerns relating to public offering, personal finance, loan application, premiums, and more. The CLU® designation will not only expand the quality and breadth of the advice you’re able to give but will elevate your professional credentials as a certified underwriter and help advance your career in the insurance industry.

Life insurance, including commercial property and casualty insurance, is a vital part of holistic financial planning for both individuals and small businesses and can't easily be automated. It’s also a lucrative field, where just one sale can pay for the entire CLU® designation. Whether you’re just launching your life insurance underwriting career or an established professional trying to learn how to become an insurance underwriter and offer more to your clients, earning the CLU® certification is an excellent choice.


Who Should Consider the CLU®

  • Professionals with a bachelor's degree seeking to launch their careers by learning how to provide expert personal finance advice to individuals and small businesses with a life insurance certification.
  • Financial professionals who hold the ChFC® and/or CFP® certification and want to enhance their careers by completing just three courses to earn the CLU® designation.
  • Professionals in legal, banking, accounting, risk assessment, credit history, wealth management, estate planning, mortgage underwriting, and other fields that deal with investors and aspects of life insurance underwriting like casualty and commercial property.

What You’ll Learn

Centered on the complexities of life insurance underwriting for both individuals and small businesses, the CLU® certification provides expert-level education you can immediately apply. Courses cover everything from the fundamentals of life insurance certification to highly specialized knowledge, preparing you to offer the advice today’s clients need.

When you earn the CLU® designation, you’ll gain expertise in:

  • Providing guidance on types and amounts of life insurance
  • Advising on annuities
  • Helping clients handle issues of risk management, including risks associated with human capital, liabilities, property, and financial wealth in life insurance underwriting
  • Accounting for the legal aspects of life insurance underwriting, including issues pertaining to the basic principles of contract law, ownership rights, creditor rights, beneficiary designations, disposition of proceeds, casualty insurance, and more
  • Guiding clients through decisions on estate planning, including advising on wills and trust arrangements
  • Advising small businesses on a range of issues including tax and legal aspects of organizing a business, succession planning, transferring a family business, lifetime disposition of a business interest, and more
  • Providing guidance in specialized areas of your choice in life insurance underwriting, with options including financial planning, income taxation, planning for retirement needs, investments, and working with people with disabilities and/or families caring for loved ones with special needs

Program Delivery

Designed for the working professional.

The five-course CLU® certification program gives you the power to study at your own pace and tailor your education to your professional and lifestyle needs. Depending on where you are in the program, you’ll have access to a unique experience and improved course delivery as The College transitions to a re-imagined learning model.

Select CLU® courses are offered through the new Personal Pathway® learning model, which combines best-in-practice concepts, rich multimedia, and state-of-the-art technology in a flexible, yet structured learning path with the tools you need to succeed, including:

  • Digital textbooks equipped with online note-taking and flashcard creation
  • Rich interactive lesson reviews and weekly live or on-demand webinars
  • Social engagement through discussion forums and news feeds
  • Expanded instructor support and office hours

All other courses follow our traditional self-study model with robust course materials and interactive elements, including:

  • Printed textbooks
  • Downloadable e-books for your iPad®, iPhone®, or Android devices.
  • Online discussions with your professor
  • Audio and visual reviews
  • Supplemental readings
  • Streaming video lectures
  • Recorded webinars for required CLU® courses HS 323, HS 324, and HS 331

Personal Pathway® courses open the first Thursday of every month. Enroll now for instant access to your digital textbook, syllabus and other learning resources.

View the course list below to see a complete list of Personal Pathway® and traditional course offerings.

Read more about Personal Pathway® and our Frequently Asked Questions​

Participation in the annual Professional Recertification Program (PRP) is required to maintain the designation.  For more information and our guidelines, see our Continuing Education (CE) FAQ and PRP pages.

Tuition & Fees

CLU® courses offered through Personal Pathway® combine engaging live and self-study learning options for one flat tuition rate. Whether you prefer self-paced or structured, your tuition is the same.

Tuition covers all CLU® course fees following the traditional self-study model are all-inclusive, covering all required study materials, access to online learning tools, your examination, and shipping fees. Pre-recorded webinars for required CLU® courses HS 323, HS 324, and HS 331 are included at no additional fee.


Single Course

3-Course Package

4-Course Package

5-Course Package







Annual participation in the Professional Recertification Program (PRP).


* Indicates courses available under the Personal Pathway® learning model 

Required CLU® certification courses:

  • HS 323 The Tools and Techniques of Life Insurance Planning*
  • HS 324 Legal Aspects of Life Insurance*
  • HS 330 Fundamentals of Estate Planning*
  • HS 331 Planning for Business Owners and Professionals*

Elective courses (must choose one):

  • HS 300 Financial Planning: Process and Environment*
  • HS 311 Fundamentals of Insurance Planning*
  • HS 321 Income Taxation*
  • HS 326 Planning for Retirement Needs*
  • HS 328 Investments*

Required courses:

HS 323 The Tools and Techniques of Life Insurance Planning:
Focuses on life insurance policies and annuities available for the personal needs of individuals and their use in financial planning. Covers individual insurance products, insurance reserves regulation, and the organization, operations, and investments of insurance companies.

HS 324 Legal Aspects of Life Insurance:
Examines legal rights and obligations of the policy owner and the insurance company, the way disputes between the insured and insurers are resolved and general principles of the judicial process. Covers legal aspects of life insurance, including basic principles of contract law; policy provisions and the incontestable clause; assignments, ownership rights and creditor rights; beneficiary designations and disposition of proceeds; the law of agency; and advertising and privacy issues.

HS 330 Fundamentals of Estate Planning:
This course provides a basic understanding of the estate and gift tax system, including strategies of estate planning. Covers various aspects of estate and gift tax planning, including:

  • Nature, valuation transfer, administration, and taxation of property
  • Gratuitous transfers of property outright or with trusts, wills and powers of appointment
  • Use of the marital deduction
  • Valuation of assets
  • Buy-sell agreements
  • Client interview/fact finding
  • Ethical standards
  • Development of personal estate plans

HS 331 Planning for Business Owners and Professionals:
Focuses on tax and legal aspects of organizing a business; compensation planning for the business owner; business succession planning; buy-sell agreements; estate planning and estate freezing techniques; methods for transferring a family business; lifetime disposition of a business interest.

Elective courses (choose one)
HS 300 Financial Planning: Process and Environment:
This course provides an overview of the financial planning process, including the role and responsibilities of a financial planner along with analytical tools to aid in financial decision-making. Topics include:

  • Communication techniques
  • Ethics
  • Education planning and funding
  • Time-value-of-money concepts
  • Financial planning applications
  • Regulatory issues
  • Legal and economic environment for financial planning

HS 311 Fundamentals of Insurance Planning:
This course focuses on the role of planning for risk management needs. The topics covered include:

  • Fundamental principles of risk management
  • Principles of insurance
  • Human capital risk
  • Liability risk
  • Property risk
  • Financial wealth risk

HS 321 Income Taxation:
The course examines the federal income tax system with particular reference to the taxation of individuals.
Concepts covered include:

  • Gross income, exclusions from gross income
  • Deductions
  • Tax credits
  • Capital gains and losses
  • Taxation of life insurance
  • Taxation of annuities
  • Entity taxation of partnerships, LLCs, corporations, and proprietorships

HS 326 Planning for Retirement Needs:
This course focuses on selecting the right retirement plan for the business and on individual retirement planning. Covers:

  • Qualified plans, SEPs, SIMPLEs and 403(b) plans
  • Nonqualified deferred compensation plans
  • Practical knowledge needed for choosing the best retirement plan, especially for the small business, and designing a plan that will meet a client’s needs
  • Individual retirement planning including IRAs and Roth IRAs, Social Security benefits, saving for retirement and planning for retirement plan distributions

HS 328 Investments:
This course covers various aspects of the principles of investments and their application to financial planning. Topics include:

  • Risk analysis, risk and return computations
  • Risk reduction through diversification
  • Expected returns of various investments
  • Nature of securities markets and investment companies
  • Tax issues in investing
  • Issues in the practice of portfolio management
  • Examples of ethical and practical investment considerations

There are no prerequisite courses required to begin the CLU® Program, and no admissions requirements other than a high school diploma or the equivalent. Three years of experience in financial planning or a related profession are required to use the designation.

To receive the CLU® designation, you must:

  1. Successfully complete the five required courses
  2. Agree to comply with The American College Code of Ethics and Procedures
  3. Participation in the annual Professional Recertification Program (PRP) is required to maintain the designation.

See the Student Resources and Policies page for comprehensive details on refund policies, learning policies, recertification information, and more.

Because the CLU® certification shares common courses with the ChFC® and CFP® designations, you have the option to work towards multiple designations at once. View this chart to see how these courses overlap — and how you can earn multiple designations faster.

Program Faculty

David Pierce, Adjunct Professor
David F. Pierce

Assistant Professor of Insurance

CLU® Program Director

O. Alfred Granum Chair in Practice Management

Professor Sophia Duffy, Associate Dean
Sophia Duffy

Associate Vice President of Curriculum Quality

Associate Professor of Business Planning


James Karthaus headshot
James Karthaus

Assistant Professor of Financial Planning

CFP® Certification Education and ChFC® Programs

Professor Kevin Lynch
Kevin M. Lynch

Assistant Professor, CFP® and ChFC®

Clark/Bardes Endowed Chair in Retirement Planning and Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation

Mark McLennon, Adjunct Professor of Business Planning
Mark McLennon

Adjunct Professor of Business Planning

Adjunct Professor Steve Parrish
Steve Parrish

Adjunct Professor of Advanced Planning

Co-Director of the American College Center for Retirement Income

Paul Wetmore headshot
Paul Wetmore

Adjunct Professor of Insurance


What is the reimagined CLU®?

In today’s competitive financial planning landscape, we look to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate our value to current and potential clients. The Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) has been the industry gold standard for almost 100 years. It has stood the test of time and will continue to do so by remaining dynamic and relevant to the financial challenges of today.

The reimagined CLU® has been updated and enhanced in two ways.

  1. Program requirements – As of 4/4/2022, the CLU® will move from an 8-course program to a more streamlined 5-course program. This provides students with a renewed focus on the topics and concepts needed to effectively navigate today’s insurance landscape
  2. Personal Pathway® curriculum revisions – Since we introduced the Personal Pathway® delivery model in June of 2020, students have been requesting that the core CLU® courses be redesigned as well. We are happy to announce that, beginning in July of 2022, students will be able to enroll in newly redesigned Personal Pathway® versions of the core CLU courses!


Why are you making this change to the CLU® Program?

The revised and updated curriculum blends very well with our other dedicated credentials in retirement, wealth management, special needs, philanthropy, and financial planning.  In addition, CLU® Alumni research confirms the quality of the CLU® Program and credential have been favorably enhanced with a renewed focus on the relevance of life insurance.

CLU® students will receive timely information, taught by top industry thought leaders that will be readily applicable to their clients. The reimagined CLU® focuses on the strategic application of life insurance and other tools, as a unique risk management device, at every phase of financial planning.  From income protection to tax favored wealth accumulation to estate conservation, and other complex planning concepts in trust, the CLU® curriculum is robust, thorough, and will prepare advisors for any challenge they meet in the field.


When will the new program requirements become effective?

CLU® Program requirements will change from 8 courses to 5 courses on April 4, 2022. The change is retroactive and all active CLU®s will be automatically placed in the five-course program.


When will the revised Personal Pathway® courses be available?

Enrollments for the revised Personal Pathway® HS 323 and HS 324 will begin in July and the courses will open on 8/4/2022 (the first Thursday of the month.)

Enrollments for the revised Personal Pathway® HS 331 will begin in August and the course will open on on 9/1/2022 (the first Thursday of the month.)

The current self-study versions of the courses will be available for enrollment until the revised courses are open.


What are the new program requirements?

The reimagined CLU® Program consists of five courses: 4 core courses and 1 elective.

The 4 required core courses are:

  • HS 323 The Tools and Techniques of Life Insurance Planning
  • HS 324 Legal Aspects of Life Insurance
  • HS 330 Fundamentals of Estate Planning
  • HS 331 Planning for Business Owners and Professionals

The fifth course is an elective, which allows CLU® students to choose from the following Huebner School course offerings:

  • HS 300 Financial Planning: Process and Environment
  • HS 311 Fundamentals of Insurance Planning
  • HS 321 Fundamentals of Income Taxation
  • HS 326 Planning for Retirement Needs
  • HS 328 Investments

As an alternative, students who have completed one of the following designations can apply the designation toward the elective.

  • Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®)
  • Wealth Management Certified Professional® (WMCP®)
  • Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®)

For example, if you already earned your RICP®, you only need to complete the 4 core courses!


What is the recommended/required course sequence?

We recommend students complete the CLU® curriculum in the following sequence. However, you can complete the courses in the order of your preference.

The four core courses required are:

  • HS 323 The Tools and Techniques of Life Insurance Planning
  • HS 324 Legal Aspects of Life insurance
  • HS 330 Fundamentals of Estate Planning
  • HS 331 Planning for Business Owners and Professionals
  • The elective of your choice


What are the benefits of the Personal Pathway® curriculum revisions?

Our team of faculty thought leaders focused on making the CLU® Program more relevant and focused on helping our students become better practitioners. The new curriculum allows a student to take what they learn and apply it to their business daily.

As of July 2022, we will begin enrolling students into the revised Personal Pathway® CLU® curriculum with courses beginning in August. The curriculum is based on professionalism, education, and training to apply the concepts of advanced planning to financial, estate, and business planning. There are many enhancements to the new program, including:  

  • New educational elements like our interactive lesson reviews, discussion forums, practice exams, and structured weekly meetings with our instructors
  • Practice specific questions from Gary H. Schwartz’s “Practice on Purpose” in each of the lessons of the CLU® to assist the advisor in applying what they learn to their practice
  • Electives in the CLU® count toward the Charter Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation and the CFP® Certification Education Program.
  • Flexible yet structured learning experience through all-online Personal Pathway® program
  • The latest in thought leadership from the industry, and more!


What is Personal Pathway®?

Personal Pathway® is a course delivery model that features interactive learning activities and structured lessons while allowing students to go at their own pace. Personal Pathway® courses are 10 weeks of structured lessons and course requirements that count toward your final grade followed by an additional four weeks to take your exam. Click here to learn more about the Personal Pathway™ model.


Can I opt out of the new structure (Personal Pathway®?)

There is no opt out available. Once Personal Pathway® versions of the courses have launched, they will be the only versions available to students who are enrolling. Personal Pathway® has proven to be highly effective, and with the 2021 improvements allowing students to complete courses at their own pace, it has become even more popular.


Will other designations provide credit toward the new CLU®?

Yes! If you have already earned the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®), Wealth Management Certified Professional® (WMCP®), or Chartered Special Needs Consultant® (ChSNC®) designations, you will receive credit for the elective in the reimagined CLU®. Conversely, once you have earned your CLU®, you will have two courses that can be applied to your ChFC® or CFP® Certification Education Program studies!

Will I still receive credit for the courses I have completed towards other designations? Example, can I take electives for the CLU® and apply them to the CFP® Certification Education/ChFC® Program?

Yes! Your learning journey does not end with earning your CLU®. The new five-course CLU® can fit into any life-long learning journey with The American College of Financial Services.

HS 300, HS 311, HS 321, HS 326, and HS 328 are not only elective course options for a CLU® designation, they are required courses for ChFC® and The College’s CFP® Certification Education Program curriculum. In addition, HS 375 and HS 376 are part of the ChSNC® curriculum. Many students will want to consider using their completed courses to earn an additional designation.


I am already midway through one of the courses that I no longer need, what do I do?

We recommend that you finish the course. The knowledge you gain in the course will still be helpful to you as you work with clients. Plus, most of our CLU® designees go on to earn their CFP® certification, ChFC®, or ChSNC® and any additional courses that you have completed will count toward one of those designations.

However, if you are in an active exam window and you are sure that you would like to switch to a course that counts toward the new CLU® requirements, please contact an academic advisor at or at 888-263-7265 option 2, option 1 and we will be happy to switch you into a different course at no additional charge.


I already finished the ChSNC® classes, will they count toward my elective?

Yes, if you have completed HS 375 or HS 376 by April 25th, your credits will be counted toward the completion of the new CLU® requirements.

Additionally, if you enrolled into HS 375 or HS 376 prior to April 25th but have not yet completed the course, you can complete it for credit toward the new CLU® requirements OR you can contact an Academic Advisor and we will be happy to switch you into a different course that is part of the new CLU® requirements at no additional charge.

If you have already earned the ChSNC®, the designation will count as your elective and your path to a CLU® is to complete the four required courses.

I bought an 8-course package. Can I request a refund for the courses I no longer need?

Most of our CLU® designees go on to pursue other designations and we encourage you to use the remaining courses in your package toward courses in a new designation. Courses bought in a package are steeply discounted and this ensures that you retain or enhance that value. Although most students finish the CLU® and move on to the ChFC® or CFP® Certification Education Program, you can use the remaining courses toward any Huebner School course even if those courses are at a higher price point.

If you are not planning to pursue another designation, we will be happy to provide a refund to students who purchased packages on 01/01/2019 or later. Because 5 of the courses in your package are still required to complete the CLU®, refunds may be provided for up to 3 courses in which you have not yet enrolled. Refunds must be requested by December 31, 2022. Refunds cannot be provided for courses that have already been taken regardless of whether they were passed, failed, or allowed to expire. As your life-long learning partner, we know the knowledge that you have gained in those additional courses will continue to serve you and your clients well and we encourage you to pursue other designations to expand your knowledge.


I just purchased a package. Why wasn’t I informed of these changes sooner?

The College made every effort to announce these changes as soon as possible. The details of the revised CLU® Program were recently finalized and approved by The College’s Curriculum Committee and Provost Council. The effective date of the CLU® course requirement change is April 4, 2022, and the revised curriculum is slated for enrollments in July. We will be happy to work with you on how to apply for the additional courses toward other programs or to provide a refund for the courses that are not required.


I purchased and completed courses that no longer count toward the CLU®. Can I receive a refund?

Refunds cannot be provided for courses that you took that no longer part of the new CLU® requirements. That includes courses that were failed or that expired. The knowledge that you’ve gained from those courses will make you a better practitioner and enable you to address the needs of your clients. As your life-long learning partner, we encourage you to continue with designations that include those courses like the ChFC®, CFP® Certification Education Program, and the ChSNC®.


Who can I contact if I have a specific question or scenario that is not answered here?

If you have any additional questions after reading these Frequently Asked Questions, email and we will make sure that your questions are answered within two business days. Our advising team is here to help you navigate this change and to help you move forward with your studies. We appreciate your patience.

Because the CLU® Program is changing from an 8-course to a 5-course program, some in-progress students will have already completed the new course requirements when they are updated on April 4, 2022.  If you fall into this category, we will be sending you an email before the end of April to let you know!  Below are some questions to help you navigate this and other scenarios.

I have already completed all the necessary course requirements of the new CLU®. What’s next?

If you completed the revised CLU® Program requirements and the last course you completed was in 2014 or later, you are eligible to apply for the CLU® designation!

If you completed the revised CLU® Program requirements before 2014 and have completed another course at The College since 2014, the CLU® Program Director will need to review your additional coursework and its credit worthiness toward the CLU® designation. Please email and they will send a transcript review to the CLU® Program Director to determine if you are eligible to apply for the CLU® designation.

If you completed the revised CLU® Program requirements before 2014 and have not completed any other course at The College in 2014 or later, you must pay the tuition for the newly updated and revised HS 323 course and pass the course before you can apply for the CLU® designation.


I finished the CLU® and want to earn my ChFC®, but I cannot get the rest of courses in a package because there are no six or seven course packages.

The College offers three course packages that will help you take advantage of course discounts in your new program.


How do I apply for my designation?

The College will confer CLU® designations on those individuals who have completed the revised four core courses and one elective (or four core courses and already hold the RICP®, WMCP®, and/or ChSNC® designation) once the revised CLU® Program is effective in April 2022.

Students will need to complete the designation application to be awarded the CLU® and you will receive an email once your designation application is available to you. The designation application will provide the Office of the Registrar with your diploma name, desired address, and additional information to verify and ensure your compliance with our Code of Ethics. The designation application is available once you enroll in your final course for a designation. The application will be found in “Self Services” on the Student Portal once it is available. Please allow our registrar staff 1 month to process your application as we are expecting high volumes of designations to process. For inquiries, please email