cfp banner

What is the CFP® Certification Education Program?

The CFP® mark is one of the top certificates in financial planning available today, but preparing to earn it takes a broad range of knowledge and a strong educational background. Our program is meant for students and financial professionals interested in this prestigious certification and is best suited for the working advisor balancing many different responsibilities. Through our cutting-edge program and expert faculty instruction, you can set yourself up to pass the CFP® exam while furthering your education and opening new doors for personal and professional growth.


Why Choose Our Program?


Graduates’ exam pass rate consistently 10-14% above national average


Flexible yet structured learning experience through all-online Personal Pathway™ program


Nationally-recognized experts and thought leaders on faculty to further your education


Educational packages and tuition based on your educational needs



*Total price with promo is $4,395.00. Promotion code CFPFALL2021 is only eligible for a 7-course package with Dalton Review. Promotion cannot be combined with any other promotion, company savings, company direct payments, or applied to previous purchases.


Educational Requirements

There are no prerequisite courses required before you can begin this program, but to receive the CFP® mark, you must:

  1. Successfully complete the seven required courses
  2. Receive a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  3. Pass the CFP® exam
  4. Complete either 6,000 hours of professional experience as a financial advisor, OR 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience

Continuing Education (CE) credit is required to maintain the CFP® mark, as well as agreeing to the CFP Board’s ethics pledge. For more information, see the CFP Board’s website.

Tuition & Fees

Our courses combine engaging live and on-demand instruction options — and no webinar fees — for one flat tuition rate. Whether you prefer self-paced or structured learning experience, your tuition is the same.

  • Individual Courses: $810 per course
  • Case-study course (HS 333): $1,010
  • Alternative Path Capstone Program – CFP® Exam with Accelerated Path: $1,010
  • 7-Course Package: $4,450
  • 7-Course Package Plus The Dalton Review®: $5,350
  • 3-Course Package (HS 333 and HS 347 excluded): $2,150
  • CFP® Exam Prep with The Dalton Review®: $1,395
  • Guarantee To Pass Review™: $2,195

Tuition covers all course fees, required study materials, access to convenient online learning tools, your examinations, and other fees. Supplementary study materials and review classes are also available for an additional cost.

Limited-Time Promotion

Students who enroll by 12/17/2021 will save $955 off of our 7-course package with Dalton Review. Total price with promo will be $4,395.00.

To take advantage of this special offer, contact an admissions advisor at 866-432-1178 or enroll online with promo code CFPFALL2021.

Program Curriculum

HS 300 Financial Planning: Process and Environment

This course provides an overview of the financial planning process, including communication techniques, behavioral finance, financial planning approaches and applications, financial statement preparation and analysis, time value of money concepts and applications, education planning and funding, economics and the external environment, and ethics and standards of conduct. Additionally, the course offers a deeper understanding of the role and responsibilities of a financial planner, along with some analytical skills to aid in the financial decision-making process.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of and apply the steps of the financial planning process
  • Differentiate between various communication techniques used by advisors and understand how behavioral finance concepts can be used to improve client-advisor communications
  • Utilize the various financial planning approaches to quantify goals and provide actionable recommendations
  • Review personal financial statements, calculate financial ratios, and perform financial statement analysis
  • Build a foundation in quantitative techniques needed to calculate the present value and future value amounts, and solve for other relevant financial variables
  • Apply education planning and funding techniques to help clients achieve their goals
  • Build a foundation in basic economic concepts and understand how external factors may impact the financial planning process
  • Review and apply the ethics of personal financial planning within CFP Board, American College, and SEC frameworks

HS 311 Fundamentals of Insurance Planning

This course focuses on the role of planning for risk management needs. The topics covered in this course include fundamental principles and characteristics of risk management, credit risk and protection, and the concepts and applications of health insurance, life insurance, disability and long-term care insurance, annuities, property, liability insurance, and social insurance (Social Security).

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic concepts and principles of risk management
  • Compare and contrast the different health insurance options available to clients in the individual and group marketplaces
  • Differentiate among the various types of life insurance, including term and permanent insurance
  • Discuss principles of disability income insurance and its place in insurance planning
  • Discuss the principles of long-term care insurance and its place in insurance planning
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the different types and proper use of annuities in insurance planning
  • Identify the sources and uses of homeowners, property, and liability insurance for both personal and business uses
  • Identify the sources of identity theft, review a consumers credit report, and utilize debt management techniques
  • Demonstrate an understanding of social insurance programs such as the Social Security benefits system

HS 321 Fundamentals of Income Taxation

This course examines the federal income tax system with particular emphasis on the taxation of individuals. The topics covered in this course include the fundamentals of income taxation, the taxation of income generated from personal, professional, and investment related activities, deductions, credits, basis rules, depreciation, the taxation of capital assets, nontaxable exchanges, passive activity loss rules, the alternative minimum tax, and the taxation of business entities.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental principles and concepts of federal income taxation
  • Compare and contrast the taxation of income generated from personal and investment activities
  • Explain the taxation of income and expenses generated from employment and profit-motivated activities
  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of deductions against adjusted gross income with emphasis on itemized deductions
  • Identify different types of tax credits and compare and contrast tax credits with tax deductions
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how basis is determined for purposes of determining taxable gains and losses, and also explain the purpose of cost recovery through various depreciation methods
  • Identify the tax advantages that certain types of business assets receive when compared to assets used for nonbusiness purposes
  • Explain how provisions in the tax code allow for tax avoidance and tax deferral through certain property exchanges
  • Explain the complexities of the passive activity loss rules along with the purpose of the alternative minimum tax system
  • Compare and contrast the tax consequences of distributions from business entities, such as partnerships, S corporations, and C corporations, to their respective owners

HS 326 Planning for Retirement Needs

This course focuses on helping businesses and individuals plan for retirement. The topics covered in this course include asset accumulation and distribution planning, qualified pension plans, qualified plan setup, administration, and termination, profit sharing plans, stock bonus and employee stock ownership plans, IRAs, SEPS, SIMPLEs, 403(b) and 457 plans, deferred compensation and nonqualified plans, Social Security benefits, and employee benefits.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Analyze the factors affecting retirement planning, such as determining the remaining work life expectancy, retirement life expectancy, annual savings needed, and understanding investment considerations
  • Understand the fundamental principles of qualified plans
  • Compare and contrast the various types of qualified pension plans and determine which is the most appropriate given the needs and goals of an employer
  • Compare and contrast profit sharing plans, stock bonus plans, and ESOPs along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Understand the tax treatment of distributions from qualified plans
  • Describe the steps involved to install a qualified plan, requirements needed to administer a plan, and what events would call for the termination of a plan
  • Discuss the advantages, limitations, and taxation of IRAs and SEPs
  • Compare and contrast SIMPLE, 403(b), and 457 retirement plans along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Discuss the taxation of nonqualified plans and compare and contrast Social Security claiming strategies given the impact of taxation and other limitations that may apply
  • Compare and contrast employee fringe and group benefits along with the advantages and limitations of each

HS 328 Investments

In this course, students learn about the principles of investments and their application to financial planning. The topics covered in this course include an overview of securities laws and market structure, asset classifications, the taxation of investments, risk and return, portfolio theory, investment decisions and attributions analysis, market efficiency and behavioral finance, fixed income security analysis, equity security analysis and valuation, alternative investments, investment companies, and derivative securities.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Understand the institutional framework surrounding investments, categorize investments by asset class, and evaluate the impact of taxation
  • Measure investment returns using various methodologies and quantify risk within a statistical framework
  • Apply the modern portfolio theory framework to the task of assembling portfolios and evaluating their performance
  • Evaluate portfolio performance using attribution and ratio analysis, and identify cognitive and emotional biases exhibited by investors along with their consequences
  • Understand how fixed income securities function and explain their role in structuring a well-diversified investment portfolio
  • Compare and contrast the various types of equity securities and the different ways to invest in these securities
  • Evaluate the factors that can affect the performance expectations of equity securities
  • Identify the features of valuing securities using absolute and relative valuation models, and identify different types of alternative investments, including the risks and benefits associated with this asset class
  • Identify the features of investment companies and evaluate fund selection techniques
  • Compare and contrast the features of derivative securities including forwards, futures, and options contracts

HS 330 Fundamentals of Estate Planning

This course covers various aspects of estate and gift tax planning, including the probate process, an overview of basic estate planning documents, types of property interests, transfer strategies during life and at death, the use of trusts, generation-skipping transfers, charitable giving, the use of life insurance in estate planning, special elections, and other post-mortem planning strategies.

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Identify the steps in the estate planning and probate processes
  • Identify and describe the basic estate planning documents along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Compare and contrast the most common types of property titling along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Understand and apply the fundaments of the gift tax system and respective planning strategies
  • Identify and classify different trust arrangements and explain the advantages and limitations of each
  • Compare and contrast advanced strategies that can be used either during the life or upon death of the client
  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of the generation-skipping transfer tax system and respective planning strategies
  • Compare and contrast advanced charitable planning strategies along with the advantages and limitations of each
  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of the estate tax and respective planning strategies, and explain the benefits of the unlimited marital deduction
  • Demonstrate the advantages of using life insurance in estate planning and explain the benefits of various post-mortem planning strategies

HS 333 Personal Financial Planning: Comprehensive Case Analysis

This course applies students' knowledge and skill set in personal financial planning techniques to a comprehensive case study. Students will integrate into a prioritized comprehensive financial plan core financial planning disciplines of: -Retirement -Investment -Risk management -Income tax -Employee benefits -General principles * Students are eligible to enroll in the capstone course (HS 333) after completing the first 6 courses of the curriculum in both the CFP Certification Education Program and the ChFC program (HS 300, HS 311, HS 321, HS 326, HS 328, HS 330). HS 333 is a course designed to bring together elements from all of the previous foundation courses, and prepares students to synthesize and apply their knowledge of the financial planning process, insurance, taxation, investments, retirement, and estate planning through the delivery of a comprehensive financial plan.

HS 249 Pathway to CFP Certification

This course provides an overview of the financial planning profession that align with the CFP certification. These include the 7 steps in the financial planning process, approaches to the practice of financial planning, regulation of financial planners, and ethics and standards of professional conduct.

Qualified students may opt-out of the classroom hours requirement of HS 333 and move directly to completing the case study component. Learn more about the Alternative Path Capstone ProgramCFP® Exam with Accelerated Path.

Enhanced Online Learning: Webinar Classes Available

For select courses, a webinar study option is available for those who want a more familiar classroom feel as part of their student experience. Attend weekly classes online and ask questions in real-time. Many of these webinar classes come complete with smartphone- and tablet-ready material. 

Program Faculty

Ross Riskin
Ross A. Riskin

Associate Vice President of Academic Strategy

Associate Professor of Taxation

ChFC® Education Program Director

Matt Goren
Matt Goren

Assistant Professor of Financial Planning 

CFP® Certification Education Program Director

Michale Finke Chief Academic Officer
Michael Finke

Professor of Wealth Management

WMCP® Program Director

Director for the Granum Center for Financial Security

Frank M. Engle Distinguished Chair in Economic Security

Adjunct Professor Steve Parrish
Steve Parrish

Adjunct Professor of Advanced Planning

Co-Director of the American College Center for Retirement Income

Professor Kevin Lynch
Kevin M. Lynch

Instructor of Insurance

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

Thomas M. Brinker, Jr.

Adjunct Professor of Taxation and Special Needs Planning

ChSNC® Program Director

Director of the American College Center for Special Needs

Professor Sophia Duffy, Associate Dean
Sophia Duffy

Associate Vice President of Curriculum Quality

Associate Professor of Business Planning


Professor Gerald Herbison
Gerald J. Herbison

Adjunct Professor of Leadership and Practice Management


Normally students spend approximately 45 to 60 hours per course for each of the seven courses in the program, each containing 14 weeks worth of material. In total, plan to spend around 24 months preparing for the CFP® exam.

Upon enrolling in each course, students are given a four-month window to complete that course, plus the remainder of the month in which they enrolled. There is no deadline on how long you have to complete all seven courses.

Tuition includes all fees, your final exam, and course materials. For a complete listing, view the Tuition & Fees section.

Program tuition can be paid on a per-course basis, or packaged together as a program for a reduced rate, with multiple options available. To see our current tuition rate and options, view the Tuition and Fees section.

There are no prerequisites required to take program courses; you may begin at any time. However, in order to be awarded the designation, you must meet all necessary requirements of the CFP Board.

To enroll in the program, contact an admissions advisor at 888-263-7265 or click here to begin our online enrollment process.

The CE credit value of courses depends upon your individual state. For more information, see our CE Credit Listing page or check your state’s guidelines.

A CFP® professional and a Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) do similar work in helping clients with their financial planning needs. For people looking to acquire these certifications, the practical difference is in the coursework and exam structure. Prospective CFP® professionals take a single exam at the end of all coursework from the CFP Board, while ChFC® students take tests upon completion of each course from The American College of Financial Services. Because these two designations share a core of seven common courses, CFP® professionals and those who have completed the required CFP® Certification Education Program coursework are just one course away from ChFC®.

View our course comparison chart to see how these courses overlap — and how you can earn multiple designations faster.

To earn your CFP® mark, you must fulfill the following certification requirements:


Education Requirement

The educational requirement has two parts: first, complete the required coursework in personal financial planning, estate planning, risk management, professional conduct, and other subjects covered on the CFP® exam through a CFP Board registered program before taking the exam; and second, receive a bachelors degree or higher from an accredited college or university up to five years after the date you pass the exam (degree may be in any discipline, not just financial services).


Exam Requirement

In addition to the education requirement, financial professionals looking to earn their certification must first take the CFP® exam: a 170-question, multiple-choice test consisting of two three-hour sessions over the course of one day. The exam includes stand-alone and scenario-based questions, as well as more detailed case studies. For more details on preparing for the exam, check out our blog post.


Experience Requirement

To qualify for CFP® certification, you must also complete either 6,000 hours of professional experience as a financial advisor or related to the financial planning process, or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience. You can fulfill the experience requirements either before or after you take the exam.


Continuing Education Requirement

Once a financial professional has been approved for the CFP® mark, they will need to recertify with 30 hours of continuing education (CE) credit every two years, including three hours of ethics CE credit. The American College of Financial Services offers many programs with opportunities to earn CE credit.


Ethics Requirement

As part of earning your CFP® certification or any other financial planning credentials, you must agree to adhere to high ethical and professional standards as a financial advisor and to act in the client's best interest during the financial planning process.

The CFP Board oversees the CFP® mark. The CFP Board determines and enforces the standards for the certification.

The exam for certification is considered challenging. Through study and exam prep, such as The Dalton Review®, The American College of Financial Services ensures students are well prepared to sit for the exam.

Completing a professional certification program is recommended for people looking to begin or enhance a career in financial planning. 

Yes, certification coursework is for a professional certificate. Meeting all qualifications, including successful completion of the course, earns you the mark.