The nation’s best choice for advisors studying to become CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®

What is CFP® Certification Education?

The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation 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 CFP® Certification Education program is meant for students and financial professionals interested in adding the prestigious CFP® designation to their title 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 You Should Consider the CFP® Certification Education

Your decision to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional represents a major step in your career. Certified financial advisors with the CFP® designation have higher incomes, bring more value to their firms, and achieve higher client satisfaction ratings.

In The College’s seven-course CFP® certification education program, you’ll learn from nationally recognized experts in their fields through the new Personal Pathway™ learning experience. It offers a flexible, yet structured learning path, providing you with practical, applied knowledge that makes the difference.

And, because The College’s CFP® exam pass rate is consistently 10% to 14% higher than the national average, you’ll be better positioned to receive the designation when you complete the program.

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

What You'll Learn

The College’s CFP® Certification Education program, developed by our expert faculty of thought leaders and practitioners, meets the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ learning objectives and provides you with instruction in key areas including:

  • Financial planning roles and responsibilities
  • Planning for insurance needs
  • Income taxation for individuals
  • Retirement planning
  • Principles of investments
  • Estate planning strategies

In the final capstone course, you will develop a case study that integrates these concepts into a comprehensive financial plan. Qualified students can enroll in the Alternative Path Capstone Program, which allows students to start their CFP® Certification Education capstone project without first completing the classroom hours requirement for the regular capstone course.

  • New financial professionals looking to build a solid career foundation
  • Mid-career professionals looking to advance in their current position
  • Career changers looking to enter the financial planning profession
  • Financial advisors looking to enhance their earning potential
  • Professionals committed to maximizing client satisfaction

Students must complete all seven courses with passing grades in order to fulfill the CFP® Certification Education requirement. You must complete your curriculum within five years of passing your first course to ensure you are mastering relevant material. Once a financial services professional has been authorized to add the CFP® designation to their title, they are also required to recertify with 30 hours of continuing education credit every two years, including three hours of ethics CE credit.


Personal Pathway™ puts you in control

Personal Pathway™ combines best-in-practice concepts and rich multimedia in a program that meets your professional needs. It puts you on a flexible, yet structured learning path with the tools you need to pass your CFP® exam and enhance your career.

Personal Pathway™ courses in the CFP education program include:

  • Learning options that allow you to follow a structured 14-week path or work at your own pace and finish sooner
  • Digital textbooks equipped with online note-taking and flashcard creation capabilities
  • Rich interactive lesson reviews that incorporate text, graphics, and video elements
  • Weekly webinars available live or on-demand
  • Lively discussion forums that encourage social learning and networking opportunities
  • Preparatory quizzes that improve retrieval practices and support better learning outcomes
  • Expanded instructor support

All built on a platform that incorporates student-first technology!


Tuition & Fees

Personal Pathway™ 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, your tuition is the same.

Supplementary study materials and review classes are also available for an additional cost.

7-Course Package Savings

Includes: Full 7-course program, digital textbooks with online note-taking and flashcard creation, prep quizzes modeled on exams, live and on-demand webinars, student/faculty discussion forums, and more.

  Tuition Package Tuition Savings
7-Course Package $5,870 $4,450 $1,420

7-Course Package + The Dalton Review®
$7,265 $5,350 $1,915

3-Course Package Savings*

*HS 333 and HS 347 excluded from 3-Course Package.

  Tuition Package Tuition Savings
3-Course Package $2,430 $2,150 $280

CFP Exam Prep

Read more about our CFP Exam prep options.

The Dalton Review® $1,395
Guarantee To Pass Review™ $2,195


  • 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
  • HS 330 Fundamentals of Estate Planning
  • HS 333 Personal Financial Planning

To earn your designation and become a CFP® professional, you must fulfill the following certification requirements:


Education Requirement

The educational requirement for CFP® Certification 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 (such as The College's CFP® Certification Education) 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 CFP® exam (degree may be in any discipline, not just financial services).


CFP® Exam Requirement

In addition to the education requirement, financial professionals looking to earn their CFP® 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 CFP® 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 to add the CFP® designation to their title, 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 CFP® 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.

Required CFP® Certification Education Courses:

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 and ChFC programs (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 the CFP

This course provides an overview of the financial planning profession that align with the Certified Financial Planner designation. 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. 

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

Because the CFP® certification shares common courses with the ChFC® and CLU® 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

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 

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 New York Life 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 MassMutual Center for Special Needs

Professor Sophia Duffy, Associate Dean
Sophia Duffy

Associate Vice Provost of Curriculum Quality

Associate Professor of Business Planning


Professor Gerald Herbison
Gerald J. Herbison

Adjunct Professor of Leadership and Practice Management