MSFP

MSFP Website Banner

Tap into the Master of Science in Financial Planning (MSFP) accredited, graduate degree program and gain the tools needed to analyze, plan, and implement integrated financial and life strategies.


PROGRAM AT A GLANCE

Tuition

$1,895 per course

Timing

Complete in 14 months

Format

Hybrid (option for 100% online or mix of online and live classes)

Learning Outcomes
  • Tax planning, estate planning, retirement planning, education planning and investment planning principles
  • Securities concepts including t-bills, bonds, debentures, common and preferred shares, equities and financial derivatives
  • Business succession planning strategies to achieve strategic business initiatives
  • Evaluating insurance and estate planning documents such as wills and trusts 

ABOUT THE MSFP GRADUATE PROGRAM

The Master of Science in Financial Planning (MSFP) is an accredited graduate degree program that gives aspiring and active financial professionals the practical and relevant skills they need to improve the financial well-being of their clients.

Students in the MSFP program receive a strong foundation in financial planning principles using sound, ethical, business practices, and have the option to choose one of four concentrations representing the fastest-growing and most relevant fields in financial services today: Advanced Financial Planning, Retirement Planning, Legacy Planning, and Tax Planning (coming 2022).

Completing a concentration provides you with the opportunity to earn some of the financial services industry’s most respected professional designations. Those who complete the Advance Financial Planning concentration will be eligible to sit for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) exam administered by the CFP Board. By completing the Retirement Planning concentration, you can earn the Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation, and the Legacy Planning concentration makes you eligible to earn the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) designation and/or the Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) designation.

With the MSFP on your side, you’ll be prepared to meet clients where they are with proven strategies and a broad knowledge base tailored to every stage of their financial life.

 

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM THE MSFP?

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

  • Experienced and credentialed financial advisors looking for new avenues for their financial planning practice and further education with a graduate-level degree
  • Young professionals looking to break into the financial services industry and get a foundational financial planning knowledge, while also working toward one or more advanced designations to enhance their business credentials
  • Individuals seeking a customizable curriculum that can be tailored to their busy schedule and personal educational preferences, with a hybrid course model offering in-person or all-online learning
  • Planning professionals looking for additional educational and training including financial planners, life insurance specialists, trust officers, CPAs, attorneys, investment consultants, major gift officers, planned giving officers, and more

Four Concentration Tracks

Students have the opportunity to graduate with not only a masters degree in financial planning, but also with a higher professional certification or a path to future designations through our four concentration tracks:

Program Details

Educational Requirements

Applicants to the Richard D. Irwin Graduate School are selected on the basis of academic and professional criteria. To be admitted into the MSFP program, a prospective student must hold a bachelor’s degree and submit the following to The College

  1. A completed admission application
  2. A current resume
  3. An unofficial transcript from the accredited institution that awarded your Bachelor’s degree

Students admitted to the MSFP graduate program have seven years from date of admission to complete degree requirements. Acceptance of courses completed prior to admission will be determined by the Graduate School Dean. Graduates who earn a Huebner School designation along with their MSFP, such as RICP® or CAP®, must also agree to comply with The American College Code of Ethics and Procedures.

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

Apply Online Today

Tuition & Fees

Individual course: $1,895

Your tuition and admission fees include required study materials, access to convenient online learning tools, and all necessary examinations. 

The MSFP is a 10-course, non-cohort-based program with options for 100% online coursework or a mix of online and in-person class meetings, with courses starting on a quarterly basis. Course materials include:

  • Video lectures (live and prerecorded)
  • Faculty-led webinars
  • In-depth case studies
  • Detailed course outlines
  • Real-time discussion forums

Students typically complete the program by taking two courses per session over a 14-month period. Live class sessions will meet at The College’s King of Prussia, PA campus. Online courses are conducted asynchronously through our course website and do not have comprehensive exams, except for students with a concentration in retirement planning (RICP®) or legacy planning (CAP®), who will be able to take their exams online.

FAQs

To enroll in the MSFP program, fill out our digital application and submit your resume and unofficial transcript. Our admissions advisors will contact you if you are accepted to the program.

Aside from a Bachelor’s degree, there are no prerequisites required to take MSFP. For more details on what your application will entail, view the Requirements section.

Normally, students spend around 14 months for their 10 courses in the MSFP program, with two courses per quarter.

Upon enrolling in the MSFP program, students have seven (7) years to complete full degree requirements, including 10 full courses (four core, six in concentration of choice) and electives (if applicable).

Tuition for each course includes all fees and course materials, but does not include the initial $100 application fee for the program. For a complete listing, view the Tuition & Fees section.

Program tuition is paid on a per-course basis. To see our current tuition rate and options, view the Tuition & Fees section.

We are proud to offer scholarship opportunities for qualifying active-duty military personnel, veterans, and spouses. For more information, visit our Center for Veterans Affairs.

Program discounts and promotions are offered occasionally to our email subscribers. Some partner companies also offer exclusive tuition rates. For more information, check with your employer or contact our Admissions team at 888-795-6306.

Having a master’s degree expands your career options. A graduate certificate opens doors to jobs you may not otherwise be considered for. For anyone considering pursuing an executive-level position, a master’s degree is beneficial. Whether you’re looking to work in family financial planning or another specialization, the overview of the financial industry you will receive during your MSFP courses will prove helpful in your career.

Sunsetted in 2021, the MSFS provided expertise in the wealth accumulation process and the knowledge to help business owners develop compensation, succession planning, and retirement income strategies.

Program Director & Faculty

James M. Moten, Jr.

Assistant Professor of Financial Planning

Program Director, Master of Science in Financial Planning (MSFP)

Irwin Graduate School

Timothy Belber, Adjunct Professor of Estate Planning
Timothy Belber

Adjunct Professor of Estate Planning

Charles E. Drimal Estate Planning Professorship

Thomas M. Brinker, Jr.

Adjunct Professor of Taxation and Special Needs Planning

ChSNC® Program Director

Director of the MassMutual Center for Special Needs

C.W. Copeland

Adjunct Professor of Insurance

Professor Sophia Duffy, Associate Dean
Sophia Duffy

Associate Vice Provost of Curriculum Quality

Associate Professor of Business 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

Mark McLennon, Adjunct Professor of Business Planning
Mark McLennon

Adjunct Professor of Business Planning

Dr. Jim Peterson, Adjunct Professor of Ethics at The American College
Jim Petersen

Adjunct Professor of Ethics

Professor Wade Pfau
Wade D. Pfau

Professor of Retirement Income

RICP® Program Director

Co-Director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income

Colin Slabach
Colin Slabach

Assistant Professor of Retirement

Assistant Director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income

Kimberly Turner

Adjunct Professor of Financial Planning

MSFP CURRICULUM

The MSFP program consists of 10 courses and 30 credits; four core courses (12 credits) along with six more courses (18 credits) in each of the four potential concentration areas, some of which can include electives.

GS 531- Family Financial Planning (Residency I)

This course introduces the broad scope of financial planning as it relates to personal goals/values, as well as its role in the financial services industry. It is designed to provide students with an understanding of the concepts of the financial planning process, the economic environment, the time value of money, the legal environment, financial analysis, and ethical and professional considerations in financial planning. Topics include careers in financial services, management of personal financial statements, time-value-of-money analysis, calculator/computer applications, insurance, social security, house-buying strategies, education funding techniques, investments, retirement planning, income tax, and estate planning.

GS 869 - Legacy Planning Reimagined (Residency I)

Legacy planning today means living a financially secure and fulfilling life while also leaving a lasting legacy of more than money. This course focuses on legacy planning for complex situations, often with business owners and across multiple generations. You will actively practice the listening and team-building skills needed to emerge as the client’s most trusted advisor. Via case studies, you will learn how to integrate legacy planning into your practice, in collaboration with (and in competition with) family offices, private banks, and best-of-breed planning teams. You will leave with an action plan for taking the next step in your personal legacy planning practice.

GS 571 - Behavioral Finance for Financial Planners (Residency II)

This course is an applied behavioral finance course that examines the intersection of behavioral finance and financial planning. It reviews the research on behavioral finance, neuroeconomics, and investor psychology, exploring the effects of human emotions and cognitive errors on financial decisions and the financial planning process. This course focuses on the application of behavioral finance theory and research to the practice of personal financial planning to help financial planners improve the financial health of their clients.

GS 807 - Capstone: Advanced Case Studies and Application (Residency II)

This course serves as the capstone across all concentrations of the MSFP program. It will engage the student in critical thinking and decision-making about personal financial management topics in the context of the comprehensive financial planning process. During this course, students will work individually and in groups to bring knowledge together from each of the relevant prerequisite courses to evaluate case study situations representing samples of what may be encountered in the workplace.

GS 817 - Personal Income Taxation and Decision-Making

This course explores the strategies used by financial planners to help clients achieve greater tax efficiency. Topics include income tax concepts and calculations, income tax research methods, gross income realization, exclusions and deductions, passive activities, alternative minimum tax, tax considerations of business forms, taxable and non-taxable property transactions, compensation planning, family tax planning, audit risk, and dealing with the IRS. 

GS 551 - Insurance Analysis for Families

This course introduces students to the application of insurance planning and risk management in personal financial planning. It is designed to provide students with an understanding of the concepts of identification of risk exposure, legal aspects of insurance, property and liability policy analysis, life insurance policy analysis, health insurance policy analysis, employee benefits, social insurance, insurance regulation, and principles of insurance taxation.

Topics include: career issues; contractual and agency legal issues; insurance distribution systems (including Internet); evaluating insurers; personal risk assessment; risk strategies; alternative risk transfer approaches; life insurance programming and product analysis; key-person insurance; business continuation applications; life insurance use in income & estate tax planning; applicability of other insurance products (e.g., health, disability, general liability, property and casualty); HMOs, group insurance plans; workers compensation; relevant aspects of social security; negligence issues; errors & omissions policies; and professional ethics. 

GS 537 - Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits

This course covers strategies used by financial planners to help clients assess employee benefits and to reduce the tax burden while planning for retirement. Topics include: retirement needs analysis; defined benefit and contribution plans; profit sharing; 401k; 403b; ESOP; IRA; SEP-IRA; Roth-IRA; Keogh; TSA; social security benefits and integration; vesting; employee benefits analysis; funding vehicles; plan installation and administration; asset balancing; buy-sell agreements, ERISA; stock redemption and cross-purchase plans; evaluation of retirement timing; life-cycle planning; retirement lifestyle issues; distribution planning; and post-retirement financial and qualitative assessment of needs. 

GS 811 - Investment Theory and Portfolio Management

This course investigates the investment process from the perspective of a financial planner or investment advisor advising individuals and families. This course will cover advanced concepts related to financial market theory, including market efficiency, portfolio theory and optimization, asset pricing models, and stock and bond valuation techniques. The nature and use of mutual funds and ETFs, and tax-efficient investing, including asset location concepts, will also be explored. It is designed to provide students with an understanding of the concepts of investment regulation, client assessment, investment theory, environment and financial markets, strategies and tactics, modern portfolio theory, and integration. 

GS 539 - Estate Management and Planned Giving

This course explores the application of estate planning methodologies and policies to personal financial planning. Introduces estate planning tools and strategies to assist a client in developing, maintaining, and transferring his/her wealth consistent with objectives. Topics include: professional role differentiation between financial advisers, CPAs, and estate-planning attorneys; writing disclaimers in a financial plan; gift and estate taxation; ownership of personal and real property issues; wills; letter of last instructions; trusts; trustees/personal representatives and their fiduciary responsibilities; probate strategies; implications for individuals; general/limited partnerships; closely held businesses; corporations; life insurance funding; post-mortem planning; creative estate planning strategies consistent with client goals and values; and charitable giving strategies. 

GS 633 - Personal Financial Planning Case Study

This course explores the techniques and methods for utilizing financial planning practice standards in the development of comprehensive financial plans for clients. This course will integrate the material learned in Tax, Insurance, Retirement, Estate and Investment Planning. It is designed to be taken when students have finished the core competencies courses in the Financial Planning Program. The course will be structured as a casework course, and the cases used will closely reflect the types of cases students may encounter both as financial planners and as part of their CFP® certification. Students will write and present a comprehensive financial plan.

GS 815- Advanced Estate Management Planned Giving

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. This course also discusses the ownership and taxation of transfers of property during a 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.

GS 838 - Business Succession Strategies

This course 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 executive benefit and retirement plan strategies to facilitate succession planning. The course includes a comprehensive case study.

HS 353 - Retirement Income Process, Strategies, and Solutions

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to: understand the steps in creating an effective retirement income plan; identify retirement income needs, objectives, and goals by evaluating the client’s current situation; determine how to choose the appropriate retirement income strategy for your clients; evaluate income tax, estate issues, retirement risks, and other threats to an effective retirement income plan; and integrate risk management tools, products, and strategies to create an effective retirement income plan.

HS 354 - Sources of Retirement Income

This course explores sources of retirement income in depth. After completion, you should be able to: recommend the optimal age to claim Social Security benefits as appropriate for each client's situation; help the client evaluate the factors to consider when determining an appropriate retirement age; understand the role of annuities in a retirement income plan; have a better understanding of how executive benefits and retirement benefits for federal and military employees fit into the plan; understand the different ways that life insurance can be used in planning and how to address the retirement needs of the small business owner; understand how to build a retirement income portfolio; and become more familiar with the latest research on strategies for ensuring that retirement assets last a lifetime.

HS 355 - Managing the Retirement Income Plan

This course will help you: choose the appropriate tax-efficient distribution options from a retirement plan; help a client create a health expense budget and navigate the many decisions regarding Medicare and other health care options; help a client prepare for their long-term care needs; navigate retirement housing decisions and address home equity strategies; identify the key ethical issues in retirement income planning; and create and manage retirement income portfolios appropriate for each client’s situation.

GS 808 - Advanced Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits

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.

GS 815 - Advanced Estate Management and Planned Giving

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. It 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.

GS 838 - Business Succession Strategies

This course covers advanced topics in business succession planning. It 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, and covers sales and gifts of business interests using discounting techniques. The course discusses the use of executive benefit and retirement plan strategies to facilitate succession planning. This course includes a comprehensive case study.

GS 839 - Planning for Impact in the Context of Family Wealth

The focus of this course is on wealth in families and wealthy families in community with others. By the end of this course, the fundraiser or advisor should have the knowledge needed to elicit client or donor goals for self, family and society and to convene a team to achieve those goals now, later, at death or beyond death, through a financial plan, business exit plan, estate plan, or gift plan.

GS 849 - Charitable Gifting Strategies

The focus of this course is on charitable tax strategies, tools, and techniques. By the end of this course, students will have the knowledge needed to open a client-specific or donor-specific conversation about the features and benefits of appropriate charitable tools. The student will then be able to convene a planning team, or in simpler cases, close for the gift.

GS 859 - Gift Planning in a Nonprofit Context

The focus of this course is on gift planning for nonprofits. By the end of this course, students should have the knowledge needed to apply the concepts and processes introduced in MSFP 544 and MSFP 549 to develop six- to eight-figure gifts for a specific nonprofit from its highest-capacity donors.

GS 817 - Personal Income Taxation and Decision-Making

This course explores the strategies used by financial planners to help clients achieve greater tax efficiency. Topics include income tax concepts and calculations, income tax research methods, gross income realization, exclusions and deductions, passive activities, alternative minimum tax, tax considerations of business forms, taxable and non-taxable property transactions, compensation planning, family tax planning, audit risk, and dealing with the IRS.

GS 660 - Advanced Business Taxation

This course is a cross-discipline study of important tax reduction strategies at both the federal and state levels. Major topics will include lifetime gifting, estate freezes, valuation reduction techniques, life insurance policies and planning, charitable vehicles, cross-border techniques, and planning for retirement and other deferred income accounts. Students will use real client situations to progress from identifying opportunities to achieve better tax outcomes to analyzing the substantive issues involved in developing a concrete plan.

GS 561 - Taxation of Trusts, Gifts, and Estates

Explores taxation of personal trusts and estates; fiduciary rights, powers, and duties; trust accounting; virtual representation; total return trusts; and planning and drafting.

GS 562 - Multijurisdictional Taxation

This course examines the taxation of business entities and individuals by competing taxing jurisdictions. The first part of the course focuses on state taxation including nexus, allocation, and apportionment issues. The second part is an overview of cross-border and international tax issues emphasizing “outbound” investments and activities of U.S. taxpayers.

GS 563 Tax Research & Policy Analysis

This course covers tax law research methods; interpreting statutes, cases and rulings; communicating research results; administration and professional responsibilities of tax practice.

OR

GS 567 - International Taxation

This course examines U.S. taxation of international commercial transactions involving U.S. and foreign taxpayers.

 

Plus two (2) elective courses of your choice

GS 842 - Executive Compensation 

Covers executive compensation plans, emphasizing owner-employees of closely held businesses. Focuses on the 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.

GS 831 - Ethics for Financial Planners

This course approaches ethics and human values from the particular perspective of the ethical responsibilities assumed by the financial services professional. This course considers the specific ethical situations encountered by financial services practitioners. Discusses and evaluates responses to these situations in terms of their adherence to ethical principles, such as integrity, justice and fairness and responsibility. Draws on insights from the fields of social psychology and behavioral ethics to investigate obstacles to good decision making that occur at the social and individual level. Considers ways to overcome these obstacles and ensure that behavior aligns with ethical principles.

GS 840 - Building and Managing a Financial Advisory Practice

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.