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30 Great Schools for Financial Planning

—Muneeza Iqbal: Built by Kayan Lim

With an anticipated spike in demand for advisors over the next few years, one of the best industries to get into is financial planning. Indeed, professors at the leading financial planning programs say many of their graduates have little trouble finding work in an industry that is hungry for talent.

Click through the list to see the nation's 30 leading schools for careers in financial planning.

Read Financial Planning's November cover story here.

Bryn Mawr, Pa.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 1 CFP Board-registered certificate program, with online, self-study and in-person delivery options. Also offers ChFC program, an accredited MSFS degree for planning practitioners and Ph.D. programs in retirement and financial planning.

Enrollment: About 30,000 in all finance courses

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 19 full-time, 15 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: Not available.

Tuition: M.S. in financial services, $1,200 per course with 12 courses; Ph.D., $3,250 per course with 12 courses. For flagship certificate programs, each course is $640.

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: The American College of Financial Services (formerly known just as American College) boasts that it's the nation's largest nonprofit educational institution devoted to financial services. The college also boasts that the number of planners it educates annually is among the highest. As a partner with banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies, it derives much of its student population from these fields. The college also produces educational materials used to teach planners everywhere. As the owner of the ChFC designation, the American College used to promote the designation as the only valid mark for financial planners, although it now promotes the CFP mark, as well. Classes are offered in person and online. In 2014, it will introduce two new certificate programs: the Financial Services Certified Professional (FSCP) and the Chartered Special Needs Consultant (ChSNC). It will also launch a new exam prep program for analysts pursuing the CFA designation.
Waco, Texas

CFP Board-registered programs: Bachelor of business administration financial planning major

Enrollment: 20

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 4

Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1

Tuition: $30,600 a year

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: As part of their core curriculum, undergraduates in planning at Baylor help run one of the largest student-managed investment funds in the country. Valued at about $5.2 million, it is managed 60% by graduate students in other majors and 40% by undergraduates, says Tom Potts, director of the financial services and planning program. Proceeds are used to pay for scholarships and other student needs.

Image: Jonathan Hu

CFP Board-registered programs: 2 certificate programs, one online and one in person

Enrollment: 1,250 online, 155 in person

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 23 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 22:1

Tuition: $5,295 for an online accelerated program, $3,495 for online self-paced and $6,365 for a classroom program

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: The financial planning program is in its fourth decade of preparing professionals for careers and certification in planning. The school awards the Robert J. Glovsky Scholarships in Financial Planning to improve financial literacy in traditionally underserved populations. Our profession needs more women, African-American and Latino advisors, so [we] are delighted that these candidates are coming from, and committed to, serve these diverse groups, says Glovsky, the Colony Group vice chairman and director emeritus of BU's planning program.

Image: Shutterstock
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): certificate, MBA

Enrollment: 180 online, 18 in person

Faculty: 4 full-time, 12 expert, 14 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1

Tuition: For MBA, $750 per credit unit (the MBA consists of 48 credit units, for a total cost of $36,000); for certificate, $550 per credit unit (the certificate consists of 24 credit units, for a total cost of $13,200)

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: Cal Lutheran offers the country's largest MBA program (by enrollment) with a financial planning focus. This intensive boutique program tends to attract seasoned professional students. More than 80% enroll in the online option, and many already have CFP designations. Cal Lutheran has gained praise from directors of other planning programs for its rigor and immersive teaching. Students can transfer credits for up to five courses from many University of California campuses, including Berkeley, Davis and Los Angeles. This fall, Cal Lutheran announced a second track to its MBA program; for professionals who already have a CFP, the school has replaced core courses and offers interdisciplinary and advanced courses instead.
Northridge, Calif.

CFP Board-registered programs: B.S. in finance with a sequence in personal financial planning and B.S. in business administration with an option in insurance and financial services and a sequence in personal financial planning

Enrollment: 40

Faculty: 6 full-time, 2 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 5:1

Tuition: For California residents $2,247 per semester, for nonresident students, $4,479 per semester

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: In spring 2012, the school registered its two undergraduate planning programs with the CFP Board, with the aim of improving financial literacy in Southern California. The administrators hope students, many of whom are the first generation in their families to attend college, will become planners for underserved populations throughout the region. I see significant growth in three areas: the number of students interested in the program, the number of companies trying to connect with our students, and the number of full-time faculty who are involved and dedicated to our students' success, says program director Monica Hussein.

Image: Wikimedia Commons User: BotMultichillT
Clemson, S.C.

CFP Board-registered programs: B.S. in financial management with a concentration in financial planning

Enrollment: About 20

Faculty: 5 full-time

Student-to-faculty ratio: 4:1

Tuition: For South Carolina residents, $21,726; for out-of-state residents, $38,370

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: Clemson's undergraduate degree is almost 20 years old now. After a brief economic crunch at the university that forced the program to be suspended, professor John Alexander expects 20 students to graduate in the upcoming year. Only 30% of the program's graduates choose a career in planning, Alexander says, with the rest preferring the starting salaries in banking or corporate finance. But Alexander says he directs his students toward planning because the salaries quickly catch up.
Greenwood Village, Colo.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): M.S. in financial planning, personal financial planning certificate, CFP certification program

Enrollment: 30,000 in all programs, including 4,200 in the CFP program and 130 in the master's in financial planning program

Faculty: 15 full-time, 20 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: For master's program, 9:1; varies for online courses

Tuition: For M.S. in financial planning, $380 per 1-hour credit; for personal financial planning certificate, $1,140 per 3-hour credit; for CFP certification program, $4,670.

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: The for-profit college, founded in 1972, occupies a historic position in the profession; it launched at a time when there were no dedicated programs or teaching materials for planning. It offers distance learning, full-time and certificate programs. Since its birth, the college says it's produced more than 65,000 CFPs. Programs cover a multitude of planning-related subjects, including retirement planning, portfolio analysis and financial analysis. This year the school allows students who already have CRPC or AWMA designations to transfer some credits for both the CFP program and M.S. in personal financial planning.
Fort Collins, Colo.

CFP Board-registered program: B.S. in business administration with a planning option in the finance concentration

Enrollment: 50

Faculty: 5 full-time, 1 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 10 to 1

Tuition: $9,313 a year for a Colorado resident, $25,166 for an out-of-state student

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: Now in its third year, the CFP Board-registered program is based in the school's college of business. In a new program, volunteers from the FPA of Colorado mentor financial planning students - creating relationships that, the school says, greatly enhance the classroom experience. The first student from the program took the CFP exam this summer and passed.

CFP Board-registered programs: 9-credit certificate program offered both online and in person

Enrollment: 150 to 200

Faculty: 13 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1 at downtown campus, 6:1 at suburban campus

Tuition: $5,400

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: The largest Roman Catholic university in the U.S. launched its certificate program in 1999 and relies heavily on a pool of local CFPs to serve as faculty and create customized study materials. Students can supplement their in-class work by studying online. According to Dorothy Jagonase, program manager of the university's Financial Planning Education Center, the school is also proud of its professionally diverse student body, which hails from the brokerage, banking, tax, legal and compliance fields. This year, DePaul added a course in case studies, and made the financial plan development class mandatory.

Image: Flickr User: wallyg
Teaneck, N.J.

CFP Board-registered programs: Financial planning certificate course

Enrollment: 150

Faculty: 80 adjuncts in various locations

Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1 in the classroom

Tuition: $5,995

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: The school draws from a large pool of industry professionals as adjunct faculty, teaching courses at multiple locations. One of the first institutions nationwide to offer a financial planning certificate, FDU's program dates back 28 years. Students are primarily mid-career professionals already working in the planning industry, says Valerie Barnes, the program's director; she says they receive a substantial amount of one-on-one counseling and instruction. Although the school does not have a student FPA chapter, it connects students to the planning community nationwide. It also has a popular career fair sponsored by the FPA of New Jersey.
Manhattan, Kan.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): Undergraduate, master's, Ph.D. and graduate certificate

Enrollment: 60 undergrads, 40 certificate, 40 master's and 41 doctoral students

Faculty: 7 full-time, 2 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1

Tuition: For an undergraduate (3-credit) course, $780 for a Kansas resident, $2,078 for out-of-state student; for M.S. course, $1,500; for Ph.D. courses, $1,625; for graduate certificate courses, $1,455

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: Since registering its undergraduate degree program in planning in 1993, Kansas State has added a certificate, a master's degree and a doctorate to the program. The courses cover a variety of subjects, from financial therapy to client communication. Assistant professor Ann Coulson says many students who sign up for the planning programs hear about them from professionals in the field - which is why she urges more planners to encourage young people to consider the career path. Many undergraduates major in corporate finance because they don't even realize that we offer this major, she says.

Image: Flickr User: jimmywayne
Online with classrooms in New York and San Francisco, as well as several private corporate programs.

CFP Board-registered programs: 3 in total: Self-paced and accelerated online programs, plus in-person classes at 12 U.S. universities. The school recently received approval for an online M.S. program.

Enrollment: Not available

Faculty: 7 full-time, 20 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: Not available

Tuition: Accelerated virtual or traditional classroom $5,599, including a review course; self-study $4,043.

FPA student chapter: Kaplan is an institutional member.

Overview: A big name in education and for-profit test preparation, Kaplan is home to a 10-year-old program that crosses boundaries between traditional classroom and online study, allowing students to customize study tracks to suit their schedules. Kaplan's high retention rates earned the school an invitation to discuss its strategies at a recent CFP Board education conference. The school also boasts of its large team of academic advisors aimed at reaching out to all students at least 70 times during their academic careers, assisting students to excel academically and complete the course on time.
Baton Rouge, La.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. and M.S. in finance with financial planning specialization

Enrollment: 29 undergraduate and graduate

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 11

Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1 in the classroom

Tuition: For Louisiana residents, full-time tuition is $3,940 per semester; it's $12,899 per semester for nonresidents.

FPA student chapter: Currently under development

Overview: The 2-year-old financial planning program at LSU's Department of Finance has formed a diverse advisory board and established a strong relationship with the FPA of Baton Rouge, which includes a student member on its board. Citing several recent planning software donations valued at more than $100,000, Program director Frances Lawrence says she is extremely pleased with the support from the business community, especially with the numerous internships available to the students. The college has applied for CFP registration of an online executive certificate program, and plans are underway to register a financial planning specialization at LSU's Flores MBA program.
New York

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): One certificate, one classroom program and two web-delivered programs - self-paced and live - offered in partnership with Dalton education

Enrollment: Not available

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 8 adjunct, 5 online instructors.

Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1 in classroom

Tuition: $5,590 for traditional classroom program, $5,650-$7,700 for a live online course, $3,095-$4,695 for self-paced online

FPA student chapter: No, but students can become a member of the FPA through the NYU-FPANY Scholarship for actively enrolled CFP students at a discounted rate.

Overview: NYU's certificate program offers students the flexibility to complete coursework three ways - in person with an instructor, live online and led by an instructor, or self-paced online. Geared toward professionals and college graduates, the program leverages NYU's geographic advantage, offering students opportunities to work with companies in the city.

Image: Flickr user: Camillo Miller
Chicago and Evanston, Ill.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 2 online and 1 classroom certificate programs

Enrollment: Almost 240 online, 90 classroom

Faculty: 20 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1 overall

Tuition: $5,545-$6,050 for classroom program, $5,600-$7,500 for online live, $2,495-$4,295 for self-paced online program

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: The planning certificate program was overhauled last year. The timing of the revamp coincided with the CFP Board's release of new learning objectives, giving the school the opportunity to revamp its coursework based on the recommendations. The classes are now designed to simulate a planner's daily life.

Image: Wikimedia Commons user: Rdsmith4
West Lafayette, Ind.

CFP Board-registered programs: Undergraduate

Enrollment: 129

Faculty: 5 full time, 2 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1

Tuition: For Indiana residents, $20,000 a year, including room, board and other expenses; $40,000 a year for nonresidents.

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: Although there's no FPA chapter, the student-run Purdue Collegiate Financial Planning Club hosts competitions, speaker events and tours of Chicago's financial district. Students and faculty also frequently attend FPA meetings and seminars.

Image: Flickr user: thoth188
San Diego

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. in financial services with a certificate in personal financial planning; M.S. in financial and tax planning, executive financial planning advanced certificate (first half of a master's degree)

Enrollment: 140 in bachelor's, 14 in master's, 21 in executive

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 15 for bachelor's and master's programs; 5 for executive

Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1

Tuition: For a Californian seeking a bachelor's degree, $3,383 per semester; nonresident bachelor's, $8,963 per semester. For a California resident master's, $3,952 to $7,567 per semester (depending on course load); nonresident master's, $6,184 to $12,031. For an executive certificate, $7,416 for complete program.

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: The oldest continuously operating planning program in the country, the university's program resides in the finance department of the business school. Graduate degrees require specialization in either wealth management or tax planning, in addition to regular planning courses. The programs were the country's first to be at a school certified by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and all courses are for credit. The school has been tracking the career paths of its alumni for eight years. We want to get a better idea of what our alumni are doing and help create a better network for our students, says Tom Warschauer, who founded the program in 1980 and still runs it. The school is developing an employer network to see which companies are most supportive of new hires and have the highest retention rate. Warschauer says the program is putting a heavier focus on mentorships with alumni, rather than internships: We want the students to understand the range of companies out there, and not just focus on one company.

Image: Flickr
Lubbock, Texas

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 11 programs, ranging from undergraduate to Ph.D., including minors and dual graduate degrees in planning and business or law, and one certificate. This year the school added a dual M.S. degree in personal financial planning and accounting, an executive M.S. planning degree and an executive graduate certificate.

Enrollment: 103 planning undergraduate majors, 38 undergraduate minors (studies in personal finance), 62 PFP master's students (including dual degrees with law, MBAs, accounting and finance), and 38 Ph.D. students

Faculty: 13 full-time, 2 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:3

Tuition and required fees: Texas-resident undergraduates $3,760 per semester, out-of-state undergraduates $8,006; Texas-resident graduate students, $4,359 per semester; out-of-state graduate students, $8,606.

FPA student chapter: No, but an application is pending.

Overview: Texas Tech was the second university in the nation to give the planning program departmental status, and has seen tremendous growth, with 900 students now enrolled in 12 new courses. Four new courses are being offered in the Charitable Financial Planning Graduate Certificate, targeted toward financial planning and development professionals. About 40% of undergrad students and 55% of grad students who took the 2012 CFP Exam passed.

Image: Wikimedia Commons user: Magnus Manske
Berkeley, Calif.

CFP Board-registered programs: Certificate (in person)

Enrollment: 50

Faculty: 15 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1

Tuition: $6,695

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: The CFP-registered certificate program includes 18 semester units taught in a highly interactive classroom setting. The introductory course also is offered online. Beginning this spring, the program also will launch several accelerated classroom courses, with the rest slated to follow in summer 2014, giving students the option to take many required courses in either accelerated or standard classroom modes - which the school says will let some students complete the program in just seven months. The program is overseen by an industry advisory board; courses are taught by working professionals. The program provides networking opportunities through awards, career and networking events arranged by the student advisory board.
Irvine, Calif.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): Certificate

Enrollment: 300

Faculty: 16 practitioners

Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1

Tuition: $630 per course

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: As is true at many other UC programs, students who complete the financial planning certificate are eligible to transfer credits into the MBA in planning at Cal Lutheran University. In addition to the eight required courses for the certificate, the program offers noncertificate courses, including an internship, a review course and instruction on building a planning firm.

Image: Wikimedia Commons user: Windupduck
Los Angeles

CFP Board-registered programs: Traditional evening/online program and accelerated hybrid

Enrollment: 250 to 300

Faculty: 20 adjunct instructors

Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1 for traditional evening/online, 15:1 for accelerated hybrid

Tuition: $4,287 to $4,750 for certificates, depending on options; $1,000 for CFP exam review

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: The UCLA Extension program has worked to better connect with the local business community. The FPA chapter is linked with the Los Angeles FPA chapter, helping students connect with new planning professionals. The program also expanded its advisory board this year to include both instructors and professional planners - a change designed to guide the program academically as well as [provide] outreach to the business community, says program director Richard Burnes. Next year, UCLA plans to shift its accelerated hybrid to an online program, with live sessions along with self-paced study.

Image: Flickr user: Chris Radcliffe
Gainesville, Fla.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): Online certificate program, in-class certificate aimed at students also completing an undergraduate degree and in-class certificate for master's or doctoral students. An online noncredit graduate certificate is being offered from this year.

Enrollment: 15 undergraduate, 5 graduate

Faculty: 2 full-time, 1 adjunct

Students-to-faculty ratio: 5:1

Tuition: Undergraduate certificate, $3,000; graduate-level certificate and online certificates, $9,750; noncredit graduate certificate, $6,000

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: The master's program in planning is taught in a virtual classroom that makes use of new technology. Zywave donated planning software NaviPlan, providing students tools to learn how to manage personal financial risk.

Image: Flickr user: jimmywayne
Athens, Ga.

CFP Board-registered programs: B.S. degree 75 students, master's degree 10 students, Ph.D. 5 students. An online M.S. degree will be offered in 2014.

Enrollment: 75 undergrads, 10 graduate students, 5 Ph. D. students

Faculty: 5 full time

Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1 for undergraduate; 3:1 for graduate

Tuition: Undergraduate $10,262 per academic year, full-time; graduate $9,934 per academic year, full-time

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: Registered with the CFP Board for over a decade, the school plans to launch an online master's degree program next year. Part of the Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics Department, the program teaches students in an intensively interdisciplinary environment that includes experiential work in the community. Students have an opportunity to work in the school's ASPIRE clinic alongside law and family therapy students, providing financial counseling.

Image: Flickr user: hyku
Champaign, Ill.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 1 undergraduate degree

Enrollment: 90

Faculty: 30 full-time (in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics)

Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1 in classroom

Tuition: $15,000 for state residents, $29,000 for nonresidents

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: The planning program, which launched in 2009, is thriving. The department is currently working with the CFP Board to introduce a series of free online courses to educate the public on the basics of planning.
San Antonio, Texas

CFP Board-registered programs: Bachelor's of business administration with concentration in planning

Enrollment: About 50

Faculty: 3 full time, 2 adjuncts

Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1

Tuition: $11,900 per semester

FPA student chapter: No

Overview: Even though the program is small, students have shined at national FPA competitions and the local FPA holds campus workshops. We also work closely with our students to provide internships and opportunities to shadow professionals, says Alicia Rodriguez Rubio, assistant professor of finance.

Image: Wikimedia Commons user: Nick81aku
Columbia, Mo.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): 2 online (M.S. and certificate, through Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance membership); 7 on site (B.S. in human environmental sciences with emphasis in personal financial planning, M.S. or Ph.D. in personal financial planning, post-baccalaureate certificate; PFP minor with agricultural economics B.S., PFP minor with finance B.S. or B.A, and PFP M.S. with law degree)

Enrollment:135 undergraduates, 51 graduates

Faculty: 10 full-time faculty

Student-to-faculty ratio: 48:1 tenure-track faculty, 33:1 including other faculty

Tuition: $9,430 for residents and $22,822 for nonresidents; master's degree, $342 per credit for residents, $541 for nonresidents. Full-time students take nine credits per semester.

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: The school is home to the oldest departmental-level planning program in the country. It offers a certificate track and several degree tracks, including a Ph.D. Since the department is not part of the business school, many MBA students are unaware of it, says department Chairman Rob Weagley. He's trying to market the program more within the university, as well as trying to open up its courses to students in different degrees. By opening up classes to people in different disciplines, there will be more choices for more people, he says.

Image: Flickr user: ensign_beedrills
Madison, Wis.

CFP Board-registered programs: B.S. in personal finance

Enrollment: 71 majors

Faculty: 5 full time, 0.25 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1

Tuition: Undergraduate $10,402 for residents, $26,652 for nonresidents

FPA student chapter: No, but planned for 2014-15

Overview: The personal finance program, registered with the CFP Board in 1995, is housed in the School of Human Ecology. In addition to the educational requirements of the CFP Board, students in personal finance gain a broad understanding of the economic, political and social contexts in which individual's and family's financial decisions are made, says program director Robert McCalla. Since 2009, he says, the pass rate has topped 80%, well above the national average, while more than 80% of graduates report being employed in financial services.
Orem, Utah

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. in financial planning; two new certificate programs expected

Enrollment: 140

Faculty: 3 full-time, 2 non-tenured full-time, 6 from other departments, 2 to 3 adjuncts

Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1 (including full-time and adjuncts)

Tuition: $2,500 for residents, $7,000 for nonresidents

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: The personal financial planning major is located in an AACSB accredited business school, with a core curriculum built on a business management and finance foundation. Students are required to complete a paid internship. The program added two new professors (including Financial Planning contributing writer Craig L. Israelsen) and plans to add to the 15 courses that make up the undergraduate major.

Image: Flickr user: zenhikers
Blacksburg, Va.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. applied economic management, B.S. finance

Enrollment: 125 combined

Faculty (full-time and adjunct): 8 full-time, 1 adjunct

Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1

Tuition: $4,810 per semester for state residents, $12,385 for nonresidents

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: Since the registration of the two B.S. programs in 2007 (a former program was registered from 1997-2007), the number of students has stabilized at about 125. Three student teams placed in the top eight of the FPA's Financial Planning Challenge in 2012.
Wayne, N.J.

CFP Board-registered programs (online and in person): B.S. in financial planning and an accelerated certificate program

Enrollment: 80 financial planning majors

Faculty: 2 full-time, 8 adjuncts (all adjuncts are planners)

Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1

Tuition: $11,918 per year for N.J. residents, $19,458 for nonresidents

FPA student chapter: Yes

Overview: The program has landed in the top three in several competitions in its five years of existence, including twice at FPA's National Financial Planning Challenge. Its full-time undergraduate program has a diverse student body, with 51% minorities and 32% women. In addition to its B.S. degree, the university offers a certificate program for working executives. Students also have access to courses in one of the nation's only degree programs in professional sales. A fast-growing niche at the school is a dual degree in planning and accounting.

Image: Wikimedia Commons user: Rossrover