Professional Certificate in Financial Planning

Financial Planning

Improve your career options with a professional certificate in Financial Planning

With a Professional Financial Planning Certificate from the University of Utah you will fulfill the educational requirements to sit for the CFP Certification Examination. The CFP® Certification is one of the most recognized designations in the financial advising industry. Completing the education requirement is an important step toward the CFP® certification.

In this 18-credit program, you will learn a broad range of personal financial planning concepts in the areas of insurance and income tax planning, retirement and estate planning, and investment strategies. The curriculum is designed to prepare you for career success and follow guidelines established by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. This is a six-course, online program.

This certificate is offered in collaboration with the Department of Family and Consumer Studies with the College of Social and Behavioral Science. These collaborative noncredit certificates utilize existing for-credit classes and as such, have unique application requirements which are described in the information below.

Upcoming Classes

Class Title Next Start Date
Financial Skills For Life 05/09/2022
Financial Skills For Life Online, Starting: 08/22/2022
Building Family Wealth: Investment And Life Insurance Planning Online, Starting: 08/22/2022
Retirement and Benefit Planning for Families -- Online Online, Starting: 08/22/2022
Family Financial Planning Capstone 05/16/2022

Who Should Attend

This program prepares individuals for careers in the financial planning field. It is designed for:

  • Those seeking to obtain the CFP certification
  • Individuals who desire to launch a career in financial planning field with credibility and expertise
  • Professionals seeking a career change to positions in the field of financial planning
  • Professionals currently working in the financial industry who want to increase opportunities for career advancement

The Value of the Certified Financial Planner Certificate

  • Build your future by Helping Others Build Theirs: Earning the CFP credential leads to high income potential in a dynamic and respected profession. CFP professionals realize the satisfaction that comes from helping people plan for their futures. As a financial planner with valuable expertise, you can expect personal satisfaction as well as financial rewards.
  • Make an Impact: Solve financial problems, help people meet their financial goals, and serve as trusted advisor, counselor and coach.
  • Signal Credibility and Integrity: CFP® certification demonstrates a deep knowledge and commitment to personal financial planning.
  • Enjoy Security in a Growing Field: The financial planning career path is expected to grow substantially in the coming years. According to Consumer Reports Money Advisor, the population of financial advisors is expected to grow 32% in the next decade. US News & World Report recently rated a career as a financial advisor as #4 in Best Business Jobs and #41 on their list of the top 100 Best Jobs.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this certificate program, students should be able to:

  • Prepare students for the CFP exam by covering all CFP Board required topics, allowing students to sit for the exam once all the courses are complete.
  • Demonstrate expertise with advanced professional issues in personal financial planning, including regulatory compliance, investment, retirement, risk management, insurance, tax and estate planning. Effectively apply and integrate this information in the formulation of a financial plan. (Knowledge Base)
  • Follow financial services regulations and apply CFP Board Financial Planning Practice Standards. (Ethics and Rules)
  • Establish the relationship with a client and effectively communicate the financial plan, both orally and in writing. (Communication)
  • Collect all necessary and relevant qualitative and quantitative information required to develop a financial plan and gather client data (Data Collection)
  • Analyze and evaluate the client's financial status, personal values, and family priorities. (Analysis)
  • Develop comprehensive plans, present financial planning recommendations, and implement financial plans. (Plan Development and Implementation)

The CFP Board Exam

This noncredit Financial Planning Certificate Program is a registered program with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. The program meets specific criteria set forward by the CFP® Board for educating individuals who wish to fulfill the Education component for obtaining CFP® certification. Individuals who meet the CFP® Board's education requirement are eligible to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination. Successful completion of the Education and Examination components completes two of the four core prerequisites to obtain CFP® certification. The other two components are Experience and Ethics. The for-credit certificate is currently registered and approved.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements. The University of Utah does not certify individuals to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and certification marks. CFP® certification is granted only by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. to those persons who, in addition to completing an educational requirement such as this CFP Board-Registered Program, have met its ethics, experience, and examination requirements.

For more information regarding the CFP® certification process, please visit

Courses – 6 noncredit courses are required.

Format – online and on-campus. six courses are online. The program is designed for working professionals in a primarily online format, allowing students to study when and where they want. Each course is held over one semester.

Program Start Options – fall, spring or summer semesters. Course availability varies each semester. Please check with the program advisor to explore your individual program of study options.

Class Schedule – online courses are conveniently available to students at any time. Students must have completed all other courses to take the Capstone Class. Students are encouraged to complete the courses in sequential order as material builds on prior class information.

Average Time to Complete – for students taking 6 credits a semester, the program will take 16 months to complete on average. Some students may be able to complete the program in as little as 12 months. Students must complete the program within four years. There is no minimum or maximum number of credits a student must or can take per semester.

Accelerated Program Format – There is a 12 month accelerated program option available for students starting in the fall. Students take 9 credits during the fall semester, 6 credits in the spring, and 3 credits in the summer.

Prerequisites – There are no course prerequisites to begin the certificate program, however students are encouraged to have some background in math, finance or statistics to maximum learning opportunities.

Certificate Eligibility and Requirements

Qualified certificate students will have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA.
This noncredit certificate program is not open to University of Utah matriculated (degree-seeking) students. Degree-seeking students wishing to complete the CFP education requirements should consult with the Financial Planning Program director or advisor through the following link:

How can I achieve the CFP® Certification and become a CFP® professional?

This noncredit program meets specific criteria set forward by the CFP® Board to fulfill the education requirement to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination. Earning the CFP® certification demonstrates a standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. Successful completion of the Education component completes one of the four core prerequisites to obtain the CFP® certification. The other three components are passing the CFP® Certification Examination, fulfilling the experience requirement, and adhering to the high standards of ethics.

Can I transfer in courses from other programs or universities?

For students who have completed CFP certificate classes previously in a for-credit format at the University of Utah, within the last five years, but who are not currently admitted, up to five 3 credit classes may be used towards the noncredit certificate. This does not apply to the capstone class, PEPEC 550, which must be completed at the end of the noncredit certificate. Satisfactory grade requirements must be met.
For students who have completed a certificate class at another CFP Board approved program, up to one 3 credit class may be transferred into the noncredit certificate. This does not apply to the capstone class, FCS PEPEC, which must be completed at the end of the University of Utah noncredit certificate. Minimum grade requirements must be met.

What can I expect from the Financial Planning Capstone Course?

The capstone course is a unique experience that will integrate knowledge gained in previous courses to evaluate case studies and complete projects both individually and in teams. Guest speakers and interaction with current CFP professionals bring real-world situations and experiences to this valuable course.
Students, who are not well versed with financial planning technology, are strongly encouraged to take the one-credit FCS 596 Technology for Financial Planning (Su) before taking the Capstone course.

What are career opportunities for CFP professionals?

There are numerous career opportunities and resources available for CFP professionals. For more information about how to pursue a career in financial planning, please visit the CFP Board career development website at

Are there any special technical or computer requirements for any of the courses?

A financial calculator, such as an HP 12C, is required for PEPEC 350 and recommended for other FCS courses.

The online Professional Certificate in Financial Planning requires six noncredit courses. Courses are offered in a time frame comparable to a traditional semester schedule, with fixed start and end dates. Courses meet with for-credit sections.

Required Courses

PEPEC 350 Financial Skills for Life

This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of financial planning. Students will receive an overview of specific areas of financial planning such as income tax planning, investment planning, retirement planning and estate planning. In addition, the course will present topics on the concepts of time value of money, insurance planning, and the practice of personal financial planning by professional planners. Students may take the online or on-campus section of this course to complete the certificate.

PEPEC 551 Building Family Wealth: Investment and Life Insurance Planning - Online

This course introduces risk-return concepts, debt and equity securities, and options and futures contracts. The course uses a Portfolio Project to evaluate the array of financial instrument investment alternatives and their risk profile. Participants analyze expected return characteristics, individually and in combination within a portfolio. Different investment strategies and valuation models are used to understand basic investment principles and practices.

PEPEC 552 Retirement and Benefit Planning for Families - Online

This course includes the comprehensive study of qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, other tax-advantaged plans, and employee benefits. In addition, this course will present an overview of the Social Security, disability and health care programs.

PEPEC 553 Income Tax Planning for Families - Online

The application of income tax laws to the transactions of individuals and businesses is important in planning for the avoidance, minimization, and deferral of taxation. This course examines the federal income tax system with particular reference to the income taxation of individuals, sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and corporations (including S corporations).

PEPEC 554 Protecting Family Wealth: Insurance and Estate Planning - Online

This course will provide students with an introduction to estate planning and the taxation of estates for the purposes of financial planning. Topics covered by this course include the tax implications of gifts and bequests, federal estate tax, revocable and irrevocable trusts, including bypass and marital deduction trusts.

PEPEC 555 Financial Planning Capstone

This course will cover and review in depth some of the different areas of financial planning necessary to complete a comprehensive financial plan for a client. During this course students will work individually and in groups to bring knowledge together from each of the relevant pre-requisite courses to evaluate case study situations representing samples of what may be encountered in the work place as a CFP Professional. Prerequisites: FCS 350, 551, 552, 553, 554 or instructor approval.

NOTE: Effective Fall 2022, there will be a $15 price increase for all Financial Planning Certificate courses

Program Cost – Noncredit tuition for each course is $715 / Full certificate cost is $4290 (the tuition rate listed includes the fall semester increase)

Tuition is due at the beginning of each course offering a convenient pay-as-you-go option. Textbooks are additional costs. Tuition listed subject to change without advance notice.

  • Online courses have an additional $60 per class fee.
  • Financial aid is not available for this noncredit certificate. Students are encouraged to inquire with their employers to determine if tuition assistance is available.
  • Tax credits and deductions may be available for higher education expenses.
  • For this certificate, installment plans and deferral payment plans are available for noncredit students. Visit Tuition Payment Options for more information.

Why choose the University of Utah?

We understand that you have a choice when it comes to taking professional development courses and we work hard to earn your trust with each and every class!

By selecting the University of Utah, you’ll enjoy the following benefits whether you’re coming to us as someone new to the job market, a career changer, a seasoned professional or a lifelong learner.

Resume Power - benefit from the University of Utah reputation for credibility and quality. Choosing the University of Utah for your certificate program makes a clear statement about your commitment to excellence.

Instructor Excellence - learn from the same high-quality faculty that teach in our degree programs.

The Power of the U Network – students have access to a valuable University of Utah peer and faculty network.

Programs that Fit Your Schedule – most of our certificates offer convenient online or evening classes that offer a schedule that works around you. Go to class whenever and wherever you want.

How to register for an Academic Noncredit Certificate

  • These unique certificates are offered in collaboration with University of Utah colleges and academic departments and as such, have unique registration requirements.
  • Register for the certificate through the Professional Education website. There is no cost to register.
  • By registering, you are declaring your intention to complete the full certificate curriculum.
  • Once you’ve registered for your certificate, our staff will send you the link to a short supplementary registration information form for that is required by the departments. Please complete this form within 5 days of receipt.
  • Each certificate has unique application requirements for admission. Please see the "program details" information on each individual certificate webpage to find out the requirements for your certificate.
  • Academic noncredit certificates are not open to students admitted to the University of Utah as a matriculated (degree-seeking) or non-matriculated student.

The following information is required on the supplementary registration information form:

  • 1. Personal information such as your name, address, phone and email address
  • 2. Academic history: degree, degree institution, year
  • 3. University of Utah student history (if any)
  • 4. Short response: why are you interested in taking this certificate?
  • 5. Short response: Please use this space to tell us anything else about yourself that you would like to include in your application.

Please have all information available when you are ready to start the application. Once the application is started, there is no option to save and return. Uploading of documents for short-answer response is not available. Please be prepared to enter directly or paste from another document.

Once it’s verified that you meet all certificate requirements, you will be sent a new student information packet and instructions on how to register for your courses.

Deadlines and other important application information

  • Registrations are accepted on an ongoing basis. For planning purposes, please register at least one month prior to the start of the semester. Registrations received within 5 working days of the start of the semester may not be able to start the program on time.
  • All classes for Academic Noncredit Certificates start at the beginning of each semester unless otherwise noted.
  • Find information about the University of Utah academic calendar here.
  • Applicants can expect to receive information about their registration within 3 days of submission.
  • Applicants are asked not to register for courses prior to being admitted into the certificate program. Details about how to register for classes will be included in all new student information.
  • Students wishing to take courses individually and not as part of a certificate, do not need to submit a certificate registration and may register for classes through Academic Noncredit programs. Note that these classes cannot be applied towards a certificate at a later date. Some courses may not be offered for non-certificate seeking students.

Certificate Completion Requirements

  • Students will be required to fulfill the same expectations and requirements as matriculated students including exams, projects and participation.
  • Certificate students will receive an “S-Satisfactory” or “U-Unsatisfactory” assessment for each class. “S-Satisfactory” will indicate that the student has met the standards for at least a B-.
  • Students must receive an “S-Satisfactory" grade in all classes for successful completion.
  • A certificate is awarded upon satisfactory completion of all required courses.

How is my accomplishment recognized?

For students earning an “S-Satisfactory" grade, the completed certificate will appear on University of Utah official transcripts.

Students will also be awarded a University of Utah digital credential (badge) that can be shared on social media sites and used with other professional resources. Digital badges are embedded with metadata that validate the skills demonstrated and other requirements for earning the badge.

Digital Credentials / Badges

examples of badge graphicsexamples of badge graphicsFollow the link on the badge to the left to find out what metadata is behind the Yoga Teacher Training Certificate or Caring for the Aging Population Micro-certificate badge. This is an example of the type of information you’ll find behind all our academic noncredit certificates.

Find out more about Digital Badges at the University of Utah »

Are there exams? Am I graded?

Certificate classes are graded with a "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" option. For successful certificate completion, students must achieve a "satisfactory" grade in all classes.

Can I apply these classes to a degree at the University of Utah?

This certificate is noncredit and cannot be applied to any for-credit degree.

Is there a minimum or maximum number of credits a student may take in a semester?

There are no minimums or maximum number of credits restrictions for students. The certificate must be completed within two years.

Will I have flexibility in what classes I take and when?

Once admitted, students are responsible for enrolling in individual classes on their own through Continuing Education Academic Noncredit. Students may consult with the certificate program manager if they have questions about specific courses. (See contact us section)

Are these classes eligible for federal financial aid?

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "non-degree seeking," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid loan programs.

Is there a minimum or maximum number of credits a student may take in a semester?

There are no minimums or maximum number of credits restrictions for students. Students skipping one or more semesters are encouraged to communicate with their program advisor regarding completion plans.

What is the average weekly time commitment for each of the classes?

This noncredit class is "yoked" or partnered with a for-credit section. The for-credit section is three credits. For a typical three credit hour class, each student is expect to spend approximately six hours per week outside the classroom.

What are the online courses like?

The online courses in this certificate are flexible in that you don't have to attend online classes at a specific time. Our students use a combination of self-study and peer-to-peer interaction over an online learning network to facilitate instruction. You'll complete weekly assignments, readings, discussions, and occasional group work, as well as exams and other activities designed to enhance learning outcomes, all at times that are most convenient to you.

Using chat, video conferencing, phone calls, email, social media, bulletin boards, and more, you'll stay connected with fellow students and faculty, building personal networks along the way.

Your courses are developed by faculty and instructional designers who understand the specific needs of learners in an online environment. Special consideration is given to advance planning and setting expectations in the online classroom, so each curriculum is outlined in a syllabus distributed at the start of the course. This document provides an overview of the course assignments, grading strategy, student and faculty expectations, and course materials, as well as an understanding of the course goals and learning outcomes.

Does it matter which course I take first or in what order I take the classes?

It might matter. See the individual program details for your specific certificate.

You have a variety of resources available to help you navigate your way through your experience at the U. Below we've listed the contacts that you will likely interact with the most.

Department of Family and Consumer Studies

Jenny Stout
Academic Advisor

Zhou Yu
Associate Professor, Family and consumer Studies/Director, Financial Planning Emphasis

Professional Education

Contact Professional Education for questions about certificate requirements, completion process or overall certificate experience.

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