Professional Certificate in 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 six-course program includes five online courses and one capstone course offered on-campus.

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


Why Financial Planning at the University of Utah

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.

  • Learn from the same high-quality faculty that teach in our degree programs.
  • Develop a valuable University of Utah peer and faculty network.
  • Convenient online classes offer a schedule that works around you. Go to class whenever and wherever you want.
  • Affordable pay-as-you-go option – pay for classes in the semester you take them. Payment for the full certificate up front is not required.
  • Non-credit certificate students have access to many University of Utah services and opportunities available to for-credit students.

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

A bachelor's degree is required to pursue this non-credit certificate. Those still needing a bachelor's degree should consider our undergraduate programs. More information about those programs can be found here:

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 Objectives

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

  1. 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)
  2. Follow financial services regulations and apply CFP Board Financial Planning Practice Standards. (Ethics and Rules)
  3. Establish the relationship with a client and effectively communicate the financial plan, both orally and in writing. (Communication)
  4. Collect all necessary and relevant qualitative and quantitative information required to develop a financial plan and gather client data (Data Collection)
  5. Analyze and evaluate the client's financial status, personal values, and family priorities. (Analysis)
  6. Develop comprehensive plans, present financial planning recommendations, and implement financial plans. (Plan Development and Implementation)


The CFP Board Exam

This non-credit 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. CFP Board registration for this non-credit certificate in process and expected spring 2017. 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

Program Details

Credits – 18 credits / 6 courses

Format – online and on-campus. Five courses are online and one course, the Capstone Course, is held on campus, one night a week. 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. The Capstone Class is offered in an on-campus format one night a week. The Capstone Class is currently offered each summer semester with plans to expand this to additional semesters in the near future. 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. A bachelor's degree is required for admission into the certificate program.

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 non-credit 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:

A certificate is awarded upon satisfactory completion of six required courses. After completing all requirements, students may request to receive their official certificate by completing the Request for Certificate form. All requirements must be completed within four years after the student starts his/her first course. Upon verified completion, the Financial Planning Certificate Program will appear on official University of Utah transcripts.

Digital Badges

example of digital badge for the University of UtahUpon completion, students will receive a digital badge that can be added to their social media accounts like Facebook and LinkedIn, and shared with their professional networks.

Follow the link on the badge to the left to find out what metadata is behind the Professional Certificate in Financial Planning badge.

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


The online Professional Certificate in Financial Planning is an 18-credit program of study with six required courses offered in a time frame comparable to a traditional semester schedule, with fixed start and end dates. Courses meet with for-credit sections.

PEPEC 350 Financial Skills for Life
3 Credit Hours

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 3 Credit Hours

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 3 Credit Hours

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 3 Credit Hours

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 3 Credit Hours

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
On-Campus - one night a week

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.

Optional Courses

Two additional optional courses are available to students. Note that these courses are not required and do not contribute to fulfilling the certificate requirements.

FCS 596 Technology for Financial Planning

This hybrid course will familiarize students with basic, integrated financial planning tools and software foundational to their completion of Financial Planning Capstone. Within the context of a basic case study, students will apply foundational time value of money calculations using a financial calculator, and will learn to formulate basic client recommendations through the application of integrated financial planning platforms common to financial planning practice.

FCS 351 Tax Prep & Community

Class sessions will be devoted to gaining knowledge and skills necessary to obtain IRS certification. The remainder of the semester will be devoted to putting the certification to work engaging in tax preparation and directing clients to other sources of help. Students can choose from a long list of VITA (volunteer income tax assistance) program sites to volunteer at in SLC, Davis, Utah, and Wasatch counties. 55 hours at the VITA site will be required.

Program Cost

Program Cost – non-credit tuition for each course is $700 / Full certificate cost is $4200

Tuition is due at the beginning of each course offering a convenient pay-as-you-go option. Textbooks are additional costs. Tuition listed is for the 2016-2017 academic year and subject to change without advance notice.

Online courses have an additional $60 per class fee.

Financial aid is not available for this non-credit 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 non-credit students. Visit the Tuition Payment Options page for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

This non-credit 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 non-credit certificate. This does not apply to the capstone class, PEPEC 550 which must be completed at the end of the non-credit 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 non-credit certificate. This does not apply to the capstone class, FCS PEPEC, which must be completed at the end of the University of Utah non-credit certificate. Minimum grade requirements must be met.

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 non-credit and can not be applied to any for-credit degree.

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

For a three credit hour class, each student is expected to spend approximately six hours per week outside the classroom.

What are the online courses like?

The online courses in this certificate are asynchronous – meaning 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?

For maximum learning outcomes, it's recommended that students proceed through the courses in a sequential manner from PEPEC 350 to PEPEC 550. On a case by case basis, there may be approved variations from this sequencing and the program staff is open to working with students to determine a program-of-study that fits their work and academic experience, goals and schedule constraints.

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 can I expect from the Financial Planning Capstone Course?

The capstone course is a unique on-campus 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. Due to the in-person interaction with fellow students, professors and guest speakers, this class provides a valuable opportunity to continue to build a professional network.
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.

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. They may consult with the FCS academic advisor or Professional Education staff if they have questions about which classes to take and approved programs-of-study.

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 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.

How often are classes offered?

The full University of Utah class schedule can be found here:

Certificate classes meet with for-credit sections. All classes are offered at least once a year but to ensure an efficient program-of-study, careful pre-planning with your advisor is recommended. PEPEC 350 - Consumer and Family Finance is offered fall, spring and summer semesters.

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.

How to Apply

The following information is required on the application:

  • Personal information such as your name, address, phone and email address
  • Academic history – degree, degree institution, year and verification that university attended is regionally accredited
  • University of Utah student history (if any)
  • Your graduating, cumulative GPA (2.5 minimum)
  • Your response to two short questions:
    1. Why are you interested in pursuing a financial planning certificate at this time in your professional development? What are your career aspirations once you have completed the certificate? (300 words or less total)
    2. Tell us more about your professional work experience. A background in the financial services industry is not required to pursue this certificate but we find that understanding the professional experiences of our students is helpful in reviewing program design. If you do not have any professional work experience, please use this space to tell us more about your interests, community involvement or academic experiences. (300 words or less)

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 responses is not available. Please be prepared to enter directly or paste from another document.

There is no fee to apply.

Qualified certificate students will have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA. This certificate is open to all majors. If you have questions about your undergraduate university being regionally accredited, please visit or e-mail us at

This non-credit 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 Emphasis Director or program advisor.

Applicants can expect to receive information about their application within 14 days of submission.


Deadlines and Important Dates

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. For planning purposes, applicants are encouraged to submit their application at least one month prior to the intended start date.

Find information about the University of Utah academic calendar here:

Professional Education / University of Utah

Phone: 801-585-1780

Online contact form

For more information about our Veterans/Military Program, contact Bill Bialcak at 801-589-4179.