Online Degrees In Financial Planning

Online degree programs in financial planning prepare students to help individuals and businesses maximize their earning potential and their investments. During these programs, students gain a greater understanding of the global economy and financial markets, while learning strategies to improve individual performance over time.

Although nearly anyone can pursue an online degree in financial planning, these programs are mostly geared to students who have an interest in math, business, and helping others. The ideal participant is one who loves to crunch numbers and look for new and innovative ways to invest money in a responsible, yet lucrative way.

Online degree programs in financial planning are convenient for high school graduates and working professionals who would like to maintain their jobs and earn a degree at the same time. These programs offer the flexibility you require to balance work, study and other commitments you may have, while still being able to accomplish your career goals.

More than $18 trillion dollars is going to pass from the Baby Boomer generation to their descendants in the next few years.

Financial planners may work as personal financial advisors, helping individuals and families manage their money or as financial analysts providing financial guidance to companies. Some of their typical duties are discussed below.

Personal financial advisors:

  • Meeting clients to understand their financial needs and goals
  • Educating clients on their investment options and sketching a plan to meet their goals
  • Recommending specific investments to clients and making them on their behalf
  • Monitoring clients’ investments and making changes as necessary

Financial analysts:

  • Studying economic and business trends
  • Evaluating current and historical financial data
  • Examining a company’s financial statements to determine its value, strength and weaknesses
  • Recommending investment options to companies to strengthen their financial health

The demand for financial planners and financial analysts is on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a surge in the need for financial planners as the number of baby boomers grows and that demographic reaches retirement age. Similarly, it predicts the growth of “big data” and technological improvements to give rise to the demand for financial analysts as companies look for new and more secure investment opportunities.

The table below lists the occupations related to this field along with job openings, average salary, total employment and job outlook for 2016 to 2026 using data from the BLS.

Median Salary
Projected Job Growth
Financial Managers697,900$134,18015%
Credit Counselors30,770$ 49,9408%
Loan Officers316,900$63,9603%
Financial Examiners66,900$81,4307%
Personal Financial Advisors263,000$89,3304%
Financial Clerks, All Other30,500$44,7407%
Financial and Investment Analysts, Financial Risk Specialists, and Financial Specialists, All Other460,250$ 96,6307%
Tax Preparers62,600$ 52,7105%
Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents57,600$55,640-4%
Insurance Underwriters114,700$71,790-6%

Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2019-29 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals

The increasing globalization of the world’s economies is likely to lead to enormous new marketing opportunities for advisors.

An online financial planning certificate program can act as an introduction to the field of financial planning. Most people who work as personal financial advisors or financial analysts possess a bachelor’s degree.

A master’s degree in financial planning is suitable for individuals who want to go more in-depth in a particular area or combine their financial knowledge with business skills via an MBA with a concentration in finance.

A PhD in personal financial planning is the terminal degree in this field preparing students to work in policy, academia, or research rather than consulting directly with clients.

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

Online certificate programs can allow you to explore the field of financial planning giving you an overview of related topics. Certificate programs may also cover the topics you need to study in order to appear for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) examinations.

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: You can expect to learn the basic concepts of financial planning including how to conduct a needs analysis for a client and put together a financial plan. Potential courses include:

  • Estate planning
  • Fundamentals of financial planning and insurance
  • Investment
  • Personal financial planning
  • Retirement planning

Note: Many online financial planning certificate programs may require you to complete additional online college courses related to the subject prior to enrolling in the program. These requirements may be waived at the college’s discretion depending on your qualifications and experience.

What can I do after earning a certificate?

A certificate in financial planning may also allow you to obtain entry-level roles in the financial services industry in brokerage houses, banks, insurance companies, accounting firms and even law offices.

Investments in technology can help to expand reach to new clients and markets and enhance products and services

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

A financial planning major at the associate degree level can teach you the fundamental skills required for various careers in finance — from understanding the different types of financial transactions that take place to the different types of financial instruments like stocks and bonds and their analysis.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Apart from general education courses, your online financial planning courses may include:

  • Business finance
  • Financial accounting
  • Personal finance
  • Principles of microeconomics
  • Risk and insurance

You may also have to complete a capstone project as a part of your associate degree program requirements.

Possible electives: Real estate appraisal and finance; federal taxation: individuals; retirement and employee benefit planning

What can I do after earning an associate degree?

An associate degree in financial planning may act as a stepping-stone toward a bachelor’s degree. It can also help you obtain entry-level roles that require more specialized skills and knowledge than those gained with a certificate in financial planning. Potential job titles include:

  • Client service manager
  • Financial clerk
  • Paraplanner
  • Personal financial advisor

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor’s degree program?

Bachelor’s degree programs can equip students with the strong math, analytical, and interpersonal skills needed to develop solid financial plans and communicate those plans to clients with topics ranging from technical skills to soft skills and interpersonal development.

Typical duration: Four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Courses offered in bachelor’s degree programs tend to focus on a wide range of financial principles, like tax planning, global finance, and even business psychology. Although curriculum can vary depending on the school, most financial planning programs offer some variation of the following courses as part of their core curriculum:

  • Financial plan development
  • Financial statements and reporting analysis
  • Principles of finance
  • Risk management and insurance planning
  • Tax planning

You may have to complete a capstone project as a part of the requirement for your online bachelor’s financial planning degree program.

Possible electives: Federal income tax; money, banking and financial markets; global finance

What can I do after earning a bachelor’s degree?

Many employers prefer hiring candidates with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in financial planning can, therefore, open up a wide number of career opportunities in the financial industry. Some potential occupations are:

  • Income tax planning advisor
  • Investment advisor
  • Risk management advisor
  • Securities, commodities and financial services agent

What can I expect to learn in an online master’s degree program?

Online financial planning degree programs can equip you with the ability to present highly technical products and strategies in a clear and concise manner.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree

Typical coursework: You can explore the intricacies of financial planning in more depth than you did during your bachelor’s degree program. You may also learn how various financial institutions or departments are run. Online financial planning courses you may take are:

  • Business valuation
  • Financial counseling and client communication
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Practice management in financial planning
  • Theories and research in personal financial planning

You may have to complete a capstone project as a part of your master’s degree program.

Possible electives: Professional practices in financial planning; military personal financial readiness; housing and real estate.

What can I do after earning a master’s degree?

The BLS notes that a master’s degree can vastly improve your prospects of entering a managerial role in the financial services industry. You may even be able to start your own practice. Some potential occupations are:

  • Wealth management advisor
  • Private/corporate investment researcher
  • Financial analyst
  • Investment consultant

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

Online Ph.D. programs in financial planning are designed to equip students to conduct advanced research in the field. You can learn to solve real-world problems using your knowledge of finance along with its relationship with financial markets.

Typical duration: Four to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Master’s degree

Typical coursework: Students usually study courses in research methods along with advanced financial topics. Some courses you may take are:

  • Research methods in financial planning, housing and consumer economics
  • Financial planning and analysis
  • Family resource management
  • Clinical research and applications in financial counseling and planning
  • Consumer policies and programs

Dissertation: A large part of the doctoral degree program is spent on completing a doctoral thesis based on original research. Students must be able to defend their doctoral dissertation by answering questions posed on the research by a panel of experts.

What can I do after earning a doctoral degree?

A doctoral degree in financial planning can be ideal for individuals wanting to enter academia or research. You may work in settings like investment houses, universities or independent financial research firms at high-level posts or even head the finance department of a large business. Candidates with a Ph.D. in financial planning may also be eligible to work in governmental bodies determining public policies.


Accreditation is an important factor to consider when choosing an online financial planning program. This is a voluntary process that institutions undergo to demonstrate their curriculum and faculty provide valuable, high-quality instruction that meets or exceeds the professional standards required by the industry today. Additionally, attending an accredited school or program can be a prerequisite while applying for federal financial aid.

Some online financial planning programs may be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), if they are offered as a business degree.

Certifications and Licensures

Certifications in the financial planning industry can serve to demonstrate competency in the field. They can serve to reassure clients that their hard-earned money is in safe hands. The Certified Financial Planner certificate offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is recognized in many countries worldwide. Some other certifications are:

The finance industry is tightly regulated. Licensure requirements can vary depending on your job role and the products you buy and sell and you may need a combination of different licenses. The size of the firm you work for can also matter as financial planners working in smaller firms need licenses from state regulators while those with larger firms need to be licensed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is the main licensing body for the securities industry. You can find out more about state licensing requirements from the North American Securities Administrators Association.

Employment Statistics

Personal Financial Advisors

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Securities, Commodity Contracts, & Other Financial Investments
  • Insurance and Employee Benefit Funds
  • Other Investment Pools and Funds
  • Credit Intermediation and Related Activities
  • Agencies, Brokerages, and Other Insurance Related Activities
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Illinois
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Gainesville, FL
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • Tyler, TX
  • Norwich-New London-Westerly, CT-RI
  • Portland-South Portland, ME

Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Qualified financial advisors are in high demand. Many businesses, corporate funds and colleges have therefore set up scholarship and grant programs in order to attract the best candidates to the field. It is always a good idea to check with your school’s financial aid office to see if you qualify for any of their offerings. We’ve listed some scholarships below to help you get started.

Other resources for aspiring financial planners

  • B.S. Financial Planning, Franklin University,, accessed December 2018
  • BS in Finance: Financial Planning, Southern New Hampshire University,, accessed December 2018
  • Doctoral Degree Program, Institute of Personal Financial Planning, Kansas State University,, accessed December 2018
  • Finance Technology (FIN), Cincinnati State,, accessed December 2018
  • Financial Analysts, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,, accessed December 2018
  • Financial Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,, accessed December 2018
  • Financial Planning Certificate (FPC), Cincinnati State,, accessed December 2018
  • Master of Science in Finance – Financial Planning, Liberty University Online,,accessed December 2018
  • Master of Science in Financial Planning, University of Georgia,, accessed December 2018
  • Personal Financial Advisors, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,, accessed December 2018
  • Personal financial planning: Online master’s degree, Mizzou Online, University of Missouri,, accessed December 2018
  • Ph.D., College of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia,, accessed December 2018
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Financial Planning, Framingham University,, accessed December 2018
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Financial Planning, Liberty University,, accessed December 2018
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Financial Planning, Penn State World Campus,, accessed December 2018
  • What the Next Decade Holds for Financial Advisors, Investopedia, October 2018,
  • Winds of change: Wealth management reimagined, Ernst & Young, 2016,$FILE/EY-winds-of-change-wealth-management-reimagined.pdf

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