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Undergraduate Certificate in
Financial Planning

Program summary

Develop a range of critical financial planning strategies and successfully satisfy the entire educational course work requirement to sit for the CFP exam with this online undergraduate certificate program.

Application deadline

Apply by August 14 to start August 21

Credits and costs

18 Credits $620/$664 per credit

Gain a Strong Foundation in the Rapidly Evolving Financial Planning Market

If you want to acquire the latest financial planning knowledge with real-life applications, the Undergraduate Certificate in Financial Planning is designed for you. 

In this 18-credit program, you can learn a broad range of personal financial planning concepts in insurance and income tax planning, retirement and estate planning, and investment strategies. The curriculum is designed to prepare you for career success in the quickly growing field of financial planning.

The certificate in financial planning is a Board-Registered Program with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP®* Board). Successful completion of the World Campus online certificate satisfies the entire education course work requirement for CFP® certification and prepares students to take the CFP® Certification Examination. The education and examination components are two of the core prerequisites to obtain full CFP® certification.

Why Financial Planning at Penn State?

The certificate's required courses are taught by experienced Penn State faculty who hold professional designations such as CFP®, CFA, CPA, or attorney, along with other professional licenses in insurance and securities. You are assured to receive the most up-to-date instruction in the full range of financial planning topics.

You may be able to apply some of the credits you earn in this program toward the requirements for a bachelor's degree from World Campus.

Who Should Apply?

The financial planning certificate is an ideal program if you:

  • are seeking to obtain the CFP® certification to communicate your expertise and credibility
  • are interested in helping people maximize their savings and strengthen their financial security
  • want to hone your existing skills to support your professional responsibilities
  • would like to learn how to create a solid financial future for yourself

*Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the marks CFP®, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.


The online certificate in financial planning is an 18-credit program of study with six required courses offered in a timeframe comparable to a traditional semester schedule, with fixed start and end dates. Successful completion of the online certificate satisfies the entire education course work requirement for CFP® certification and prepares students to take the CFP® Certification Examination. The education and examination components are two of the core prerequisites to obtain full CFP® certification.

Prescribed Courses (18 credits)

  • 3

    Study of income determination concepts for individuals and corporations, impact of taxation on decisions, elementary research techniques, and ethical standards.

    • Prerequisite

      ACCTG 211 or FIN 301

    • FIN 301 Prerequisites

      (ENGL 15 or ENGL 30 or ESL 15 or ENGL 137H or CAS 137H) and ACCTG 211 and (ECON 102 or ECON 104) and (SCM 200 or STAT 200)

  • 3

    Developing financial plans including cash budgets, credit purchases, investments, and insurance.

    • Note

      Third-semester standing or permission of instructor.

  • 3

    Investment and risk, types of security investments, sources of investment information, the broker, the stock market, portfolio management.

    • Prerequisite

      FIN 301

    • FIN 301 Prerequisites

      (ENGL 15 or ENGL 30 or ESL 15 or ENGL 137H or CAS 137H) and ACCTG 211 and (ECON 102 or ECON 104) and (SCM 200 or STAT 200)

  • 3

    Liquidity planning, titling and transfer of property, trusts, federal unified tax system, gifting, incapacity planning, legal documents.

    • Prerequisite

      FIN 330 and ACCTG 310 or ACCTG 405

  • 3

    Retirement planning: qualified and non-qualified plans, characteristics, provisions, regulations administration, application approach with case studies.

  • 3

    Critical thinking and decision-making about personal financial planning topics in the context of the financial planning process.

    • Prerequisite

      completion of first 15 credits of the certificate curriculum

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2022–23 Academic Year Rates

How many credits do you plan to take per semester? If you have 59 or fewer credits If you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer $620 per credit $664 per credit
12 or more $7,527 per semester $8,125 per semester

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

  • Fall DeadlineApply by August 14 to start August 21
  • Spring DeadlineApply by January 1 to start January 8
  • Summer DeadlineApply by May 5, 2024, to start May 13, 2024

All supporting materials should be sent following the submission of your application.

For current and future course registration deadlines, visit the Registrar's website to view the academic calendar by semester

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, contact [email protected].

Admission Requirements 

To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate, or have completed your GED. Additionally, several of the required courses have prerequisites that need to be completed prior to admission. Please view the course list for more information. The six courses in the financial planning certificate program must be taken through World Campus.

Unofficial transcript(s) and course descriptions from previous institution(s) are required for evaluation.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State undergraduate certificate?

Apply by August 14 to start August 21. How to Apply

Start or Advance Your Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Job Titles Related to This Degree

This certificate covers a variety of both personal and professional financial situations. As a financial planning professional, you can expect to apply your knowledge to a range of fields, including:

  • investment brokerage
  • insurance
  • banking
  • accounting
  • law

Contact Us

For questions about admissions and applications, please contact World Campus Central:

World Campus Central
Phone: 814-865-1146
[email protected]


  • Jeff Coy

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Finance, Florida Atlantic University
    • Degree
      MBA, University of North Florida
    • Degree
      B.S., University of North Florida

    Dr. Jeff Coy is an assistant professor of finance in the Sam and Irene Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend. He brings more than 10 years of teaching experience in the areas of corporate finance, international finance, investments, and portfolio analysis. Dr. Coy's published research is focused on the areas of cross-border mergers and acquisitions, corporate exchange rate sensitivity, and leveraged buyouts. His current research focuses on corporate diversification, short interest in acquisition targets, and the risk and leverage dynamics of the firm around the exercise of real options.

  • Hongrui (Harry) Feng

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Finance, Oklahoma State University
    • Degree
      M.S., Quantitative and Computational Finance, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
    • Degree
      B.S., Finance, Zhejiang University

    Dr. Harry Feng, an assistant professor of finance, worked in financial service companies for several years. He teaches financial management, financial modeling, corporate finance, and energy finance courses. His research interests are agency problems and empirical asset pricing.

  • Greg Filbeck, CFA, FRM, CAIA, CIPM, PRM

    • Degree
      DBA, Finance, University of Kentucky
    • Degree
      M.S., Applied Statistics, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Engineering Physics, Murray State University

    Dr. Greg Filbeck holds the Samuel P. Black III Professor of Finance and Risk Management at Penn State Behrend and serves as director of the Black School of Business. Dr. Filbeck has authored or edited nine books and published more than 90 refereed academic journal articles. He has taught courses in corporate finance, investments, portfolio management, and derivatives.

  • Tim Krause

    • Degree
      Ph. D., Financial Economics, University of Texas at San Antonio
    • Degree
      MBA, Finance, Georgetown University
    • Degree
      A.B., Government, Georgetown University

    Prior to his career in academia, Dr. Tim Krause spent twenty years in the financial services industry as an investment professional and held senior management positions. He is the director of the Intrieri Family Student Managed Fund at the Black School of Business, a student-run investment fund. He teaches Portfolio Management and Analysis, Advanced Energy Finance, Derivative Securities, and Fixed Income Securities. Dr. Krause's research and teaching interests include investments, derivatives, risk management, and financial institutions and markets.

  • Bob Patterson

    • Degree
      MBA, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Accounting, Penn State

    Bob Patterson is a lecturer in accounting and has also taught courses in statistics, finance, and operations. He is a CPA who maintains an active practice in individual income taxes. He also serves as an adviser for the Mu Pi chapter of the international fraternity Delta Sigma Pi and has received the Silver Helmet Award for 25 years of service to the chapter. He is currently the longest-serving Delta Sigma Pi chapter adviser in the country.

  • Eric Robbins

    • Degree
      MBA, Gannon University
    • Degree
      B.S., Accounting, Asbury University

    Eric Robbins has spent his entire career working with the stock market and managing the invested assets and the retirement income needs of retirees. In 2010, he began teaching corporate finance at Penn State Behrend while still working full-time in wealth management, accepting a full-time teaching position in 2013. He is also a Certified Financial Planner and a CFA charterholder, and he continues to consult periodically with clients about their financial needs.

  • Xin (Jessica) Zhao

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Finance, State University of New York at Buffalo
    • Degree
      M.A., International Trade, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics
    • Degree
      B.A., English, Tianjin University for Science and Technology

    Dr. Xin (Jessica) Zhao received her Ph.D. in finance at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Zhao teaches international finance and corporate finance for both undergraduate and graduate students as a professor at Penn State Behrend. Dr. Zhao's research interests include market microstructure, event studies, financial markets, and asset pricing. Her research in these areas has been published in both academic and practitioner journals. Dr. Zhao has working experience in Da Hua CPA and China Petrochemical Corporation prior to joining Penn State Behrend.

Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State undergraduate certificate?

Apply by August 14 to start August 21. How to Apply