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Online Family Financial Planning M.S.

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Program Overview

Through the online human sciences – family financial planning master’s degree, you will learn to communicate a financial plan with consumers and communities, recognize ethical standards for financial planners, demonstrate listening and counseling skills to help families with financial management and calculate the time value of money. You will also develop an understanding of the variables that impact personal finance, such as changes in demographics, life span, retirement and costs of education, which will allow you to become a financial planner, an invaluable partner in helping others plan for their future. Finish this program to gain eligibility to sit for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ exam*, increase networking opportunities and expand your job prospects.

You also have the option to earn your graduate certificate in family financial planning or financial counseling. Our programs are registered with the CFP Board and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).


The master's degree program (36 credits total) core courses include eight, three-credit courses taken in any order with the Financial Planning Case Study, which is designed as a capstone for the program.

  • CA 612 - Financial Counseling
  • CA 621 - Financial Theory and Research I
  • CA 660 - Investing for Family’s Future
  • CA 680 - Insurance Planning for Families
  • CA 704 - Estate Planning for Families
  • CA 725 - Family, Employment Benefits and Retirement Planning
  • CA 735 - Personal Income Taxation
  • CA 755 - Financial Planning Case Study

In addition, students select four 3-credit elective courses with option covering current topics, communication, military finance, housing and/or supervised experiences in family financial planning that may be used toward experience hours.

The three options for students are:

  1. Thesis - requires six credits of CA 798 Thesis, six credits of electives
  2. Research/Design Paper - requires three credits CA 788 Research Problems/Projects, nine credits of electives
  3. Coursework only – 12 credits of the electives

Thesis and research problems students write their thesis or research paper and defend it orally with their supervisory committee.

Please visit the SDSU Online Catalog page for more details on required courses.

Graduate Certificates in Financial Planning and Counseling

Family Financial Planning

The 18 credit-hour graduate certificate program in Family Financial Planning is designed for students who want graduate coursework that meets the educational requirement to sit for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ exam*, but who do not need a master's degree.

Financial Counseling

Learn to help households manage their personal finances to best meet the needs for housing, debt recovery and long-term financial planning. Courses cover several key areas of financial planning, including insurance planning, financial readiness for military families, personal income taxation as well as housing and real-estate. In collaboration with the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE), students successfully completing the 18 credit-hour Financial Counseling (FC) Certificate program will be able to sit for the Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) examination.

AFC Professionals: Have a thorough understanding in the particulars of debt, credit and governmental assistance programs. To be an AFC, you must complete 1,000 hours of experience in admissible financial counseling in order to enroll for the certification exam.

Careers in Financial Planning

As a graduate of the master’s program, you would have career opportunities at a wide range of areas including basic cash flow and debit management, employee benefits, insurance and risk management, tax planning, investment advising and portfolio manage and retirement and estate planning. You would also have opportunity to work as a professional within employee benefits and pension departments or choose to establish your own practice. Financial planners are increasingly in demand as Americans seek advisers to help manage their income, assets and debts, helping the younger generation meet their financial goals and the growing aging population make their savings last. 

Average Personal Financial Advisor Job Openings Per Year


US News Best Business Job


Personal Financial Advisor Median Salary


Studying online through Great Plains IDEA

The online Family Financial Planning master's degree as well as the family financial planning and financial counseling certificate programs are offered through SDSU's partnership with the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GPIDEA), a consortium of universities who have banded together to offer online graduate programs. Broaden your perceptions and knowledge by attending courses led by instructors from partner universities and interactions with geographically-dispersed students. These collaborative, multi-institutional online programs also expand and diversify your educational opportunities.

GPIDEA allows institutions working together to provide fully online programs that are greater in reach and significance than any single institution could field alone. The Alliance was founded in 1994 capitalizing on the institutional resources and expertise of major research universities to sponsor in high-demand programs that are delivered through online learning technologies.

The collaborative, multi-institutional online programs expand and diversify your educational opportunities. Courses led by instructors from partner universities and interactions with geographically-dispersed students will broaden your perceptions and knowledge.

Admissions Requirements

To apply, submit your application through the SDSU Graduate School.

GRE: Not required; TOEFL: required score of 525 paper-based, 710 Internet-based; IELTS:  6.05; Duolingo: 100

Apply Now through SDSU's Online Graduate School Application

Additional Resources

*Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CFP® (with plaque design) in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certified financial planner certification requirements.

Contact Us for More Information About our Online Family Financial Planning Master's Degree and Certificates

Program Contact

GPIDEA Coordinator