Online Family Financial Planning Master of Science Degree and Graduate Certificates

Great Plains IDEA offers an online Master of Science degree in Family Financial Planning and two online graduate certificates in Financial Planning and Financial Counseling. These in-demand programs are the first step toward a career in financial planning, providing you with practical learning opportunities so you are well-equipped to create and deliver financial strategies and solutions for others. Taken entirely online, these programs are conveniently structured to fit the needs of working professionals and those chasing career goals in the world of finance.

Why study Family Financial Planning at Great Plains IDEA?

Beyond traditional financial planning courses, our online curriculum prepares you for your career with real-world, hands-on learning opportunities such as a practicum and creative projects in the master’s degree program. Students also learn invaluable research methods and how to conduct original research, which broadens their skill set and value to future employers.

Courses are rich in content and skill development to prepare you to better assist families with financial management while allowing you to focus on your personal career trajectory and future specialization in the field. Read how a National Guard officer balanced her academics, military service, and family.

Delivered by some of the leading instructors and researchers in financial planning, the programs prepare you for future professional scenarios such as:

  • Supporting military service members, veterans, and their families
  • Individual practice development and management
  • Real estate and housing planning
  • Financial counseling
  • Financial decisions related to divorce
  • Financial planning for the later years of life
  • Financial theory and research related to family dynamics and decision-making


Furthermore, Great Plains IDEA’s master’s degree and graduate certificate programs in Family Financial Planning satisfy the educational requirements necessary for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP)® Certification Examination and the Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC)® certification.

Family Financial Planning Program Formats

Catering to the unique needs of students, Great Plains IDEA offers a master’s degree and two graduate certificate programs in financial planning. This allows students the flexibility to select the program format that best fits their academic and professional goals.

There is no GRE requirement for application to this program.

Degree and certificate titles vary by university. Consult with your selected home university for the title as it will appear on the diploma or certificate. This degree program does not lead to licensure.  Download the key for course titles and numbers, or review the official master’s degree names at our member institutions in our Family Financial Planning FAQs.

  Hours CFP AFC
Master's Degree 36 X X
Financial Planning Certificate 18 X  
Financial Counseling Certificate 18   X

Master's Degree

The online master of science degree is a 36 credit-hour curriculum and consists of eight (8) 3-credit core courses that build literacy in fundamental concepts such as personal income taxation, estate planning, retirement planning, and financial counseling.

Students in the online Family Financial Planning master’s degree will also complete 12 credits of elective coursework that allows them to specialize in their areas of interest. This includes coursework in real estate, professional practices, military personal finance, and communication in financial planning. Students work with their academic advisor to develop the appropriate course selection and sequence.

The master’s degree curriculum culminates in a capstone course in financial planning, which challenges students to apply theory in a comprehensive personal financial plan to illustrate their mastery of course concepts.

Review the Master's Degree Curriculum

Graduate Certificate - Financial Planning

The 18-credit online Financial Planning graduate certificate is ideal for students who are not interested in pursuing a master’s degree but are seeking graduate-level coursework to meet the educational requirements to sit for the CFP ® exam. Courses include retirement planning, insurance planning, and investing for the future. The Financial Planning certificate also includes a final capstone course for an immersive academic experience that connects the classroom to the career.

Review the Financial Planning Graduate Certificate Curriculum

Graduate Certificate - Financial Counseling

The online Financial Counseling graduate certificate also consists of 18 credit hours of coursework. It provides the required coursework needed to sit for the AFC ® exam that is offered through the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE). The Financial Counseling certificate covers in-demand topics such as financial theory, real estate planning, estate planning, and income taxation.

Review the Financial Counseling Graduate Certificate Curriculum

Family Financial Planning Outcomes

The need for personal and family financial planning is greater than ever. U.S. News & World Report states that this is expected to be one of the faster-growing occupations over the next decade, with a projected growth rate of 7 percent through 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A master’s degree or graduate certificate in Family Financial Planning from Great Plains IDEA prepares you to enter this growing industry and provide comprehensive financial assistance to families in areas such as:

  • Estate and retirement planning
  • Investment advising
  • Insurance and risk management
  • Basic cash flow and debt management
  • Employee benefits and pension departments
  • Tax planning

U.S. News & World Report ranks family financial planning as the sixth best business job, with a median salary of $94,170. Financial planners have also consistently reported an increase in average annual gross earnings after receiving their CFP® certification.  

Graduates of Great Plains IDEA’s online Family Financial Planning master’s degree have gone on to work in prominent roles such as:

  • Wealth Strategist
  • Private Wealth Analyst
  • Retirement Plan Administrator
  • Mortgage Loan Officer
  • Manager of Financial Analysis and Planning
  • Director of Family Wealth
  • Financial Coach/Analyst
  • Finance or Product Manager
  • Director of Finance
  • Chief Financial Officer 

Easily Transition into Your New Career in Financial Planning

The Great Plains IDEA Family Financial Planning online programs also represent a great next step for professionals looking to make a career change, as coursework is well-suited for individuals with skill sets outside of finance. In fact, students in the Great Plains IDEA Family Financial Planning master’s degree and graduate certificate programs have successfully transitioned from a variety of careers, including engineering, accounting, law, information technology, education, military service, and human resources.

Students who are strong communicators, creative problem solvers, and analytical thinkers will do well in this program regardless of their academic or career background. The programs are also a great fit for those with project management experience and strong interpersonal skills, including relationship management and the ability to empathize with peers and clients.

Shaojun Huang's Headshot"Having an integrated financial strategy for families has become increasingly important for families to stabilize their finances, especially during the pandemic. Acquiring professional knowledge on how to well manage family wealth has motivated me to pursue a master’s degree program in family financial planning and become a professional financial planner. The Great Plains IDEA program offers me a great path to this academic field and to gain the skills to help people protect financial resources."
Shaojun Huang, family financial planning student and recipient of the Student Excellence Award.

Affordable Online Structure Designed for Flexibility and Convenience

Both the master’s degree and graduate certificate programs are offered entirely online, fitting conveniently within the need to balance home, work, and academic responsibilities. It is recommended that students who are working full-time take a part-time course load of three (3) to six (credits) while full-time students typically take nine (9) credits each semester.

Great Plains IDEA is dedicated to providing affordable online education, offering a common price per credit hour at all universities regardless of degree program or course and whether in or out of state.

Review FAQs for
Family Financial Planning

See the Family Financial Planning
Student Handbook

Listen to Axton Betz-Hamilton, a graduate of the Family and Financial Planning program, explain how the flexibility of online courses through Great Plains IDEA allowed her to pursue an advanced degree while working full-time. 

Experienced Faculty Dedicated to Student Success

The Family Financial Planning faculty are leading experts in their field, boasting extensive experience as both teachers and practitioners. Many also have held positions as financial advisors in investment and wealth management firms, insurance companies, consulting firms, credit unions, consumer credit counseling, cooperative extension specialists, and military personnel advising. 

They are dedicated to your success, providing an engaging online experience while also acting as mentors for academic success and career development. You can find an overview of our Family Financial Planning faculty members at the bottom of the page. 

Coming from different home universities, our faculty bring a wide range of perspectives and expertise, collaborating together to create a uniquely engaging academic experience. Learn more about the Great Plains IDEA faculty below as instructor Jonathan Fox explains how faculty from different universities work together to provide a stronger program collaboratively than they could individually.

Program Information at Participating Universities

In the Family Financial Planning program, six universities work together to bring real-world experience to the coursework, blending their range of perspectives and expertise to provide students with a unique experience not able to be offered at a single institution.

All Great Plains IDEA member universities are accredited by regional agencies, aligning with requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education. This ensures that students pursuing their degrees through Great Plains IDEA are met with a high standard of academic excellence, which is essential in sitting for certification exams and pursuing future employment. Learn more about the accreditation of our member universities.

Help Others Reach Their Financial Goals

Great Plains IDEA’s online Family Financial Planning master’s degree and graduate certificate programs build the knowledge and skills necessary to begin a rewarding career in financial planning and counseling, helping others navigate the complexities of the world of finance.

Are you passionate about helping people reach their financial goals and realize their dreams? Apply now!

The 36 credit-hour master's degree program consists of eight 3-credit courses and twelve credits of elective course work.

Course List for the Master's Degree

The 18 credit-hour graduate certificate program in Financial Planning is designed for students who want graduate coursework that meets the educational requirement to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination but who do not need a Master's degree.

Course List for the Financial Planning Graduate Certificate

The online financial counseling graduate certificate consists of 18 credit hours and qualifies students to sit for the Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) exam available through the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).

Course List for the Financial Counseling Graduate Certificate

University Contact
These campus coordinators can help you navigate Great Plains IDEA. Click on the university name to learn more about how Great Plains IDEA works at that campus. Iowa State Online
M.J. Kabaci
Stacy Duffield
Rae Ann Montgomery
Sarah (Heewon) Kim
Lisa King
University Members
Members of the Great Plains IDEA are universities accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Member universities recruit, admit and graduate students, teach in an academic program and contribute to the leadership and maintenance of the alliance. Membership in the alliance is a selective process that engages institutional leadership at all levels.

Laurito_Autumn_Headshot_for_Website1.pngThe Great Plains IDEA program has granted me opportunities through online learning that would never be possible in a traditional setting. As a military family, we are required to move frequently and sometimes unexpectedly. There were times when I lived in three different states in a matter of one year. The Great Plains IDEA program allows me to receive an outstanding education regardless of my home state. I have access to classes and universities throughout the United States to provide a comprehensive array of knowledge in my field. The Great Plains IDEA program has proven to be an excellent fit for myself and for my family.

– – Autumn Laurito, Dietetics Master's Student,
See more testimonials »