Start your journey toward a career as a financial planner, investment adviser, or money manager by earning a Financial Planning Certificate from GGU. The certificate program meets the educational requirement of the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP™) designation. Students can continue at GGU and earn the Master of Science in Financial Planning with as few as three additional courses. GGU offers a 100% online option to accommodate students with busy lives.

  • Become an effective change agent in this growing, well-paid profession.
  • Prepare for the CFP®.
  • Learn from instructors from powerful Bay Area financial institutions.
  • Apply credits towards a Master's in Financial Planning or an MBA.
  • No GRE or GMAT required.

What You'll Learn

The principles of personal risk analysis and insurance planning.

Strategies to help clients assess employee benefits, plan for retirement, transfer wealth and achieve greater tax efficiencies to meet their goals.

Skills to guide individual clients and families, ensuring a secure retirement and protecting assets for future generations.

Plus! This certificate program meets the educational requirement of the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation.


Introduces the broad scope of financial planning as it relates to personal goals/values, as well as its role in the financial services industry. Topics include careers in financial services, management of personal financial statements, time-value-of-money analysis, calculator/computer applications, insurance, social security, house-buying strategies, investments, retirement planning, income tax and estate planning. Satisfies part of the educational requirements to sit for the CFP examination.

Investigates the investment process from the perspective of a financial planner or investment advisor advising individuals and families. This course will cover basic concepts related to financial market theory, including market efficiency, portfolio theory and optimization, asset pricing models, and stock and bond valuation techniques. The nature and use of mutual funds and ETFs, and tax-efficient investing, including asset location concepts, will also be explored. Significant time will be devoted to understanding investor behavior, client communication, relationship management, risk profiling, and the development and use of investment policies. Satisfies part of the educational requirements to sit for the CFP examination.

Covers strategies used by financial planners to help clients assess employee benefits and to reduce the tax burden while planning for retirement. Topics include retirement needs analysis; defined benefit and contribution plans; profit sharing; 401k; 403b; ESOP; IRA; SEP-IRA; Roth-IRA; Keogh; TSA; social security benefits and integration; vesting; employee benefits analysis; funding vehicles; plan installation and administration; asset balancing; buy-sell agreements, ERISA; stock redemption and cross-purchase plans; evaluation of retirement timing; life-cycle planning; retirement lifestyle issues; distribution planning; and post-retirement financial and qualitative assessment of needs. Satisfies part of the educational requirements to sit for the CFP examination.

Strategies used by financial planners to help clients achieve greater tax efficiency. Topics include income tax concepts and calculations, income tax research methods, gross income realization, exclusions and deductions, passive activities, alternative minimum tax, tax considerations of business forms, taxable and non-taxable property transactions, compensation planning, family tax planning, audit risk and dealing with the IRS. Satisfies part of the requirements to sit for the CFP examination.

Introduces estate planning tools and strategies to assist a client in developing, maintaining and transferring his/her wealth consistent with objectives. Topics include professional role differentiation between financial advisers, CPAs, and estate-planning attorneys; writing disclaimers in a financial plan; gift and estate taxation; ownership of personal and real property issues; wills; letter of last instructions; trusts; trustees/personal representatives and their fiduciary responsibilities; probate strategies; implications for individuals; general/limited partnerships; closely held businesses; corporations; life insurance funding; post-mortem planning; creative estate planning strategies consistent with client goals and values; charitable giving strategies; California estate planning issues; and how to implement and monitor the estate plan. Satisfies part of the educational requirements to sit for the CFP examination. This course must be taken as part of the final six units of the program.

Uses case studies that apply financial planning principles to strategic personal wealth management for advising clients in the comprehensive financial and estate-planning approach. Topics include: integrating and balancing client needs with financial products and strategies, update on taxation and new financial products, writing a comprehensive financial plan, presenting the plan, implementing the plan, providing periodic review, professional literature and resources, qualitative client factors and analysis, financial counseling techniques, and computer resources.

Explores personal risk analysis and insurance planning in the context of personal financial planning. Topics include career issues; contractual and agency legal issues; insurance distribution systems (including Internet); evaluating insurers; personal risk assessment; risk strategies; alternative risk transfer approaches; life insurance programming and product analysis; key-person insurance; business continuation applications; life insurance use in income & estate tax planning; applicability of other insurance products (e.g., health, disability, general liability, property and casualty); HMOs, group insurance plans; workers compensation; relevant aspects of social security; negligence issues; errors & omissions policies; & professional ethics. Satisfies part of the educational requirements to sit for the CFP examination.

Step up to a Master's Degree

What Students Say

Course Delivery

  • 100% Online: No in-person classroom presence is required.

Tuition & Fees

  • Special tuition rate per unit: $533
    (terms & conditions)
  • Technology fee: $85 / term
  • Tuition and fees are subject to change.
* Tuition rate contingent on verified FPA membership. If not a member, regular $1,090 unit price remains.

Admission Requirements

  • Minimum education: Bachelor's degree
  • Prerequisite courses: None
  • Student status: May not be currently enrolled in a GGU degree or certificate program and may not have been enrolled in a GGU graduate degree or certificate program during the previous 12 month period.
  • Residency: F or J Visa holders are not eligible.


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