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Program Overview

Certified Financial Planner

Certified Financial Planner, CFP® Certificate Program

The Northwestern University Certified Financial PlannerTM program offers multiple CFP-Board-approved classes to fit your work/lifestyle. We have designed each program to meet your needs, whether you are a career changer or longtime planning professional. Participants who pass all required courses will receive a certificate of completion from Northwestern University, one of the world’s top universities, which they can proudly display on their wall and share with their clients.

Registration for Winter 2019 is open: 


About Certified Financial Planner

Is financial planning the right career for you?

Hear from CFP® professionals about their career paths and the rewards of being a Certified Financial Planner™.

On-Campus Program: Weeknight

Online Programs: Instructor Led and Self-Paced

CFP® Exam Review

Northwestern University School of Professional Studies has selected The Dalton Review® as the exclusive review for our CFP® certification education programs. The Dalton Review provides students with a high quality curriculum and is led by outstanding faculty. To learn more, visit our CFP® Exam Review page.

CFP® Program Courses

Courses range from introductory to specific areas of focus. Explore all of them on the CFP® Program Courses page for detail on the program's offerings.

CFP® Program Faculty

Instructors for this program have a range of expertise, specializations and work experience. Read about their qualifications on our CFP® Program Faculty page.

CFP® in the News

News Release


Chicago, December 18, 2017 – Northwestern University School of Professional Studies in Chicago has maintained registration with Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) to provide a financial planning certificate program. An independent certifying organization, CFP Board owns the CFP® and Certified Financial Planner™ certification marks, which it awards to individuals who meet its education, examination, experience, ethics and other requirements. Students completing the financial planning program at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies will have met the Education requirement for CFP® Certification Examination administered by CFP Board.

Certified Financial Planner ™ and federally registered CFP® (with flame logo) are certification marks owned by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. Northwestern University does not certify individuals to use the CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™; and marks. CFP® certification is granted solely by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. to individuals who, in addition to completing an educational requirement such as this CFP Board-Registered Program, have met ethics, experience and examination requirements.

CFP® Program Tuition and Financial Aid

Complete details about tuition can be found on the CFP® Program Tuition and Financial Aid page.

CFP® Career Options

Read more on the CFP® Career Options page.

Find out more about Northwestern's Certified Financial Planner Program

Contact SPS Enrollment Advisors

SPS Enrollment Advisors at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies can be a resource to you for inquiries regarding our certificate programs. 

CFP® Program Core Courses

Core Courses:Course Detail
Intro to Financial Planning <> FN_EXTND 300-0

This course will introduce you to the profession of Financial Planning and the personal Financial Planning Process. This is the first course in the series of classes which will qualify you to sit for the Certified Financial Planner exam. Through assigned readings, lectures, class discussions, problem sets, and an experiential learning project, you will gain an overview of the financial planning profession and obtain the knowledge necessary to define the scope of the financial planner/client relationship, identify and gather client financial data and goals, and begin to analyze and evaluate the client’s financial needs. You will expand your understanding of the role of the financial planner, including the fiduciary nature of the advisor/client relationship. Emphasis will be placed on the regulatory agencies that govern our profession, ethical standards, budgeting, case study, various special situations, financial statement creation, importance of client relationships, and the time value of money. This course is offered during the spring and fall terms.

View FN_EXTND 300-0 Sections
Insurance Planning <> FN_EXTND 301-0

This course will help students to identify the types of risk client’s face, and to evaluate various methods of mitigating that risk. Contingency planning is an important element of the financial planning process. We will discuss how to make recommendations to manage ongoing risk when planning for the future. Students will also learn to analyze clients’ insurance needs and determine the type and amount of insurance best suited to each client's situation. Students will understand what is necessary for clients regarding life, property, liability, homeowner's and personal-auto insurance. Students will also learn the relevant issues related to different types of insurance, including, life, property and casualty, medical, disability, and long-term care insurance. This course is offered during the winter and summer terms.

View FN_EXTND 301-0 Sections
Investment Planning <> FN_EXTND 312-0

This course surveys the wide variety of investment vehicles that can be included in a client's investment portfolio, introducing risk-return criteria as a means of evaluating alternatives. The broad spectrum of investments is explored, ranging from guaranteed- and fixed-income products to derivatives and private placements. An emphasis on the client is the overriding theme for the course, beginning with the client needs assessment as it relates to risk tolerance, return requirements and liquidity needs. Techniques for selection, timing, measurement and diversification of investments are studied in detail. Different strategies and valuation models are used to understand fundamental investment principles. Modern portfolio theory, risk management, market strategies, efficient market theory, and asset allocation and diversification are introduced. Retirement planning and employee benefits will be discussed, as will relevant ethical considerations. Students analyze expected return characteristics individually and in combination within a hypothetical portfolio. Specific investment types discussed include stocks and bonds, mutual funds, insurance-based investments, options and futures contracts, foreign investments, real estate, tangible assets, and other debt and equity securities. Other topics include tax considerations, economic factors, the portfolio construction and management process, portfolio performance evaluation methods, market analysis, hedging and option strategies, and formula investing. The course also discusses government regulation of securities and markets. This course is offered during the winter and summer terms.

View FN_EXTND 312-0 Sections
Income Tax Planning <> FN_EXTND 313-0

This course provides an overview of the federal income tax system, examining the income taxation of individuals, sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs and corporations. Students will begin with taxation terminology and then learn about the concepts of gross income and deductions for profit-making activities, personal deductions and tax planning for the family, tax benefits of home ownership, planning for the acquisition and deposition of other real estate, and how the choice of business entity affects the taxes of owners and employees. The course will focus on how financial planners advise clients about the most effective methods of maximizing wealth by reducing their tax burden through an examination of a variety of tax issues-including tax law, accounting methods, tax planning related to employee compensation, research and practitioner concerns, cost-recovery methods, consequences of like-kind exchanges and tax-advantage investments. Alternative minimum tax (AMT), self-employment tax, ethical considerations, potential traps and pitfalls, and the consequences and effects of IRS audits and enforcement activities also will be discussed. This course is offered during the fall and spring terms.

View FN_EXTND 313-0 Sections
Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits <> FN_EXTND 314-0

This course covers all aspects of retirement planning and employee benefits, beginning with the presentation of tax-deferred retirement program options and the framework used to conduct a needs analysis for achieving retirement income goals. Key features of qualified retirement plan design are discussed, emphasizing the advantages and disadvantages of specific types of plans for the owners of small- to medium-sized businesses. Assumptions and projections of lifestyle, inflation, returns and life expectancy are critical when considering retirement needs. An understanding of cash flow, income sources, medical expenses and benefits must go into the calculations. Employee compensation has changed significantly in recent years, so it is essential that financial planners grasp how to coordinate employer-sponsored benefits within a plan. All of these issues are addressed in detail, as are how to avoid inappropriate investments and how to present recommended courses of action to clients. Additional relevant topics highlighted in this course include commonly provided non-pension employee benefits, such as disability, healthcare and group life insurance. Students will discuss the uses of life and disability insurance in planning for closely held businesses, as well as for the family. Childcare, Medicare and other dependent-care benefits are considered. Federal social security, cafeteria plans, stock options and stock purchase plans, transportation issues, and forms of non-qualified deferred compensation are included, as well. This course is offered during the winter and summer terms.

View FN_EXTND 314-0 Sections
Estate Planning <> FN_EXTND 315-0

Planning and managing federal estate and gift taxation is one of the most overlooked yet critical elements of a financial plan. Part of this process involves understanding the perspectives of the many parties involved and their related concerns; that is, the perspectives of descendants, fiduciaries, estates, trust beneficiaries, donors and recipients. This course examines the important estate-planning issues from all of these perspectives. Beginning with the fundamentals of federal estate and gift taxation, the process of developing an estate plan is presented through a discussion of a variety of mechanisms - such as incapacity planning, qualified interest trusts, generation skipping, estate planning weaknesses, property ownership forms, intestacy and will substitutes, how to satisfy liquidity needs, and specific exclusion and valuation techniques that reduce the size of the gross estate. There are many facets to proper estate planning, and this course will touch on all of the essential elements necessary for consideration by the financial planner. Charitable, intrafamilial, postmortem and business-transfer planning techniques that play an important part in estate planning are addressed, and additional focus is placed on the implications of gifts and bequests, including lifetime gifting and coordination of the unified credit with marital deduction. Other issues include tax consequences of estate planning techniques, revocable and irrevocable trusts (including bypass and marital deduction trusts), life insurance, federal estate tax, probate and more. This course is offered during the fall and spring terms.

View FN_EXTND 315-0 Sections
Financial Plan Development and Presentation FN_EXTND 320-0

This course will lead you through the steps in developing a complete financial plan. You will learn what goes into a financial plan, participate in mock client interviews to learn proper interview techniques, read and analyze case studies of other plans, and develop and present your own financial plan to the class and a panel of experts. This course may only be completed as the final course in the program. This course is offered during the fall and spring terms.

View FN_EXTND 320-0 Sections
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