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The Top-Ranked Colleges for Financial Planning

An evidence-based ranking of college and university programs for financial planning.

The Top Colleges for Financial Planning: Methodology

To rank the on-campus, full-time, four-year programs of study for financial planning, we surveyed 109 of the 130 colleges and universities registered by the CFP Board. To be included, a program had to have an enrollment of at least 10 students for the 2018 academic year. A total of 67 schools, or 61.5%, responded to our survey request. Schools that did not respond to multiple requests for participation, or replied with incomplete responses, were not considered.  


Wealth Management ranked the programs on a weighted average of the following indicators: Degrees granted—5 points for minor or specialization, 10 points for BA/BS in financial planning, 15 points for MA/MS/Ph.D. terminal degrees; number of full-time faculty equivalents (FTEs)—10 points per FTE; number of faculty with advanced degrees (CFA, CPA, JD, LLM, etc.)—5 points each; Capstone course offered, 0 or 100 points; CFP certified faculty teaching the Capstone course—0 or 25 points; ratio of faculty with earned CFP certification—percentage multiplied by 10 points; number of CFP completions reported to CFP Board in academic year 2018—multiplied by 10 points; minimum number of courses required to graduate—multiplied by 5 points; number of elective courses offered beyond the minimums required by CFP Board—multiplied by 10 points.  

The weighted scores were totaled, and the corresponding programs ranked in descending order of raw scores. The methodology had to account for a number of constraints. The pass/fail rates for students taking the CFP examination would be a meaningful indicator. Regrettably, the CFP Board declined to provide pass/fail rates for the CFP examination by individual program. The pass/fail rates reported by individual financial planning programs are unreliable and were not used in this survey. The ideal study would measure outputs (job placements, investment returns, salaries or assets under management after five years). Such metrics are unobtainable. This survey, like almost all college rankings, considers inputs that are believed to serve as reasonable proxies for excellence.  

The complete rankings of all the programs can be found below:


John Kador is a business author and frequent contributor to Wealth Management. Katie Tschida, a recent graduate of San Diego State University, is beginning her career as a wealth advisor associate at a national financial services firm. 

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