Certificate Program in Financial Planning

Certificate Program in Financial Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

Program fast facts

  • Traditional Path (one night per week)
  • Pacesetter Path (two nights per week)
  • Intensive 11-month Cohort Program
LOCATION SMU Dallas campus
NEXT ENTRY DATE Sep. 25, 2017 (Traditional or Pacesetter Path)
CLASS DAYS 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. (M/W)
Priority Rate (by Sep. 11): $775 per course
Standard Rate: $875 per course
Pacesetter Rate: $1,350 (call to register)

  Register today

Program Requirements

Registration / Enrollment

General Information

How long will it take for me to complete the SMU Certificate Program in Financial Planning?

There are seven courses in the Program. On our Dallas Campus students may complete the entire program in approximately 21 months by taking one course each quarter, on the Traditional Path, or in as little as 12 months by taking two courses each quarter on the Pacesetter Path with Tax planning taken as a stand-alone course. Entry dates are in September and April of each year. Classes are 11 weeks long and are taught on Monday and Wednesday evenings and meet from 6 to 9:30 PM.

The Intensive Path program begins in January with courses taught on Tuesday evenings from 6 PM to 9:30 PM. Saturday classes are scheduled in advance. The length of courses varies by subject matter and instruction is focused and intensive. The program is completed in 11 months.

Students can expect to spend at least two hours of outside class preparation time for each hour of classroom instruction.

When can I take the CFP Board administered exam?

Successful completion of the SMU Certificate Program in Financial Planning meets the educational component of the requirements established by the CFP Board to sit for the CFP Certification Examination. The examination is administered three times per year in March, July and November.

Students finishing in the winter quarter (March) may apply to sit for the July exam. Students finishing in the spring quarter (June) or summer quarter (September) may apply to sit for the November exam. Students finishing in the fall quarter (December) may apply to sit for the March exam. For more information, please visit www.cfp.net.

Are there any prerequisites?

Courses are taken in the following order depending on which pacing path you decide upon.

Traditional Path on the Dallas Campus

Fundamentals, Investment Planning, Insurance Planning, Retirement Planning, Tax Planning, Estate Planning and Capstone.

Pacesetter Path on the Dallas Campus

1st semester – Fundamentals (Monday) and Investment Planning (Wednesday)
2nd semester – Insurance Planning (Monday) and Retirement & Employee Benefit Planning (Wednesday)
3rd semester – Income Tax Planning
4th semester – Estate Planning (Monday) and Capstone (Wednesday)

Intensive Path on the Plano Campus

Fundamentals (30 classroom hours)
Investment Planning (41.5 classroom hours)
Insurance Planning (30 classroom hours)
Retirement Planning (41.5 classroom hours)
Tax Planning (41.5 classroom hours)
Estate Planning (41.5 classroom hours)
Capstone (45 classroom hours)

Bachelor’s Degree Requirement

Our program does not require that you have a bachelor’s degree for admission. It should be understood that course instruction is at the graduate level. The CFP Board does not require that you have attained a bachelor’s degree (or higher), or its equivalent to sit for the CFP Certification Examination, but one is required for certification. Here’s the link to the details.

Can I take SMU Certificate Program in Financial Planning courses for credit?

SMU Certificate Program in Financial Planning courses are noncredit, however as a registered program with the CFP Board, attendance is recorded and grades are issued. To receive a Certificate in Financial Planning from SMU you must successful complete all seven courses with a grade of “C” or higher.

Can I earn CEUs/CPEs in the SMU Certificate Program in Financial Planning?

Self-Reporting for Insurance licensees

CPFP102 Insurance & Risk Management, CFPF 104 Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits and CPFP 106 Estate Planning are eligible for Continuing Education credit. To obtain credit please contact our CAPE office for the appropriate reporting form and procedures.

For CPAs: The Texas State Board of Public Accountancy has set the guidelines which allow the licensee to determine which CPFP course will enhance their professional competency, and thus, which to submit for CPE credit. To review these guidelines, visit the Texas Administrative Code, Rule 523.102, CPE Purpose and Definitions.

When does registration begin?

Registration opens approximately 8 weeks in advance of the start of each quarter. Students are encouraged to register early to secure their place in the course(s) of their choice.

To enroll online, please click here.

To learn more about the Early Registration Discount, click here.

Students may enroll online, via fax or mail with the printable registration form, or via phone at 214.768.2273

Where do the courses meet?

Courses are held on the main campus of SMU in Dallas. Locations are noted on the course schedule page. Specific classroom locations are relayed to students via course confirmation letters, which are sent by mail or e-mail along with a campus map.

What if I have to cancel a registration?

Notification of any intent to withdraw from the course must be submitted to the Program Director in writing via e-mail, fax, or mail. Failure to withdraw will result in forfeiture of course fee. Students may withdraw from a course 3 business days before the first scheduled class session. A $25 handling fee will be withheld from tuition; the balance will be refunded. Should SMU cancel a course, full tuition will be refunded. No refunds are permitted after a course begins.

How long are the courses, and when are they offered?

Each course meets for three hours once a week for 11 weeks. Courses are currently offered Monday through Thursday, and are held from 6 – 9 p.m. Courses are offered on the main campus in Dallas.

Class has already started; if I need to cancel, can I get a partial refund?

CAPE makes every effort to assure a quality learning experience. If you choose to withdraw from the certificate program, please notify us in writing (via email: smuthink@smu.edu or fax 214-768-1071). SMU CAPE professional certificate enrollment is final as of 3 business days prior to first class start date and programs are intended to be successfully completed in full.  Once you are enrolled, withdrawal from the program or not completing the program forfeits your tuition costs.  We do not provide any prorated refunds or credits for partial certificate program completion. However, students may transfer to another cohort/class free of charge, provided there is space available and time remaining for them to successfully complete the program.

Failure to attend class does not constitute withdrawal.

All refunds will be made in the form of the original payment. Please allow up to six weeks to receive check refunds.

Full details are available in the certificate terms and conditions provided during the application process. 

What if a class I want to register for is full?

All courses are capped at 35 students. A student may choose to be added to the waiting list, free of charge, for any course that has already reached its maximum enrollment. If space becomes available in the course, or if a new section of the course is added to the schedule, those on the waiting list will be notified in the order in which they are listed. Students on the waiting list are not obligated to register if/when a space becomes available. We encourage students to add their names to the waiting list for courses they are interested in, as this can be a factor in whether or not new sections of the course are added to the schedule.

Can I pay when I arrive at the class?

Advance registration is required. Students may register 24 hours a day online, by phone at 214.768.2273, or by visiting the CAPE office during business hours. For a printable registration form that students can mail to our offices or fax to 214.768.1071, click here. Course locations are distributed only to registered, paid students. Instructors are not permitted to accept registration fees at class meetings.

What if I forget my Account ID or my password, used for online registration?

Click here to request that your account id be emailed to the email address on file for you.

Where does my class meet?

  • I have registered for my class.
    Classroom assignments are sent to registered students within 24 hours of registration by US mail, fax, or email. However, course information is available online to most students.
  • I registered online.
    Use the View my Registration Information option to find your course location. You may access your information using your Account ID and your initials. If you have forgotten your Account ID, you may have it emailed to you.
  • I registered by phone, fax, US mail or in person.
    If you provided an email address when registering by phone, fax, US mail or in person, you may request your computer generated ID be sent to you via email. If you did not provide an email address when registering by phone, fax, US mail, or in person, you will not be able to access your classroom assignment online. You will need to contact the office during business hours, Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at 214-768-2273.
  • I have not registered for my class.
    Classroom assignments are sent to registered students within 24 hours of registration by US mail, fax, or email. If you have not registered for a course, the location information is not available to you. Course locations are not published in the catalog or on the website. Due to limited classroom space on campus, students must register prior to attending a course so that we can be sure that the classroom size is appropriate for the number of enrolled students.

What should I do if I have missed class?

If possible, inform your instructor in advance to check on arrangements and find out how these absences will affect your grade.

What should I do if I miss an exam?

A student who misses an announced exam with the instructor’s prior permission may be given an opportunity to make up the work at the instructor’s convenience. Notify the instructor as soon as possible. If the instructor gives you permission, you are eligible to take a make-up exam.

Why might a course be cancelled by SMU?

While rare, SMU reserves the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrollment. Should SMU cancel a course, a full refund will be granted to enrollees. Every effort is made to notify students of a course cancellation in advance. Students are encouraged to register early to secure a place in the course(s) of their choice, and to help ensure the course's success.

When do courses begin?

SMU Certificate Program in Financial Planning offers courses on a quarter system, which means that classes begin in January, April, and September. For specific course dates, please visit our course schedule page.

How can I get a copy of the catalog?

To request a course catalog, please use the online form or call 214.768.2273.

Where do I park?

Course confirmation letters serve as campus parking permits for course dates and times. Using this permit, students may park in any All University Parking lot (AUP), most Faculty/Staff lots (F/S) after 5 p.m. Monday – Friday and anytime on Saturday, and any Commuter lots (C). Please note, the first two levels of the Airline Parking Garage are reserved for F/S at all times. Please do not park in Visitor parking areas; these are reserved for patrons without this, or any other, parking permit. For more information about campus parking, please click here.


Get Started!

  • Choose a starting date. Students may join the SMU Program in April or September on the main campus in Dallas, or in January at SMU-in-Plano.
  • Choose a track. Students may elect to take one course per quarter, on the Traditional Path, or take 2 courses per quarter on the Pacesetter Path (at a discounted rate). Students in the SMU CPFP in Plano program move through the program one course at at time, at an accelerated pace; each of the seven courses in the program are taught in 6-week modules. For an overview of the course paths, click here.
  • Enroll in an Information Session. New online information sessions coming soon! These on-demand sessions are packed with information about the SMU Program and the CFP® certification process. Join our mailing list to be notified when the new session is available.
  • Meet program instructors, view prerequisites and course fees.
  • Complete the program application. Click here to complete the SMU program application process.
  • Register for class. After the application has been approved, students may enroll online, by phone, or by fax. Traditional Path and Plano students begin the program with course 101; Pacesetter Path students begin with courses 101 and 103.

Current Students

Are you a current student? If you have questions as you progress through the Financial Planning Certificate Program, please call the office at 214.768.2273.

Smart Option Loans

Loans for the Plano cohort are available from Sallie Mae.


Please contact Karoline Staton, Senior Recruitment Specialist, at caperecruiter@smu.edu or 214-768-1086.