Bachelor’s in Finance: Financial Planning Emphasis

Bachelor of Science in Finance with an Emphasis in Financial Planning

Offered By: Colangelo College of Business

Prep for Financial Advisor Roles with an Emphasis in Financial Planning

Grand Canyon University’s Bachelor of Science in Finance with an Emphasis in Financial Planning is an undergraduate degree program that introduces you to all aspects of personal financial planning. In this comprehensive program, you will examine methodologies and best practices in areas such as risk evaluation, investments and taxes.

This bachelor’s degree program also integrates essential soft skills throughout, including effective communication and professional ethics. A bachelor’s degree can enable students to study financial planning and is typically an entry-level requirement for becoming a financial planner, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1

Earn Your Bachelor’s in Finance: Financial Planning Emphasis From GCU

At GCU, you’ll enjoy academic flexibility, as you can choose to study financial planning online or on campus. This degree program is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP) Board registered program that fulfills the CFP® certification education requirement. Earning this undergraduate degree can be the first step toward a career as a financial advisor.

Upon graduation, you will have been provided the necessary knowledge and skills so you can help others plan for their financial future. You’ll also be able to apply what you’ve been taught about financial planning principles and practices to your own personal finances, which may empower you to achieve better peace of mind through wise fiscal decisions.

At GCU, you will be immersed within the Christian worldview via faith-integrated financial planning classes. You will have the opportunity to learn the important role CFP® professionals have in putting the interests of their clients first as they provide competent and ethical financial planning.

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Enjoy greater flexibility and convenience while you work toward this BS in Finance degree as an online student. You will have access to GCU’s intuitive and interactive e-learning platform, which allows you to access course materials and enjoy meaningful connections with peers and instructors.

You can take advantage of opportunities to study financial planning while enjoying in-person, academically stimulating discussions with fellow students and instructors in person. You can also take advantage of all our campus amenities and activities, which are intended to enrich the lives of our students as they study for their future careers.

Prepare To Become a CFP® Professional

As a graduate of GCU’s emphasis in financial planning, you will meet both parts of the CFP Board’s education requirement, including:2

  • Completion of CFP Board-approved coursework
  • Bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited college or university


CFP® professionals are strongly satisfied with their career choice in financial planning.3


On average, CFP® professionals earn 26% more than financial advisors without the certification.4

This BS in Finance: financial planning emphasis program meets the coursework requirement to sit for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM exam — an important step in the path to CFP® certification. CFP® certification is granted solely by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards to individuals who have met ethics, experience and examination requirements, in addition to completing an education requirement such as this CFP Board Registered Program from GCU. Learn more about the CFP Board certification process.

Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks
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Online: 8 weeks
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Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
Campus: $8,250 per semester
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Online: $485 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Financial planning is the process of creating a strategic roadmap for an individual’s money based upon their goals. It’s an ongoing, lifelong process that everyone can benefit from, regardless of income or wealth accumulation. Financial planning helps guide people through their financial choices to help them achieve fiscal stability.5

Financial planning is important as it can help people:5 

  • Understand and set goals for their money
  • Be prepared for emergencies
  • Adjust their plan through different stages of life
  • Achieve financial peace of mind
  • Plan for retirement
  • Make tax-efficient decisions
  • Achieve their legacy-planning objectives

Develop Financial Planning Competencies

In GCU’s financial planning courses, you will explore how to assess clients’ personal current and future financial needs, develop goals, evaluate alternatives and create a comprehensive action plan that’s in alignment with your clients’ values and objectives.

As a student in this finance degree program, you can gain competence in key areas such as:

  • Personal financial management
  • Investing
  • Retirement planning
  • Taxes
  • Estate planning
  • Risk management
  • Client communication
  • Professional ethics

GCU leads with a Lopes First perspective, embracing a student-centric culture that emphasizes higher purpose, conscious capitalism and academic success.

When you complete your financial advisor schooling, you will be expected to demonstrate cultural competence while working with diverse stakeholders. You are encouraged to respect the cultural, social, personal values and differences of the people with whom you work and serve.

Finance Coursework and Topics to Expect

This undergraduate finance program includes comprehensive classes covering topics such as:

  • Personal finance studies
  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Financial risk insurance and management
  • Planning for retirement and employee benefits
  • Managing investments and portfolios 
  • Taxation issues
  • Family estate planning, including money conflicts and crisis situations
  • Financial plan development and behavioral finance
  • Introduction to real estate investments

Career Paths for Graduates With a Financial Planning Emphasis

With this degree, you might pursue a range of career opportunities across numerous settings. Consider a career as a planner or an advisor in financial planning firms, banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies or wealth management firms.6


Median annual wage for personal financial advisors, as of May 20227

With GCU’s bachelor’s in finance degree, you can be prepared for the following roles in financial services, such as:

  • Personal financial planner
  • Financial planning analyst
  • Financial investment analyst
  • Investment manager
  • Financial manager
  • Credit analyst
  • Loan officer

No matter the role, personal financial planners have opportunities to positively impact the lives of people and their families.

GCU Offers Institutionally Accredited Finance Degrees

At GCU stands by the quality of our education and the comprehensiveness of our curriculum. GCU is an institutionally accredited university with a focus on supporting students’ success. The Higher Learning Commission has continually accredited GCU since 1968. The Colangelo College of Business shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accrediting bodies.

Bachelor’s in Finance: Financial Planning Emphasis FAQs

Browse through our frequently asked questions to further explore finance-related careers and what it takes to pursue them.

If you’re interested in personal finance and investments, then earning a finance degree may be your ticket to a career you find satisfying in the world of finance, investing, personal financial planning and business. If you’re a hard worker, love to learn and have a passion for problem-solving and analytical thinking, then you may find yourself very satisfied as a finance with an emphasis in financial planning major.

In addition to having a clear understanding of personal financial planning, if you hold a degree in finance, you will be expected to have acquired specific analytical and people skills to be successful. Financial planners tend to possess the following skills and traits:1

  • Analytical reasoning
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Math competency
  • Communication skills
  • An interest in lifelong learning

The exams that a financial advisor may take depend on their desired certification. GCU’s bachelor's in finance program with an emphasis in financial planning is designed to prepare you with the skills and knowledge necessary to embark on a career in financial planning. It also meets the coursework requirement to sit for the CFP® exam, which is designed to test your ability to apply a range of financial planning knowledge in a diverse range of situations.

Yes, a financial planning career is an excellent choice for those who enjoy developing relationships with individuals and families, acting in clients’ best interest, solving problems and providing guidance. A finance degree can be a great option because it is versatile, offers a variety of financial avenues to explore and may lead to a sense of personal fulfilment when helping clients reach their financial goals. The future of finance is rich with possibilities for those willing to seek and create new opportunities to thrive.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal financial advisors have a median annual wage of $95,390 as of May 2022.7

Turn Your Passion for Finance into a Career

Learn more about earning your Bachelor of Science in Finance with an Emphasis in Financial Planning at GCU.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a personal financial advisor. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Jan. 19, 2024.

2 CFP Board. (n.d.). The education requirement. CFP Board. Retrieved Jan. 19, 2024.

3 CFP Board. (2021, Sept. 8). Survey of CFP® professionals shows continued high satisfaction with their career choice. CFP Board. Retrieved Jan. 19, 2024.

4 CFP Board. (2016, February.). 2016 Aite Group research: Building a wealth management practice: Measuring CFP® professionals’ contribution. CFP Board. Retrieved Jan. 19, 2024.

5 Fidelity. (n.d.). What is financial planning? Fidelity. Retrieved Jan. 19, 2024.

6 Friedberg, B. A. (2022, Oct. 31). Top places to work for financial advisors. Investopedia. Retrieved Jan. 19, 2024.

7 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Personal Financial Advisors as of May 2022. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers nationwide with varying levels of education and experience. It does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as personal financial advisors, nor does it reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country or a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries. Your employability will be determined by numerous factors over which GCU has no control, such as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, the graduate’s experience level, individual characteristics, skills, etc., against a pool of candidates.

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
80 credits
Open Elective Credits:
0-6 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.


Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4
  • UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
  • PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
  • BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

This course provides the foundation of core knowledge within the field of information technology. Topics include technology-centric organizations, the type and role of fundamental information technology systems, data management to include privacy and security, e-business and m-business, hardware, software, and computer networks.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the practical application of descriptive and inferential statistics in business. Topics include probability, probability distributions, the central limit theorem, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, correlation, and regression. Prerequisite: MAT-134, MAT-144, MAT-154, or higher subsequent math course.

Course Description

This course provides students with skills to make rational, personal finance decisions. There is an emphasis on money management and the responsible use of credit. Strategies for wealth building and retirement planning are also introduced.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the use of managerial accounting data in the decision-making process. Topics include the use of cost-volume-profit (CVP) analysis and relevant costs in decision making, using budgets and the balanced scorecard to evaluate performance, methods for setting prices of products and services, and analyzing capital investment opportunities. Prerequisite: ACC-250.

Course Description

This course focuses on the fundamental ideas of microeconomics. Students examine the market forces of supply and demand under different market structures in order to understand how economic agents make decisions about both consumption and production. The structure, conduct, and performance of markets are evaluated through analysis of consumer, producer, and societal welfare. Students explore the topic of factor markets in which the incomes of most workers and owners of capital and property are determined. Prerequisites: ACC-240 or ACC-250 and BUS-352.

Course Description

This course introduces models and practices used by contemporary marketers in fast-paced, dynamic, domestic and global markets, including the marketing concept and processes for developing, implementing, and assessing the effectiveness of marketing plans. Building from a foundational understanding of consumer behavior and marketing research, students examine the development and implementation of marketing mix strategies and tactics with an emphasis of how marketing integrates within all aspects of business.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to managerial finance and the financial markets, analysis of financial statements, time value of money, interest rates, asset valuation, assessment of risk, cost of capital, and capital budgeting. Prerequisites: ECN-220, ECN-351, or ECN-361; and ACC-240 or ACC-250.

Course Description

This course focuses on the national economy by examining macroeconomic data measuring national income, the cost of living, production and growth, and unemployment. Students examine the basic functions of the monetary system and analyze the macro economy in terms of long-run economic productivity and growth and in terms short-run fluctuations. The influence and effect of macroeconomic policy is studied within the context of current events. Prerequisite: ECN-361.

Course Description

This introductory course explores fundamental concepts in risk management and insurance. Students learn to identify and mitigate commercial and personal risks through the use of financial products, including insurance and other financial instruments. Prerequisites: MAT-251 and FIN-350.

Course Description

This course provides a study of the theory and practices of accounting for income taxes of individuals. Students explore the responsibilities of a tax accountant, specific transactions that affect the tax liability of individuals. Prerequisite: ACC-370 or FIN-350.

Course Description

This course provides students with knowledge of the rules and options of qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, public plans (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid), and employee benefit plans. Students learn to evaluate characteristics that are key in retirement plan selection for individuals and business owners. Distribution planning, tax implications, and regulatory considerations are discussed. Students analyze paths and tools toward financial independence and make recommendations within a financial planning context. Other employee benefits, such as medical plans, life insurance, disability insurance, and flexible spending accounts are evaluated. Prerequisite: FIN-350.

Course Description

This course studies stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and other investment vehicles, and their application in investing. The securities market and trading procedures are discussed. The course introduces portfolio theory that is applicable to both professional portfolio management and individual investment decisions. The application of portfolio theory to corporate investments and diversification is also introduced. Prerequisite: FIN-350.

Course Description

Drawing upon real-world management situations, this course is a study of individual and group behavior in organizations through detailed coverage of the functions of management, individual differences/diversity, leadership, motivation, decision making, organizational design, and organizational change and development. Emphasis is placed on how an understanding of organizational behavior leads to effective management practice.

Course Description

This course includes principles of family estate planning and client communication. Estate planning documents, gifting strategies, incapacity planning, property ownership, transfer methods, and taxation are covered. Students learn aspects of client communication and psychology, including principles of nonverbal communication, counseling, and the impact of planner and client values, attitudes, and biases. Money conflicts and crisis situations are also discussed. Prerequisite: FIN-350.

Course Description

This writing-intensive course is a comprehensive study of the legal and ethical issues of concern to business, including those areas of the U.S. legal system that are most relevant to business, such as the law of torts, strict liability, intellectual property, and contract law. It explores the role of ethics and values in business decision making and approaches these subjects from the perspective of the stakeholders as opposed to an economic interpretation of the firm and its responsibilities.

Course Description

This course explores life and health insurance. The principles of life and health insurance and their applications are discussed. Students learn how insurance products protect in the event of a death or medical issue. Prerequisite: FIN-350.

Course Description

This course is an advanced study of investments and their application in investment portfolio management. The course develops and emphasizes portfolio theory that is applicable to both professional portfolio management and individual investment decisions. The application of portfolio theory to corporate investments and diversification is also discussed. Prerequisites: MAT-251; and FIN-450 or FIN-375.

Course Description

In this introduction to the real estate industry, students learn about the risks and rewards associated with investing in and financing both residential and commercial real estate. This course includes concepts and techniques relevant to a variety of careers related to real estate. This course also provides students with a better understanding of real estate for their own personal investment and financing decisions. Prerequisite: FIN-350.

Course Description

This course is a synthesis of concepts learned throughout the financial planning program. A series of case studies enhances the ability to integrate and apply knowledge and skills from core financial planning domains. Students gain experience in the financial planning process, client biases and behavioral finance issues, professional standards, and ethics, and written and oral communication. Effective financial analysis techniques and client communication are employed to create and present a financial plan in accordance with a client's values and objectives. Implementation, evaluation, and updates of the plan are also addressed. Prerequisites: FIN-355, FIN-375, FIN-431, and ACC-460.

Course Description

This writing-intensive course serves as the capstone experience in business and management, introducing students to functional, business, and corporate strategy from the perspective of a strategy analyst. Tools and techniques are applied to the student’s previous knowledge of accounting, finance, management, analytics, marketing, economics, entrepreneurship, and leadership acquired through their individual programs of study. Students integrate strategic analysis to demonstrate mastery of a wide variety of business domains. Prerequisites: MGT-420 or MGT-422HN; FIN-210 or FIN-350; and MKT-245 or MKT-315.


GCU Campus Student

Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.