Bachelor's in Finance With a Financial Planning Degree Emphasis

Bachelor of Science in Finance with an Emphasis in Financial Planning

Offered By: Colangelo College of Business

A financial planning degree is a four-year undergraduate degree program that helps students learn about all aspects of personal financial planning from evaluating risk, investments and taxes, to applying effective communication and ethics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a financial planning bachelor’s degree is typically required for financial advisor roles.1


CFP® professionals are strongly satisfied with their career choice in financial planning.2


On average, CFP® professionals earn 26% more than financial advisors without the certification.3

Pursue an Emphasis in Financial Planning Degree Online or on Campus at GCU

Grand Canyon University (GCU) offers students maximum flexibility by offering the bachelor's in finance with an emphasis in financial planning degree online or on campus. The undergraduate degree program from GCU is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP) Board registered program and fulfills the CFP® certification education requirement. Earning a financial planning degree emphasis is the first step toward a rewarding career as a trusted financial advisor helping people plan for their financial future.

The bachelor’s in finance with an emphasis in financial planning degree focuses on personal financial management, investing, retirement planning, taxes, estate planning, risk management, client communication and ethics. GCU leads with a Lopes First perspective embracing a student-centric culture that emphasizes higher purpose, conscious capitalism and academic success.

Students will learn about GCU’s Christian worldview and be able to articulate the important role CFP® professionals have in putting the interests of their clients first while providing competent and ethical financial planning.

Graduates of GCU’s emphasis in financial planning degree online or on-campus will meet both parts of the CFP Board’s education requirement, including:

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

Graduates of this GCU program will meet 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.


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Median annual wage for personal financial advisors, as of May 20214

Financial Planners Help Others Achieve Financial Freedom

Financial planning is the process of creating a strategic roadmap for an individual’s money based upon their goals. It’s ongoing and not just for the wealthy. Financial planning helps guide people through their financial choices to help make their dreams a reality.

Financial planning is important as it helps people:

  • Understand and set goals for their money
  • Enjoy a better standard of living
  • Be prepared for emergencies
  • Adjust their plan through different stages of life
  • Achieve peace of mind
  • Plan for retirement
  • Protect their assets
  • Make tax-efficient decisions
  • Achieve their philanthropic and legacy-planning objectives

Benjamin Franklin’s quote can be applied here in personal financial planning. He said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”5 With solid financial planning, you can weather the storms of inflation or emergencies and create the life you've always imagined. Financial planning provides a structure that allows you the freedom of choice.

Gain Personal Financial Planning Skills Needed for Diverse Clients and an Evolving Market

In GCU's financial planning degree program, you will learn 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.

As a financial planning degree graduate, you will be able to demonstrate cultural competence while working with diverse stakeholders and respect the cultural, social, personal values and differences of the people with whom you work and serve.

GCU’s on-campus and online financial planning degree program provides a comprehensive course list that includes the following topics:

  • Personal finance studies
  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics
  • Financial risk insurance and management
  • Planning for retirement and employee benefits
  • Managing investments and portfolios
  • Study of taxation
  • Estate planning and special topics
  • Financial plan development and behavioral finance
  • Introduction to real estate

Career Possibilities for Graduates With a Financial Planning Degree Emphasis

Graduates with a degree in financial planning might work as a planner or an advisor in financial planning firms, banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies or wealth management firms.

With GCU’s emphasis in financial planning degree online or on campus, you will be prepared for roles in financial services like:

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

Others may choose to apply their personal financial planning degree to careers within firm operations, client services, compliance, fintech (financial technology) or other roles. No matter the role, personal financial planners positively impact the lives of people and their families. If you love finance and helping individuals, a degree in finance focused on personal financial planning may be right for you. Learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Finance with an Emphasis in Financial Planning degree at GCU.

Bachelor’s in Finance With a Financial Planning Degree Emphasis FAQs

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

Earning a finance degree can be your ticket to a satisfying and stable career 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 major.

Financial planning skills such as strong communication, inquisitive and analytical thinking, natural problem solving and impeccable organization and planning allow financial planning degree graduates to counsel clients on their finances, consider cash flows, prepare for retirement, offer investing advice and help them achieve goals. Financial planning degree graduates might continue their education with a master’s in finance to prepare for long-term career success across many industries.

Finance and math seem to go hand-in-hand; however, most financial professionals need basic knowledge in algebra and order of operations. GCU’s degree in financial planning requires math-related skills such as algebra, statistics and probability. Math skills that are most crucial to finance majors are being quick with basic math and having a critical mind to understand financial statements and debt instruments.

In addition to having a clear understanding of personal financial planning topic areas, if you hold a degree in financial planning, you will acquire specific analytical and people skills to be successful. When clients look for a professional to help handle the most private parts of their livelihood, they also look for someone who is passionate, calm, able to explain complex information and options, transparent about fees and investment costs and their ability to handle highly stressful conversations in a personable manner.

GCU’s degree in financial planning prepares 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 real life situations. Other qualifications and exams you may take, as a financial planner, depends on the type of services you will provide. On average, CFP® professionals earn 26% more than financial advisors without the certification.3

Yes, a financial planning career is an excellent choice for those who enjoy holistic thinking, developing relationships with individuals and families, acting in clients’ best interest, solving problems, and providing guidance and advice. A financial planning degree is highly desirable because it has a lot of flexibility, it offers a variety of financial avenues to explore and provides a sense of personal fulfillment 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 $94,170 as of May 2021.4


1 Retrieved from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Personal Financial Advisors in June 2022

2 Retrieved from CFP Board, Survey of CFP® Professionals Shows Continued High Satisfaction With Their Career Choice, CFP® Certification in August 2022

3 Retrieved from CFP Board, 2016 Aite Group Research: Building a Wealth Management Practice: Measuring CFP® professionals’ contribution in August 2022

4 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Personal Financial Advisors as of May 2021. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as Personal Financial Advisors. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect 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. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.

5 Retrieved from Goodreads, Benjamin Franklin Quotes in June 2022

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 [More Info]
Online: $485 per credit [More Info]

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-112, Success in Science, Engineering and Technology & Lab: 4
  • 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.

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