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K-State's Institute of Personal Financial Planning offers distance learning opportunities

By Jennifer Newberry


People interested in studying financial planning have various options available through Kansas State University.

K-State offers not only an on-campus bachelor's degree in the program, but also an online master's degree or graduate certificate. That means students can go to school part time while also working full time.

The on-campus option allows students to earn a bachelor of science in family studies and human services with a personal financial planning emphasis. Courses include personal finance, family relationships and decision making, consumer economics, insurance, investments, taxation, retirement and estate planning, economics and accounting.

The undergraduate program is registered with the Certified Financial Planner Board to meet education requirements and allow students to take the Certified Financial Planner Certification examination.

Students graduating with a bachelor's degree qualify for jobs in financial planning, retirement planning and family financial counseling, and at companies such as credit unions, banks, insurance companies, financial aid offices, employee assistance programs and mortgage companies.

The online degrees are offered as part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, a consortium of universities offering online graduate programs. A student is admitted to just one university, which will grant the degree, but could be taught by faculty from other universities.

"The great thing about the program is that students are able to further their education while continuing to work," said Deb Wood, lead coordinator for the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance. "They don't have to uproot their family and move to Manhattan, find parking and be in class at a specific time."

Students typically take one or two courses a semester, translating to 12-15 hours of school work per course per week. The certificate program is 18 credits, and consists of six courses, including fundamentals of financial planning, insurance planning for families, investing for a family's future, personal income taxation, employee benefits and retirement planning, and estate planning for families.

After the first six courses are taken, students can take the Certified Financial Planner Certification examination at any time, administered by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, or move into the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance for the rest of the courses needed to receive a master's degree. The master's program at K-State began in fall 2000 and has since graduated 21 students, with another eight scheduled to graduate in fall 2005, Wood said.

The master's degree is 42 credits and, in addition to the courses taken for the certificate program, students take courses that are more people oriented. Courses include financial counseling, family studies, professional practices and family economics.

Graduate students also are required to do a practicum, which is an independent project involving work experience, research and writing, developing educational materials or another project agreed upon between the student and their major professor, said Katie Curtis.

Curtis, program coordinator and graduate student in family studies and human services, said students have six years to complete the master's program and can skip semesters if needed. Typically, the graduate program is completed in three years.

After graduating with either a certificate or master's degree in personal financial planning, students can take the Certified Financial Planner Certification examination.

K-State is one of seven institutions that participate in this online degree program. Others include Iowa State University, Montana State University, North Dakota State University, Oklahoma State University, South Dakota State University and the University of Nebraska.

For more information, visit http://www.k-state.edu/ipfp or http://www.cfp.net


Winter 2005