2023 Best Online PhD in Financial Planning [Doctorate Guide]

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If you’re interested in pursuing research or advancement in the field of finance, then earning a PhD in Financial Planning may be a strategic step in your professional goals.

Best Online PhD in Financial Planning

A PhD is a research-heavy program, and you will likely have the opportunity to study theoretical knowledge and research methods in specific fields, such as consumer economics or risk management.

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Earning this degree could help you grow your qualifications for several rewarding and lucrative career paths, depending on your desired area of focus.

Online PhD in Financial Planning Programs

Man attending Online PhD in Financial Planning Program

PhD programs in financial planning are typically designed to prepare graduates to become members of university faculty or pursue research positions.

As such, this degree program contains a large amount of research coursework, like advanced research methods, theories and models in personal finance, and more.

You can also study:

  • Statistical methods in financial planning
  • Global issues in financial planning
  • Clinical research and applications
  • Financial planning theory

A large portion of a doctorate in financial planning program can also be devoted to financial decision-making, including risk management, retirement planning, and investments. You may also encounter coursework that focuses on best practices during economic decline, including preventative techniques.

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You can explore how to analyze and evaluate financial public policy and even how to recommend courses of action for individuals based on policy. Since research is a core component of this degree, some of your courses will include the study of data analysis and interpretation techniques, regression analysis, and econometrics.

Most curriculums include leadership and ethics coursework as well. Dissertation preparation can also include coursework on writing academic and research papers as well as the skills required to publish in scholarly journals. This PhD seeks to prepare students to become faculty members and teachers at research-based universities, but it can also help prepare professionals for senior or leadership roles in the finance industry.

Financial Planning Careers & Salaries

Financial Planning Careers & Salaries

Earning a doctorate in financial planning online may open up several career opportunities. Typically, graduates of this PhD program move into postsecondary teaching or research positions. PhDs are a common requirement for careers in research and academia.

Some graduates choose to become a professor of finance, economics, or financial planning at a university, where they can also conduct research and publish in scholarly journals. Others choose to conduct research for large financial advising corporations, as these institutions sometimes have in-house research and training departments.

Potential roles for advanced professionals in the field include principal investment strategist, financial planning scientist, and economist.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median annual salaries of positions related to the advanced study of financial planning.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Chief Executives $189,520
Financial Managers $139,790
Actuaries $113,990
Economists $113,940
Postsecondary Economics Teachers $103,930
Data Scientists $103,500
Personal Financial Advisors $95,390
Financial and Investment Analysts $95,080
Budget Analysts $82,260
Financial Examiners $82,210

Salaries can vary depending on your level of experience and education as well as the institution you’re working for. In addition to academic careers, graduates can also choose to pursue consumer-facing roles. These types of roles can include personal financial advisor and financial manager.

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Financial planning professionals may advise individuals on risk assessment, investment strategies, estate planning, economic decline mitigation, family wealth, and more. Others choose to become involved in risk management for corporations or even focus on stocks and bonds.

Financial Planning PhD Curriculum & Courses

students pursuing Financial Planning PhD degree

While courses in financial planning doctorate programs can vary, here are some common subjects you may come across in a financial planning PhD program:

  • Research Methods in Financial Planning, Housing, and Consumer Economics: This course emphasizes research design, with a focus on common issues in data analysis and measurement.
  • Theory of Households, Consumer Economics, and Financial Behavior: This course overviews contemporary theories of household and consumer decision-making, including theories of saving and consumption and economic analysis.
  • Research Development: This course focuses on the development of a dissertation proposal and the necessary research skills required to do so, such as viable question identification and structuring empirical research papers.
  • Advanced Wealth Management: This course focuses on family wealth management and covers areas such as investment risk and return, securities markets, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and more.
  • Statistical Software Application in FP: This course overviews current statistical software in financial planning, along with its application in practical and research capacities.
  • Consumer Policy Analysis: This course analyzes the rationales and outcomes of financial policies that impact consumer well-being, housing, financial services, and other markets.
  • Statistical Methods in Financial Planning: This course focuses on the use of statistical methods and application in financial planning research.
  • Money and Relationships: This course explores the connection between couple and family relationships and money, with a focus on factors that impact money perceptions and management.
  • Advanced Estate Planning: This course explores advanced methods of family estate planning, including multi-generational techniques, property transfer, and trust income taxes.
  • Fundamentals of Risk Management: This course focuses on the fundamentals of risk management, specifically the use of insurance in risk financing.

A PhD program will often require more research-focused core courses.

How to Choose an Online Doctoral Program in Financial Planning

Friends doing research on Online Doctoral in Financial Planning

When choosing between online doctoral programs in financial planning, there are several considerations to keep in mind. These include:

  • Accreditation. Accreditation offers quality assurance that a school meets certain professional standards. You can also look one step deeper and find finance programs that are affiliated with the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) board.
  • Curriculum. Many PhD candidates have the opportunity to shape their curriculum to a degree. So, it’s strategic to look for programs with coursework that reflects your desired area of expertise, such as econometrics, regression analysis, research theory, and more.
  • Instructors. You will work more closely with your PhD professors than any other instructors, especially in a research capacity. So, it is beneficial to see if a program’s instructors have top-tier research and experience credentials.
  • Technologies for online learning. It’s strategic to confirm that whether an online program utilizes technologies and platforms that make it convenient to attend class virtually.
  • Access to resources. You might consider whether a program can offer access to resources like scholarly journals or personalized library assistance.
  • Job placement. You can inquire about schools’ placement programs for graduates, and you can also speak with alumni regarding their career process after graduation.

Keeping these considerations in mind when choosing a program may help you find the program that best supports your future career.

Admissions Requirements

Woman preparing requirements for PhD in Financial Planning

While admissions requirements for doctorate in finance programs can differ depending on your school, some common ones include:

  • Official transcripts and master’s degree
  • Resume or CV
  • Statement of purpose
  • Interview with faculty (if applicable)
  • Letters of recommendation

A growing number of schools no longer require the submission of GMAT or GRE scores for graduate admissions, but some still do. Also, some programs require professional experience. It’s beneficial to verify the specific admissions requirements of prospective schools before applying.


University offering PhD in Financial Planning Programs

Determining whether your potential university is accredited is an essential step to take before applying. In essence, regional accreditation is a form of quality assurance that assures your university meets professional education standards.

Completing your PhD at an accredited school is often a requirement by different employers and certification boards. Plus, some forms of financial aid are only available at accredited schools. Only select organizations can provide regional accreditation.

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You can view a list of credible organizations and verify a school’s accreditation status at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website.

Financial Planning Licensure and Certifications

Certified Financial Planners discussing statistical methods

Earning a professional certification alongside your degree could be a strategic way to showcase your expertise to employers or clients and enhance your career opportunities.

A few certification options include:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP): This certification verifies your expertise in assessing financial portfolios and making personalized recommendations.
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC): This certification is similar to the CFP, but it allows specialization in niche areas, such as estate planning.
  • Financial Risk Manager (FRM): This certification verifies expertise and experience in risk management, and it is available from the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP).

Some doctoral programs are designed to help you meet certain certification requirements.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Financial Planning Financial Aid

Many students pursue financial assistance to complete an online PhD in Finance. There are many types of aid available to qualifying students, including federal aid, state aid, grants, scholarships, and more.

Scholarships and grants can be based on a variety of factors, such as location, need, and area of study. They can also be offered by a variety of sources, such as schools, professional organizations, and public institutions. If you do need the assistance of loans, student loans from the federal and state governments often come with lower interest rates.

To apply for federal aid and determine your eligibility, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What Is a Financial Planning PhD Degree?

Financial Manager updating the team on financial analysis

A PhD in Financial Planning degree is designed to prepare graduates for top-level careers as professors, academic researchers, chief financial officers, and even economists.

In this degree program, you can study advanced research methods—such as statistical methods and data analytics—in preparation for academic research. You can also study core topics like financial planning, economic theory, risk management, econometrics, and investment techniques.

Many graduates of this type of PhD program become faculty members at universities or even researchers for private financial firms.

What Do You Learn in an Online PhD in Financial Management?

Finance professionals doing data analysis and interpretation

Students in a PhD in Financial Planning degree program are immersed in all types of advanced financial planning topics. PhD programs will also heavily focus on research methods. Coursework in research may include research methodology, data analysis and interpretation, financial planning models, and statistical methods.

Other courses will cover fundamentals in risk management, financial policy analysis, regression analysis, estate planning, research development, and consumer economics. Students may even take courses on software used in financial planning as well as leadership and ethics courses.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Financial Planning?

Financial planning scientists for private corporation discussing

A PhD in Financial Planning can help qualify graduates to become researchers or members of university faculty. Many graduates go on to become professors in finance or financial planning, where they may also conduct original research and publish research papers.

Others become economists, principal investment strategists, or financial planning scientists for private corporations. Graduates may also find careers as financial managers, analysts, or advisors for public or private companies. Those with extensive experience may go on to become chief financial officers.

Can I Get a PhD in Financial Planning Online?

Man taking PhD in Financial Planning online

Many accredited schools offer PhD in Financial Planning programs online. These schools typically offer virtual learning options, where you can attend virtual classes and submit coursework remotely.

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Before choosing a school, it’s helpful to verify whether you’ll need to attend in-person at any time. Some programs are listed as “hybrid,” meaning some classwork is in person. Most PhD programs do require in-person attendance for dissertation proposals and defense. There may also be some in-person requirements for seminar courses.

What Jobs Can I Get with a PhD in Financial Planning Degree?

Group of economists discussing market trends

Professionals with a PhD in Financial Planning may pursue a variety of career opportunities post-graduation.

Many graduates choose to enter the world of academia. They might become faculty members or professors at colleges or universities, where they can teach finance or a related subject. They may also pursue research positions at postsecondary institutions or private companies.

Financial planning professionals who use their studies to advance in the field may work as financial managers, economists, or even chief financial officers, depending on their qualifications and experience.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Personal Financial Planning Online?

Woman pursuing PhD in Personal Financial Planning online

Generally, a PhD can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to complete with full-time enrollment. This timeline can depend on the number of credit hours required and how long it takes to complete your dissertation.

If no dissertation is required, a doctoral program can often be completed in 3 years with full-time study. Of course, if you are enrolled part-time at any time, this may extend your time to completion. You can talk to a university about their specific program timelines to learn more.

Is a PhD in Financial Planning Worth It?

Financial Manager discussing consumer economics to the team

Yes, a PhD in Financial Planning is worth it for many students. Earning this terminal degree can help you stand out to potential employers as well as qualify for positions in research and academia.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of financial managers is forecast to grow 17% over the next ten years, which is considered much faster than the average. Similarly, 12% job growth is projected for postsecondary teachers over the same period.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Financial Planning Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Capella University

Capella University campus

Capella University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management includes eleven core courses, five electives, and three virtual residencies. The program also requires the completion of a comprehensive exam and a dissertation to graduate. Throughout the dissertation process, students are paired with an academic mentor to help keep them on track.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Franklin University

Franklin University campus

Franklin University offers a Doctor of Business Administration that can be completed 100% online. Students typically spend 2 years completing coursework and 1 year working on the dissertation. The program is designed to allow students to complete their studies around their own schedule. The curriculum is highly customizable through a wide range of elective options.

Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Hampton University

Hampton University campus

Hampton University offers a hybrid online PhD in Business Administration designed to meet the needs of busy professionals. Online courses are 8 weeks long. Students are required to come to campus for two 4 week summer residencies and to defend their dissertations. Potential courses in the curriculum include Organizational Behavior, Advanced Computer Applications, and Managerial Economics.

Hampton University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Jacksonville University

Jacksonville University campus

Jacksonville University offers a Doctor of Business Administration. The curriculum is designed to offer networking opportunities and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Classes meet on campus one Friday and one Saturday each month, but the option to stream the class live online is available.

Jacksonville University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Kansas State University

Kansas State University campus

Kansas State University offers a Doctorate in Personal Financial Planning that is intended for working professionals. This hybrid program consists of online courses during the fall and spring semesters, supplemented by intensives on campus that are 10 days long during the summer. The program also requires a travel abroad experience to learn about global markets.

Kansas State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University’s Doctor of Business Administration requires the completion of 60 credit hours and takes an average of 3 years to complete. Courses are offered 100% online and are 8 weeks long. The program’s instructors have real-world business experience. Potential courses in the curriculum include Investments and Derivatives, Mergers and Acquisition, and Business Valuation.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

National University

National University campus

National University offers a PhD in Business Management with a specialization in Financial Management. The program’s fully online format is designed to allow students to complete their studies in their own time. New students can start every Monday. Potential courses include Business Leadership and Strategy, Business Financial Systems, and Statistics I and II.

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Pace University

Pace University campus

Pace University offers a hybrid program for a Doctor of Professional Studies in Finance. Students can typically complete it in 3 to 5 years without interrupting their current careers. Most coursework is completed with a cohort. Graduates typically pursue academic careers or senior management positions.

Pace University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University campus

Texas Tech University offers a PhD in Personal Financial Planning that can be earned on campus or online. The curriculum is designed to develop practical skills in both research and teaching. Graduates often pursue tenure-track faculty positions at other universities or non-academic careers in business.

Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Touro University Worldwide

Touro University Worldwide campus

Touro University Worldwide offers a Doctor of Business Administration. Courses are 8 weeks long and 100% online. The program requires the completion of a research-based doctoral project on a topic such as finance, accounting, or technology. There are six start dates every year, and prospective students can apply without GRE scores at any time.

Touro University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Trident University International

Trident University International campus

Trident University International offers a PhD in Business Administration that can be completed 100% online. The program has no in-person requirements, and the course load and completion time may be adjusted to suit personal schedules. Faculty members are assigned to provide individualized support on the program’s required research project.

Trident University International is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands campus

The University of the Cumberlands offers an online PhD in Business with a content specialty area in Finance. Potential courses include Corporate Finance: Fiscal Management in a Global Climate, Managerial Ethics and Social Responsibility, and Strategic Marketing: Research and Practice.

The University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Walden University

Walden University campus

Walden University offers a PhD in Management with a specialization in 21st Century Finance. The curriculum covers how to conduct original research, make strategic business decisions, and apply financial theory to real-world situations. In addition to coursework, the completion of a dissertation and attendance at four residencies are required.

Walden is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your PhD in Financial Planning Online

student getting PhD in Financial Planning Degree online

You might consider earning a PhD in Financial Planning if you want to grow your professional qualifications or pursue original research in the financial planning field.

A PhD can also help you qualify for faculty positions at universities or research positions at postsecondary schools or private companies. Some graduates go on to publish research findings in scholarly journals while they maintain more client-facing roles, such as that of a financial manager or advisor.

You could start exploring accredited colleges and universities today to see which online PhD programs in financial planning best match your interests and goals.

Ready to start your journey?
Megan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern New Hampshire University, is a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner with the Academy for Modern Applied Psychology, and is a published author. Her areas of research and interests include behavioral psychology, mental health, and publishing.