Personal financial planning

University of Missouri-Columbia
Master of science
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Master of science

You know that personal financial planning plays a fundamental role in the well-being of individuals and families everywhere. Yet, it is increasingly difficult for everyday people to navigate our complex economy. You want to help. With a master of science degree in personal financial planning from the University of Missouri, you can go beyond ordinary financial expertise. 

Mizzou’s 100% online master of science program in personal financial planning provides a rare opportunity to prepare for the rigorous CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ examination with an accredited university on a flexible schedule that works for you. As a CFP® professional, you will have the gold standard designation for expertise in helping individuals and families chart their financial future.

Mizzou’s program was designed for ambitious financial professionals like you. It allows you to pursue a master’s and the valuable CFP® certification, while continuing to work full time. Students take courses with industry-leading researchers and professionals. You’ll join a network of like-minded professionals and scholars whose interests and goals align with your own while developing the skills you need to help individuals plan for everything from their first home purchase to retirement and beyond. A final advanced project will offer hands-on experience with a case study, independent or literature review. 

Upon successful completion of your course work, you will not only have a master of science from a nationally recognized program, but you will also be able to sit for the CFP® examination. You can take your exam with confidence, aware that your hard-earned certification and university credentials will be a testament to your skill as an advisor. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Mizzou master's-degree holder, you’ll offer people the relief of knowing they have outstanding expertise on their side, regardless of what the future holds. You can also start in a graduate certificate program.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark and the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

Quick facts

Official name

Master of science in personal financial planning


University of Missouri-Columbia

Program type

Master's degree

Academic home

College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources | Division of Applied Social Sciences

Delivery mode

100% online


Higher Learning Commission

Credit hours


Estimated cost


*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

Personal financial planning professional.

Career prospects

Students in this program gain skills that prepare them to meet the increasing demand for CFP® professionals. Job titles for degree holders include: 

  • Financial analyst
  • Personal financial advisor
  • Loan officer
  • Social and community service manager
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. Growth by 7% projected through 2028.
Employment growth
Burning Glass Technologies. 2022.. Salary numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
Median salary

Program structure

Delivery is 100% online. Courses are semester-based. Students taking two classes per semester for three semesters a year can finish in two years.

Course work includes

  • Employee benefits
  • Estate planning
  • Investment planning
  • Risk management
  • Tax planning 
  • Financial planning case study
  • Advanced risk management
  • Household financial decision making
  • Leadership theory and application
  • Financial planning advanced projects 


100% online

Calendar system


Typical program length

2-3 years

Typical course load

1-3 courses per semester


The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

Faculty spotlight

Rui Yao, PhD

Dr. Yao’s research interests focus on individual and family financial decision-making and well-being. Specific topics include retirement, saving and investment behavior and motives, risk tolerance, debt management, and consumption patterns. She received the best paper award from the CFP®  Board, AARP, American Council on Consumer Interests, and American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences. Dr. Yao serves as an associate editor, an editorial board member and as a reviewer for a number of academic journals and conferences.

Rui Yao, PhD, CFP®
Professor, Director of Graduate Studies and Director of International Financial Planning Initiative, Personal Financial Planning
Starla Ivey, Instructor and Graduate Program Coordinator, Personal Financial Planning

Dr. Ivey has more than 20 years of experience in college teaching at the University of Missouri, Spalding University and Oklahoma State University. She has taught courses in insurance, investments, taxes, personal finance, management and leadership while also providing academic and career advising to students. Her professional background includes experience in banking, insurance and employee benefit management.

Starla Ivey, PhD
Instructor and Graduate Program Coordinator, Department of Personal Financial Planning
Abed Rabbani, PhD

Dr. Rabbani teaches the personal financial planning curriculum in employee benefits and retirement planning, as well as risk management and insurance. His research is focused primarily on financial risk tolerance, financial knowledge and financial wellness. He is the lead investigator on the Investment Risk Tolerance Assessment program and a partner administrator of the 2020 Study on Collegiate Financial Wellness (SCFW).

Abed G. Rabbani, PhD, CFP®
Assistant Professor, Personal Financial Planning

Tobias M. Mendelson teaches retirement planning, estate planning, income tax planning, multi-jurisdictional tax and tax research. Mendelson was previously a clinical assistant professor of accounting and business law, teaching and developing curricula for tax and business law courses. He began his academic career in 2011 as a part-time assistant professor while working as a senior advanced markets director for MetLife’s Premier Client Group and Mass Mutual. He also worked in the same capacity at New York Life and Canada Life Assurance Company. As an advanced markets attorney, he was a subject matter expert on taxation, estate and gift tax planning, charitable gift planning, retirement (qualified and non-qualified) planning and more. He has been a member of the Florida Bar for nearly 40 years and is an active member of the American Bar Association serving as an exam reviewer and judge for the Law Student Division National Appellate Advocacy and Negotiation competitions.

Tobias M. Mendelson, JD
Assistant Teaching Professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Division of Applied Social Sciences