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Financial Counseling and Planning

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Administered by the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Leading to the degree Bachelor of Science.

The Financial Counseling and Planning curriculum prepares students for careers in family financial services. Financial Counseling and Planning is a growing career field and appeals to students who want to work with individuals and families to help them meet their financial goals and improve their financial capability to better meet financial challenges. Coursework provides students with the family resource management and interpersonal skills needed to help families remain financially secure. Based on individual specific career goals, students may select courses that lead to fulfilling the education requirements for the leading designations and certifications in financial counseling and planning. Graduates of the program are prepared for employment in personal banking, financial services, insurance, financial counseling and planning, and human service organizations. Laboratory and practicum opportunities exist in the Iowa State University Financial Counseling Clinic and with industry partners. A field experience encourages students to apply their studies and to experience the profession in real-world settings.

Student Learning Outcomes

Financial Counseling and Planning graduates are prepared to:

  1. Help individuals and families make personal finance decisions using time value of money calculations.
  2. Deliver professional, competent, and ethical financial counseling and planning services to clients.
  3. Apply principles of client psychology within consumer and financial decision making.
  4. Measure individual and family financial health and use these measures to create a comprehensive personal financial plan.
  5. Attain the leading designations in financial counseling and planning. Upon graduation students have completed the educational requirements for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Accredited Financial Counselor® designations.

Total credits required: 120 

 Financial Counseling and Planning core (AFC & CFP exam ready): 39 credits

HDFS 1020Human Development3
or PSYCH 2300 Developmental Psychology
HDFS 2390Consumer Issues3
HDFS 2700Family Communications and Relationships3
HDFS 2830Personal and Family Finance3
HDFS 3170GField Experiences: Family Finance Programs1-6
HDFS 3410Income Tax Planning for Families3
HDFS 3780Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits3
HDFS 3830Fundamentals of Financial Planning3
HDFS 3840Family Insurance Planning3
or FIN 3610 Personal Risk Management and Insurance
HDFS 4820Family Savings and Investments3
or FIN 3200 Investments
HDFS 4840Estate Planning for Families3
HDFS 4850Capstone: Family Financial Planning3
HDFS 4890Financial Counseling2
HDFS 4890LFinancial Counseling Laboratory1
Total Credits37-42

Communications and Library: 13 credits

ENGL 1500Critical Thinking and Communication3
ENGL 2500Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Composition3
LIB 1600Introduction to College Level Research1
One of the following:3
Fundamentals of Public Speaking
Interpersonal Communication
Conflict Management
One of the following:3
Survey of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communication
Business Communication
Proposal and Report Writing
Technical Communication
Total Credits13

 Natural Sciences and Mathematical Disciplines: 10 credits

ACCT 2840Financial Accounting3
COMS 1130Introduction to Spreadsheets and Databases3
or Computer Science course3
STAT 1010Principles of Statistics4
Total Credits13

Social Sciences: 9 credits

ECON 1010Principles of Microeconomics3
SOC 1340Introduction to Sociology3
or PSYCH 2800 Social Psychology
Social Science course from approved general education options3
Total Credits9

 Humanities: 6 credits

Humanities course from approved general education options6

 HD FS orientation: 1 credit

HDFS 1100Freshman Learning Community Orientation1
or HDFS 1110 New Transfer Student Seminar
Total Credits1

Electives: 42 credits as needed to equal 120 total credits

Recommended HDFS Electives (part of total electives).

HDFS 2340Adult Development3
HDFS 2490Parenting and Family Diversity Issues3
HDFS 3600Housing and Services for Families and Children3
HDFS 3690Research Methods in Human Development and Family Studies3
HDFS 3770Aging and the Family3
HDFS 3950Children, Families, and Public Policy3
HDFS 4490Program Evaluation and Proposal Writing3
HDFS 4790Family Dynamics Through a Social and Cultural Lens3
HDFS 4910Internship4

Other recommended electives include courses from accounting, community and regional planning, economics, finance, gerontology, human development and family studies, journalism, management, marketing, political science, psychology, and sociology.

Total credits: 120 credits

U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives Requirement: Students fulfill the U.S. Diversity and International Perspectives Requirement by choosing three credits of coursework from each of the university-approved lists.

The courses listed in this section are approved general education course options for this major.

Natural Sciences and Mathematics: 9 credits total (3 credits from list below). Coursework designed to facilitate students' understanding of the structure and behavior of the natural world and appreciate mathematics as a valuable tool of the sciences and an intrinsically important way of thinking.

Computer Science (COMS)
Accounting (ACCT)
Mathematics (MATH)
Statistics (STAT)

Social Sciences: 9 credits. Coursework designed to help students develop an understanding of the principal methods of studying human behavior and an understanding of the structure and functioning of institutions.

ACCT 2150Legal Environment of Business3
AESHM 4210Developing Global Leadership: Maximizing Human Potential3
AFAM 3300Ethnic and Race Relations3
AMD 1650Dress, Appearance, and Diversity in U.S. Society3
AMD 3620Global Dress in the Fashion System and Society3
AMD 4670Consumer Studies in Apparel and Fashion Products3
AMIN 3100Contemporary Topics in American Indian Studies3
AMIN 3150Archaeology of North America3
AMIN 3220Peoples and Cultures of Native North America3
Anthropology (ANTHR) - except 2020
Economics (ECON)
FSHN 3420World Food Issues: Past and Present3
INTST 2350Introduction to International Studies3
LING 2190Introduction to Linguistics3
LING 4710Language and Reading Development in Children3
Political Science (POLS)
Psychology (PSYCH) - except 1310
Sociology (SOC), including Criminal Justice (CJST)
WGS 2010Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies3
WGS 2030Introduction to Lesbian Communities3
WGS 3010International Perspectives on Women and Gender3
ENVS 3200Ecofeminism3
WGS 3270Gender and Sexualities in Society3
WGS 3280Sociology of Masculinities and Manhood3
WGS 3460Psychology of Women3
AFAM 3500Women of Color in the U.S3
WGS 3850Women in Politics3

Humanities: 6 credits. Coursework designed to assist students to develop an understanding of human cultural heritage and history, and an appreciation of reasoning and the aesthetic value of human creativity. 

AESHM 3420Aesthetics of Consumer Experience3
AFAM 2010Introduction to African American Studies3
AFAM 3340Africana Religions3
AFAM 3470African American Literature3
AFAM 3530History of African Americans I3
AFAM 3540History of African Americans II3
AMD 3540Euro-American Dress History: Prehistoric to Mid-19th Century3
AMD 3560Euro-American Dress History: Mid-19th Century to the Present3
AMIN 2100Introduction to American Indian Studies3
AMIN 2400Introduction to American Indian Literature3
AMIN 3460American Indian Literature3
ARCH 2210Histories and Theories of Architecture to 17503
ARCH 4200Topics in American Architecture3
Art History (ARTH)
American Sign Language (ASL)
Classical Studies (CLST)
DANCE 2700Dance Appreciation3
DANCE 3600History and Philosophy of Dance3
DSNS 1830Design in Context3
ENGL 2010Introduction to Literature3
ENGL 2250Survey of British Literature to 18003
ENGL 2260Survey of British Literature since 18003
ENGL 2270Survey of American Literature to 18653
ENGL 2280Survey of American Literature since 18653
ENGL 2370Survey of Film History3
ENGL 2400Introduction to American Indian Literature3
History (HIST)
HSPM 2600Global Tourism Management3
MUSIC 1020Introduction to Music Listening3
MUSIC 3020Masterpieces of Music and Art in Western Culture3
MUSIC 3040History of American Rock 'n' Roll3
MUSIC 3830History of Music I3
MUSIC 3840History of Music II3
Philosophy (PHIL)
Religious Studies (RELIG)
THTRE 1060Introduction to the Performing Arts3
THTRE 1100Theatre and Society3
THTRE 4650Theatre History: Ancient to 19th Century3
THTRE 4660Theatre History: 19th Century to Present3
WGS 2010Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies3
WGS 3360Religion, Sex and Gender3
WGS 3380Feminist Philosophy3
WGS 3450Women's Literature3
WGS 3700FStudies in English Translation: French Topics on Women and Gender Studies3
or WGS 3700R Studies in English Translation: Russian Topics on Women or Feminism
or WGS 3700S Studies in English Translation: Hispanic Topics on Women or Feminism
WGS 3740Sex, Gender, and Culture in the Ancient Mediterranean World3
World Languages and Cultures (ARABC, CHIN, FRNCH, GER, GREEK, RUS, SPAN)

Financial Counseling and Planning

COMS 11303ENGL 25003
ENGL 15003HDFS 1020 or PSYCH 23003
HDFS 1100 or 11101HDFS 28303
HDFS 23903STAT 10104
ECON 10103ACCT 2150, ECON 1020, or INTST 2350 (Or Social Sciences Course)3
LIB 16001 
 14 16
ACCT 28403HDFS 38303
HDFS 27003PHIL 2300, 2350, or RELIG 2050 (Or Humanities Courses)3
PSYCH 2800 or SOC 13403Electives*9
SPCM 2120, COMST 2110, or COMST 21803 
PHIL 2300, 2350, or RELIG 2050 (Or Humanities Course)3 
 15 15
ENGL 3020, 3090, 3140, or AGEDS 32703HDFS 37803
HDFS 34103HDFS 3840 or FIN 36103
 15 15
HDFS 4820 or FIN 32003HDFS 3170G1-6
HDFS 48902HDFS 48403
HDFS 4890L1HDFS 48503
 15 13-18

Electives: Courses from accounting, community and regional planning, economics, family and consumer sciences education, finance, gerontology, human development and family studies, journalism, management, marketing, political science, psychology, and sociology are suggested.


See Approved General Education options.


Students in Financial Counseling and Planning fulfill the US Diversity and International Perspectives Requirement by choosing three credits of coursework from each of the university-approved lists.


This sequence is only an example. The number of credits taken each semester should be based on the individual student's situation. Factors that may affect credit hours per semester include student ability, employment, health, activities, and grade point consideration.

The Financial Counseling and Planning minor may be earned by completing 15 credits

HDFS 2830Personal and Family Finance3
Twelve credits from the following:12
Consumer Issues
Income Tax Planning for Families
Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits
Fundamentals of Financial Planning
Family Insurance Planning
Family Savings and Investments
Estate Planning for Families
Capstone: Family Financial Planning
Financial Counseling
Financial Counseling Laboratory
Total Credits15

Graduate Programs

A master's degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (MFCS) with a specialization in Family Financial Planning as well as a Family Financial Planning certificate are available. More information can be found at: