Frequently Asked Questions
Wealth management is an investment-advisory discipline that incorporates financial planning, investment portfolio management, and a number of aggregated financial services offered by a complex mix of asset managers, custodial banks, retail banks, financial planners, and others.
Asset management involves the management of a client’s investments, which can include stocks, bonds, investors’ real estate, and other assets. An asset manager will determine which investments are the best-suited to your financial situation and will help clients with asset allocation.
Wealth management is a broader offering of financial management services for high-net-worth individuals. This can include investment management, retirement planning, estate planning, tax planning, education planning, legacy planning, insurance, charitable giving, and other services. Wealth management takes a more holistically approach to a client’s overall financial situation and initiates steps to ensure their wealth will be protected over the long run.
Graduates are equipped with the specialized knowledge and credentials to meet the growing industry demand for wealth management professionals, including roles at financial institutions and as founders of their own wealth management practices. A significant number of employment opportunities also exist in family offices and private wealth management advisory firms that serve high- and ultra-high-net-worth clients.
Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) programs are designed for enterprising and forward-thinking professionals, seeking to deepen their knowledge in a specific industry on a flexible schedule. Students will be immersed in an online, industry-focused curriculum that emphasizes problem-based learning. From the start, students gain practical skills that are immediately applicable at work and form lifelong relationships that will inspire purpose throughout their careers and communities.
Columbia’s M.P.S. in Wealth Management is a 16-month (4 consecutive semesters), 30-credit program that prepares experienced and aspiring wealth management professionals to meet the disruptive challenges of today’s industry, including a shifting value proposition, wealth-tech adoption, and planning for advisor succession. The rigorous curriculum connects advanced theory with practical applications while providing students with the educational requirements for CFP® certification. Students will ideally have at least 2 years of relevant work experience and are seeking career advancement or leadership roles within a wealth management firm or family office.
The M.P.S. is only available in an asynchronous online format, which provides maximum flexibility for students who work full-time. Students do not have to “attend” class at a specified time, but are required to fulfill course requirements within a flexible—yet structured—16-month timeframe. There are also two in-person residencies lasting up to 2 ½ days, one prior to the start of the program and one at the end of the program*.
The curriculum is centered around problem-based learning, which connects advanced theory with practical applications. Students work on real-world problems derived from the faculty’s experiences in the field. They are encouraged to engage faculty and peers to find innovative solutions and test new frameworks. Through this learning process, students acquire the skills and knowledge that lead to meaningful contributions to their employers’ strategic goals and have an immediate impact on their industry. Learn more about the M.P.S.
*Domestic students are required to participate in the residencies on Columbia’s campus in New York City. International students are welcome to attend the in-person residencies. An online version of the residencies is available only for international students who cannot attend in person. Due to COVID-19, in-person residencies may be postponed or canceled.
Asynchronous learning allows flexibility for the student to manage their learning around their busy professional and personal lives. While there is flexibility, there is still structure. The student does not have to “attend” class at a specified time, but is required to access and satisfy course requirements within a flexible, yet finite, time frame and that meet expected response/completion deadlines.
During the course of study, the lecturer will provide reading materials, recorded lectures, assignments, and exams for evaluation. Methods of asynchronous online learning include self-guided lesson modules, streaming videos, virtual libraries, lecture notes, and exchanges across discussion boards or social media.
Problem-based learning connects advanced theory with practical applications. Students will learn the educational topics of each course and through problem-based learning, will work on group projects to solve problems with no defined solution derived from the lecturers’ experiences in the field of wealth management. Problem-based learning encourages collaboration, teamwork, and reflective problem-solving. It also emphasizes critical thinking and self-directed, active learning. Through this learning process, students acquire the skills and knowledge to become more effective wealth management practitioners.
Yes. Students will be able to communicate directly with the lecturers through the online learning management system as well as through email and other forms of communication. Lecturers will also be available through weekly virtual office hours and 1:1 scheduled meetings. Students are encouraged to communicate with their peers in any forum they deem convenient or necessary in order to complete the coursework and network. In order to maximize the value of this shared experience and knowledge, students will be required to collaborate with each other on group projects and are strongly encouraged to engage with others who are part of the program.
Students must complete the program in no more than 16-months (4 consecutive semesters). The program utilizes a cohort model; all students in the same cohort will complete each required course at the same time. There are a total of 10 courses in the program, each course representing three credits. Students will take two to three courses per semester, though no more than two courses at any given time. There are no electives.
No, the program does not require a thesis. Instead of a thesis, students complete an Applied Research Project that requires students to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the Wealth Management curriculum and effectively integrate this information in the foundation of a financial plan. Students will be responsible for researching, analyzing and then presenting a comprehensive financial plan where they will receive direct feedback from faculty and other wealth management professionals or potential clients.
The Wealth Management Master’s program is a CFP Board Registered Program that satisfies the educational requirement for CFP® certification and thereby meets the academic requirement for certification in all 50 states. However, upon completion of the program, students must also separately pass the CFP® exam, meet the experience requirements, submit to a background check, and sign the Ethics Declaration in order to earn the CFP® certification. There is no citizenship requirement to sit for the CFP exam. Once certified, however, you may only use CFP certification marks in the United States. Students should familiarize themselves with the Terms and Conditions of taking the exam and obtaining the certification at cfp.net.
The American public’s need for personal financial planning expertise is greater than ever, and recruiters and prospective employers recognize CFP® certification as the most respected designation in this growing field.
Whether someone is just starting their education, looking to change careers, or seeking to advance in their career, a CFP® certification can open the door to more and better opportunities. After full completion of the program, students will be eligible to take the CFP exam, which occurs three times per year (March, July, and November). To learn more, visit cfp.net.
This Master’s program can still be right for you. The advanced curriculum is much broader than what is covered on a CFP® exam with courses such as Special Topics in Wealth Management: Disruptive Trends and The Wealth Management Landscape. The program also provides a deep dive into financial psychology and behavioral finance to better understand the psychological factors that impact client decisions. The curriculum is rigorous and practical, tailored to students’ professional development needs and integrates current industry trends with problem-based learning opportunities. Students also have the opportunity to learn from elite faculty with deep, applied experience in their respective fields.
No. Students will ideally have at least 2 years of work experience. While professionals from the wealth management industry are a natural fit for the program, this is not a requirement. The program welcomes students from a variety of industries because the best wealth management firms are comprised of employees who have diverse interests, broad experiences, intellectual curiosity, and a desire to deliver value to companies in different ways.
No. Since this is a part-time program designed for working professionals, the expectation is that students will be working full-time; however, it is not a requirement that they are employed at the time that they matriculate. Students who are employed will have distinct opportunities to immediately apply what they learn to their work.
Students may qualify for Financial Aid and/or Corporate Tuition Reimbursement.
The School of Professional Studies is a proud participant of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program.
The program does not accept transfer credits.
No, the program does not qualify international students for a student visa.
Students will take 2 courses at any given time. For each course, students should be prepared for approximately 6-10 hours per week of reading and assignments in addition to class lectures. Students can expect to spend anywhere from 12 to more than 20 hours per week on their coursework.
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