General CE Program Requirements

For Education Partners


General CE Program Requirements

All CE programs must address one or more topics listed in CFP Board's Principal Knowledge Topics list.

CE sponsor programs must meet the following requirements:

  • Programs must have at least one learning objective. A learning objective must be a specific, measurable statement of what participants will learn in the program. Learning objectives must be realistic when considering the level of complexity and scope of the course.
  • Program content must be current, correct, and presented in an appropriate design and format.
  • Program titles accurately represent the course content and purpose and do not include trademarked names or titles of other designations, licenses or certifications.
  • Programs must be presented in an initial unit of at least one hour (minimum of 50 minutes constituting one class hour), with half-hour increments accepted after the initial one hour has been satisfied. Total hours will be rounded down to the last full half hour.

A video guide covering General CE Program requirements and definitions can be found in CFP Board's Resources for CE Sponsors.

Instructor / Author Qualification

A Subject Matter Expert (SME) must be involved in the authorship and review of a program. An SME must demonstrate significant practical experience or higher education (an academic degree, industry credentialing, or at least 5 years of experience in the relevant field).

Level of Complexity

All general CE programs must identify their level of complexity, a descriptor that demonstrates the knowledge level of a program. This information will help CFP® professionals determine if a program is appropriate for their professional development goals. CFP Board recognizes three levels of complexity:

  • Overview: Program provides a general review of a subject from a broad perspective or drives into basic knowledge on a specific skill or topics. Best suited for CFP® professionals seeking knowledge in an unfamiliar subject area with entry level experience.
  • Intermediate: Programs build on knowledge that would be covered in an "overview" level program or assumes that working knowledge in the subject to be covered is a prerequisite. Best suited for CFP® professionals who have previous exposure to the subject being covered and at least 3 years of industry experience.
  • Advanced: Programs build upon knowledge that would be covered in an "intermediate" level program or assume that detailed knowledge in the subject to be covered is a prerequisite. Best suited for CFP® professionals with seasoned industry experience who have intermediate knowledge of the subject being covered.

Excluded Topics

Topics related to practice management, public accounting, computer hardware and software, marketing or prospecting, sales, specific company or product presentations, or any other topic not included in the list of CFP Board's Principal Knowledge Topics are not eligible for CE.

CFP Board defines practice management topics as those focused on the planning, development, and management of a CFP® professional's business operations, including office management, business model design, budgeting processes, leadership training, and other activities that do not directly contribute to the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for a CFP® professional to provide competent and ethical financial planning to clients.

General CE Program Registration

General CE Program Renewal


CFP Board defines Live Programs as those in which the instructor or discussion leader conducts the program in real-time; the instructor and students are engaged in the program at the same time.

  • Attendance is required. For Live Programs presented in-person, the number of participants and physical facilities should be consistent with the teaching method.
  • Live Programs must be conducted by an instructor or discussion leader qualified in the specific subject area(s). The author of a program may be the instructor.


CFP Board defines Self-Study Programs as those in which the instructor and student are not interacting in real time or programs for which the student engages in the learning activity without an instructor.

  • Course materials for the Self-Study Program must be retained and made available to CFP Board upon request for a period of four years following the most recent program completion.
  • CFP® professionals seeking to complete the Self-Study Program must be required to register for the program and complete the course within one year of purchase.

Self-Study Assessment

Each Self-Study Program will require evidence of satisfactory completion, including an assessment scored by the CE sponsor. The assessment requirements are as follows:

  • Must contain a minimum of 5 questions per CE credit granted by CFP Board
  • Each question must connect to the program's stated learning objective(s)
  • Questions may not be in a True or False format
  • Questions cannot reference the page number or location of correct answers
  • CFP® professionals must score at least 70% or higher on the examination in order to be considered to have successfully completed the course

Hours Quantification

Sponsors must assign class hours to Self-Study Programs using one of two methods for quantifying hours*:

  1. A pilot test of the representative completion time with a minimum of five participants.
  2. Using the following word count formula:
    [(# of words / 180) +  actual duration time of any audio/video in minutes] / 50 = CE Credit Hours.

* Exam time may not be included in the average completion time.


CE Sponsors must submit attendance lists to CFP Board using CFP Board's specified Attendance Reporting Form within 14 days of a program's completion. Completed Attendance Reporting Forms must be submitted online through the CE Attendance Reporting Profile in the CE Sponsor Account. If you have attendance reporting questions, please email

Attendance Reporting

CE Quality Assurance Initiative

CFP Board's CE Quality Assurance Initiative was approved by the Board of Directors in November 2013. The first phase of the initiative was launched on January 1, 2015 and resulted in updates to the General CE Program standards. Reference the resources below for additional information. Phase II will be launched January 2017 with several CE sponsors identified as CE Quality Partners. These CE sponsors have been invited to participate in the CE Quality Partner Initiative; Quality Partner programs undergo an extensive review and are evaluated against a higher set of standards outlined by CFP Board. More information on the Quality Partners Initiative and the CE Sponsors selected for this designation will be available January 2017.

Webinar: 2015 CE Sponsor Updates

Download a Quick Reference Guide

The full details of the updated requirements have been incorporated into the standards outlined above.

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