Texas Tech University

Personal Financial Planning

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree in Personal Financial Planning

Texas Tech's Ph.D. program - the first Ph.D. in Personal Financial Planning

Students majoring in Personal Financial Planning receive comprehensive face-to-face instruction in the theoretical foundations of financial planning, including investments, retirement planning, financial counseling practices, risk management, and tax planning. The doctoral program at Texas Tech provides a rigorous foundation in theory and research methods in individual financial decision-making to prepare students to teach and conduct research in financial planning at an academic institution. Students who complete the Ph.D. will be eligible to sit for the CFP® Certification Examination. 

A Ph.D. without a master's degree may be pursued if applicants meet specific criteria. Students who have master's degrees without a thesis will take additional classes on statistics and research methodology.

The doctoral degree requires a minimum of 60 semester hours of graduate work beyond the bachelor's degree, exclusive of credit for the dissertation. Up to 25 hours of leveling classes may be required for students who have not completed a CFP Board-Registered financial planning program. Students develop their courses of study in consultation with a graduate advisory committee. Following the completion of theory and research collateral coursework, a qualifying examination for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree will be conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Graduate School. Classes are taught on the Texas Tech campus and are not offered in an online format.


Admission to the Ph.D. program is based on a comprehensive review of information rather than any single factor. Decisions are based on a review of the following criteria: 

  • Undergraduate degree from an accredited institution
  • GPA from undergraduate and any graduate degree programs
  • Official transcripts 
  • One letter of recommendation is required, but up to three are accepted
  • Personal statement addressing these topics:
    • Describe the content area in which you would like to develop a specialization and research agenda. Please refer to the 2021 CFP Board Principal Knowledge Topics, AFC® Core Competencies, and CFT-I™ Competencies for examples of potential focus areas.
    • Describe what motivates you to pursue a Ph.D. to conduct research in your content area identified above.
    • Discuss where you would like to be career-wise in five years.
    • Identify your unique contribution as evidenced in your resume or vita, such as: 
      • Special accomplishments in industry or academic pursuits
      • Assets and strengths you will use in your research and teaching
      • Leadership experience and potential
      • Other unique life experiences relevant to the pursuit of a graduate degree
    • Describe your commitment to research, teaching, service, and practice in personal finance (including financial planning, financial counseling, financial psychology, financial therapy, and financial education, etc.).

Candidates demonstrating the potential for success based on their submitted application materials will be invited to a virtual interview. Final decisions for acceptance will be based on a holistic review of the submitted materials and interview.

Application Deadlines

The School of Financial Planning has established application deadlines to ensure that applications are processed in a timely manner that allows the accepted applicant to begin their graduate studies in an efficient and timely manner. The School's graduate faculty will review complete applications received by the deadline published below at the next meeting following the deadline.

The difference between the two deadlines each semester is whether you want to be considered for an assistantship position. While this deadline does not guarantee an assistantship position, it will ensure that all applicants desiring a position will be known to the program and will be able to receive full consideration.


Assistantship Deadlines:

  • Jan 15 - Fall Admission
  • Sep 15 - Spring Admission
  • Jan 15 - Summer Admission

Admission Only Deadlines:

  • Apr 15 - Fall Admission
  • Oct 15 - Spring Admission
  • Jan 15 - Summer Admission

Recommended Deadlines for International Students:

  • January 15 for Fall and Summer Admission
  • June 15 for Spring Admission

International applicants may apply after these preferred deadlines. However, the Office of Graduate Admissions cannot guarantee there will be sufficient time for late applications to be evaluated and make any necessary visa/travel arrangements if admitted.

NOTE: If you expect or need funding, then you must apply by January 15th for a Fall start to compete for the best financial support (e.g., apply by 1/15/22 for a Fall '22 start). The School of Financial Planning will accommodate applications that are submitted later; however, the best funding opportunities (fellowship, scholarship, and assistantships) are only available if applications are submitted by Texas Tech's fellowship and scholarship deadlines: January 15 (Fall starts) and July 1 (Spring starts). Therefore, we strongly encourage applicants to apply by January 15th to maximize funding opportunities, if accepted.

How to Apply

The Graduate School online application system is designed to help you easily navigate through the application process and ensure you complete your application in a timely manner. ALL documents must be submitted through the online portal.

Application Process & Cost

Applicants are admitted by the Graduate School at the recommendation of the School of Personal Financial Planning.

  • Nonrefundable Application Fees:
    • Initial Application Fee = $75
      • Domestic Graduate, International Graduate, and Undergraduate Applications
    • Any Subsequent or Secondary Application = $25
      • No cost for currently enrolled graduate students
      • The $25 cost for subsequent applications includes readmits, changes of program/level for new applicants, and changes to the entry date

If you have any questions, please call Cynthia Cantu at 806-834-6405.

Who Should Apply? 

Students can be accepted into the Ph.D. program directly out of a B.S. degree program. Neither an M.S. degree nor a degree in Personal Financial Planning is required. The ideal Ph.D. students for this program have a genuine interest in studying, teaching, and conducting research in personal financial planning, often with the goal of becoming a professor in an existing personal financial planning program or building a new personal financial planning program.

Ph.D. students must possess intellectual curiosity and the willingness and ability to learn new things. This requires an inquiring and open mind, as well as flexibility and adaptability. Critical thinking ability, good writing and language skills (in English), and strong numeracy skills are necessary to answer a research question and to articulate a coherent and persuasive argument. Other required skills include the ability to work independently, good time management and organizational skills, and a strong work ethic.


Test Scores

  • The GRE, GMAT, or LSAT are not required.

International Students

  • These are the minimal English language proficiency scores. For a list of English proficiency exempt countries, please visit English Proficiency Exempt Countries.
    • TOEFL Internet: 79
    • TOEFL Paper-Based: 550
    • IELTS: 6.5
    • ELS: 112
    • CAE: B
    • CPE: C

For further information concerning program overview, requirements, career options, and/or procedures, contact:

Dr. Sonya Lutter

· Phone: (806) 834-2709

· Email: Sonya.Lutter@ttu.edu