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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

Catching Up With KSU's John Grable

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For financial planning professionals who want to pursue a PhD, the task can be daunting. However, starting in summer 2009, Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, is offering a PhD with an emphasis in personal financial planning–the first in the country to be conducted largely online. Offered through the School of Family Studies and Human Services, the program is composed of a mix of online and residency courses, allowing students to participate when it’s convenient for them. In early November, Staff Editor Kara P. Stapleton spoke with John Grable, a professor at Kansas State and director of the school’s Institute of Personal Financial Planning, about the new program.

What was the motivation to start this program?

Prior to our introducing the PhD there was really only one PhD in the country in financial planning–at Texas Tech. As faculty members, we would go to conferences and get calls from alumni, and we found that a number of people were looking to pursue their education at the doctorate level in order to teach, perform research, or do consulting. These people either didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to move to Lubbock. We started to see the demand and the need for an alternative approach for people to work on their doctorate, and decided to put something together–a hybrid between on-campus rigorous work, but that would allow someone to stay in their current job and location and take courses online. Then, they wouldn’t have to move from their career or family life to a campus in order to fulfill the program.

What’s unique about the Kansas State PhD program in Personal Financial Planning?

Our program is for practitioners and students who want to continue toward their PhD, but cannot leave their current location. Successful financial planners may have a spouse or significant other, and are involved in charitable activities in their community. For them, picking up and going away is not the best option, so what we’ve designed, I think, will really meet their needs. If students actually want to study on campus, we are going to do that as well.

What does the program entail?

Students [must be] willing to come to the campus in Manhattan, Kansas, for 10 days each summer for three years. That’s an intense 10 days where they work with faculty, do research, and write papers. The fourth year, they still give us 10 days, but it’s through our required international experience. The first group coming through will be going to Korea and China and will see how financial planning is done in Asia. The key difference is that students have to dedicate 10 days each year for the next four years going to Manhattan and overseas. Other than that, they can take all their courses online when it’s convenient for them. It takes four years to complete all the class work, though some take up to six years.

When will the program be available?

Our first summer group will meet summer 2009. We are taking applications now and students will know about their acceptance in March 2009. Everything is online for the application process at


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