Please note when logging in—Your username is now your email address. If you need assistance, call (888) 334-3327 and follow the menu options or email


Directing Retirement Plans Part 1

Directing Retirement Plans Part 1

This course is required to earn the following designations: RPA, CEBS

The RPA 1 Course is being extensively revised and a new Study Guide and textbook will be required reading for purposes of the CEBS program and the national exam.  These materials will be available in the second quarter of 2024. The updates will be reflected in exams administered on or after July 15, 2024. These updates cover all modules of the course.

The course details below are for the exam being offered now through June 15, 2024.

This course initiates a discussion of the strategic importance of retirement plan design in addressing an organization’s need to systematically replenish its workforce, as well as in competitively rewarding its talent. The course provides context for understanding retirement plan design by outlining the defined contribution and defined benefit structures afforded preferential tax treatment as qualified plans. While providing a comprehensive overview of these structures, the course looks at which employer situations warrant use of various plan types and the compliance and operational issues that accompany use of these plans. In addition to commonly known plan types such as 401(k)s and profit-sharing plans, other specialty types of plans are introduced that are relevant for rewarding executive talent, nonprofit employees and governmental workers. Key plan issues such as fee transparency, legal risks and encouraging plan participation are also addressed.

Topics covered in RPA 1

  • Private Retirement Plans: Background and Context
  • Defined Contribution and Defined Benefit Structures
  • Alternate Defined Benefit Approaches
  • Overview of Defined Contribution Plan Structures
  • Profit-Sharing and Money Purchase Pension Plans
  • Foundations of 401(k) Plans
  • Defined Contribution Practice Issues
  • Special Purpose Plan Use
  • Small Employer Retirement Plan Alternatives
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): Various Types and Multiple Uses
  • Executive Retirement Arrangements
  • Stock Compensation Plans
  • Integrated Case Study: Retirement Planning: Achieving Personal Goals for Plan Participants and Strategic Results for Senior Management 

Get Started Today

Resources for RPA 1


Successful completion of comprehensive exam          

$550 (includes two attempts if purchased in 2024)


RPA 1 Study Guide, including online access to the modules and practice exam

Reading Update  



Retirement Plans
12th Edition 
Allen, Melone, Rosenbloom and Mahoney, editors, McGraw-Hill, 2017.
​(Note: This text is also used in RPA 2.) 



Online Study Group With Instructor Support
12-week sessions offered in spring, summer and fall

Success Package               $1,096

Save 20% when you purchase the textbook, Study Guide, Online Study Group and RPA 1 exam 



Study Guide—Delivered in Print and Online!
The CEBS Study Guide is an essential component for mastering the CEBS material you will be tested on in the examination. Your Study Guide purchase includes both a printed study guide and access to an online environment.

  • Learning Modules provide structured coverage and highlight key elements and critical takeaways of the Assigned Reading. The learning modules draw on readings from Textbooks and journal articles written by leading academics and expert practitioners.
  • Applications are designed to make you think about how what you are learning translates to the work world. Two types of applications are provided throughout the CEBS courses—Benefits in Action and Integrated Cases (Capstone Cases).
  • Practice exam, accessible in the online environment, provides immediate results indicating the areas that may need additional study, along with page reference sources and an explanation of correct responses.


A textbook and/or supplementary readings are required for each course, providing the theory and content of the topics covered in the study guide.

Online Study Group With Instructor Support

Need a little push to stay on track or the security of expert and peer support? Online study groups are for you. Guided study groups provide access to instructors, a structured time frame and peer interaction.


Frequently Asked Questions

Still looking for more information? Check out CEBS FAQ for further details on curriculum updates.


In order to achieve a more secure and compliant experience, we no longer support Internet Explorer. Please use one of the browsers listed below:

  • Microsoft Edge
  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Apple Safari

View our system requirements for more details.