A new time domain spectral plate finite element (FE) is developed to provide fast numerical calculations of guided waves and transient phenomena in laminated composite and sandwich plates. A new multifield layerwise laminate theory provides the basis for the FE, which incorporates cubic Hermite polynomial splines for the approximation of the in-plane and transverse displacement fields through the thickness of the plate, enabling the modeling of symmetric and antisymmetric wave modes. The time domain spectral FE with multi-degrees-of-freedom (DOF) per node is subsequently formulated, which uses integration points collocated with the nodes to yield consistent diagonal lumped mass matrix which expedites the explicit time integration process. Numerical simulations of wave propagation in aluminum, laminated carbon/epoxy and thick sandwich plates are presented and validated with an analytical solution and a three-dimensional (3D) solid element; moreover, the capability to accurately and rapidly predict antisymmetric and symmetric guided waves is demonstrated.