Budgeting and Financial Public Administration Degrees

Budgeting and Financial Public Administration

All government agencies and nonprofit organizations must have specialized professionals that are able to balance the budget and perform other financial tasks, such as taxation policy and future budget planning.

These courses are taken within higher education programs with a discipline in public administration and policy. There are a number of online programs available across the United States, and eventual graduates that complete a Master's degree or receive graduate certification take financial managerial roles.

What is Budgeting and Financial Public Administration and Why Consider this Degree?

Topics within public finance and budgeting are common within a Master of Public Administration degree. Students gain the ability to work with various levels of government and nonprofit agencies to develop and manage a budget. Typically, they will work with various analytical tools to determine risk and future spending, explore theory of government financing, be able to balance the budget and manage debt. This can also involve the review of employee benefits and retirement plans, perform auditing procedures, and how to consult with other organizations for cost allocating.

In some cases, Master's degrees will have a concentration within public finance and budgeting, providing a set of electives for students to pursue and specialize their degree. This can also be in the form of a graduate certification, where only the specific courses are needed to be completed. Graduates that already have experience within public policy or administration can complete this certification to advance toward a profession in financial management or switch gears in their career.

Consider a Featured Online MPA Program


NASPAA Accreditation

When looking for graduate certification and degrees within budgeting and financial management, it is important to find programs that have been accredited by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA). The nonprofit based in Washington DC is an established organization that designates higher education that completes their rigorous academic standards with the curriculum offered, faculty members, and the resources available for students when pursuing the degree. NASPAA was founded back in 1970 and has accredited over 280 universities across the United States.

Learning Online: Different Methods and Reasons

There are a number of benefits to receiving a public administration degree online. Established professionals that do not have the convenience of taking time to pursue a program can do so at their own schedule. While the majority of programs have assignment deadlines to follow, and this increases when the course is on a seven-week schedule, the time of day to access course material and complete assignments can take place at any time from the convenience of a student's home. There may be requirements to meet at some point on campus, be it for orientation or a capstone project that culminates the degree. View the program website to determine extra cost and other needs to complete this requirement.

Online learning provides additional subjects to study from within public administration. In some cases, a local college or university may not have a concentration or graduate certification within budgeting and financial management. However, the vast majority of programs within public administration and public policy will explore these topics within the curriculum. It is also important to review the school's curriculum to determine which courses are available online. Many electives are only available in certain semesters or only on campus.

Examples of Online Programs

Penn State World Campus

Penn State University’s online school offers a Graduate Certificate in Public Budgeting and Financial Management, giving students the ability to develop and maintain budgets for government and nonprofit organizations. This is geared toward already established professionals that are seeking a higher level of employment within their organization or a different opportunity. Occupations that eventual graduates have gone on to accept are government accountants, community accountants, and fiscal policy analyst.

The curriculum is very straightforward with nine total credits needed to complete the certificate, and three courses that all students will take: Governmental Fiscal Decision Making, Government Financial Management, and Governmental and Nonprofit Accounting. These courses can be taken and completed within a year, and there are no requirements to visit the campus physically. In the application process, prospective students will need to provide official transcripts, hold a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, and submit GRE or GMAT test scores.

American University

The School of Public Affairs at AU combines public policy and administration into a two-year program, the Master of Public Administration and Policy. Students have the benefit of working with the university’s faculty consisting of professionals within policy development and successful alumni group. Faculty have held positions at Washington DC think tanks, won awards, are frequent speakers at related conferences and events, and have created literature and textbooks in the field of public administration.

One of the courses in the curriculum is specifically focused on budgeting and financial management. This will provide foundational education within the federal budget and the executive and legislative processes, both at the state and national levels. There is an emphasis on the federal government, but there will be comparisons to the state and local government, such has how each level works with deficits and debt and various spending habits. Students will be prepared in mandatory spending versus discretionary spending, capital budget writing and reviewing, and budget justifications.

University of Texas-Arlington

The College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs has a few certification options within public policy, including Public Budgeting and Financial Management. This program requires 15 credit hours to complete. There are three required courses that can be completed online: Public Budgeting, Public Capital Budgeting and Planning, and Financial Management in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors. There are four of the seven potential electives that can be completed online.

Admission requirements for the program include holding an undergraduate degree with a 2.8 GPA or higher within the final 60 hours of coursework. Those that have a lower GPA may still get in based on prior work experience or the discipline that was studied and its relation to public accounting and financial management. After completion of the certification, graduates will be skilled in nonprofit financial decision-making and will have vast knowledge within public budgeting.

Indiana University

Formerly known as SPEA Connect, O’Neill Online offers an MPA and a variety of graduate certifications, including the Public Budgeting and Financial Management certificate. This requires 15 credit hours to complete with three required courses in financial accounting for government or nonprofit organizations and public management in economics. There are two electives that students can choose from: Revenue Theory and Administration, Government Budget and Program Analysis, and Public Capital and Debt Theory. The program can be completed within a calendar year.

In order to be admitted into the program, prospective students will need to send in the following: application with fee, unofficial transcripts, a personal statement that describes how obtaining a degree at Indiana University would benefit the career, potential additional writing samples, and three letters of recommendation. Students have the opportunity to submit GRE or GMAT scores, but they are not required. Admission into the programs take place in the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Typical Courses

Nonprofit Accounting

Students discover fundamental skills in financing and balancing a budget within a nonprofit organization. This includes creating a financial statement, tax reporting, implementing changes within mergers and acquisitions, and analyzing transactions. More unique topics may be explored in these courses, such as split-interest agreements, pension plan accounting, and making sure that budgeting is following rules and regulation.

Financial Decision Making

A theoretical course that observes business decisions and the impact that has had through a financial lens. Students will look at the impact of these decisions and will also practice making them through information gathered by the organization. Some statistical knowledge will be needed and frequently will be used, such as providing estimated figures and analyzing statistical models.

Public Budgeting

Sometimes offered as a concentration, there are various ways to manage the budget within public administration. They will utilize analysis tools and discover various techniques to manage balance sheets and financial statements. Theory can also be explored to learn the impact of budgeting methods in other areas.

Urban Policy

Within public budgeting, these courses will explore economic issues within urban areas. Students will learn how to create policy based on these issues at various levels of the government and discover the impact that it will have in the community. In some cases, this can be offered as a concentration of multiple courses within a Master’s degree.

Debt Management

An in-depth look at how to analyze and interpret financial debt in the organization. This includes the development of policy for debt and how to finance projects, such as improving city infrastructure. This includes various methods in order to finance these needs, and they will also utilize the tools needed to assess and audit debt in order to determine the best possible way for money to be allocated.

Career Options

Financial Manager

This managerial position observes the cash flow of the organization, creating financial statements and developing strategies to successfully balance the budget and optimize future spending potential or reduce excess costs. They may also supervise a staff that takes care of financial needs within the organization and typically have the final say when making important decisions. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for financial managers holding a government position sits at $112,830 annually. Because of the significance of managing an organizational budget, these positions are expected to boost by 16 percent between 2018-28.

Budget Analyst

Analysts have a more direct role when it comes to preparing an organization’s budget and controlling their spending habits. Typical duties include working with other departments to balance the budget, reviewing spending activities with management and making sure that everything is within compliance, and allocating funds for future spending. Specifically within the government setting, analysts will determine how well certain services and programs are doing and will recommend improvements or cuts. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, analysts at the federal government make an average of $82,200 annually.