Gain the skills to diagnose and manage state and local government finances.

The Certificate in Municipal Finance prepares students for careers with local and state governments as well as private-sector financial and consulting firms. Students will gain in-depth expertise in the process, politics, and economics of public revenue and expenditure decisions and learn the practices and techniques of modern financial administration and the operation of the municipal securities market. Such policy expertise is essential for raising, spending, and borrowing money to provide basic local government services, as well as for tackling many pressing municipal problems that are dependent on resources provided by the budget, such as funding public pensions and health care.

Students who complete this certificate will be able to:

  • Understand how U.S. states and local governments raise revenue and make expenditure decisions
  • Analyze the economic impacts of fiscal choices made by states and localities
  • Develop a working knowledge of the process and roles of market participants in issuing municipal bonds
  • Analyze creditworthiness of municipal borrowers

The certificate's menu of electives is designed to allow students to explore related issues in budgeting, finance, and fiscal policy. In addition, we encourage students pursuing this certificate to participate in events sponsored by the Center on Municipal Finance which bring a mix of private, public, and nonprofit sector stakeholders to campus. These events may include short courses, seminars, and workshops in budgeting, accounting, finance, and fiscal policy; the annual Municipal CFO Forum; alumni networking events; and other programs.

Application Process

The certificate is open to Harris Public Policy graduate students only. Contact your academic advisor to indicate intention to pursue this certificate.

Planning for the Certificate

For information on which quarter(s) each course will be offered see the Harris Courses page and filter by certificate. For courses offered by other divisions the typical quarter(s) offered has been indicated.

Certificate Requirements

The certificate requires completion of two required courses, along with one additional elective course. Students must achieve at least a B- grade in each course, and there is no pass/fail option.

Required courses

Students must complete both of the following courses:

  • PPHA 32530 Fundamentals of Municipal Bonds
  • PPHA 32100 State and Local Public Finance

Elective courses

Students must complete one of the following courses to fulfill the requirement:

  • PPHA 35801 Political Economy of Cities (not offered in 2019-2020)
  • PPHA 36101 Financial Investments for Public Policy
  • PPHA 36012 Budgeting for State and Local Governments (may be offered in 2019-2020)
  • PPHA 36055 Understanding State and Local Government Accounting
  • PPHA 38700 Urban Economics and Policy
  • PPHA 42510 Applied Financial Management
  • PPHA 60000 Harris Policy Lab (selected sections only and with permission of certificate director)
  • ECON 26060 Public Sector Economics
  • SSAD 49600 Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations
  • LAWS 53110 Project and Infrastructure Development and Finance
  • LAWS 53193 Topics in State and Local Finance (cannot take both PPHA 32100 and LAWS 53193)