Specialization in Municipal Finance

The Specialization 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 specialization 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 specialization'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 specialization 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.

Harris specializations function as areas of specialization within the degree. Specializations assume knowledge of the 6-course Harris Core and build upon that foundation with coursework in specific policy areas or technical skills.

Application Process

The specialization is open to Harris Public Policy graduate students only. Please indicate your intent to pursue this specialization using the Harris Specialization Application Form.

For specialization registration questions, please reach out to harrisregistration@uchicago.edu.

Planning for the Specialization

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

Specialization Requirements

The specialization requires completion of two required courses, along with one additional elective course. Students must achieve at least a B- grade in each course. No specialization course may be taken on a pass/fail grading basis. Students should complete the formal signup process to indicate their intention to pursue the specialization.

Required courses

Students must complete the following course:

Elective courses

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

Students may propose additional elective courses with substantial municipal finance contents. Proposals will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Specialization Contact

Justin Marlowe, Specialization Director

Justin Headshot

Research Professor

Justin Marlowe

Justin Marlowe is a Research Professor in the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, where he also serves as Director of the Center for Municipal Finance.