Focus Area Friday: Public Financial Management

A focus area allows students to develop additional expertise in a specific area. The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program requires nine credits (three courses) and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) requires twelve credits (four courses) to complete a focus area. Students can choose a focus area within the Department, develop their own with the help of their advisor, or choose to remain a generalist. 

Did you know that the Department of Public Policy (DPP) is ranked 9th in the country for public finance and budgeting? This focus area emphasizes:

The front of the Hartford Times Buildings with UConn flags in front of it
UConn Hartford campus on September 5, 2017. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)
  • Understanding the proper ways to track revenue and spending
  • Using analytic tools to analyze and maintain an excellent financial position
  • Understanding the major financial issues facing public and nonprofit organizations
  • Assessing and implementing appropriate financial systems
  • Acting efficiently, effectively, and ethically

Students with a focus in public financial management can also earn a Graduate Certificate in this concentration. Faculty with research interests in this area include Professors Lloyd Blanchard, Eric Brunner, Amy Donahue, Yusun Kim, Kerri Raissian, Mark Robbins, and Bill Simonsen. Professor Steve Ross is an affiliated faculty member with interests in public finance and budgeting. 

Coursework in this area focus area includes:

  • PP 5373 Budgeting in Public Service Organizations: In this course, students will explore various public budgeting and financial management issues facing decision makers. The budget represents an organization’s priorities, and as such, is arguably its most important policy document. Further, budget approaches send strong incentives through an organization—for good or ill. As a result, the budget process is where policy and management intersect. In the end, students will be familiar with important public budgeting issues, understand different budget and finance concepts, and be able to construct and analyze simple budgets using Microsoft Excel.


  • PP 5318 Financial Management for Public Organizations: This course is designed as a survey of the principles, issues, and skills of financial management in the public sector. The focus will be on preparing students to be skilled consumers of financial information who possess the ability to analyze it and make sound decisions based on their analysis. This is not a government accounting class, but the development of the ability to understand accounting practices is an important part of the course.


  • PP 5317 Capital Finance and Budgeting: This course is designed to familiarize students with the municipal bond market and to expose them to key public policy and management issues. Specifically, the course will focus on how the proceeds from municipal bonds are used, the types of securities and issuers, who the players are in the bond market, how prices are determined (including the municipal bond credit rating process), disclosure, and ethical issues in the industry. The course focuses on long term tax exempt public debt; however, there will be some discussion of short term debt.


  • PP 5364 Public Finance and Budgeting: This course covers the techniques, practices, and organization of the financial functions in governmental administration. Some topics include tools for analyzing revenue systems; analysis of specific revenues (such as income, sales, and property taxes); analysis of financial statements; costs concepts; budget cycles; and applied budgeting exercises.


  • PP 5326 Public Investment Management: Students in this course will study investment theory and public financial management. Students will acquire an introductory understanding of financial instruments and portfolio theory, the theory and evidence on efficient markets, and proficiency in the key dimensions of investment decision making.