Masters Degrees in Government Finance: Program Overviews

Oct 20, 2019

If you want to study government finance at the master's degree level, there are two degrees for you to consider. Learn more about both of these programs so that you can decide whether one of them fulfills your educational requirements.

Essential Information

Students who are interested in government finance may pursue a Master of Governmental Administration (MGA) degree or a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree. MGA programs focus primarily on public services, leadership, and management techniques. MPA programs emphasize the financial aspects of public affairs.

In order to apply to either of these programs, students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit GRE, LSAT, or GMAT scores. Both programs typically take two years to complete.

Master of Governmental Administration

A Master of Governmental Administration (MGA) degree offers a specialization in finance and provides students with a broad educational background in governmental studies. The degree touches on aspects of management, politics, analysis, and finance so that students gain a comprehensive understanding of the different areas of public service and government. In addition to core coursework in these areas, students are typically required to earn 10-15 elective credits in one or more areas of specialization. Possible course titles include:

  • Public leadership statistics
  • Public finance and budgeting
  • Public communication
  • Public service
  • Nonprofit fundraising and marketing
  • Media management

Masters of Public Affairs in Public Financial Administration

Students who are interested in government finance may also pursue MPA degrees. These programs integrate advanced studies in government finance with practical instruction in the management of public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Students may have the option of pursuing multiple concentrations. In total, students are expected to complete 35 to 40 credit hours of coursework. Common course topics include:

  • Personnel management
  • Policy analysis
  • Labor relations

Common courses will educate students in:

  • Effective decision-making skills
  • Finance and budgeting for private, public or nonprofit organizations
  • Economics of public managing
  • Law and ethics

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

There are a variety of career opportunities available to graduates of these programs, but the job outlook varies depending on the specific occupation According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for budget analysts is expected to grow 4% between 2018 and 2028, which is slower than the national average for all occupations ( In that same time frame, financial analysts are expected to see job growth of 6%, which is faster than the national average. Financial managers are expected to see employment growth of 16% between 2018 and 2028, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Continuing Education

Individuals who wish to pursue academic careers conducting research and teaching government finance at the university level can pursue Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in public administration. Another option for MGA recipients is to earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in order to apply their knowledge of government finance to a career in law.

Depending on your particular area of interest in government finance, you can choose between an MGA and an MPA degree. Both of these programs provide students with the skills they need in high-level careers or further studies related to politics, management, and financial analysis.

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