Online master's degree programs in public finance, which are sometimes offered as a Master of Public Administration (MPA) with a finance concentration, prepare students to work as financial leaders in the public, private or nonprofit sectors. Public finance master's students learn about budgeting, forecasting and analysis, along with overall public administration.
Many schools offer online master's degree programs in public finance. Students must possess a bachelor's degree for entry to a master's program in public finance, and a background in math can be beneficial. Specific software may be required. Students may have to complete an internship.
Most programs are totally online, with students accessing courses as their schedules permit, with deadlines, and turning in assignments over the Internet as well. Some degree programs do require an internship that gives students experience in the field.
Distance learning students in public finance must have access to a computer with Internet access, and some schools require specific software for their programs. Electronic bulletin boards, e-mail and other Web technologies allow for interaction among students and faculty. Some schools also offer online library resources and designated technical support phone lines.
Online public finance master's degree programs usually focus on a combination of theory and real-life application in financial areas of public administration. Common areas of study include financial management, quantitative methods, planning, redevelopment, politics and grant writing.
Core courses in public finance commonly focus on money management. Master's students also must complete elective requirements, and they may have to present a thesis or project in order to graduate.
Public Finance and Budgeting
This course covers all aspects of budgeting and fiscal relations, including fiscal roles and responsibilities, public revenue and credit. It also may emphasize taxation issues related to public finance.
Public Statistical Fiscal Decision Making
Students in this course learn to budget for the allocation of resources for alternative public uses. Topics of study might include contingency table and variance analysis, hypothesis testing, estimation, regression and probability concepts.
Administration theory and processes are explored in this course. Students learn basic concepts in managing public organizations, including decision-making, planning and evaluating.
Career Information for Graduates
Employment of financial managers was expected to grow by 7% from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The best job opportunities were projected for those possessing a master's degree or certification. Financial managers' median annual wage was $117,990 in May 2015.
Several certifications are available to graduates of public finance master's degree programs. Through proof of experience and passage of various exams, financial managers can become eligible for the CFA Institute's Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, as well as the Association for Financial Professionals' Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) credential and the Institute of Management's Certified Management Accountant (CMA) designation.
Students in an online master's degree program in public finance learn how to collect and analyze relevant data, design budgets, and work with public and private sector organizations. An internship may be required for graduation.