Graduate Certificate in Public Financial Management

The Graduate Certificate in Public Financial Management is designed for working professionals and traditional students seeking to increase their public finance and financial management knowledge, which is a vital asset for leaders in both government and non-profit organizations. The Martin School is among the top graduate programs in the nation in public financial management, and is one of very few offering a certificate of this kind. The Graduate Certificate can be completed as a stand-alone certificate or as part of our Master Programs by concurrently enrolling in both. Please contact our Program Director, Dr. Rhonda Trautman, with any questions.

The Graduate Certificate is offered 100% online. The 12-credit hour program offers the same high quality experience as traditional on-campus programs with instruction provided by faculty with backgrounds and expertise in relevant areas such as public budgeting, debt management, public sector accounting and auditing.

Coursework is designed to engage students weekly through assignments, readings, exams, and other activities with the same level of rigor of other traditional Master programs offered by the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration. Students can expect a combination of self-study and student-faculty interaction over an online learning network in four sequential, 8-week modules over two semesters. Students accepted into the online program pay in-state tuition rate (per credit hour plus fees), offering in-state and out-of-state students an affordable option for a graduate certificate.

Of special interest to Kentucky School District Finance Officers and personnel, the Kentucky Department of Education has approved the Graduate Certificate in Public Financial Management for training credits to be applied to mandatory continuing education requirements. The program's Training Code is FO-245. Applicants are encouraged to contact KDE directly for details. 

Tuition and Fees

Current mandatory fees and per hour tuition rates can found on the Registrar's website.

**Undergraduate, graduate or professional students enrolled in a certificate program are NOT eligible for federal Title IV financial aid funds unless they are concurrently enrolled in a degree program at the University of Kentucky.** Learn more about financial aid at UK.

Interested? You may complete an online application. You will need your undergraduate GPA and transcript, a CV, and a personal statement (1-3 pages) introducing yourself and describing why you would like to attend this program.

If students enrolled in the certificate program then wish to apply to the Master of Public Financial Management Program, the requirement to submit GRE or GMAT scores may be waived if students have successfully completed 9 or more credit hours toward the certificate. The Director of Graduate Students shall make the recommendation for the waiver upon review of the student's performance in the Certificate Program.

A Comparison of the Graduate Certificate and the Master of Public Financial Management Program

How does the Graduate Certificate compare to the MPFM program? Also entirely online, the MPFM is a 2-year program that prepares students for advanced-careers in public financial management and analysis, offering advanced topics in public accounting, audit, municipal securities, public pensions/insurance, and other special topics in public finance, topics not included in the MPA or MPP programs. The MPFM curriculum is inclusive of all of the Graduate Certificate coursework, plus an additional 24 credit hours, requiring a total of 36 credit hours to complete.


For admission, students must meet all requirements of the University of Kentucky Graduate School, including a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university. Unlike our other degree programs, the Graduate Certificate does not require a GRE/GMAT score. Given the nature of the program, applicants are strongly encouraged to have some experience or education in accounting, however it is not a formal prerequisite.

Application Deadlines

  • July 24: Deadline to apply to the Graduate School for the fall 2022 semester. 
  • December 6: Deadline to apply to the Graduate School for the spring 2023 semester. 

Application Materials

  • Official Transcripts
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume


Fall Session 1

PA 631: Public Financial Management

An analysis of budget structure and process, revenue structure, administration, public capital acquisition and debt management. This course emphasizes an applied focus and comparative analysis of alternative budget, revenue, and debt management structures and strategies.

Fall Session 2

PA 632: Public Funds Management

A study of the management of public funds including the accumulation and investment of such funds and the accounting for those transactions. It will also include topics such cash forecasting, cash management practices and public funds investment strategies.

Spring Session 1

PA 625: Governmental Accounting and Financial Condition Analysis

Examines the characteristics of governmental and not-for-profit accounting emphasizing the various fund types and account groups, review and evaluation of presently recommended accounting and financial reporting procedures, GAAP, and an exploration of practical governmental and not-for-profit accounting practices and methods.

Spring Session 2

PA 627: Governmental Auditing

Focuses on components of the governmental audit process unique to the public sector. Students will gain an understanding of the Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), types of audits, the role of audit objectives and audit evidence, the fundamentals of interviewing, the preparation of audit working papers, as well as how to interpret audit findings and elements based on qualitative and quantitative evidence and communicate those findings to non-financial audiences.

Please be aware that admission and/or enrollment in this program cannot lead to the issuance of an F-1 or J-1 student visa. The University of Kentucky cannot sponsor a student visa or issue an I-20/DS-2019 to students in an online program.

Distance Education Special Circumstances

Per state laws, distance education courses and programs must be legally authorized in a state prior to offering courses or programs to students residing there. Therefore, program availability varies by state. Students should check UK Online to determine if a distance education program at the University of Kentucky is available in their state of residence.

Relocating during the course of a program

All distance education students should keep in mind that relocating during the course of a program to another state could impact whether that student can continue in the course and/or meet the eligibility requirements of that state.

I found the online graduate certification program in Public Financial Management to be a rewarding and useful supplement to my understandings of government budgeting, finance, accounting, and auditing. To be sure, the program and its instructors are top-notch and very helpful. The online format was user friendly and I found all the material to be challenging but very manageable with my full-time work schedule. I would certainly recommend it to those who are looking to advance their own education and professional careers.Fred J. Rogers, City Administrator, City of Shelbyville, KY