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January 11, 2010

Duke University Launches a New Master’s Program in Public Financial Management

Posted by Richard Hemming and Roy Kelly 

In his November 18, 2009 post, Dimitar Vlahov laments the lack of a graduate degree program in public financial management (PFM), especially in the United States. While courses at some universities cover aspects of PFM, they are mainly concerned with the U.S. fiscal system that has many features particular to the U.S. A degree program that focuses on PFM issues facing industrial and developing countries can help to fill a skills gap in an area that will take on even greater importance as most countries prepare for the fiscal policy challenges posed by a post-crisis world.  To help fill this void, Duke University in North Carolina is introducing a PFM specialization into its well-established Master’s of International Development Policy (MIDP) program. The courses will start in Fall 2010 and be provided by the Duke Center for International Development (DCID) at the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University.

The PFM specialization is designed for PFM practitioners with at least three and preferably five years of post-undergraduate experience working on fiscal management issues in central and local government, international institutions, or non-government organizations. Core courses focus on economic development, macroeconomic policy, public finance, budgeting and financial administration, local government finance, analytical methods, and policy analysis. More specialized courses provide an opportunity to study other topics in public finance or more detailed aspects of PFM, for example on government accounting and treasury management.

A key objective of the specialization is to show how appropriate analytical techniques and PFM best practices can be used to guide PFM reform both in industrial and developing countries. Courses will be taught by Duke faculty and outside experts. It typically takes two years to earn an MIDP degree, although candidates with a relevant graduate degree and five years of PFM work experience can achieve this in a year. 

The new PFM specialization is offered in parallel with an existing International Taxation Program (ITP) specialization taught in conjunction with Duke Law School. Those studying for a two-year MIDP degree who have an interest in tax issues will be able to take courses in tax policy, administration and law as part of the PFM specialization.

For students who may not be able to take a year or two to study for an MIDP, shorter executive education courses are available during the summer. One of these courses, on Budget and Financial Management in the Public Sector, is targeted at those specifically interested in PFM reform. Other summer courses that DCID provides include Fiscal Decentralization and Local Government Financial Management, Project Appraisal and Risk Management, and Tax Analysis and Revenue Forecasting. 

More information about DCID, the faculty, the MIDP program, the PFM specialism (including course options), and the application process is to be found at http://sanford.duke.edu/centers/dcid/degree/itp/index.php. Informal enquiries can be addressed to richard.hemming@duke.edu or roykelly@duke.edu.


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I am very happy that Duke has launched a public finance program. It shows that there is a demand for postgraduate level education for people involved in public finance reforms.

Here in London, we launched a Postgraduate Diploma in 2006 and have found that there is a real need out there. Ours is available only by distance learning.


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