Public Finance and Financial Mangement

past exams


We prepare our doctoral candidates for careers in research and teaching. We expect our graduates to be able to perform research that advances the state of knowledge in the area of public finance and financial management and to be prepared to teach a wide variety of courses at the university level.

Research in the areas of public finance and financial management often requires the candidate to acquire a great depth of knowledge in a specific area, such as education financing, or financial management of not-for-profit organizations, or tax policy. Such a depth of knowledge generally requires both a foundation gained from the content of courses and also significant literature review and study beyond the material contained in standard courses. Preparation for teaching requires competency in a breadth of public finance and financial management areas.

The doctoral comprehensive field in public finance and financial management requires that students exhibit competency in the material covered in the courses listed later in this field description. We do not require each student to take all of the courses listed. Prior coursework or self-study is an acceptable alternative. Students are encouraged to consult with faculty advisors for assistance in devising the most appropriate mix of coursework and self-study in their individual case. Regardless of the approach chosen, competency in the content of all of the listed courses is required. (Note that while many of these courses are aimed primarily at MPA students, doctoral students are expected to have a deeper understanding of the issues and greater familiarity with the literature than is typically required of Master’s students on exams.)

The comprehensive exam in the field of public finance and financial management is designed to test the candidate’s breadth of knowledge and also allow the candidate to demonstrate depth of knowledge in a particular area. It requires the candidate to demonstrate understanding of the material covered in the courses listed, to show a familiarity and understanding of the literature of public finance and financial management, and to show an ability to apply appropriate research tools to research questions related to public finance and financial management issues.

It is advisable for candidates to become familiar with the course outlines for each of the courses listed below. They should be familiar with all of the literature assigned for each of these courses. In addition, candidates should become familiar with the most current literature in the field. A good way to do this is to regularly read articles in the journals listed in this field description.

Finally, while knowledge of both public finance and financial management is required for the field, it is typical for a student to “specialize” in one or the other. Students should, however, be sure to develop doctoral level expertise and breadth and not ignore the “other” side.

Nature and Scope of the Field

This field is concerned with the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of policies and procedures surrounding the use of resources and raising of revenues by public and non-profit entities. The primary emphasis is on not-for-profit and healthcare organizations, and state and local governmental bodies, although some attention is given to the federal government and international settings as well. Microeconomics is the most important disciplinary background for the field. Principles of efficient resource allocation as well as equity in outcome are used to analyze both the internal operations of organizations and their external environment.  In other words, both of the commonly studied areas of: (1) financial management (internal to the organization) and (2) public finance (external to the organization) are combined. Common methodologies used to study finance issues are multivariate statistical analysis, techniques of managerial accounting and finance and case studies. The major goals of the field are to prepare candidates to analyze the financial activities of government, health, and not-for-profit organizations from a broad perspective that includes both their internal and external environments.

Comprehensive Exam

To successfully complete the Doctoral Comprehensive Field in Public Finance and Financial Management, the candidate must pass a Comprehensive Examination in the Field. Commencing with the 2010-11 academic year, the structure and composition of the exam will be as follows: The exam will have two parts.  

One part will focus on public finance and one part will focus on financial management. Each part of the exam will be comprised of three questions and will include questions on government, health, education, not-for-profits and may reference domestic or international perspectives. Candidates specializing in financial management will choose two questions from the financial management portion of the exam and one from the public finance portion. Candidates specializing in public finance will choose two questions from the public finance portion of the exam and one from the financial management portion of the exam.

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