Graduate Catalog
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Public and Nonprofit Financial Management
VT SPIA Richmond Campus 2810 N. Parham Road, Suite 205
Richmond, Virginia 23294
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Certificate Overview

Money. Expending, managing, growing, controlling, and making decisions about public and nonprofit finance are the responsibilities of today’s public leaders and managers. No longer the solitary purview of accountants and other fiscal specialists, government and nonprofit leaders at all levels need to understand the levers of finance and when to pull them. The  graduate certificate in Public and Non-profit Financial Management is designed to develop students' and working professionals’ understanding of critical paths that examine citizen and donor dollar uses and protections, as well as concepts and strategic practices that merge larger economic issues with organization needs and goals.  The certificate integrates financial management perspectives from the federal, state, local and nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations while synthesizing the concept of financial resiliency for organizations. 

The current, volatile financial landscape requires financial competencies for all employees.  Financial mastery is increasingly a pre-requisite for high-level positions in public service organizations. Available across the Commonwealth through virtual classroom technology, the Public and Non-Profit Financial Management certificate is designed for full-time students as well as part-time and working professional students. The shared format allows for a productive mix of viewpoints and experience levels, which enhances learning for all students. Students earning this certificate are prepared for a public service labor market that demands financial literacy, whether they are pre-career students seeking first jobs or working professionals looking to broaden their horizons and for opportunities for advancement.

Students are exposed to a full spectrum of financial management issues through both theoretical instruction and case studies. Lectures from luminaries in the field and current practitioners provide exciting opportunities for learning and networking, and a deeper understanding of what fiscal issues really “look like” in practice.  Classroom discussion, group work, and individual assignments simulate real work scenarios and prepare students for real life application. Several classes include governments as "real time" clients. 

The School of Public and International Affairs' (SPIA) graduate certificate in Public and Nonprofit Financial Management (PNPFM) offers a streamlined curriculum enabling students to complete the certificate in one academic year. All courses are offered online. Visit the SPIA PNPFM website HERE.

How to Apply:
Fill out the online application for participation in the certificate program.
Upon processing of the application, you will be contacted
with information about the submission of additional
required materials. Thank you for your interest.

Admission Requirements

Admission and award requirements for the graduate certificate in Public and Nonprofit Financial Management (PNPFM) certificate program are equivalent to the requirements for the Graduate School and the participating SPIA programs. Degree and non-degree candidates must submit the Application for Graduate Certificate form to the Graduate School at Apply Here! 

For persons not already enrolled in a Virginia Tech master's or doctoral program:

  • Bachelor's Degree
  • Graduate School application  - Graduate Certificate in Public and Nonprofit Financial Management (PNPFM)  
  • Application Fee (see Graduate School for amount)
  • Transcripts - undergraduate and other graduate degrees, if applicable
  • GRE scores are not required
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Letter describing your substantive interests and possible area of specialization
  • International Students - also include TOEFL examination scores

For master's and doctoral students:

  • be accepted as a graduate student in an established academic department
  • have at least one faculty member from the School with experience in NPOs/NGOs on your graduate committee
  • have your application signed by your major professor
  • provide evidence of how you will integrate this certificate program into your overall plan of study

Certificate Award

Earning the graduate certificate in Public and Nonprofit Financial Management, requires that students must complete all certificate courses with a grade of "C-" or better and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 across the certificate courses.


Course Requirements

All students must complete SPIA 5544 and at least three of the other five courses listed below for a total of 12 hours of graduate coursework.


SPIA 5544 - Public and Nonprofit Financial Management:  Surveys the role of finance in the management of complex public, nonprofit, and nongovernmental organizations. Functions of financial management, including planning and budgeting, cash and debt management, accounting and reporting, resource acquisition, internal controls and financial resiliency. 

Select three courses from this list: 

  • SPIA 5644 - Budget Performance Management & Outcomes for Public & Nonprofit Organizations:  Developing skills in budgeting, performance management, and outcome measurement for public and nonprofit organizations. Connections among Federal, state, local and nonprofit budgeting processes. Budgeting as strategic planning. Performance budgeting, benchmarking, and resiliency in the development of public and nonprofit organization budgets.

  • SPIA 5654 - Capital & Debt Financial Management for Public & Nonprofit Organizations: Understanding concepts and practices in Capital budgeting, debt limits and debt policies. Connections among Federal, state, and local government capital budgeting. Debt issuance, internal controls, interest earnings and the role of financial institutions. Benchmarking techniques and best practices for the financial health and resiliency of public and nonprofit organizations. 
  • SPIA 5674 - Financial Health of Public and Non-Profit Organizations Concepts: Using tools and analytical techniques necessary to evaluate the financial condition, fiscal environments and overall financial health of governmental and nonprofit organizations. Resiliency and the impact of policy and management on the financial health of the organization. 

  • PAPA 5694 – Asset Management for Public and Nonprofit Organizations:  Understanding asset management for governmental and nonprofit/nongovernmental entities.  Focuses on the essentials of cash budgeting and cash management, investment of endowments and pension funds, and debt financing for governmental and nonprofit/non-governmental organizations.
  • PAPA 6314 - Public Budgeting Processes and Their Policy Implications:  Surveying the public budgeting processes of public organizations.  The contrasting norms and behaviors of participants, their impacts on policy, and their implications for democracy are examined.  Processes studied include the work of budgeteers, decision-making processes, control, and financial accounting, and intergovernmental interaction. (Note:  this course is also a core requirement for the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at Virginia Tech).