Certificate in Election Administration


America’s election system faces an urgent need for professionals who are well-trained in the latest technology and techniques in the field and well-versed in the legal and policy challenges facing our voting system. The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is responding to this widespread need with a pioneering, online program to prepare professionals in election administration.

Flexible Online Training

The Certificate in Election Administration is designed with maximum flexibility for those experienced individuals already managing state and local election offices, as well as those seeking to become part of the next generation of creative and committed leaders. Whether you are currently working in or considering a career in elections, this rigorous and relevant online 12-credit program will prepare you for advancement in the profession of election administration. The courses are taught by national expert Doug Chapin and other prominent leaders in election administration, and are accessible online 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world. 

Meeting a National Need

This first-of-its-kind program in the U.S. is in direct response to the 2014 Presidential Commission on Election Administration report, which urged universities to integrate election administration into their curriculum in a concerted effort to expand professional expertise in the field. The program is presented in an accessible and stimulating online format that allows students to continue with their current employment while working toward a University certificate.

What You Will Gain:

  • Knowledge of ever-changing and complex election laws, regulations, and technology
  • Career-enhancing connections that tap into the experience of your peers
  • Ability to respond to the steady demand for experienced elections and voting professionals


The fully online Certificate in Election Administration requires 12 semester credits, including three core courses, one capstone project, and two elective credits.

Core Courses (required)

PA 5971 – Survey of Election Administration  (3.0 cr)
Comprehensive course on the general building blocks of election administration from voter registration to recounts. 

PA 5972 – Elections and the Law (3.0 cr)
A thorough examination of election laws at the federal, state, and local level and how they guide the conduct of elections by officials and voters alike.  

PA 5973 – Strategic Management of Election Administration (2.0 cr)
Strategic management for election administrators in the political environment.  The course will cover the distinct phases and hurdles of the policy process and skills for election officials to enact new policy.

Capstone Project (required)

PA 5974 – Election Administration Capstone Project (2.0 cr)
Students are invited to identify an election administration issue or problem in a jurisdiction of their choice and proceed to research best practices and possible solutions and write a final paper or prepare a presentation on their findings. 

Elective Courses (2 or more credits required)

PA 5975 – Election Design (2.0 cr)
An innovative course on design principles and how they are used in election administration. Through small, weekly assignments you will learn and practice new skills in plain language, design, and usability with real election materials.

PA 5976 – Voter Outreach and Participation (1.0 cr)
Why do some voters turnout while others don’t? This course investigates the patterns and history of voter participation and practical steps to increase voter turnout. 

PA 5977 – Public Budgeting for Election Administration (1.0 cr)
Learn the basics of budgeting and fiscal analysis. This valuable course introduces students to the budget process at state capitols and the techniques of budget and program analysis. 

PA 5978 – Management of Organizations for Election Administration (1.0 cr)
Administering elections requires skills and knowledge of management. This essential course familiarizes students with organizational management strategies for effective government performance. 

PA 5979 – Communications for Election Administration (1.0 cr)
Running an elections office often requires communications with the public and the press. This practical course prepares students to better handle public communications and media relations. 

PA 5982 – Data Analysis for Election Administration (2.0 cr)
This course will highlight the importance of evidence-based election administration, which focuses on collection and analysis of quantitative data to solve problems and identify opportunities for improvement. There will be an emphasis on pre-election forecasting for planning purposes as well as post-election auditing of election results.

Admission Criteria & Materials

To be admitted into the Certificate in Election Administration you must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • A valid TOEFL or IELTS exam, with a minimum score of 100 (TOEFL) or 7.0 (IELTS) for non-native English speakers

Application materials needed:

  • Graduate School Application
  • A personal statement (500 words or less, double spaced) that discusses your educational and professional experiences and goals related to elections and their administration
  • A current resume or CV
  • Post-secondary transcripts from your degree granting institution
  • A valid TOEFL or IELTS score if you are a non-native English speaker

To register for a course as a non-degree seeking student:

For general information go to Graduate non-degree registration options.

Non-degree students cannot register online


$900 per credit plus fees*

*If you are a nonresident or non-degree seeking student, please contact cspg@umn.edu at time of enrollment or registration in CEA courses to verify your tuition rate is processed correctly.

If you are a University of Minnesota student enrolled in a different degree program and taking CEA courses, check with your degree program for your tuition rate.