Certificate in Election Administration

Long shot of several people voting at a polling place

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.

Watch past CEA webinars

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. Courses are taught by prominent leaders in election administration and are accessible online 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world.

Leading Experts in Election Administration

A steering committee made up of national experts in the field of elections and experienced election administrators guides the development of new course offerings and provides the program with national outreach and strong connections to the professional election community. Committee members include:

  • Doug Chapin, Director of Election Research, Fors Marsh Group; instructor, CEA faculty
  • Judd Choate, Director, Division of Elections, Colorado Department of State
  • Amy Cohen, Executive Director, National Association of State Election Directors
  • Lawrence Jacobs, Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
  • Tammy Patrick, Senior Advisor, Elections, Democracy Fund; CEA faculty
  • Leslie Reynolds, Executive Director, National Association of Secretaries of State

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. 

Don't Have Your Bachelor's Degree?

If you are an elections professional who doesn't have a bachelor's degree, we invite you to apply for our undergraduate Certificate in Election Administration. Courses are the same for both certificate programs.

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

View Certificate in Election Administration application requirements

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The CEA program hosts a regular series of free webinars for the election administration community. Topics range from poll worker training to election security issues and are hosted by top experts in the field. Watch recordings of the webinars at the links below.

October 8, 2020: Front-Line Reports on Voting with Wendy Underhill, Judd Choate, Joseph Gloria, Ben Hovland, and Tammy Patrick

September 1, 2020: Voting in Person in the 2020 Elections with Matt Weil, Adrian Fontes, Sherry Poland, and Michael Winn

August 13, 2020: Election Security: Security for Whom? with Wendy Underhill, Matt Masterson, Jennifer Morrell, and Maurice Turner

July 14, 2020: Voting in the Time of COVID-19: Wisconsin’s Experience with Meagan Wolfe and Doug Chapin

June 2, 2020: Buy-in, Build on, and Brainstorm: Training and re-training staff and poll workers when your processes are changing
with Amy Wilson

May 28, 2020: Vote-by-Mail: What States Are Doing, What States Should Be Doing
with Prof. Larry Jacobs, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Tammy Patrick, Wendy Underhill and Matthew Weil

May 5, 2020: Scaling Vote-at-Home Processes for Safe & Secure Elections
with Amber McReynolds and Doug Chapin

April 8, 2020: “But we went over that in training!”: How to get your poll workers to remember and retain what you tell them
with Amy Wilson

March 5, 2020: Preparing for 2020: Election and Cybersecurity
with Secretary Steve Simon and Judd Choate

December 12, 2019: The Waiting Game: Understanding Polling Place Lines & Preparing for 2020
with Tammy Patrick and Matthew Weil

October 1, 2019: How Can DHS Help Protect My Election?
with Noah Praetz and Judd Choate

August 29, 2019: A Practical Guide to the EI- ISAC
with Judd Choate, Ben Spear, and Kateri Gill

May 29, 2019: Election Security: Preparing for 2020
with Matthew Masterson, Judd Choate, and Doug Chapin

January 9, 2018: Meet the Experts: A Look Ahead at the Spring 2018 CEA Semester
with Tammy Patrick, Dana Chisnell, Whitney Quesenbery, and Doug Chapin

December 6, 2017: Election 2017: Lessons Learned and a Look Ahead
with Doug Chapin

July 2017: America’s Changing and Embattled Election System
with Doug Chapin

October 26, 2016: The Final Countdown: Politics of the Presidential Race
with Prof. Larry Jacobs and Doug Chapin

July 2016: Election 2016: A View from Inside the Polling Place
with Doug Chapin


The fully online Certificate in Election Administration requires 12 semester credits, including three core courses and five elective credits.

Core Courses (Required)

PA 3969 / PA 5971 – Survey of Election Administration (3 cr.)
Comprehensive course on the general building blocks of election administration from voter registration to recounts. Students will learn how the three levels of government interact to manage different aspects of the election process, the general processes, and steps to run an election; recognize the key debates and tensions in election policy; and identify their impacts on election administration.

PA 3972 / PA 5972 – Elections and the Law (2 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 3973 / PA 5973 – Strategic Management of Election Administration (2 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.

Elective Courses (5 or more credits required)

PA 3975 / PA 5975 – Election Design (2 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 3976 / PA 5976 – Voter Outreach and Participation (1 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 3982 / PA 5982 – Data Analysis for Election Administration (2 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

PA 3983 / PA 5983 – Introduction to Election Security (1 cr.)
This course examines the history of cyberattacks on the United States and the American election system, with special attention to the 2016 election cycle. Students will explore the types of cybersecurity threats that exist and strategies to protect against them.

PA 3984 / PA 5984 – Elections Security: How to Protect America's Elections (2 cr.)
This course provides elections professionals with tools and best practices to help protect their election technology, guard against influence efforts, and assure public confidence in election outcomes.

Admission Criteria and Materials

Post-baccalaureate certificate (bachelor’s degree required): 

  • Resume
  • Personal Statement (in 500 words or fewer, double spaced, discuss your educational and professional experiences and goals related to election administration. )
  • College transcripts
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores (required for most non-native English speakers)

Apply now to the post-baccalaureate certificate

Undergraduate certificate (No bachelor’s degree required. 1 year of work experience in election administration or related field or 45 college credits): 

  • Resume
  • Personal Statement (in 500 words or fewer, double spaced, discuss your educational and professional experiences and goals related to election administration. )
  • College transcripts (if applicable)
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores (required for most non-native English speakers)

Apply now to the undergraduate certificate

Questions about the application process can be directed to Lea Chittenden at [email protected] or 612-625-2530.


Please contact Lea Chittenden at [email protected] or 612-625-2530 for more information about tuition rates and group discounts.

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

CEA instructors

Doug Chapin serves as Director of Election Research for Fors Marsh Group. In this role, Doug is responsible for leading the research, analysis, and delivery of FMG’s election research programs. Doug joined FMG from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, where he served as the founding director of the Certificate in Election Administration program. Before this role, Doug served as Director of Election Initiatives for the Pew Center on the States and was the founder of electionline.org. Doug is a well-known writer and speaker in the field and has an extensive academic background, having earned a law degree from Georgetown University, a master of public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and an A.B. in politics from Princeton University.

Judd Choate is the Director of Elections for the Colorado Department of State. Judd was the president of the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) in 2017 and served on the Executive Committee of the Government Coordinating Council (GCC) created by the Department of Homeland Security when elections was designated critical infrastructure. Judd was formerly was a professor of political science at the University of Nebraska and author of a book and several peer-reviewed articles on political behavior. He has a J.D. from the University of Colorado Law School and a Ph.D. in political science from Purdue University.

Lawrence Jacobs is McKnight Presidential Chair in Public Affairs, the Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies, and director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance in the Hubert H. Humphrey School and the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. The Center is a preeminent hub for political and policy analysis in the Midwest. Jacobs has published 16 books and edited volumes and dozens of articles on elections, legislative and presidential politics, elections and public opinion, and a range of public policies. Jacobs' research has been published and discussed in a number of mass media outlets and he is a regular political commentator in Minnesota and nationwide. 

Matthew Masterson is a Senior Cybersecurity Adviser for Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the Department of Homeland Security. Previously Masterson was a Commissioner with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) from December 2014 until March 2018. Prior to his appointment with the EAC, Masterson served in various roles in the office of the Ohio Secretary of State. In these roles Mr. Masterson was responsible for voting system certification efforts by the Secretary of State’s office including being the liaison to the Ohio Board of Voting Machine Examiners. Additionally, Mr. Masterson oversaw Ohio’s effort to develop an online voter registration database and online ballot delivery for military and overseas voters.

Astrid Ochoa is the Executive Director of Future of California Elections. Ms. Ochoa has experience in implementing statewide reforms, policy analysis, government and public relations and leading cross-sector partnerships. She helped launch Future of California Elections, an innovative cross-sector collaboration to modernize California’s elections, building the organization from the ground-up. Previously, Ms. Ochoa worked at NALEO Educational Fund leading the organization’s national redistricting community engagement strategy. She holds master’s degrees in public affairs and urban and regional planning from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Pomona College.

Tammy Patrick is a Senior Advisor to the Elections program at the Democracy Fund, a bipartisan foundation working to ensure that our political system is able to withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. Focusing on modern elections, Tammy helps lead the Democracy Fund’s efforts to foster a voter-centric elections system and work to provide election officials across the country with the tools and knowledge they need to best serve their voters. In May of 2013 she was selected by President Obama to serve as a Commissioner on the Presidential Commission on Election Administration which led to a position at the Bipartisan Policy Center to further the work of the PCEA. Prior to that she was the Federal Compliance Officer for Maricopa County Elections Department for eleven years.

Whitney Quesenbery is the Director of the Center for Civic Design working to make every interaction with government an easy, effective experience. She brings her expertise in research methods, accessibility and plain language, and a passion for understanding the story behind the data to her work. Whitney’s work in civic design began with her appointment to the EAC federal advisory committee writing the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). Fifteen years later, she is still excited about the opportunities to approach democracy as a design problem and working with election offices around the country. In her work at the Center, she focuses on reaching people with disabilities or low reading, digital, or civic literacy, using her skills in user experience research, plain language, and accessibility.

Amy Wilson is the Training Coordinator for the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. She has written more than two dozen online elections courses and classroom trainings for the Colorado Election Official Certification Program. Amy has worked in the field of elections for more than 20 years, including Election Director for the State of Utah where she oversaw HAVA implementation and was a leader in the National Association of State Election Directors. She also worked as the Elections Manager in Arapahoe County Colorado for several years where she helped the county transition from polling place voting to mail ballot voting. Amy received her BA in Political Science and Russian from the University of Utah. She also holds a Masters of Applied Communication from the University of Denver.