Chart of Accounts Manual Introduction

Welcome to the University of Minnesota’s online Chart of Accounts Manual. This information is presented as a website rather than in printed form at the request of those who use the COA information most frequently, to allow for easier searching, and to ensure the community could more quickly access the most “fresh out of the oven” information available. If you have comments or questions about the Chart of Accounts, please contact the University Financial Helpline. The staff there will either provide an immediate response or find the appropriate person to respond to your inquiry. Enjoy!

If you are searching for a specific value, for example, an Account code, you can either visit the page for the type of value using the navigation above, check within the Enterprise Financial System (EFS) itself, or use the COA ChartField Values (Google Sheet).

ChartField Quick Reference

A printable version of the ChartFields job aid (pdf) is also available.

Graphic of ChartField organization and use.

Required ChartFields per Transaction Type

Depending on the transaction type, specific ChartFields must be populated for a ChartField string. Three transaction types are listed below. The required ChartFields for each transaction type are indicated with an checkmark in each field. Conditional/optional ChartFields CF1, CF2, and Fin EmplID can be used separately or in combination with any of the transaction types.

Required ChartFields by type of transaction

Financial System Integration

This picture shows how information flows from one area of the financial system to the next. It is a complex hive of activity. The important bit to keep in mind is that after all is said and done, an accounting entry ends up in the General Ledger (and for sponsored projects, an entry also ends up in the Projects module). A printable version of Financial System Data Integration (pdf) is also available.

Financial system integration graphic

*Financial data from these systems are imported into the Enterprise Financial System (EFS).


Chart of Accounts

The Chart of Accounts is the organizing framework for budgeting, transacting/recording, and reporting on all University financial transactions. It is designed to capture financial information to make good financial decisions.

  • The Chart of Accounts is a series of values that represent the University's mission, organizational structure, and fiscal accountability.
  • These values are the language of the financial system. It allows for accurate and consistent communication, structure, and parameters across all financial system users.
  • The Chart of Accounts is used every time there is a financial transaction at the University. Lanyards and land, grants and grass all require it.

Every time a transaction is entered into a particular module within the financial system, the Chart of Accounts is used to capture information about that transaction and allow it to flow through the system to the General Ledger. The more accurately a transaction is described through the ChartField string, the better the information that will be available to us.


ChartFields are values used to classify financial transactions entered into the General Ledger.

  • Each ChartField represents one specific type (piece) of financial data.
  • Each piece of information captured by a ChartField fulfills a need. That information may be required for regulatory reporting, for tracking expenditures against budgets, for managerial decision making, or other reasons.
  • There are eleven ChartFields in the financial management system (not all 11 ChartFields are used on each transaction).
  • Some ChartFields are required for every accounting transaction (Fund, DeptID, Account).
  • The remaining ChartFields are used to report even more information about a transaction.

ChartField string

ChartFields comprise the ChartField string. The ChartField string is comprised of a sequence of values that describes the financial transaction.

ChartField independence

ChartField values are designed to work independently of each other. This allows values to be used across departments increasing flexibility of monitoring and reporting.

Example: Below is an illustration that shows the ChartField strings two departments use to track the same information. The only difference is the DeptID, and the other values remain the same. This one difference is significant, as it changes the meaning of the ChartField string by identifying a different responsible unit.

Fund DeptID Program Account
1000 10084 20000 720101
1000 10006 20000 720101

Fiscal Responsibilities Guide

A community of people within each unit share financial stewardship, even though we may all play different roles. Listed below are six primary financial roles. Keep in mind that these are roles, not job descriptions, so you may function in several of these capacities.


Individuals who request or initiate an event that results in a financial transaction. They are responsible for conducting activities and events within the boundaries of compliance with University policies and procedures and funding agency restrictions. Note: Any University employee has the potential to be an initiator.


Individuals who prepare, code, review, and/or process sponsored and nonsponsored accounting transactions in compliance with University policies and procedures and funding agency restrictions; resolve discrepancies; and prepare reports.


Individuals who review and approve sponsored and nonsponsored accounting transactions to ensure compliance with University policies and procedures and funding agency restrictions, and who identify problems and ensure resolutions.

Fiscal monitor

Individuals who are responsible for policy interpretation  and implementation for a department (or collegiate unit or higher). They manage the sponsored and nonsponsored accounting and fiscal operations of a department (or collegiate unit or higher) in compliance with University policies and procedures and funding agency restrictions.

Principal Investigator (PI) or project manager

Individuals who provide leadership for a research grant and/or subunit within a department by managing, problem solving, ensuring compliance with policies, and monitoring budgets.

Academic or administrative head

Individuals who provide overall leadership for the unit and the University in general. They participate in policy formation and ensure policy implementation for their unit. They are also responsible for their unit’s overall financial management.

Code of Conduct

This section is excerpted from the Board of Regents Policy: Academic Code of Conduct, adopted July 12, 1966 and amended December 8, 2006 .

Section I. Scope

Section II. Guiding Principles

Subd. 1. Values

Subd. 2. Commitment to Ethical Conduct

Section III. Standards of Conduct

Subd. 1. Act Ethically and with Integrity

Subd. 2. Be Fair and Respectful to Others

Subd. 3. Manage Responsibility

Subd. 4. Protect and Preserve University Resources

Subd. 5. Promote a Culture of Compliance

Subd. 6. Preserve Academic Freedom and Meet Academic Responsibilities

Subd. 7. Ethically Conduct Teaching and Research

Subd. 8. Avoid Conflicts of Interest and Commitment

Subd. 9. Carefully Manage Public, Private, and Confidential Information

Subd. 10. Promote Health and Safety in the Workplace

Section IV. Delegation of Authority

1.3 Code of Conduct

The University of Minnesota’s Code of Conduct applies to all employees of the University, and ensures honesty, integrity, and responsibility in all University-related activities, including purchasing.

SectIon I. Scope

The Code of Conduct (Code) applies to the following members of the University of Minnesota (University) community:

  • members of the Board of Regents;
  • faculty and staff;
  • any individual employed by the University, using University resources or facilities, or receiving funds administered by the University; and
  • volunteers and other representatives when speaking or acting on behalf of the University.

Students taking courses, attending classes, or enrolled in academic programs are governed by Board of Regents Policy: Student Conduct Code.

This code is intended to reflect other Board and University policies and procedures. It does not create any additional or different rights or duties of a substantive or procedural nature.

Section II. Guiding Priciples

Subd. 1. Values. In carrying out the institution’s research, teaching, and public service mission, members of the University community (community members) are dedicated to advancing the University’s core values. These values embrace commitment to:

  • excellence and innovation;
  • discovery and the search for the truth;
  • diversity of community and ideas;
  • integrity;
  • academic freedom;
  • stewardship and accountability for resources and relationships;
  • sharing knowledge in a learning environment;
  • application of knowledge and discovery to advance the quality of life and economy of the region and the world; and
  • service as a land grant institution to Minnesota, the nation, and the world.

Subd. 2. Commitment to Ethical Conduct. Community members must be committed to the highest ethical standards of conduct and integrity. The standards of conduct in this Code, supported through policies, procedures, and workplace rules, provide guidance for making decisions and memorialize the institution’s commitment to responsible behavior.

Section III. Standards of Conduct

The University holds itself and community members to the following standards of conduct:

Subd. 1. Act Ethically and with Integrity. Ethical conduct is a fundamental expectation for every community member. In practicing and modeling ethical conduct, community members are expected to:

  • act according to the highest ethical and professional standards of conduct;
  • be personally accountable for individual actions;
  • fulfull obligations owed to students, advisees, and colleagues;
  • conscientiously meet University responsibilities; and
  • communicate ethical standards of conduct through instruction and example.

Subd. 2. Be Fair and Respectful to Others. The University is committed to tolerance, diversity, and respect for differences. When dealing with others, community members are expected to:

  • be respectful, fair, and civil;
  • speak candidly and truthfully;
  • avoid all forms of harassment, illegal discrimination, threats, or violence;
  • provide equal access to programs, facilities, and employment; and
  • promote conflict resolution.

Subd. 3. Manage Responsibly. The University entrusts community members who supervise or instruct employees or students with significant responsibility. Managers, supervisors, instructors, and advisors are expected to:

  • ensure access to and delivery of proper training and guidance on applicable workplace and educational rules, policies, and procedures, including this Code;
  • ensure compliance with applicable laws, policies, and workplace rules;
  • review performance conscientiously and impartially;
  • foster intellectual growth and professional development; and
  • promote a healthy, innovative, and productive atmosphere that encourages dialogue and is responsive to concerns.

Subd. 4. Protect and Preserve University Resources. The University is dedicated to responsible stewardship. Community members are expected to:

  • use University property, equipment, finances, materials, electronic and other systems, and other resources only for legitimate University purposes;
  • prevent waste and abuse;
  • promote efficient operations;
  • follow sound financial practices, including accurate financial reporting, processes to protect assets, and responsible fiscal management and internal controls; and
  • engage in appropriate accounting and monitoring.

Subd. 5. Promote a Culture of Compliance. The University is committed to meeting legal requirements and to fostering a culture of ethics and compliance.

(a) Expectations—Community members are expected to:

  • learn and follow the laws, regulations, contracts, and University policies and procedures applicable to University activities;
  • be proactive to prevent and detect any compliance violations;
  • report suspected violations to supervisors or other University officials; and
  • ensure that reports of violations within their area of responsibility are properly resolved, including disclosure to sponsors or other state or federal authorities as appropriate.

(b) Prohibition—Community members are prohibited from retaliating against another community member for reporting a suspected compliance violation.

Subd. 6. Preserve Academic Freedom and Meet Academic Responsibilities. Academic freedom is essential to achieving the University’s mission. Community members are expected to:

  • promote academic freedom, including the freedom to discuss all relevant matters in the classroom, to explore all avenues of scholarship, research, and creative expression, and to speak or write as a public citizen without institutional restraint or discipline; and
  • meet academic responsibilities, which means to seek and state the truth; to develop and maintain scholarly competence; to foster and defend intellectual honesty and freedom of inquiry and instruction; to respect those with differing views; to submit knowledge and claims to peer review; to work together to foster education of students; and to acknowledge when an individual is not speaking for the institution.

Subd. 7. Ethically Conduct Teaching and Research. University researchers have an ethical obligation to the University and to the larger global community as they seek knowledge and understanding. Community members are expected to:\

  • propose, conduct, and report research with integrity and honesty;
  • protect people and humanely treat animals involved in research or teaching;
  • learn, follow, and demonstrate accountability for meeting the requirements of sponsors, regulatory bodies, and other applicable entities;
  • faithfully transmit research findings;
  • protect rights to individual and University intellectual property;
  • ensure originality of work, provide credit for the ideas of others upon which their work is built, and be responsible for the accuracy and fairness of information published; and
  • fairly assign authorship credit on the basis of an appropriate array of significant intellectual contributions, including: conception, design, and peformance; analysis and interpretation; and manuscript preparation and critical editing for intellectual content.

Subd. 8. Avoid Conflicts of Interest and Commitment. Community members have an obligation to be objective and impartial in making decisions on behalf of the University. To ensure this objectivity, community members are expected to:

  • avoid actual individual or institutional conflicts of interest;
  • disclose potential conflicts of interest and adhere to any management plans created to eliminate any conflicts of interest; and
  • ensure personal relationships do not interfere with objective judgment in decisions affecting University employment or the academic progress of a community member.

Subd. 9. Carefully Manage Public, Private, and Confidential Information. Community members are the creators and custodians of many types of information. The public right to access and the individual’s right to privacy are both governed by laws and University policies. To meet these responsibilities, community members are expected to:

  • learn and follow laws and University policies and agreements regarding access, use, protection, disclosure, retention, and disposal of public, private, and confidential information;
  • follow document preservation and retention guidelines; and
  • maintain data security using electronic and physical safeguards.

Subd. 10. Promote Health and Safety in the Workplace. Community members have a shared responsibility to ensure a safe, secure, and healthy environment for all University students, faculty, staff, volunteers, and visitors. Community members are expected to:

  • follow safe workplace practices, including participating in applicable education sessions, using appropriate personal safety equipment, and reporting accidents, injuries, and unsafe situations;
  • maintain security, including securing University assets and facilities;
  • report suspicious activities; and
  • protect the environment, including carefully handling hazardous waste and other potentially harmful agents, materials, or conditions.

Section IV. Delegation of Authority

The president or delegate shall ensure that appropriate administrative policies are maintained to support this Code, and shall effectively promulgate this Code and any related administrative policies or procedures through appropriate and periodic explanation, education, and evaluation.

More information on the Code of Conduct and key related policies can be found at

Internal Controls


Internal control is a process affected by a university’s governing board, administration, faculty, and staff, designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of objectives in the following categories:

  • effectiveness and efficiency of operations
  • reliability of financial reporting
  • compliance with applicable laws and regulations


Internal control consists of five interrelated components derived from basic university operations and administrative processes as follows:

Control Environment

The core of any educational institution is its people. They are the engines that drive the organization. Their individual attributes (integrity, ethical values, and competence) and the environment in which they operate determine the success of the institution.

Risk Assessment

Universities must be aware of and deal with the risks they face. They must set objectives that integrate key activities so the total organization operates in concert. They also must establish mechanisms to identify, analyze, and manage the related risks.

Control Activities

Control policies and procedures must be established and executed to help ensure that actions necessary to achieve the institution’s objectives are effectively carried out.

Information and Communication

Surrounding these activities are information and communication systems. These enable the organization’s people to capture and exchange the information needed to conduct, manage, and control its operations.


The entire process must be monitored and modified as necessary. Thus, the system can react dynamically to changing conditions.

* Internal Controls section reference source of material: From Internal Control Concepts and Applications, Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission, 1992 .


The Chart of Accounts is organized and summarized via trees.  Trees are hierarchical structures that represent a group of summarization rules for a particular ChartField.  For example, a tree can specify how the University’s sources of funding should be summarized, or rolled up, for reporting purposes. A tree can also show the reporting relationships within the University by specifying how the individual DeptIDs should be summarized into Resource Responsibility Centers (RRC), or campuses.

The summarization rules depicted in a tree apply to the detail values of a particular field: vendors, departments, or other values that you define. These detail values are summarized into nodes on the tree. The nodes may also be organized into levels to logically group nodes that represent the same type of information or level of summarization.

Once a tree is defined, the system can use it in a variety of ways:

  • Reporting. When summarizing results for a particular department or campus, the system checks against the tree to determine which DeptIDs to include. Without the tree, each time a report is created, each DeptID needed must be explicitly specified.
  • Summary ledgers. To create a summary ledger that summarizes transaction by department, the system refers to the tree to determine which transactions to include in the summarized entry for each department.
  • Security. User access can be restricted to only certain nodes or levels. The application tables tell the system what department the user is in; the tree tells it what other departments are in the same division. (This use is appropriate for Human Resources Management System [HRMS] applications only.)

Multiple trees can also be created for the same ChartFields, providing different rollups for different views of the financial data. For example, departments can be grouped together differently for reporting than for security.

Advantages of trees

By building trees, the system has a single place to look for summarization rules. This centralization enables rules to be defined once and then used throughout the system. For example, different reports, ledgers, and security profiles might all refer to parts of the University’s organizational chart. All these objects can refer to the same predefined tree.

Trees make it easier to select and update values in reports, ledgers, or security profiles. Rather than specify DeptIDs 10086, 10717, and 10855 in a report, you can specify the Office of Technology Commercialization, which includes all these DeptIDs according to the tree. When the organizational structure changes, only the tree is updated rather than updating an untold number of reports, ledgers, security profiles, and so on.

Another advantage of trees is that they visually present summarization rules. Looking at a tree through the Financial System Tree Viewer, it is easy to see how the values relate to each other. See the sample tree below.

Family tree terminology

When talking about trees, we use terminology derived from the idea of a family tree. The nodes that report to the root node are called its children. They are also called child nodes. The root node is their parent. Nodes that have the same parent are called siblings.

Using roll up levels (nodes)

Nodes are defined as a level of roll up within a tree representing a categorization of values according to function, organizational structure, type, etc.

Each detail value reports to a tree node at the next higher level of the organization. Each roll up level represents  the group of detail values that rolls up to it. Referring to the roll up level is a shorthand way of referring to the group of detail values under it. For example, if a report refers to the Office of the Vice President for Research, it includes data from all the DeptID detail values under the Office of the Vice President for Research node—including the detail values
under the Office of Technology Commercialization, because the Office of Technology Commercialization reports to the Office of the Vice President for Research.

In turn, each roll up level reports to another roll up level at a higher level of organization, until we reach the top level of the hierarchy.

Using detail levels (leaves)

Detail values, or leaves of the tree, link a roll up structure to the supporting detail. For example, the nodes in the following ACCOUNT tree are not the actual accounts but categories of accounts. Using this example, the account tree has a parent node called Revenues, with a child node called Tuition, with detail values specifying a range of Tuition accounts from 400000 to 400999 rolling up to it.

Effective dates

Using effective dates with trees provides the ability to specify new objects, departments, reporting relationships, or organizational structures in advance and have them take effect automatically. Trees can also be used with past, present, or future effective dates when reporting on current or historic data.

Sample Account tree

Account tree highlighting nodes and leaves

Next section: Fund