Frequently asked questions about the Certified Public Manager Program

The Wisconsin Certified Public Manager® Program (CPM) is a nationally accredited comprehensive statewide management development program specifically for managers in federal, state, tribal and local government. The program consists of 3 phases, totaling 300 instructional hours of training and written assignments, and is administered by the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Like CPM programs in other states, it recognizes the public management profession and its unique demands and challenges as well as your professional commitment and achievement.

As a candidate in the Wisconsin CPM program, you will enhance your administrative, technical, analytical and communication skills with structured training that has the broad perspective necessary for effective management. You will be a member of statewide and national cadres of professional public managers, learning from and with representatives of other governmental and non-profit agencies.

Candidates in the program report that they receive useful, work-based tools, skills and knowledge from CPM classes. Of current CPM graduates, approximately one-half have received a promotion while in the program or after completing the program. But the real benefit of participating is that, if you apply what you learn in the classroom, you will become a better manager, have a more satisfying work life, and a more productive and happier workforce.

While our target audience is middle managers, any supervisor, administrator or manager working at any level of government or nonprofit management can enroll in the CPM program.

Colleague Groups currently meet in Madison, but past cohorts have been offered in Milwaukee and Janesville/Beloit and we are open to regional offerings (please contact the CPM Director to discuss potential partnerships in your area). The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Command College is held each year at the State Patrol Academy at Fort McCoy.

All classes are taught by experienced public managers, trainers or UW staff. 

Please see the Certificate Overview page for full program requirements.

The cost of the Colleague Group is $4,400, payable in one lump sum or in two installments of $2,200 each. Please check with your agency to see whether it is willing to cover any or all of your program fees, and determine what sort of leave time will be needed to attend classes.

Colleague Groups, which meet two consecutive days every month (with some months off to work on projects), take about 18 months to complete. The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Command College is completed in 10 months, meeting five consecutive days roughly every other month from September to June.

Generally there is a pre-class reading or assignment for each class but no homework or tests. The three phases of the program, which are outlined in the Certificate Overview, each have at least one written assignment required. There is a 10-page written paper required for Phase I, and monthly reflective essays to provide a comprehensive review of your Phase II classes. Phase III includes an extensive applied project that allows candidates to use the knowledge and skills gained in classes to address an issue or need within their organization. The guidelines for these written assignments can be found on the Forms and Resources page.


The CPM program recognizes that most middle managers have completed significant training in basic supervision. Up to 60 hours of this type of training can be credited to your Phase I requirements. Up to 18 hours of other management training recently received outside of the CPM program can be counted toward the Professional Development Electives requirement. Extensive training you have received may allow you to waive a core class, but you will need to take another class to make up those hours. The Request for Approval of Professional Development Elective Hours appears in the CPM Handbook, which you will receive when you join the program. It can also be found on the Forms and Resources page.

The CPM program is a non-credit, non-degree professional development program. Its practical and applied skills provide a valuable complement to the more theoretical format of an MPA (Masters in Public Administration) or MBA (Masters in Business Administration). Depth of focus is the most significant difference between the 1-day workshops of the CPM program and the semester courses of a graduate degree. For example, in a graduate program you might take a full semester course on policy analysis and development whereas the CPM program offers a 1-day workshop in “Policy Analysis for Non-Analysts.”

To apply, download an application form from the About page