Certified Public Manager®

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Creating thoughtful practitioners who can apply practical techniques to address public-sector challenges

Program Overview

The University of Washington Tacoma's Certified Public Manager® is a nationally-accredited, comprehensive leadership and management development program for professionals from all levels of government - city, county, state, and beyond. This intensive, 10-month program is designed for busy professionals who may not have time to attend traditional, in-person evening classes by combining live, online class sessions with self-paced online work and independent projects.

Graduates of Certified Public Manager® earn two high-value certificates:

  • Certified Public Manager® certification
  • Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certificate

Who should attend?

This program is designed for high-achieving, career-oriented public supervisors and managers who hold or desire to move into mid- or senior-level positions. If you've been thinking about a Master in Public Administration but need something more flexible, more affordable, and more quickly achieved, this might be the program for you!

This course requires pre-class and post-class readings and assignments where you will apply what you learn in the workplace. Plan on at least five to ten hours of outside work per module.

Modules and Topics

Based in the accredited Certified Public Manager® curriculum, these modules cover many key competency areas for public administrators:

  • Leadership and Communication Styles
  • Developing Yourself as a Leader
  • Planning & Budgeting in the Public Sector
  • Communicating Effectively
  • Group Process, Conflict, and Facilitation Methods
  • Performance Feedback, Coaching, and Human Resource Issues,
  • Managing Performance and Data-Based Decision-Making
  • Process Improvement
  • Leading Change and Understanding Organizational Culture
  • Policy, Perspectives, and Sustainability
  • Public Perception and the Role of Media
  • Cultural Competencies and Equity

Sample Schedule

We have cancelled the 2020-21 cohort of the program, which was scheduled to be delivered virtually with live, online class sessions through Zoom and additional online work through Canvas. We are leaving the planned schedule below as an example of what the schedule may look like in the future, if remote instruction continues. Virtual classes would typically run every two weeks, on Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Friday mornings (9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.). Expand the section below for the full example.

The traditional schedule for the program is based on monthly class sessions (1-3 consecutive days) at UW Tacoma.

2020-21 Schedule

Unless specified, all dates are for the live, online class sessions. Self-paced online content and pre-work will be available no later than 1 week before the start of each term.

CPM Part I: Fall 2020

  • Orientation (fully online, self-paced): begins 9/2/20
  • Personal Style: 9/9 - 11
  • Developing Yourself as a Leader: 9/23 - 25 and 10/7 - 8
  • Planning and Budgeting in the Public Sector: 10/9 and 10/21 - 23
  • Group Process, Conflict, and Facilitation Methods: 11/4 - 5 and 11/18 - 19
  • Communicating Effectively - Writing (fully online, self-paced): begins 11/12

CPM Part II: Winter 2021 (Tentative)

  • Self-Leadership Project Due Online: 1/15/21
  • Communicating Effectively - Presentations: 1/20 - 21
  • Process Improvement:1/22 and 2/3 - 4
  • Cultural Competencies and Equity: 2/5 and 2/17 - 19
  • Managing Performance and Data-Based Decision-Making: 3/3 - 5
  • Performance Feedback, Coaching, and HR Issues: 3/17 - 19 and 3/31 - 4/2

CPM Part III: Spring 2021 (Tentative)

  • Leading Change and Understanding Organizational Culture: 4/21 - 23 and 5/5
  • Policy, Perspectives, and Sustainability: 5/6 - 7 and 5/19 - 20
  • Public Perception and the Role of the Media: 6/2 - 3
  • Capstone Project Presentations: 6/23 - 24

Program Components and Requirements

  • 203 hours of classroom learning, supplemented with pre- and post-class readings, assignments, assessments, and video content
  • 10-hour Leadership Development Project
  • 50-hour Lean Six Sigma Capstone Project

Supervision Training Requirement

The UW Tacoma Certified Public Manager® program requires 40 hours of basic supervisory training as a prerequisite before final certification can be completed. Applicants with this work in progress may be accepted if they submit a written plan on how they will complete the work prior to the Certified Public Manager® completion date. Training should be designed for supervisors and managers and have been completed within the past ten years.

Course content will be evaluated based upon its alignment with the National CPM Core Competencies. It is the responsibility of the student to provide evidence that shows the coursework has been completed and that the course meets the required number of hours and Core Competencies.

Pre-Approved Courses

The following courses have been pre-approved to meet the 40-hour supervisory basics requirement. Submit appropriate completion documentation with the New Program Title application:

Washington State Department of Enterprise Services

  • Leading Others (formerly Supervision Essentials Phase 1) AND Supervision Essentials Phase 2

City of Tacoma (provided by Tacoma Community College)

  • SMG 101: Essential Supervisory Skills (30 hours) AND 10 additional hours, drawn from courses such as
    • SMG 120: Supervising the Problem Employee
    • SMG 201: Management Communications
    • SMG 261: Dynamics of Leadership
    • SMG 264: Motivation and Productivity

Ed2Go (Pierce College)

  • Fundamentals of Supervision and Management I (24 hours) AND Fundamentals of Supervision and Management II (24 hours)

UW Tacoma Professional Development Center

  • Leadership Essentials (40 hours) (pre-2020)
  • Combination of "Business and Leadership Essentials" courses and workshops such as
    • Team Leadership Essentials (14 hours)
    • Organizational Leadership Essentials (14 hours)
    • Resolving Workplace Conflict (7 hours)
    • Getting Unstuck: Strategies to Repair Trust Within Your Organization (5 hours)
Other Courses/Providers

A wide range of other courses are available through local colleges and universities, as well as private training providers. All other courses will be evaluated on a course-by-course basis using the Prerequisite Evaluation Form (see below) to determine if course(s) meet the national CPM competencies.

Approval of Pre-Requisite Training

Applicants seeking approval for trainings not on the above pre-approved list must provide the following documents:

  1. UW Tacoma Supervisory Program Prerequisite Evaluation form
  2. Proof of Attendance (certificate of completion, unofficial transcripts, or other agency documents)
  3. Proof of Organizational Sponsorship (brochures, website, and other evidence of course content, outcomes, PowerPoint slides, and intended audience)



Students must be currently employed in first-level supervisory or mid-management positions in city, county, state, tribal or non-profit agency to be admitted to this program.

Start your application now!


Frequently asked questions

How can I pay for this program? Do you offer scholarships?

We do not currently offer any scholarships for this program, but we do have a few ways to make paying more affordable. Students may pay in full or term-by-term. We also accept third-party payments, if your employer has a program that will pay for some or all of your certificate.

Why choose your program over another?

Great question! First, there is nothing quite like our program in Washington State because the National CPM Consortium only allows one Certified Public Manager® program per state.

Compared with similar leadership and management programs offered within government organizations, we think that UW Tacoma stands out as the leader in high quality instruction, curriculum and innovative design. When you complete your certificate here, the "W" will follow you to your next job, holding value longer than any internal training program might. We use a practical, hands-on approach, our curriculum is based upon local needs determined by an advisory board of experienced local city, county and state public managers.

Compared with a Master in Public Administration program, the Certified Public Manager® engages students on similar competencies but at a much lower cost. Our students also have the benefit of being able to take learnings back to their places of work and see change happen immediately, rather than waiting until the end of a quarter-long class or multi-year program.

Can I complete this program while working?

Of course! Our program is designed specifically for working professionals. Most of our students are currently working in local government, and we encourage them to bring their work experience to class. Classes do meet during weekdays (typically 2-3 contiguous days per month), and students can expect to have some work outside of the classroom.