Questions?
Find answers to our most frequently asked questions below. If you continue to have questions, please contact us at:

CPM Director
Robbi Dreifuerst
robbi.dreifuerst@wisc.edu
608-262-3830

Program Coordinator
Sunshine Jansen
sunshine.jansen@wisc.edu
608-262-4354

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, supervisors, administrators and managers working at any level of government or non-profit management can participate in classes. It is not necessary to enroll in the CPM program to attend classes. Most are 1-day, 6-hour classes.

CPM classes are primarily offered in Madison. Classes are also available statewide for individual agencies or government units upon request. Contact the Program Director to see about availability of classes at a site convenient to your workplace.

Planning is currently underway to offer a number of CPM classes online.

All classes are taught by experienced public managers, trainers or UW staff. See more about the program.

The CPM program consists of 300 hours in three phases. You must complete all phases to be certified. Phase III is open only to candidates who have completed Phases I and II. The requirements are:

Phase I: Supervisory Training (72 Hours) - Begin with the class “Management Assessment” which must be taken within 6 months of enrollment. This class gives you both an understanding of your managerial styles and an overview of the program. Complete a professional development plan to guide you in your management training. Provide evidence of at least 60 hours of supervisory training. If you have not completed this, you must do so before beginning Phase III. Complete a written project that demonstrates your understanding of effective supervision in the workplace. More information on the Phase I writing assignments is provided during the “Management Assessment” class.

Phase II: Management Training (138 Hours) - Complete 8 required core classes and 15 elective classes. Complete a take-home review (in the self-directed format) or monthly reflective essays (in the colleague group/cohort format) demonstrating what you have learned.

Phase III: Executive Management Training (90 Hours) - Use knowledge gained from previous training in a class project, an individual applied project, four days of case studies, and a leadership seminar.

Professional Development Electives (18 Hours) - You must complete 18 hours of Professional Development Electives, taken any time during the program. These electives can be completed through employee training, CPM classes, professional conferences and independent study. They are an opportunity to tailor your professional development to your specific technical or management area.

See the Certificate Overview page for details of the classes offered as part of the different phases.

Self-directed CPM candidates take classes when and in what order they wish. Progress through the 3 phases of the program is determined by the candidate within the 7-year limit set by the program. Colleague Group candidates form a cohort group that completes requirements within a set 2-year schedule, meeting 2 consecutive training days every month. Program requirements are the same for both formats, with the exception that Colleague Group candidates write a reflective essay for each class in place of the comprehensive Phase II review.

The total cost of the self-directed program, including all application and project fees, is approximately $4,975, excluding travel costs. The document Cost of Completing the CPM Program on the Forms and Resources page shows one possible timeline and cost breakdown. The cost of the Colleague Group program is $3,400, payable in 1 lump sum or in 2 installments of $1,700. For either format, 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.

In the self-directed program, you can work at your own pace, taking classes as your work and personal schedules permit. Some students finish in as short a period as 18 months; others have taken the maximum 7 years allowed. The average is 3-4 years. The program requires that you make progress every year. The Colleague Group is completed in 2 years.

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 a comprehensive review of Phase II classes (Colleague Group students write a reflective essay for each class they take, rather than doing the Phase II review). 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.

Choose the format in which you’d like to complete your certification, then complete the appropriate application form (see Forms and Resources) and return it to the CPM office. As a part of the application, provide evidence of 60 hours of supervisory training, and be sure to list any CPM class you have taken in the past year. Once your application is approved, you will be notified of your acceptance and guided on the next steps to take.

Although the CPM Program has three phases, only one class offered directly by the program is in Phase I: Management Assessment. All other classes listed publicly are in Phase II. Phase III classes are only available for candidates who have completed Phases I and II. There are 22 classes in Phase II.

In the self-directed format, register for the Management Assessment class as soon as possible. Part of that class will provide information on the program and help you to decide which classes to take. If you can’t take the Assessment class in the near future but would like to enroll in classes, make a note that you need to take the 7 core classes in Phase II, plus 15 electives (3 in each of 5 areas). The Colleague Group Certification is completed in a set schedule.

Classes in the self-directed program are open to all managers; most are held at the Pyle Center on the UW-Madison campus. The registration process for such classes is handled via the Extension Registration Office in the Pyle Center. These open enrollment classes are publicized in periodic brochures as well as via the CPM website. You can register online through the CPM individual class page, accessible on the CPM home page. You may also call the Registration Office at 608-262-0810 or 800-725-9692.

Registration for Colleague Group classes is done with one form submitted to the Extension Registration Office. Registration forms are forwarded to those accepted into the Colleague Group.

"Contract" classes are those held onsite at a specific agency for its employees. Registration for contract classes is done through the agency's training/HR office.

Notice of cancellation must be made to the Extension Registration Office. The CPM cancellation policy states: “If you are unable to attend a class, you are welcome to send a substitute. If you must cancel and do so up to 3 business days prior to the class, you will receive a full refund minus a $25 administrative fee. If you cancel less than 3 business days prior to the program, or do not participate, you are responsible for the entire fee.” Exceptions to this policy are made on a case-by-case basis.

Writing a Professional Development Plan is a requirement for the CPM program but also an opportunity to develop an objective, long-range plan for your professional life. We recommend that you write your Professional Development Plan as soon after you’ve taken the Management Assessment class as possible so that you may best plan your course of study in the program. Also, keep in mind that all Phase I requirements must be completed by the time you finish your Phase II coursework. You will not be allowed to begin the Phase II Review until all Phase I requirements (including this plan) are completed.

Let the CPM office know you are ready to get to work on your Phase I project. Someone will contact you with information on project guidelines, an example of a Phase I project, and the deadline for submission (1 month from the date we send you this information). There are 2 alternatives for the written report: a description of a supervisory situation in which you were involved, or a reflection on effective supervisory practices. Recommended length is 8-10 pages. The project must be typed and include a cover page. To ensure confidentiality, do not include your name or agency on the written report itself.

You may work on Phase I and II requirements concurrently. However, in order to be considered a Phase II candidate you must complete:

  1. the “Management Assessment” class;
  2. your professional development plan;
  3. a written project. The written project demonstrates your ability to apply supervisory concepts in a work situation; and
  4. document 60 hours of previous supervisory training or your plans to complete it.

Let the CPM office know when you are ready to start the Phase II review and they will send you the current version (a sample can also be found in the download PDFCPM Handbook). Additional guidance is provided during the “Management Assessment” class.

Phase III consists of 4 days of case studies, an applied project, a class project, and a capstone leadership seminar. Self-directed students form a cohort to complete this phase; for the Colleague Group, it concludes their two-year schedule. Self-directed candidates will be notified by our office when we determine that we have a large enough group of students eligible to form a Phase III cohort.

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 classes of a graduate degree. For example, in a graduate program you might take a full semester class 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 Forms and Resources page. For more information, contact us by e-mail at cpm@dcs.wisc.edu; by phone at 608-262-4354; or by mail:

Wisconsin CPM Program
University of Wisconsin-Madison
21 N Park St., 7th Floor
Madison, WI 53715