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Local Government Management (LGM)

Group Photo of Local Government Management Certificate Students
Upcoming: Get your questions answered at the info sessions offered throughout the fall
In Action: VT SPIA serves as a resource center for finance managers in VA and across the nation 

Program Director: Stephanie Davis

A Partnership between Virginia Tech and the VLGMA program

The Virginia Tech Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP), in partnership with the Virginia Local Government Management Association, offers a graduate certificate program in local government management that provides the next generation of local government managers and leaders with the tools to advance their careers and to provide exceptional leadership within the communities where they work. The central goal of the program is to offer graduate-level training in local government management that both prepares pre-career students for capable public service at the local level and enhances the capacities of existing local government employees who aspire to be town, city, or county managers or assistant/deputy managers. The International City/County Management association (ICMA) has identified leadership development as one of the most important issues that local governments will face in the coming decade.

The certificate program consists of four 3-credit hour courses, for a total of twelve hours of graduate coursework. Students are required to complete all four courses with a GPA of 3.0 or better in order to earn the certificate. Students are exposed to a full spectrum of local government issues, service delivery options, and management tools. The analysis of a real-life, local government case study is central to each classroom experience. Case studies are used within the courses to emphasize the relationship between the political and management worlds that all local government managers must understand and navigate in order to be successful. All courses are taught by experienced, highly-qualified Virginia local government practitioners in a hybrid online delivery method.  Utilizing virtual classroom capabilities, classes are taught simultaneously around the state giving more students the opportunity to participate in the program and learn about the variety of communities in Virginia. 

Both full-time and part-time employees of Virginia local government are eligible for financial assistance through the Bob Stripling Scholarship for the Advancement of Local Government Management. Funds available are dependent on donor contributions and are approved on an annual basis.

Students who wish to pursue the certificate as a non-degree candidate may apply for admission to the certificate program using the Virginia Tech Graduate School’s online application system.  Students who complete the certificate may apply for entrance as a degree-seeking student in the CPAP MPA program and transfer all twelve credit hours towards their MPA. Students enrolled in a degree conferring program may participate in the certificate program through their elective requirements and obtain both the certificate and degree upon graduation.

The four courses required for the certificate:

Explores the institutions and systems in which public administrators work, and the dynamics of public administration within the larger political, economic and social environment. Special focus on the local government management profession, the evolution of the council-manager government and the core ethical and democratic values of the profession. Review skills necessary for effective local government managers, including critical strategic thinking, communication, organizational and community leadership competencies. Explores career management approaches for the local government managers. Considers the implication of future trends in local government management and the profession. (3 hours, 3 credits)

An examination at an advanced level of a selected managerial process(s) in the public sector. This course will focus on local government human resource, financial management, information technology, and performance management processes that managers must use when working in local government organizations. Additionally, topics will review public procurement, risk management, safety management, franchise agreements, contracting for municipal services. (3 hours, 3 credits)


Examines the powers, structure, roles and responsibilities of the local government within the U.S. and Virginia federal system from the perspective of the local government manager. Considers the election process, state legislative process, state/local relations and intergovernmental relations that constitute important internal and external forces in the local management environment. Explores the state/local government delivery systems of public education, public safety, transportation, public health, social services, environmental quality, criminal justice, and public works and utilities, as well as other programs that are provided either partly of wholly by local governments. (3 hours, 3 credits)


This course will focus on local government management and community development. It will examine the local government management process that supports community and economic development, including the local and regional planning processes, growth management, urban design for creating livable communities, property law, and local government tools and strategies for securing economic and community development. In addition, it will focus on the managerial competencies required for leading the community and economic activities of local governments. (3 hours, 3 credits)