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Local Government Management

In both American and international society, some of the greatest challenges to quality of life remain posed in the world's urban areas. A concentration in Local Government Management prepares tomorrow's leaders to address those challenges.

The needs in these population centers require a creativity and vitality in approach and action that are distinguished by strategic effectiveness, integrity, and the highest level of professionalism.

Because careers in the public sector often require the mastery of a complex set of management, leadership, analytical, and quantitative skills, the curriculum for the Local Government Management concentration emphasizes a wide set of proficiencies recognized as necessary for success in local government management:

  • Management and delivery of urban services: basic knowledge of delivery systems and performance criteria to measure effectiveness
  • Policy issues and analyses: helping elected officials, community leaders, and citizens develop a policy agenda to achieve common community goals
  • Management skills: budget and program analysis, human resource management, modern technology utilization, community and strategic planning, environmental issues, and community development
  • Effective communication: internal and external communication methods and techniques, means of developing public support, and methods of inclusion of all segments of the urban publics
  • Nonprofit management: management in the nonprofit sector, discussion of the third sector, and intergovernmental systems management
  • Values and ethics: need for urban professionals and elected officials to possess and demonstrate integrity in all personal, professional, and organizational activities

Careers in Local Government Management

The MPA degree with the Local Government Management concentration offers flexible career opportunities at the federal, state, and local levels as well as in nonprofit organizations. The following examples include positions achieved by recent graduates:

  • Village Manager, Wilmette, IL
  • Assistant to City Manager, Laramie, WY
  • Planner, Department of Metropolitan Development, Indianapolis, IN
  • Director, Urban League, Kokomo, IN
  • Planner, City Planning Department, San Francisco, CA
  • Management Analyst, Charlottesville, VA
  • Management Analyst, Lexington, MA
  • Neighborhood Coordinator, Indianapolis, IN
  • City Manager, Ames, IA
  • Director of Public Works, Indianapolis, IN
  • Assistant to the City Manager, Austin, TX

Local Government Management Curriculum

All MPA students develop needed technical tools with the MPA core competencies (18 credit hours).

The concentration includes six required courses which introduce students to the fundamentals of local government management:

  • Public Management Information Systems (V 516)
  • Government Financial Accounting and Reporting (V 542)
  • Public Human Resource Management (V 561)
  • Urban Management (V 564)
  • Management of Urban Government Services (V 568)
  • Seminar in Urban Management (V 623)

Additionally, all Local Government Management students enroll in a Professional Development Seminar (V550) during their second year of study. In conjunction with this seminar, students attend the annual conference of the International City/County Management Association.

SPEA also offers a wide range of elective courses to meet individual objectives. This broad range of possibilities enables you to focus your concentration on those aspects that you wish to pursue and to develop career-enhancing capabilities. With the approval of a Local Government Management advisor, students may select from many elective options in the following subject areas:

  • Planning
  • Personnel/Labor Relations
  • Operations Management
  • Analysis and Information Systems
  • Government Finance
  • Administrative Law

For complete details of the Local Government Management curriculum, please see the Graduate Bulletin.

Local Government Management Learning Outcomes

Mastery of management, leadership, analytical, and quantitative skills recognized as necessary for success in local government.

  1. Knowledge of service delivery systems and the ability to apply performance criteria to measure the effectiveness of local government organizations.
  2. An understanding of the roles of elected officials, community leaders, and citizens in developing a policy agenda to achieve common community goals.
  3. Knowledge of the broad range of local functional activities, including: budget and program analysis, human resource management, technology utilization, community and strategic planning, sustainability, and community development.

Faculty Expertise

SPEA faculty are involved in meaningful research in numerous aspects of public affairs and publish in the leading scholarly journals. In addition to their academic accomplishments, our faculty bring a rich set of management tools based on real-world, hands-on experiences. They frequently serve as consultants to a broad range of public, private, and nonprofit sector activities on the local, state, and national levels.

Dual Concentrations

Dual concentrations with Local Government Management and other concentrations offered by SPEA – such as Economic Development or Public Financial Administration – offer unique advantages for those wanting to make a difference in particular areas of public affairs. Our faculty work to accommodate these specialized professional interests in the design of student programs.

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