by Eugenia Xenos
Working professionals in the fields of health care, entertainment and community work now have the option of studying management and administration without having to take too much time away from their work.
As of this semester, three new graduate certificate programs are available from the Faculty of Commerce and Administration, in Cultural Affairs and Event Management, Management of Health Care Organizations, and Community Organizational Development.
"Graduate certificate programs have become popular right across North America, especially among professional programs," said James Jans, an Associate Dean in the School of Graduate Studies.
"They are ideal for working professionals who have at least one degree and maybe more, but because of rapid changes in their field of study, they are looking for a quick way to upgrade. These are people who have the basic expertise in their field, but need the newest information."
In this way, they differ from undergraduate and continuing education certificates.
Last semester, Engineering and Computer Science introduced five new graduate certificates (see CTR, October 8, 1998), and Senate recently passed another in Industrial Waste Management. Many universities are developing others. Jans said that judging from a joint meeting of the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies and the American Council of Graduate Studies he recently attended in Vancouver, there is an incredible demand for a variety of graduate certificates.
"Where there is a concern for their proliferation is when certificates are simply cobbled together -- i.e., take any five graduate courses and you can have a graduate certificate. Too much of this and graduate certificates in general will start to lose their value," he said.
Jans said that professionals could simply register for a few graduate courses as independent students, "but the notion of receiving some official certification is very attractive." Another option, enrolling in a Master's program, may be too costly and too time-consuming, he said.
The purpose of the graduate certificate in Cultural Affairs and Event Management is to give professionals in the cultural industries -- managers of recreation facilities, festivals, museums, and so on -- a foundation for marketing and promotion, planning and administration, and the legal basics governing their enterprises.
The graduate certificate in Management of Health Care Organizations aims to train, as its name suggests, medical professionals and managers in health care delivery, finance and economics, among other things.
Finally, the graduate certificate in Community Organizational Development will give people interested in community development training in the fundamentals of management, law, public relations, fundraising, and project and events training.
Each certificate comprises four core courses and two electives, and all the courses on offer already exist as part of the 30-credit Diploma in Administration/Diploma in Sport Administration (DIA/DSA) program. However, the graduate certificates differ from the diploma not only in length, but because they do not offer an internship option.
"That's because they are geared toward professionals who are already employed," said Professor Clarence Bayne, DIA/DSA Director. "We expect that about 80 per cent of the clientele will be drawn mostly from non-commerce fields."
Bayne said the Faculty discovered the need for the certificates after last year's program appraisal process. Too many students were having to leave the diploma program early because the school work was making too many demands on their professional work. After conducting some interviews and evaluating letters of explanation for students' departure, the DIA/DSA office thought
a shorter program could be more useful.
Bayne said that because all credits can be transferred toward the diploma programs, it would be possible for students who change their mind after starting the certificate to switch into the diploma program.
However, is there a chance this type of graduate certificate will draw potential students away from the more in-depth, scholarly degrees, such as the Master's and PhD? No, according to most administrators. "In theory, they shouldn't, because the programs are aimed at two very different populations of students. But it's worth monitoring," Jans said.
To this end, the School of Graduate Studies will conduct periodic reviews of certificate programs to evaluate how they affect other programs at the University and examine the marketable productivity for those in -- and recently graduated from -- the programs, said Rosemary Hale, Associate Dean in the School of Graduate Studies.
"The School of Graduate Studies is aware that certificate programs often have a limited shelf-life. They are only useful as long as they are filling the marketable need."
Bayne said students for the Commerce certificates ideally should have a previous degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and a respectable score on GMAT or GRE examinations. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0.
For more information, call the DIA/DSA office at 848-2718 or