Bakers Journal

VIU offers new graduate-level business program

July 14, 2017
By Bakers Journal

From left to right: David Iremadze, director of Graduate Business Studies; Dave Twynam, former dean of the Faculty of Management; Glynis Steen, dean of the Faculty of Trades and Applied Technology; and Tracy Gillis, accounting professor, have all had a hand in developing the new Graduate Certificate in Business program. Photo courtesy of VIU

Nanaimo, BC — A new graduate-level program at Vancouver Island University (VIU) aims to give people with no formal business education the information they need to run a business effectively.

The Graduate Certificate in Business is a one-year, three-semester program that provides students with the foundational skills they need to start up their own businesses or move into management positions. The program will also accommodate working professionals who want to pursue it in a part-time format. Applications open on October 1, 2017, for the first intake date of September 2018.

“It’s for people who did their undergraduate degree in something other than business who are moving into management roles, such as arts, humanities or social sciences graduates, or people with their Red Seal who want to start up their own business, like an automotive shop or bakery,” says Tracy Gillis, a VIU Accounting Professor and program lead. “A cutting-edge feature of this program is the direct pathway for Red Seal holders. As far as I know, there isn’t anything like it in BC.”

The program is uniquely designed to boost student success. There is no GPA requirement to enter; instead the first semester includes coursework that introduces students to academics at a university level, as well as foundational courses in marketing, management and strategy, and effective business research and communications. Gillis says this gives students new to university-level academics a much greater chance of succeeding in the program.


“We are setting them up for success by starting off with the tools they will need to complete the rest of the program,” she says. “It gives them a chance to get their feet on the ground and wrap their heads around the expectations at this level. We ensure people know the basics before they have to apply it.”

The program is something Glynis Steen, Dean of the Faculty of Trades and Applied Technology has been pushing for. She worked with Gillis, providing feedback during development of the program.

“We are always searching for more opportunities to open up further education for our students,” she says. “Many graduates of our programs go on to operate their own businesses, or work their way up to the management level of a business. Yet while they leave here with a strong foundation in the trades or applied technology field they are in, what they lack is that knowledge of business accounting, management and marketing that this program will teach them.”

This is the second opportunity VIU has opened up recently for trades students who want to pursue further education at the University. Last March, the Senate approved a new option that gives Red Seal holders a block of 60 transfer credits to use towards an undergraduate program.

Another desirable feature of the Graduate Certificate in Business is the option to ladder into other programs if students want to pursue more advanced studies in business and management. Students who complete the certificate program with a minimum of a C+ average can apply to complete a Graduate Diploma in either International Trade Management or Project Management. Students who finish with a B average or better and have at least one year of professional experience earn admission to the Master of Business Administration program. Students who complete an undergraduate degree in business or commerce who have a C+ average also have the option to go straight into either of the Graduate Diploma programs for further business education.

Bruce Condie, director, International Marketing, Recruitment and Business Development, says the certificate program – and especially the opportunity to continue on with a specialized diploma – is an attractive option for international students who want specialized post-graduate training.

“It’s a great enhancement, providing another alternative for international students to achieve higher education,” he says. “VIU already has a well-established, reputable business program, and this addition solidifies our reputation as an education destination.”

Specialized business training is of great interest to many international students. While VIU has a Master of Business Administration program, sometimes students don’t meet the requirements needed to get into the master’s program, such as the work experience requirement, so the certificate fills that gap, says Condie. Plus, the specialties offered in the diploma portion are different than VIU’s MBA program, he adds.

VIU plans to offer two intake dates for the program, in September and January. For more information, click here.

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