Certificate Program

Certificate in Co-operative Management (10 months, part-time, online)

The Certificate in Co-operative Management is offered to people involved in both financial and non-financial co-operatives. It is comprised of a set of online and part-time courses designed to be completed in 10 months. These courses will enhance your practical knowledge of the relevance and impact of the co-operative business model. In addition to joining a diverse international network, you will acquire an expanded toolbox of co-operative and credit union-specific management tools and best practices related to co-operative strategy, governance/participation, and innovation; in addition to developing a deeper background in the co-operative model and the history of the movement.


Upon successful completion of this program, you will receive an executive professional development Certificate in Co-operative Management. If you wish to continue your studies with our Masters or Graduate Diploma, you will receive course credit toward these academic programs (making your future courseload lighter and not needing to pay again for these courses).

Program Structure 

Interactive courses are delivered using an online learning platform (Brightspace) and are structured using a mix of individual (assignments) and full class (online discussions, live discussions) learning methods. There is flexibility in the structure of our program; you participate in courses from your home or office at times and days that work for your schedule. To be successful in these courses, you must have enough time and discipline each week to read articles, view videos, interact in online discussions, and write assignments. Each course has a 1-hour live launch in the first week and some instructors schedule additional live sessions which can be lectures, open space office hours or in some cases, debates and presentations. The recordings are provided to students who are unable to attend live. The time commitment is estimated at 8-10 hours/week when classes are in session (12 weeks in the fall; 12 weeks in the winter; 6 weeks in the spring).

Certificate Course Components

1) Primer and orientation

This component of the course happens prior to online courses beginning in September. In the months leading up to courses, students are provided materials to begin reading to help prime the education to come. We will schedule an orientation for August to convene the cohort, meet each other, be oriented to the online system, learn about library resources and other supports, and to begin discussing the themes of the program. We will give students early access to the online platform to allow everyone to become familiar, and to test out an online discussion. Once a student is accepted into the program, more details on the logistics and details will be provided.

2) Complete the following online courses

Fall term: September to December

History of the movement

8-10 hours/week for 6 weeks Students consider the historical evolution of co-operatives since the mid-19th century, with particular emphasis on the diversity of co-operative action and the continuing relevance of the co-operative principles and values. [2-week break]

Enterprise model

8-10 hours/week for 6 weeks Students examine the co-operative model of enterprise based on the Statement on the Co-operative Identity of the International Co-operative Alliance. Students will analyse a values-based business model that is people centred, democratically governed, and jointly owned and controlled by its members, in various contexts. [2-week break]

Winter term: January to April

Strategic advantage

8-10 hours/week for 6 weeks Students are introduced to the New Co-operative Paradigm and its application. With shared surplus, patronage dividends and loyalty programs as a source of competitive advantage, other inherent features will be discussed, such as values alignment and psychological ownership, as sources of co-operative sustainability. [2-week break]

Governance and participation

8-10 hours/week for 6 weeks Students examine the nature and potential of stakeholder co-operatives, various models of board-management relations, and theories of member participation within co-operatives. [1-week break]

Spring term: May/ Early June

Innovation (co-operative management innovation)

8-10 hours/week for 6 weeks Students enhance their understanding of innovation, learn to leverage the co-operative difference to enhance innovation, and analyze examples of innovative management practice.


$6200 CAD (not including optional international study tour participation)

Optional participation in Study Tours

The Centre runs a study tour as described below and although it is not part of the Certificate program, participants in the Certificate program will get first access to seats in future tours. There is an additional fee and you can contact jude.robertson@smu.ca for more details on any given year's available seats and costs.

Upon completion of the certificate requirements, we encourage participation in this 10-day intensive study tour to a co-operative or credit union network that is perceived to be an exemplar of excellence in management and performance (typically Italy or Spain). These tours will open your eyes to the possibilities for integrated, co-operative networks. These trips will be offered at times when travel is safe. Learn more.

Application Process for the Certificate in Co-operative Management

Please ensure you are eligible:

  • Students are required to be actively engaged in the co-operative sector (e.g. employed by a co-operative, credit union, mutual, or sector association; serving governance roles; consulting) and preferably in a supervisory or management position. 
  • Students must have completed an undergraduate degree (3.0/4.0 GPA scale or justification is the standard) or have an equivalent combination of training and experience.

Complete applications are due by May 31. Please send the following items to cme@smu.ca:

  • A summary of why you are interested in taking these courses (about 250-words up to 1 page).
  • A CV/resume (please include phone number, mailing address and preferred email)
  • Transcripts from post-secondary programs that you have completed (e.g. undergraduate degree or college diploma). Transcripts do not need to be official copies.
  • A letter of support from someone in your co-operative organization, indicating that they allow you to study various aspects of that organization as part of your coursework and that they are aware of your participation in these courses. We expect students to use their own co-ops as a “living laboratory” during the courses. Everything shared within courses is subject to strict confidentiality. You can email cme@smu.ca in order to obtain a sample letter.

Email: cme@smu.ca 

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Erin Hancock (cme@smu.ca).


“After engaging in education with the Centre, I am now able to approach my work from a different perspective… I am now much more mindful of opportunities to raise a co-operative perspective, suggest a cooperative solution, and look for ways to differentiate what we can do, individually and as a co-operative, to better understand, grow, and manifest externally our co-operative difference.” -Anonymous, third party impact survey

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