A Shorter Option

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 course load 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 on 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 complete 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 program occurs prior to the launch of online courses at the beginning of September. In the months leading up to September, students are provided materials to review to prime their education. Orientation is scheduled online for August 1 from 12-3 PM and August 3 from 12-3 PM, 2023 (Atlantic Daylight Time Zone - ADT). Orientation is an opportunity to meet each other, build familiarity with the online learning platform, the library resources and other supports, and begin discussing the themes of the program. Once a student is accepted into the program, more details on the logistics and details will be provided.

2) Complete the following online courses

For each course, plan for 8-10 hours/week for 6 weeks

History of the movement

Students consider the historical evolution of co-operatives 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

Students examine the co-operative model of enterprise based on the Statement on the Co-operative Identity (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]

Strategic advantage

Students discuss the co-operative advantage as a values-based, member-owned business. Besides member loyalty built on shared surplus and values alignment, the course explores business models and operational practices fit for leadership in the new economy and rooted in co-operative identity and culture [1-week break]

Governance and participation

Students examine the nature and potential of democratic governance, stakeholder engagement, as well as cases and theories of member participation within a variety of co-operative contexts. [2-3-week break]

Co-operative management innovation

Students enhance their understanding of innovation, learn to leverage the co-operative difference to enhance innovation, and analyze examples of innovative management practice.

Optional Participation in Study Tours

The Centre runs an international study tour 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 

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; volunteering; consulting) and preferably in a supervisory or management position although this is not a requirement. 
  • 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.

Applications are open until full. 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 a 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.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact cme@smu.ca. Be sure to mark your calendars for the virtual orientation sessions (there are two mandatory sessions), that happen on August 1 and 3, 2023 (12:00-3:00 PM ADT).


$6800 CAD (excluding the optional study tour). The program cost may be subject to annual changes.

View our Certificate Brochure for more program details.