Certificate Program

Certificate in Co-operative Management: 10 Months, Part-time, Online

The Certificate in Co-operative Management is an executive professional development program delivered by the International Centre for Co-operative Management in the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University. It is an online, part-time program comprising five courses designed to be completed in 10 months one course at a time. Enhance your practical knowledge of the co-operative enterprise model and its relevance and impact. Deepen your knowledge of co-operative history and acquire co-operative and credit union management tools and best practices related to strategy, governance and innovation. Join an international network of passionate co-operative leaders from all types of co-ops in diverse sectors.

Upon completion of this program, you will receive a Certificate in Co-operative Management. Should you decide to continue your studies with our Master of Management, Co-operatives and Credit Unions or Graduate Diploma in Co-operative Management, you will receive course credit toward these academic programs for all courses completed in good standing (B grade).

Program Structure 

Interactive online courses are delivered using Brightspace using a mix of individual and full-class learning methods. Enjoy flexibility: work on courses from a place of comfort at times that work for your schedule. Within a 2 week module, week 1 is structured for interacting with recorded lectures and reading; week 2 is for online discussions and assignments. Each course will include one or more dynamic live sessions as well as live office hours. While courses are in session, prepare for 8-10 hours/week for readings, viewings, online interactive discussions and assignments. Students take part in a dynamic cohort of co-operative practitioners who enrich each other's learning by sharing lived experiences and intimate knowledge of the co-operative sector.

Course Schedule

1) Primer and orientation

This component of the program occurs prior to online courses in September. In the months preceding, students are invited to begin reading, familiarising themselves with the online platform and meeting peers. We schedule two online orientation sessions in August to formally convene the cohort, orient to the online system, learn about library resources and supports, and discuss program themes (July 30 and August 1, 2024, 12:00-3:00 PM ADT). During orientation, we will launch the first course so everyone feels ready when courses begin in September. 

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 emphasis on the diversity of co-operative action and the continuing relevance of the co-operative principles and values. [2-week break]

The Enterprise Model

Students examine the co-operative model of enterprise based on the Statement on the Co-operative Identity of the International Co-operative Alliance. Students analyze 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]


In alignment with the co-operative enterprise model, students examine the nature of co-operative governance and related topics pertaining to member participation and engagement. The course explores various conceptualizations; frameworks; and structures, processes, and dynamics of governance in a wide range of contexts and for all types of co-operatives. [2-3-week break]


Students enhance their understanding of innovation, and emphasize the main principles of responsible, social and inclusive innovation. Students learn to leverage the co-operative difference to enhance innovation.

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. 

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.


$7,000 CAD (excluding the optional study tour). The program cost may be subject to annual changes.

More details

See the Certificate in Co-operative Management Brochure or contact cme@smu.ca!