Graduate Diploma Program Delivers Business Skills Over the Internet

Jan 06, 1999

It is a well-known axiom that change is the only constant; and that applies vividly to careers. You may start your working life with an engineering degree or a BA in English and find yourself in 10 years managing a department of 15 people in a company that has nothing to do with where you started.

If that’s the case, the FBA’s new Graduate Diploma Program in Business Administration (GDBA) might be just what you need.

Starting in January 1999, the Faculty will launch this innovative program designed to provide core business skills to the working professional with an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than Business Administration

One of the program’s chief features is its method of delivery: the cohesive eight-course sequence will be offered entirely over the Internet.

“Our market is clearly the working professional whose schedule probably doesn’t have the flexibility to commit to being in a particular classroom at a particular time,” says FBA’s Bert Schoner, who spearheaded the GDBA development. “Nor may these people be able to commit to a full MBA program at this time, although they may wish to after completing the GDBA.

With the Internet and state-of-the-art interactive technology, we can deliver an intensive program of core business skills to people sitting in front of their computers at home.”

The on-line course materials will be supplemented by “virtual seminars and tutorials” using interactive video, print material, shared “white boards” with audio delivery. Even office hours will be held on-line.

All of these features will use the vast technical resources of SFU’s Lohn Lab development centre.

Schoner adds that the on-line atmosphere of the courses will be aided by the fact participants work in cohort groups over the duration of the 11-month program.

“The cohort model has worked very well for many of our graduate level programs and it will be particularly beneficial here because it allows participants to get to know each other and create a sense of community. Even though most of their interaction will take place on-line, they will definitely have the sense that they are working together.”

Students are expected to have access to a Pentium computer (or equivalent) running Windows 95 or Macintosh operating system and Microsoft Office software. The computers must also have a minimum 28.8KB modem and access to the Internet.

Schoner warns the program in the fundamental areas of management is not equivalent to an MBA program, although it covers much of the same material.

Courses include:

  • Financial and managerial accounting,
  • Managerial economics,
  • Quantitative business methods,
  • Management information systems,
  • Managerial finance,
  • Marketing management,
  • Human resource management/organization behavior.

“The GDBA is shorter than most MBA programs, but more concentrated,” says Schoner. “But most importantly, it provides a firm foundation of business skills necessary to compete successfully in today’s job market.

“It can be used as a stepping stone into our full MBA program, however, because we designed it to satisfy the business degree requirement necessary for the SFU MBA application.”