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Newly created Graduate Certificate in Business Fundamentals complements graduate coursework

Christina Marvin
Christina Marvin

Christina Marvin, a chemistry doctoral student, hopes to work at a science museum after graduation. Her chemistry coursework was preparing her to be a researcher, but she sought out more information on how to speak about science with the public.

“Everyone graduating with an advanced degree should have some training in how to communicate with others who are outside of his or her field,” said Marvin, president of the Science Writing and Communication Club at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Marvin is participating in the Graduate Certificate in Business Fundamentals program. The Graduate School recently created the program to offer students the professional and practical skills they need to succeed in any career they pursue.

“The skills taught in the certificate classes are valuable for any career, regardless of whether a student is pursuing an academic or non-academic career path,” said Heidi Harkins, chair of the program’s advisory committee and executive director of the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) programs.

Heidi Harkins
Heidi Harkins

The certificate program was launched in fall 2017 and includes courses that are a part of UNC-Chapel Hill’s PSM programs. Students enrolled in the courses have provided positive feedback, Harkins added. Courses have enrolled more than 400 graduate students from 34 academic programs thus far.

All students in the certificate program are required to take five core classes: in writing, presenting, leadership, project management and financial accounting.

Megan Riley earned her doctorate in biological sciences from the University of South Carolina before earning a master of professional science degree in toxicology from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Megan Riley
Megan Riley

Now she works in a clinical research and development role at GSK Vaccines. Riley said she uses the skills taught in the communication, leadership and project management courses every day at work. She also used project management concepts in her job interview to describe how she would handle a complex project.

“From persuasive presentations to stakeholder management, the business acumen I gained from these business classes has given me an edge, bolstered my confidence and prepared me to succeed in my career beyond graduate school,” Riley said.

Current doctoral student Marvin originally began taking classes that are now part of the certificate program because they were supported and advertised by the Training Initiatives in Biomedical and Biological Sciences, the professional development program of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program.

“I saw these courses and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, that’s exactly what I need to work in the particular career path I’m pursuing,’ ” Marvin said.

Madelyn Percy
Madelyn Percy

Marvin will finish the last of the certificate program requirements this spring. The classes have helped her focus on being able to communicate as a leader.

“The writing class completely changed the way I write, which I think has been very effective,” Marvin said.

Madelyn Percy, a doctoral student in geological sciences, is taking classes in the certificate program. She took the leadership course last year and said it has already influenced her research and her role as Graduate and Professional Student Federation president.

The course helped her make sure that everyone felt their contributions were important and have confidence that as a leader she was making decisions that benefited everyone.

“The collegiality that it bred was really helpful and has had long-term impacts in how I approach my peers,” Percy said.

Kyle Bowler, a pharmaceutical sciences doctoral student who is enrolled in the certificate program, is interested in working in the pharmaceutical industry.

Kyle Bowler
Kyle Bowler

So far, Bowler has taken the writing and presentation classes. The writing class has helped with his practical communication skills, such as writing memos and emails. The presentation class has given him specialized opportunities to receive feedback from professionals and peers on the delivery of persuasive or informative presentations, instead of just the content alone.

Bowler is particularly looking forward to the financial accounting course. “I have always had an interest in learning how business principles can support me in the workplace,” he said.
Bowler would recommend the certificate program to all graduate students.

“The program is excellent,” he said. “It’s accessible to graduate students who are busy and is a great complement to any field of study.”

To learn about all of the courses and workshops in the certificate program, which are available to all graduate students, visit the Graduate Certificate in Business Fundamentals website.

By Christine Scalora

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